Thrifting is having a renaissance in the age of social media. With so many successful thrift fashion “hauls” posted to platforms like TikTok, many folks have become enchanted by the possibility of uncovering a gem or two at their own local thrift shop – a possibility that’s admittedly easier said than done.
Experienced thrifters call it “the thrill of the search” but to others, the search can feel totally overwhelming. Where do you even start? How do you know what to look for? Luckily, there are some strategies you can employ. Here are some thrifting tips to get the most out of your next secondhand shopping excursion.
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Give Before You Get
Before you begin your thrift journey, it’s good to make room for all the new gems you’re about to find. First, take stock of your closet. Pull any garments and accessories that have gone unworn for at least six months, are too big, too small or simply don’t fit right and put them aside. Some items will be tough to get rid of, but it’s important to be realistic about when or if you’ll ever wear them again. If the answer is no, place them in a bag for donating. Organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters, Savers, The Salvation Army or Goodwill are a few places to choose from.
Know Your Measurements
Because lots of thrift stores don’t have changing rooms, it’s good to know your measurements beforehand. Plus, you’ll be faced with a variety of brands from all different eras when you thrift, so it’s best to be precise.
Invest in a good measuring tape and make note of shoulder, chest, waist, hip and height measurements, so when you measure a garment in the store you’ll know right away if it’ll fit you well.
Find a great pair of jeans but forget your measuring tape at home? No problem. You can always try the viral “neck measuring hack” by placing the waistband around your neck to see if the ends meet. If they do, the jeans are likely to fit around your waist, too. Of course, this doesn’t work in all cases, but it’s good to try in a pinch!
Sometimes, you buy a skirt, dress or top that was too good to give up but doesn’t quite fit the way you’d like – but you can’t sew. Enter, the amazing micro-stitch gun. This handy tool lets you make a teeny micro-stitch into clothing that holds in place but can be easily tugged apart to remove.
Have a Plan
Most thrift stores can be overwhelming, due to their sheer size and the variety of ways they can be organized – including color-coordinated, arranged by size or type, or not organized at all. You never really know what you’re walking into, so it’s smart to go in with a plan.
Start at one end of the store and quickly snake your way through until you get to the other side. This way are able to generally assess where everything is. By the time you make your second pass, you can linger at racks that caught your interest and skip those that don’t.
In your search, make sure you’re looking at not only brand tags, but material as well. Garments made from 100% silk, cotton or linen will always be a good investment, and much more likely to last you a long time.
Explore More Online
Thrifting doesn’t just happen in-store anymore. Apps like Poshmark, eBay and Depop are a treasure trove of consigned goods that allow you to make offers and ask questions about anything that piques your interest like clothing, accessories, home goods or even secondhand tech. The downside? Lots of vintage resellers will buy from big thrift stores like Savers or Goodwill and double or triple the price, making some things unaffordable (and therefore defeating the purpose of finding a true deal). So, proceed with caution and remember that if something is out of your price range, you could likely find something similar at your local thrift with a bit of patience.
Of course, the real secret to finding great stuff at the thrift is to go and go again. The more often you scan the racks, the more likely you are to snag a treasure before someone else does. Depending on where you shop, inventory may turnover every week or even every day, so if you don’t have luck on your first visit, it won’t be long before you can try again.
Do you have another thrifting tip to share? What’s the best item you’ve ever thrifted? Let us know in the comments.