How do you feel about buying thrift store clothes? Do you wear used clothes? I’ve never had a problem with wearing used clothes, other than the few things I mentioned in “10+ Things You Should NEVER Buy at Thrift Stores.” And I guess I taught my daughters well. They both are avid thrift store shoppers now. Jordann is becoming a thrift store clothes EXPERT so I asked her to share ten of her tips with you today. She actually follows these tips to buy most of her clothes. Thanks for reading and welcome Jordann to the blog today!
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Ten Tips for Buying Thrift Store Clothes
What retail stores are near the thrift shop? Nicer neighborhoods with more money and high-end stores tend to have better and more unique stock. If your town only has a Walmart or Kmart, then that’s probably all you’re going to find at your thrift store too. Richer neighborhoods tend to donate nicer stuff more often because they’re able to financially update their wardrobe at a whim.
Have a List
Know what you need before you head in. It really helps save time to focus on what you need first, before browsing other sections. I also follow capsule wardrobe guidelines for myself so I have a limited palette and pattern list. That helps me skip entire sections of clothes that aren’t in my palette as I walk down aisles.
Only Buy Quality
I don’t usually buy clothes from department stores such as Forever 21, H & M, or Target. When I shop at thrift stores I can get high-end name brands and designer items for about the same price.
Higher quality clothes will also last much longer.
I look for well-known or expensive brands for longer lasting pieces like shoes, purses, and coats — something worth the higher price tag thrift stores usually tack on these items. For example, I recently bought a peacoat for $65 (which was a lot for me). But it was a Pendleton that would’ve cost $350 brand new. So the price was worth it for a lifelong coat.
Only Buy What You Really Need
I enjoy thrifting because it helps me live a less materialistic life and have a lower environmental impact. (The fashion industry ranks 3rd after oil and agriculture for the most damage done to the environment.) That means I’m not going to take anything home unless I actually need it, it’s good quality, and I feel great in it. Don’t buy something just because it seems like a good deal.
Bring a Buddy
Not only is thrifting with friends fun but you can also work together to cover the store faster, especially if you know what the other is looking for and what size they wear. It also helps hold you accountable to the list that you made ahead of time. They’ll also let you know what looks good (or doesn’t look good) or isn’t a good deal.
Check Your Phone
Use your smart phone to look up brands you don’t recognize to see if they’re well-known or sketchy. Compare similar items to see if you’re really getting a deal.
Read the Labels
Okay, I’m lazy when it comes to laundry. I will absolutely not buy something that is dry clean only. I also usually avoid anything that needs to be ironed or bleached. Which means I need to read all labels before I get too invested in an item to decide if it’s worth the effort.
Read the Labels, Part 2
More important than the brand is the material the clothes are made out of. I will only buy real leather items because I’ve had many faux leather bags and shoes that just didn’t last long or didn’t look great after a few uses. I love the look and feel of well-respected and aging leather. I also stick to products that are mostly cotton or merino wool. Props if you find silk or cashmere!
Because different brands aren’t always the same size, it helps to keep track of your favorites in a notebook or phone. This helps save time and I have fewer things to try on if I know what sizes fit me well. Especially those European sizes!
I like to shop at thrift stores that have regular sales, discounted colors of the week, and coupons. I find better items if I’m regularly checking the store. I might not buy anything one week, but the next time I come in I might immediately buy a bag full of great items!
If you want to learn more about thrift store clothes, check out these books I found online:
- New Dress a Day – Love this idea! The author shows how to makeover lots of thrift store castoffs.
- Thrift Store Hustle – How to make $1000 a month buying and selling thrift store items.
- Clothing Poverty – The hidden story of fast fashion and second hand clothes.
Here are a few other articles on our website about thrifting and thrift store clothes:
I’d love to know if you buy thrift store clothes. Now let’s hear your tips. Leave them in the comments. Thanks for reading! Originally published March 20, 2017.
‘Til the next project,