What to Look for When Clothes Thrift Shopping

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Vintage clothes are becoming must-have pieces in any wardrobe. They add a special flair of originality to any outfit and give you a chance to find something special that isn’t available in stores. It may require some time, but when you discover that special hidden gem, it’s like gold. But the question remains: What should I look for when thrifting and where do I begin?

  1. For the best thrifting experience, only buy pieces you love. It can be tempting to buy something because you’ve been looking for hours, and you want to go home with something. Don’t fall into this trap. It’s most likely going to be money wasted because you’ll never wear it. It’s ok if every trip isn’t a success. Half the fun is in the adventure of looking. When you do fall in love with something, you’ll know. You’ll immediately be drawn to it, and feel as if it’s always been made for you.
  2. Try on everything. Just like in any other store, most thrift shops have dressing rooms available for you to try on the clothes you want. Sizes and cuts vary from brand to brand, and decade to decade. You may love the cut and the pattern of the item on the hanger, but make sure that if falls just right on you. If it doesn’t fit quite right, and you find yourself planning to alter, hem, or modify it, it’s probably best to throw it in the “No” pile. Thrifting DIY’s usually never go as planned, so unless you’re up for a challenge, stick to clothing pieces that fit perfectly or only require minimal alterations.
  3. Shop in all areas of the store. You may be surprised what you can find in the teens or the men’s section. You may stumble across a favorite new t-shirt from your favorite band, or pick up some excellent paint clothes for odd jobs around the house.
  4. Beware of rips, tears, and stains. You found the best print ever! You love the style, and it fits great. Awesome—but now search every inch to look for any rips, broken zippers, or stains. Odds are, the stains won’t come out, and the rips will be difficult to repair. It’s usually best to set that one aside, and keep trying. If you do take on the challenge of trying to repair it, make sure to mention the flaw to the cashier. You may get a discount for the damaged merchandise.  

Sometime, you’ll hit the thrifter’s jackpot, of a brand new piece with tags still on it. Even though it’s probably in excellent condition, you’ll want to make sure that it fits like you want it to. You still want to love it.

  1. Know your brands. It’s important to recognize the brands that you know work for you. Thrift shopping is one of the best ways to have brand name items at extremely low prices. It may not be from this season, but staple pieces never go out of style. It’s better to get a few quality pieces, over several cheaply made pieces. Brand names can make it easier to know if it will fit you well. If you know that everything in Banana Republic fits you like a glove, then half the battle is over. Don’t discount something because it doesn’t have a recognizable tag, but it can make shopping much easier.
  2. Don’t go looking for something specific. If you are shopping for a specific occasion and need a white button-down sweater, then you may be disappointed. Thrift shopping is more about finding unexpected treasures. If you go thrifting searching for one thing, then you are bound to be disappointed. Instead, consider thrifting to be a treasure hunt of sorts, and take the time to sift through all of the possibilities.

Most of all, have fun with thrifting! It’s a blast trying on all the different trends from years past. Take a moment to laugh and enjoy the hunt. You never know—you just may find that special something that can take your closet from “yawn” to “YES!”

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