In addition to being a frugal feminista, I am a thriftista. Actually, I was introduced to thrifting on an episode of Ricki Lake back in the day. Some of my favorite finds have been my $7 Morgan Oakley bag and my silky, sexy Diane Von Furstenberg summer dress that I snagged for $0.10. Yes, that is not a typo. 10 cents.
Thrifting does not carry the same taboo in our community as it did when I started over fifteen years ago. You don’t have to be somebody’s orphan or be broke to thrift. Thrifting keeps costs low, but also gives you an opportunity to experiment and create. If you are new to thrifting and/or trying to wrap your head around the appeal of “other people’s clothing” but are open-minded about how to maximize your first or 100th visit, here are nine tips I want to share with you.
1. Write Down What You are Looking For. Are you looking for accessories, tops, or bottoms? It is important to have a goal and purpose for your visit. Some thrift stores are humongous and it can get overwhelming if you don’t have a game plan or plan of attack before hitting the racks. In fact, I would say, if you could, make sure you are leaving with a completed outfit, whether it be from pieces that you found while shopping or with something that you already have in mind to pair with at home. There is nothing worse than buying an article of clothing and realizing that you have nothing to wear with it.
2. Set a Budget. Yes, girl, even in a thrift store. With prices being fractions of department store prices, you DEFINITELY have wiggle room and opportunities to take risks with your purchases. But you don’t want to get too carried away by the low-cost goodies and buy up the whole store.
3. Think of the Price of Cleaning, Alterations, and Repairs. Some of the pieces that you encounter may be lovely, but will also need some work. When selecting pieces, consider the costs of replacing buttons, adding zippers, hemming, dry cleaning, and any other “next step” that you would take to make your sartorial vision come true. For example, I bought a Steve Madden jacket for $20 and had to replace the zipper for $10 and $13 to dry clean Not a big deal when considering the retail cost of the jacket, but it is something that many of us overlook when we are geeked about a purchase.
4.Keep Your Cell Phone Close To Do Quick Searches For Unfamiliar Designers. Come across a cute item, but are not sure that its worth the price? Solution: take out your phone and do a quick search on the Remember that Morgan Oakley bag that I scored for $7. Before doing an on-spot search to find out that this designer’s bags average upwards of $300 and $400 dollars, I had NO idea who Morgan Oakley was. I just thought it was a cute, red bag. But now I know, it’s a designer, high-end, cute, red, which makes the buy even more worthwhile!
5.Wear Tights or Leggings To Make Trying On Simple. The return policies are basically non-existent and many do not have fitting rooms. Wearing tights or leggings allows you to slip into bottoms quickly and takes the guess work out of figuring out if you should take it with you.
6.Find Out Your Thrift Stores’ Discount Days. Many thrift stores schedule days where they slash prices on the already discounted items in the store. Plan your visit around those days and save the extra cash for something else!
7.Check Out The Men’s and Boys Section. Who says that just because you are a lady, you have to shop in the women’s department? I have found some cute blazers, button-down shirts, and cardigans in these department.
And quiet as kept: some women like to hide their goodies in the men’s and boy’s department, so they can come back for them when they are on discount.
8. Shop For the Sole and the Other Soul. If you love reading and as much as you love shopping, then make you to check out the book sections of your local thrift store before existing. From personal experience, I have been introduced to ideas and authors that normally I would have passed on because they were both unfamiliar and the cover price of the books. Thanks to my local Salvation Army, I have been able to expand my personal libraries and body of knowledge!
9. Keep It Clean.With all the touching of gently-worn, worn, and straight-up unclean clothes, it’s a smart idea to keep a little hand sanitizer in your bag. And let’s also remember to launder our finds before wearing them.
Ladies: What other tips would you add to make your next thrifting experience your best one yet?