6 Tips to Make Thrifting Work for You
I remember an incredible birthday party where we searched for buried treasure in my gulf coast backyard. My mom had drawn the map complete with an X marking “the spot” and I remember being bound and determined to find whatever the spot had in it. I cannot remember if it was my party or one of my brother’s parties nor can I remember what the treasure actually was…but I do remember being determined to find it.
Now, I thrift with the same goal in mind: find the treasure.
New, vintage, everyday essential, unique, or just plain perfect, thrifting has brought me some of my favorite pieces I wear weekly + some pieces I save for a special occasion (hello sequin 80s jacket).
But, it hasn’t always been thrilling or rewarding. I remember when I first began buying secondhand clothing. I wondered how to successfully sift through the rows of hangers and hundreds of garments to find my treasure. But, overtime, I’ve developed a system for finding pieces to fit my wardrobe, items I can resale easily, or pieces that should be left for another person to love.
I’ve heard it said that thrifting is giving a piece new life and I couldn’t agree more. That’s why I want to challenge you to try it out. Instead of going to a regular retail store, find your local thrift shop, Goodwill/Salvation Army, or if you want to ease into it, a consignment shop. I’ve written out some of my best tips below and hope they will help! Follow my instagram for outfit inspiration from my thrifted finds: @katiebeard
1. Know your style.
I know I love skirts, so I hit that rack first. I know I love linen, so I search for that fabric. I know I love classic pieces, so I tend toward browns, beige, and black in the accessories arena. This chambray skirt, linen shirt, and leather crossbody were all found at my local Goodwill and pair perfectly with my favorite Fashionable flats and Noonday Collection earrings.
2. Try it on
I tend to try on 10+ pieces when I go and search the S, M, and L racks even though I tend more toward M. Sometimes vintage sizing is misleading and other times shoppers returned items to the wrong section. This is a treasure hunt without a map, so don’t just look where you think the x might be.
3. Look for your favorite materials & patterns
As I walk through the aisles and slide the hangers one by one, I look for favorite fabrics (linen, cotton, silk) and classic patterns (polka dots, stripes, embroidery) while keeping an eye out for pieces with little to no wear and subtle hints at higher end labels. I recently found a pair of mules for $5.99 that originally cost between $300-$400. They stood out on the rack because of the high quality leather and wooden detail, but as I picked them up because I noticed “handmade in Spain.” I immediately tried them on and magically, they fit. Best $5.99 I’ve spent this month.
4. Take a chance
Sometimes I find items that easily fit my wardrobe and other times I have to imagine how or where I might wear it. If I love the print and fabric but the fit is a little baggy, I imagine a belt around my waist. If it fits perfectly but it has some wear I think through the benefit it might add for the life it has left. As you can tell, I’m pretty calculated in my shopping but sometimes I do take a chance on a piece (like the bright sequins above) when it’s a vintage piece or nothing I have ever seen before because we all need a few of those pieces in our wardrobes.
Vintage blouse + favorite Loft jeans + Nisolo boots + Warby Parker sunglasses = perfect outfit for some Noonday Collection favorites.
5. Don’t forget the homegoods
I found the perfect rocks glasses for my bar, a couple of photo frames that look brand new, and this cute mug that makes me happy every time it feeds me coffee in a section of the thrift store often overlooked. Don’t miss out!
6. Shop to resell
When I find a LL Bean jacket in perfect condition or a vintage leather skirt SOMEONE needs to love (because my booty does not) I buy it then resell it! I’m part of a clothes swap group on Facebook, but have also sold on Instagram by simply creating a Closet Sale profile and directing my followers toward it. Selling on Poshmark is another way to sell your unneeded clothing and accessories for some extra cash. It’s a great way to make a little spending money for an upcoming trip or gather the funds for a new ethical piece you have been eyeing.
My wardrobe is a mix of thrifted finds, resale treasures, ethically made loves, and to-be-worn-forever pieces. While it isn’t capsule in number, each piece has its place and quantity isn’t my goal. I hope these tips will inspire you to shop your closet, go on a treasure hunt at your local thrift shop, or simply begin looking for ways to incorporate secondhand clothing into your wardrobe.