Truer words have never been spoken. From my plethora of articles on fashion (and my extensive clothing collection that takes up most of my room), it is obvious to those that know me that I love to shop. There’s something calming and relaxing about pursuing clothing racks under a bright fluorescent light. I fully admit that some of my favorite scenes in movies are the shopping and makeover ones. I mean who doesn’t love Pretty Woman’s shopping adventure, Mia Thermopolis’ makeover, and Eleven and Max’s Starcourt Mall montage? Unfortunately, I cannot afford to shop name-brand clothing at full price at the mall and the fast-fashion promoted by stores like Forever 21 are detrimental to the environment. To meet my need for clothing at low prices while reducing my environmental impact, I hit the thrift stores. Most of my favorite pieces have come from the thrift: from my leather jacket, to my jeans and most of my going-out clothes, all scored at incredibly low prices. Thrift stores, given their massive, crowded aisles and avalanche of clothes can be easily confusing, so here are five thrifting tips to make sure you walk out with your new favorite look.
- Be aware of discount day
My absolute favorite thrift stores are the Village Discount Outlets, a chain of thrift stores in Ohio. There’s two just a short drive from the University of Akron campus! VDO is great because they have so many amazing discounts. For example, on Sundays, college students get 20% off and on Tuesdays, certain items under $12.00 are only $.50! While these are great deals you definitely don’t want to miss, these discount days are best for long thrift hauls, not shortstops. The store is often hectic because everyone wants the great deals, and the aisles become too crowded for just looking around.
- Shop the colors
Many thrift stores like Goodwill and VDO have colored tags to indicate pricing. Many times, specific colored tags will be on sale. Keep your eyes peeled for these because they will help you save a lot of money!
- Check out the men’s section
One of my favorite things about thrift stores is that they typically have everything. There are aisles full of shoes, women’s clothes, children’s clothes, men’s clothes, and household items. Don’t just stay in the women’s section; branching out to the men’s section will help you find misplaced items, the comfiest hoodies, sweaters, jackets, and t-shirts, all great for sleeping, cropping and lounging.
- Keep your mind open
It is so important to go to thrift stores with an open mind. While you may be looking for a specific piece, don’t close your mind to the possibilities in other aisles. Too often my friends and I go looking for something in particular, and we end up leaving with something that’s not what we were originally looking for, but definitely worth the trip.
- Go by touch
If you have shopped in traditional stores for most of your life, your first trip to the thrift store will be pretty jarring. While mall stores typically have all the clothing arranged aesthetically with the different colors and sizes altogether, thrift stores have aisles of specific clothing like jeans or dresses arranged mostly by size and by color. A sea of green t-shirts may be pretty intimidating (or useful depending on what you’re looking for!), so tackle this by diving in! Look and feel for clothing that feels different than the rest and that can often help you find a cool, fun look. For example, when sweeping women’s tops for a party look, I was at a dead-end until I started feeling for different fabrics. Then I was able to find mesh and velvet shirts, perfect for a night on the town.
- Don’t be swept away by the low prices
It is easy to go into a thrift store and end up spending just as much as you would have spent at a store in the mall. While you definitely got more bang for your buck, chances are you grabbed clothes you would not touch if it were full-priced. Thrift stores are great because it is a cheap way to check out statement pieces and looks you wouldn’t touch otherwise, but it defeats the purpose of saving money if you grab clothes you are never going to wear just because they’re a dollar. Go in with a set spending limit, and you can even make it a challenge to see what great pieces you can find with just $10!