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If you’re anything like me, “how on earth did they get so lucky?!” often comes to your head when you see different thrift hauls on TikTok or Youtube. The words, “thanks, I thrifted it!” often fill you with an uncanny amount of jealousy. You find yourself yearning for the day that you are the one to find those perfect Levi’s, that adorable leather jacket or that fake Prada purse. You hear the words, “shop sustainably,” but think, “how am I supposed to find anything I want without buying new?”

I have been perfecting my craft of thrifting since I got my first paycheck at the age of fifteen, and although I can’t claim to be an expert, I do think I have a few helpful tricks up my sleeve.

1. Thrift often

If you’re really committed to a thrifted wardrobe, this truly is my best tip. If you go to the thrift store at least once a week, you’re bound to start finding more stuff. It really is that simple.

2. have a plan

One thing I’ve definitely had to overcome on my thrifting journey is buying every moderately cute thing just because it’s there, its cheap and I *thrifted* it. In the end, this is the opposite of sustainable shopping! If you go into the thrift store with the plan of only looking for certain items, you won’t end up with a bunch of stuff you need. For example, for my last thrift trip, I went in saying I’d only look for sweater vests, leather, fur, or designer brands. I ended up with one of my favorite sweater vests and some Dickies pants that are now a closet staple.

3. Be picky

This tip ties in with the one above, but it’s an important one. Making sure you’re only buying things you actually want and fit with your style will result in much more efficient thrifting trips. You don’t need that American Eagle sweater from 2015 just because you happened to find it at Goodwill for $3 when it would normally be $60, unless it’s really something you’ve been dying to have.

4. Don’t limit yourself to goodwill

While Goodwills are easy to find, everyone is going there hoping to find the best stuff. Finding other thrift stores in the area that are a bit off the beaten path will give you a lot more to work with when trying to find *that* item. For those in the Peoria area, I recommend South Side Mission, Moxie’s Resale and Tomorrow’s Treasures.

5. be thorough

For those thrifting trips where you really just want to find it all, you need to commit to combing through every single hanger of every single aisle. You just might find your new favorite sweater vest in the kids section, your new favorite crewneck on the men’s rack or a cute pant suit in the blazer area. You never know what you’re going to find if you just give yourself the time to find it.

6. Mondays & fridays are your friend

Generally, thrift stores heavily restock on Fridays to prepare for the weekend, and Mondays to recover from the weekend. More product means more of a chance to find the good stuff, so make sure you’re taking your trips at the right times.

7. be conscious

This is my most important thrifting tip. Although being fashionable and sustainable is very important to me, I always think twice when making a thrifting purchase to make sure the item isn’t an essential item in the life of someone that can’t afford it new. For example, I try to avoid the kids and coats sections of thrift stores as much as I can, because there are people out there that have no option but to find these items for the low prices thrift stores offer. Everyone has the right to be fashionable, but more importantly, everyone has the right to a winter coat. Although I’ve made a few purchases in these areas, it was only after a lot of thought about whether or not I really needed the items.

Ellie Hawkins

Bradley U '22

Hi! I'm a senior journalism major with political science and public relations/advertising minors at Bradley in my final semester. I'm a mother of a beautiful one-eyed Siamese kitty named Gus, and love singing, thrifting, and watching Sex and the City.
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