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How to Find Treasures at Thrift Stores

Come with a plan

Know what you’re looking for. Have an idea of what you want; sweaters, jeans, shoes, dresses, etc. If you go in just to look around you won’t find much, knowing what you want means you can take the time to thoroughly look for things and skip the racks that don’t have what you’re looking for.

Know what’s good

Brands like Eddie Bauer, Ralph Lauren, and Steve Madden are common in thrift stores. Depending on the area you might be able to find some other brands too. Always make sure to look at the fabrics. Thrift stores are full of cashmere, silk and suede if you look close enough, there’s also lots of leather and fur.

Look carefully

Don’t just glance through the racks, actually take the time to look at each item. Otherwise you’re gonna miss some really good finds! Thrifting takes time and sometimes things are tucked away between items. So look at each thing on the rack instead of just glancing over for patterns that stick out.

Always try things on

For one thing you want to make sure it’s comfortable. There is nothing worse than an itchy sweater. You wanna check the fit and know what alterations need to be made and if they are doable. There’s no returns at thrift stores so make sure what you buy is something you will use.

Learn some basic sewing skills

Most of what I find is too long or too big in the waistband, so learning some tricks for hemming and taking things in means that you can make things look exactly how you want them. There are lots of youtubers and bloggers who alter thrift store finds and get really creative with how they do it.

BestDressed is my personal favorite!

Use those geography skills

Think about where you’re shopping. Sometimes it’s worth it to drive out to the wealthy neighborhoods because the donations are probably newer and higher quality than what you find in a college town thrift store.

Don’t just thrift

There’s more than just salvation army out there. Stores like Plato’s closet have trendy and in-fashion items for thrift store prices, they make you feel a little more successful and usually don’t require as much altering. Estate sales are a goldmine for vintage clothing and are great for furnishing your apartment too, this is another thing that you wanna look for in nicer areas for nicer things.

Shop sales

Salvation Army has days where certain color tags are discounted, they also have student discount days and even days where men get discounts! You can get calendars with each days sales so you can plan exactly when to get the best deal.

(New years day clothes were 50% off, my mom and I got forty-six things together and spent $126)

Thrifting is perfect for college kids who love clothes but are completely broke. It is a sustainable form of shopping and can be so much fun! I’ve thrifted my entire life but in the last few years I have really gotten good at it. I can’t remember the last time I bought something wholesale and I really love the way I dress.

Thrift stores can be a great way to shop for clothes as a college student, since school is so expensive. You can put together cheap halloween costumes, or find decor and furniture for your apartment. It’s easy, it’s sustainable, and it’s fun; a college student’s dream.

Tess Ware

C Mich '21

Hi, my name is Tess and I’m a double major in Journalism and Women and Gender studies at Central Michigan University. Planning to become a media writer after I graduate. I want to empower people through my writing and hope to someday write a book on the intersection of Feminism and Paganism. I’m a huge crafter, I love knitting and altering clothes I find at thrift stores. I listen to a lot of audiobooks in my free time. I’m really excited to be co-campus correspondent and Editor-in-Chief for HerCampus-CMich and continue to develop my voice, writing and leadership skills.
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