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A Professional Thrifter’s 5 Best Tips for Thrifting Your Dream Wardrobe

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

As a thrifting connoisseur and online reseller, one of the most common questions I get on social media is “What are your best tips for thrifting?” Every time I make a thrift haul or a “thrift with me” video, people are in my comments telling me that their thrift stores are broken and that they’ve never had that kind of luck. Well, I’m here to tell you that your thrift shops are not broken. I’ve compiled my best tips for navigating the thrift store so you can recreate your Pinterest board this summer on a budget.

What are my qualifications, you may ask? Well, I’ve been thrifting my closet since I was in seventh grade and at least 95 percent of the items in my closet have been purchased secondhand. I also run a secondhand clothing shop on Instagram and have rehomed over 7,000 pieces, so I’ve been around the block when it comes to finding cute things at the thrift. Contrary to popular belief, there are more than enough gems to go around.

Here are my top five tips for finding hidden gems and unbeatable deals in the chaotic racks of a thrift store.

Knowing When To Go

Going thrifting at the right time is such a make-or-break factor in your shopping trip. Personally, I refuse to step foot in a thrift store on a Saturday or Sunday unless there’s a big sale going on, which might be a hot take. The weekend is inevitably the busiest two days of shopping, and going thrifting in a crowded store with narrow aisles and picked-over racks is just not the move.

I’ve found that workers aren’t restocking as much on weekends in order to keep up with the registers, and people are buying much faster than new items are being rolled out. And of course, the selection is just not as promising as a weekday’s when the store is less busy. There’s truly no better feeling than getting the first look at new inventory without the competition of a crowd.

That being said, you should also know what times to go. Lots of thrift stores put out the most pieces early in the morning to lessen the load for the rest of the day, so you might want to set your alarms and get there soon after opening. Don’t worry, you can always stop at Starbucks on the way to wake you up!

Get Insight from Workers

Going off of my last point, it’s important to find out specific details of each particular store to optimize your thrifting trip. For example, knowing which days your store restocks or when upcoming sales are is a key piece of information in navigating the thrifts. The easiest way to get this information is just by asking!

Lots of stores have one particular day of the week when everything is on sale. For instance, I found out from a kind worker at City Walk Thrift Store here in Tallahassee that all of their clothes are 50 percent off every Wednesday as well as the last Saturday of the month. I never would’ve known if I didn’t ask!

Plus, make sure to follow your favorite stores on social media to stay in the loop, too.

Look in ALL Sections

Now, you might walk into a thrift store and head straight for the women’s section only. This is one of the biggest mistakes you can make at a thrift store — you’re missing out on so many cute pieces.

The truth is that thrift store workers misplace items all the time, and a lot of workers don’t fully ace the task of sorting through recent clothing trends. Brandy Melville baby tees end up in the children’s section all the time; in fact, I’ve found more Brandy Melville in the little girl’s section than in the women’s section. Baggy jeans from Edikted or Motel Rocks find their way to the men’s racks since lots of workers are used to limiting women’s jeans to purely skinny styles.

Make sure to check every single rack in order to get the most out of your trip.

Check the Dressing Room Racks

Hands down, some of the best pieces I’ve ever found at the thrifts have been on the dressing room racks. Most shops have a small clothing rack outside the fitting rooms for discarded pieces, and this is actually the first place I look every time I step foot in the store.

These items have already been picked out and curated for you — somebody else did the hard part for you. The same thing goes for clothes balled up on the floor or tossed on top of the aisles; they indicate somebody liked the pieces enough to take them off their hangers. After all, you know what they say: one man’s trash is another man’s treasure!

Oh, and you can’t forget the incredible feeling of finding a cool girl’s discard pile in the corner of the store. If you see a group of clothes that don’t belong, then run, don’t walk.

Take your time

Now comes the most important tip of all: be patient. As much as 15-second TikTok clips make it seem like thrifting is a quick activity, it’s really not. Thrifting is a slow process, and it’s ideal to go when you have a few hours of time to spare.

Bring some earbuds, grab some coffee, and make a day out of it. Take your time to comb through every single piece on every single rack, because that’s how you find the real gems. Walking in and expecting to find your dream wardrobe laid out for you is going to result in some disappointment because that’s not the reality.

Make sure to try these tips out on your next adventure to up your thrifting game. Make sure to keep in mind that thrifting can always be hit or miss, and just because you walk out empty-handed one day doesn’t mean that particular store is a bust. Every thrifter has off days, so keep at it. After all, that thrifting high when you find a valuable piece is like none other.

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Hi, my name is Ella and I’m a Marketing major at FSU! I grew up in Dallas, TX but have been loving life in Tallahassee. I have a passion for anything and everything fashion related, especially vintage clothes! If you ask me what I’m wearing, it’s probably thrifted. Through my love for secondhand clothing, I’ve found a space in the reselling community on Instagram as well! Being on the business side of fashion has been a great crossover between two of my hobbies, and I can’t wait to write about not only fashion topics, but also entrepreneurship and business ones. As a Marketing major, I aspire to pursue a career in social media managing. Having a presence on social media has been such a joy in my life and is definitely the career field I plan to strive towards. Trends, algorithms, content—I love all of it. I’m also a HUGE Swiftie!! Taylor Swift, Gracie Abrams, and Conan Gray are my top three artists. My other hobbies include writing, sewing, and running.