How to Build a Wardrobe Using the Thrift Store

You know the phrase one man’s trash is another man’s treasure? Well in my case, one girl’s gently used clothing donation becomes my inspiration for next season’s wardrobe. Being a college student and trying to build a wardrobe with unique, but affordable pieces is virtually impossible. But with the help of a few quality tips, you can use the thrift store to meet all of your fashion needs!

1. Find Quality Thrift Stores

When buying used clothes, your range of options is only as large as the range of donations. Therefore, you want to go to a store with a large amount of donations. Most of the clothes should not be stained or extremely damaged. The store should also be fairly clean and organized. You should be able to clearly see the prices of items, and the store should have at least 3 dressing rooms. Look for thrift stores in areas like Buckhead, Atlanta. At these stores, you may often come across new items with all the tags attached!

2. Have A Goal

You’ll find it easy to spend your entire paycheck at a thrift store due to the relatively inexpensive prices. However, that’ll most likely end with an endless yet incohesive wardrobe. Instead, go into the shop with a goal in mind. If you’re looking for summer dresses, don’t spend a lot of time browsing through winter coats. And if you know that you are looking for high end brands, ask to see the items behind the counter. Many thrift stores keep the high end items behind the counter, because they are more prone to theft and cost a bit more. Or maybe bypass the traditional thrift store altogether. Instead, try looking into high end consignment shops such as Labels Resale Boutique in Atlanta. Stores such as Rag-O-Rama, also in Atlanta, are geared specifically towards unique, vintage items. Setting a goal and staying focused on it can be the difference between great purchases and buying junk.

Labels Resale Boutique

3. Know The Item’s Worth

After you set your goal of what you are looking for, do your research to know the value of your desired items. Many stores will upsell an item, because they know the brand is easily recognizable. As expensive as Nike and Victoria's Secret Pink are in a department store, at a thrift store, none of their items are worth more than $10. This is where your negotiating skills may come into play. If you see an item that you really like, but you feel that it is not worth the price, speak to the manager about it. They may consider lowering the price. Especially if you can point out a flaw, such as slight discoloration or a a few missing buttons. A store with a huge amount of donations generally would rather make the sale, even if it is a few dollars cheaper than they intended.

4. Grab First, Contemplate Later

If you even feel that you like the item a little, place it in your cart. Remember that this is not a regular department store, and once an item is gone, there probably won’t be anymore like it. With that being said, realize that all sales are final. When choosing what to purchase, be very critical. If you don’t love an item, it’s not worth it. Don’t waste money on stained items or things that need professional alterations unless you are very familiar with the brand and quality. Remember, you’re looking for a deal better than what you would find in a traditional department store.

5. Go Shopping At The Right Times

Many thrift stores will have certain sales and deals on specific days. Goodwills, for example, have days where certain tag colors are a reduced ticket price. After you find staple thrift stores that you really like, become informed on their sale days. Look for digital discounts as well. One of my favorite thrift stores offers weekly 50% off coupons if you sign up for coupons via text message. Ask the employees what days they put out new inventory, and go shopping early in the morning. You’ll get first pick of everything, and all of the items will still be neatly organized. Similar to how department stores sell clothes for cheap when they go out of season, many people donate their old items at the start of a new season. Thrift stores may also mark down prices of things that did not sell last season. So the beginning of a new season is a great time to look for quality thrift stores. It gives you a good idea of the type of brands, and the quality of items that pass through the store.

6. Start A Side Hustle

If you’re still looking for ways to build your wardrobe, but you’re not into the idea of wearing used clothes, try reselling thrift store finds on Ebay. Many people make thousands of dollars a year reselling on Ebay. Do your research to find which brands sell the best on Ebay, then go search for them in the thrift store. Depending on the brand and the rarity of the item, you can resell it for more than 3 times the price you paid. There are several YouTube accounts  dedicated to showing you how to start reselling items on Ebay for a large profit. You can take the extra money you gain and buy an entirely new wardrobe if you like!

Thrift stores are wonderful, because they can allow you to follow the latest trends or develop a unique look for affordable prices. With these tips, you’ll be able to build an entirely new wardrobe, and no one will even be able to tell that you only paid 1/3rd of the retail price. Happy Shopping!

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