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As the air slowly starts to turn chilly, and the trees appear to be shifting to that oh-so-lovely shade of orange, you know it’s time for fall. If you’re anything like me, you looked into your closet filled with lively-colored tank tops and realized you had a lot of work to do to build a fall wardrobe. I, for one, don’t like to break the bank when it comes to clothes, despite my intense shopping addiction. It doesn’t take long to find thrift hauls on any social media platform, but up until now, I never believed I could find the pieces that others seemed to find with ease. Although thrifting can seem like a daunting task, it doesn’t have to be intimidating – especially if you go in with an open mind and ideas at the ready.

Where to start?

The key to a good thrift trip is knowing where to go. My favorite place happens to be Plato’s Closet, especially if I’m looking for a trendier piece since these clothes have already been bought and chosen to be here through paid donations. Plato’s Closet is a great way to get acquainted with second-hand clothing while still finding pieces in good condition and well sorted out for you. Places like Goodwill, Savers and other smaller local thrift stores are always filled with gems, a lot of the time you just have to be willing to hunt for the pieces you have in mind. It’s also important to note that inventory in thrift stores changes rapidly, so it’s worth returning to the same places time and time again.

Tried and True Thrifting Tips: 

  1. MAKE A PINTEREST BOARD!

Make – and I cannot stress this enough – a Pinterest board. If there is one thing I wish I knew when I first started thrifting, it would be to have some sort of vision board or aesthetic in my mind while I was looking. Like I mentioned before, thrifting can be overwhelming, and leaving a packed store empty-handed can feel deflating. I tend to find myself gravitating towards many different styles, but for fall in particular I love unique jackets, leather, vintage sweaters and leather boots. By honing in on a specific style or piece, it can make a thrift trip feel purposeful and the pieces you have on your vision board tend to jump out at you in the store. Even if the pieces you buy aren’t exact replicas of the items you had in mind, the general idea still got you there; and besides the best part of thrifting is that your piece is unlike anyone else’s. 

  1. SHOP ALL SIZES

Being only 4’11″ makes all clothing shopping feel like a struggle, but now that oversized is a popular trend in fashion, it means that all sizes are fair game. Even if you think that you won’t like the fit, or that it will look too loose or too small, it never hurts to try it on. I recently found my dream leather jacket at Goodwill, for only $15, and it quite literally doesn’t have a size on the tag. Be open to trying everything and looking at all sections. 

  1. KNOW THE RESTOCK AND SALE DAYS

Although thrift stores are known to be discounted as is, who doesn’t love an even cheaper deal. By talking to staff or using the internet, try and find when your local stores put out new inventory. Goodwill tends to have specific colored tags as a certain percent off throughout the week, which means even a $12 pair of heels could end up being only $6. Like I said, who doesn’t love a cheaper deal?! Many times, a lot of what people thrift tends to be more unique statement pieces that may not be worn at all times, which means scoring these pieces on a deal versus full price makes them slightly more obtainable. 

  1. HAVE AND OPEN MIND AND DON’T GIVE UP

The worst part about thrifting is that nothing is guaranteed. The dream leather jacket took me three thrift trips to find this season, and I’m not lying when I say I thought I would never find what I was looking for. The more positive you are going in will only lead to a better trip, even if you do end up leaving empty-handed. It’s worth noting that not every trip will be a massive haul like you see on social media, in fact, most of the time you will find a few pieces to build the closest you love over time. The fact that you never quite know what you are going to get is sort of the best part, but also the biggest letdown of thrifting. The important part is that you don’t give up on thrifting because it can be seriously rewarding.  

YOU GOT THIS!

Buying second-hand clothes is now one of my favorite things to do, and most of my clothes are no longer unsustainable tops from Shein that I impulse buy when I shouldn’t, but rather unique pieces that I love wearing and actually fit my style. It feels good knowing you are buying things for yourself, not because a website told you to. To me, there is nothing better than getting complimented on your amazing new pair of boots and being able to share that yes, they really are thrifted.

Happy thrifting!

Emma Julian

Illinois State '25

Hi! My name is Emma and I am a freshman at Illinois State! I am majoring in Journalism with a minor in writing. I enjoy writing about mental health, fashion, lifestyle, and pop culture. I am so happy to be part of Her Campus! Feel free to follow my instagram: emmarosee13
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