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Five tips to thrift your dream fall wardrobe

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

The leaves are changing color, pumpkin spice is back, Spirit Halloween has opened up down the street, “Gilmore Girls” is playing on every TV and it is the perfect time to open your closet, take out those seamless, ribbed-knit tank tops and throw on the comfiest grandpa sweaters you own. For many people, the transition from summer to autumn can be stressful. As the heat still lingers, there is a lack of jeans, jackets and fuzzy cardigans in everyone’s wardrobe. 

The solution is simple – treat yourself to the best thrift trip before the fall weather hits Columbia. Here are the five tips and tricks to finding your dream fall wardrobe at local thrift stores. 

  1. GET INSPIRATION

A common trend with thrifting amateurs is going to Goodwill with nothing in mind, finding only a few items, then saying, “Where are all the gems?” Treat thrifting like an exam and study like your grade depends on it. Pull up Pinterest, TikTok or your fashion icon’s Instagram and analyze their outfits to find inspiration. Think about your style aesthetic, favorite silhouettes and the staple items you need when the weather gets chilly. For example, plaid shirt-jackets and oversized flannels were popular last fall. These can be easily found in the outerwear sections in both women’s and men’s departments at the thrift store. If you have a few options in mind, you will be more open-minded to clothing items that are similar to what you pictured. They might just need a little spicing up. Do not be afraid to thrift something random with hopes to upcycle it – this could be the best thrift flip you have ever attempted. So study hard, and you will be sure to ace the thrifting test! 

  1. FIND UNDERRATED STORES

It is easy to stick to well-known thrift stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army, but switching up the routine and finding smaller, lesser-known, local stores could be the key to finding your new favorite item in your closet. Some underrated thrift stores in the Columbia area include the Wardrobe, pop-up thrift stores downtown and Plato’s Closet. There are also Facebook groups that have garage sales, estate sales and local college students that are always selling clothes. It may seem hard to find the right thrift spot for you, but never forget that there are numerous options! 

  1. LOOK IN ALL SECTIONS

When browsing a thrift store, it can seem overwhelming at first. There are racks and racks of clothing that may not necessarily be organized in your size and piles of clothes in random bins throughout the store. However, the best advice to give for thrifting is to look through everything. Yes, including the men’s section, the kid’s section and every aisle that may not be your typical go-to. The best sweaters and long-sleeves could be hidden in the wrong place, or you could find your dream pair of cargo pants in the little boys section. Do not be scared to step out of your comfort zone and see the vision in a men’s graphic tee or button-down shirt. Thrift stores are overflowing with clothing due to hundreds of donations. Anything inside Goodwill or another store is up for grabs, and to make it even better, purchasing used clothing helps keep it out of landfills, which benefits the environment! 

  1. HAVE PATIENCE 

Thrifting is an incredibly fun hobby. But, to find something spectacular, it takes time and patience. Before stepping through the store’s doors, think about what you are looking for and schedule time in your day to browse for an hour or more. If you just want to walk around for a few minutes and see if something tickles your fancy, that is totally okay! There is no “rule book” to being a good thrifter. But to find the hidden gems and the best vintage garments hidden beneath the racks, it is best to take your time and search every square foot of the store. Oh, and do not forget to search for cute accessories like crochet scarves as you walk through aisles! Thrifting is fun, but it takes time to master it. 

  1. REDUCE, REUSE, UPCYCLE

After finding inspiration, go to the best thrift store in town and find clothing items that almost fit your style aesthetic and then get crafty. You do not have to be a skilled seamstress to transform these clothes from decent-looking to flat-out fabulous. All it takes is some scissors, some supplies and a good tutorial. For example, if a graphic tee you found is too long, simply crop it! This is the easiest thrift flip that anyone can attempt. If you are looking to be even more creative, research on Pinterest or Tiktok for some easy fashion fixes to fit your desired look. One of my favorites is embroidering flowers on the pockets of vintage jeans or painting on top of any garment to add some spice. There are infinite ways to change the items you thrift – all it takes is inspiration, a little creativity and some art supplies. 

Before all the leaves fall off the trees, be sure to stop at your favorite thrift store and try out these tips. The time and dedication you put into thrifting will pay off after you have found a phenomenal fall wardrobe. If you are having trouble, do not worry! Thrift stores are constantly changing like the seasons. Stop in the next day, week or month, and there will be more gems to be discovered. Enjoy your thrift trip this autumn!

Hi! I am a junior at the University of Missouri studying Strategic Communications with a minor in Textile and Apparel Management. I am originally from O'Fallon, MO and I love writing, fashion, iced coffee and my dogs.
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