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12 Fashion Trends Found at a Thrift Store

Disclaimer: I am a thrift store junkie. The thrill of hunting through racks of hand-me-downs for “gems” makes every trip into an adventure. Each item that I’ve collected is a treasure – not just to me, but to all those who have worn it before me. To prove that second-hand clothes are just as trendy as the rest, here are a few of my favorite thrifting finds! 

1. Denim Shorts

Jean shorts are not a new trend by any means; instead, they are a wardrobe staple. Going to the thrift store, buying a worn-out pair of Levi’s, and cutting them into your own custom shorts is the best way to achieve that irresistible vintage look!

Compare to: Urban Outfitters BDG Essential Mid-Rise Denim Shorts, $49


2.  Oversized Flannels

Oversized dress shirts are now officially a style – especially if the pattern is plaid. This is one item that every thrift shop always has in stock. The men’s section will be the best place to look for a flannel that can be converted into a trendy shirt dress.

Compare to: Forever 21 Buffalo Plaid Shirt Dress, $22.90

3. Tailored Coats

Nothing says elegant like a nice tailored coat. Whether you throw it on over jeans to spice up a casual look, or use it to simply finish off your business outfit, these pieces are a modern necessity. Thankfully, the thrift store always carries plenty of second-hand coats that are ready to be styled in today’s world of fashion!

Compare to: TopShop Double Breasted Coat, $110

4. Mom Jeans

Mom jeans are another thrift store essential. While the denim section may often seem overwhelming, with some patience and an observant eye, you’ll be able to pick up the perfect pair of comfy, high-waisted pants right away.

Compare to: Urban Outfitters BDG Mom Jean – Vintage Wash, $59

5. Thick Cardigans

Cozy cardigans – yet another piece that never goes out of style! There is nothing like wrapping yourself up in a warm sweater on those bitter winter days. Stocking your closet with these thrifted items is never a bad idea – the more layers, the better!

Compare to: Urban Outfitters Silence + Noise Ally Neon Chunky Cardigan, $49.99

6. Pleated Skirts

I’ve dreamed of getting an American Apparel Tennis Skirt for years now, but could never handle the price. Lucky for me, I’ve recently picked up several pleated skirts that replicate the style in their own unique way. Goes to show that any trend can be found at a thrift store, if you just look hard enough.

Compare to: American Apparel Tennis Skirt, $27 (on sale)


7. Colorful Blazers

Goodwill is my go-to place for whenever I need professional attire, given my reluctance to pay a high-price for clothing I don’t wear frequently. I’ve always been able to find nice-quality pieces! What’s even better is that you can take a risk and try styling that patterned blouse or colorful blazer because you save so much money.

Compare to: TopShop Tailored Suit Jacket, $125


8. Army Jackets

I can never justify paying a lot for a jacket that might go out of fashion in the next year, so as soon as I decided to give into the army green coat craze, I headed straight to the thrift shop to pick up my own vintage look-alikes.

Compare to: TopShop Camouflage Shacket, $85

9. Lightweight Cardigans

The drapey, open-front cardigan fad is one of my favorite looks to rock. It’s easy, effortless, and makes me feel like a goddess. My tip for locating these pieces in a thrift store is to try the lingerie section – sometimes a dressing gown can look just as fancy as a satin cover-up!

Compare to: Forever 21 Embroidered Satin Kimono, $19.90

10. Lace Tops

This another item I picked up from the lingerie section. Turning undergarments into everyday pieces is easier than you’d think, especially if you’re taking inspiration from the sheer, lace shirt trend that’s all the rage at the moment.

Compare to: Forever 21 Contemporary Sheer Lace Top, $17.90


11. Ombre Dresses

I have to admit: this dress is actually from Free People. I was beyond lucky to find it for a fraction of the normal price at a consignment shop. But even if your thrift store doesn’t carry that many name brands, there’s no doubt you’ll stil be able to pick up a flirty dress for the spring and summer.

Compare to: Free People Sun Up Mini Dress, $98

12. Fitted Pencil Skirts

Pencil skirts are perfect for anything from everyday wear to your first job interview. Plenty of wealthy fashionistas are always donating their practically new skirts to my Goodwill, so check out your local store and take advantage! One person’s donation is another person’s treasure.

Compare to: TopShop Tailored Suit Skirt, $60



Thrifting is the best thing to do when you want to try out a new trend without forking out half of your paycheck. If you’ve never stepped foot in a second-hand shop before, I encourage you to take the leap – trust me, it’ll never be a waste of time (or money).

Photos Courtesy of Elissa Gray


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Elissa Gray

Northwestern '20

Elissa is a Northwestern junior in Medill studying journalism and political science. She was born and raised in Las Vegas, where her love for sushi, avocados, and hot cheetos all began. When she isn't wasting away in the library, she can be found binge-watching romantic comedies on Netflix, and dreaming about her favorite place in the world, Disneyland. 
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