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It really isn’t my intent to toot my own horn here, but I have been told on many occasions by a variety of people that they love a specific piece of clothing I’m wearing, or even my whole outfit. They are then gobsmacked when I let them in on the secret that my entire outfit has been picked up from thrift stores. Usually, they’ll then lament to me about how they can never find anything as good when they go thrift shopping, so I decided to, at risk of all my style secrets being exposed, make a quick little manual on how to build a great wardrobe with thrift store finds.

 

  1. Know what you cannot get at a thrift store. I make it a personal rule not to buy underwear at thrift stores. I also stay away from the very basics, like camisoles and white tees, because those often have a short shelf life anyway, so it’s better to get them new. The rest is pretty much fair game!

 

  1. Don’t limit yourself to just one section. Check out the men’s section, the juniors section, the shoe section, and whatever else the store has. Most of my t-shirts, which I usually turn into crop tops, come from the men’s section, but I can also find some good already-made crops in the juniors section. The men’s section is also a great place to look for outerwear since that is largely unisex in style anyway. If you only look in one section, you may be missing out on a lot of gems.

 

  1. This is a big one, and the one I rarely see inexperienced thrift shoppers do: Look. At. Every. Single. Item. Maybe even twice. Go down a row and look at every single piece of clothing, and I don’t just mean glance at whatever is visible and just keep going. I mean, physically move each hanger and actually take a look at each garment. Handle the fabric in your hands and get a closer look at buttons, stitches, and stains. You’ll be surprised at what great pieces you find that you would have definitely overlooked with only a cursory glance.

 

  1. Finally, once you have a good amount of clothes in your “yes” pile, don’t rush off to pay and get out. Walk around the store more, just holding the things you like. Look at them often. Examine them for stains, rips, or odors that could stick around even after a round or two in the washer. And, one of the final and most important tests is, try to figure out what outfits you’d actually put together with that new item. You might have picked it up because it was cheap and eye-catching, but no matter how cheap it was, it will still be a waste of money if you never use it.

 

I wouldn’t say that these are all my thrifting secrets, but these are some of the big ones. I hope that you can put them to good use and maybe even discover some of your own. Happy thrifting!

A senior English major at Regent University. Mostly just a word nerd who also happens to be in love with film and K-pop. Always in search of new experiences, food, and friends. Feel free to come say hi on Twitter or Instagram
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