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A Beginner’s Guide to Thrifting

It is definitely intimidating to walk into a huge thrift store. The sheer amount of clothes on the racks is always overwhelming to me. The first time I went thrifting, I wondered how can anyone possibly navigate their way through the endless clothing racks and find something that fits their aesthetic and fit size-wise? I can’t say I am now a professional at thrifting, but over the years I have thrifted enough pieces to give some direction to those who want to thrift yet don’t know how to start. Here's some advice to keep in mind when thrifting!

Perhaps the most important thing is to ditch the expectation that you’ll always walk out of the store with something. More often than not, I end up leaving thrift stores empty-handed. With an expectation of buying something, you’ll end up disappointed when your trip to the thrift store is fruitless. On a similar note, don’t go into a thrift store looking for a specific piece. The beauty of thrift stores is that you’ll never know what will end up on the racks, and with a closed mindset of looking for a specific kind of clothing, you might miss the opportunity of unexpectedly finding something you like.

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With that being said, make sure to give yourself enough time to spend at the thrift store. The trip is only worth it if you have enough time to go through every rack. Give yourself a good hour or two to comb through each section. Even the men’s section. Go through every single blouse, t-shirt, pair of pants, etc. You really don’t know what you might find. Oftentimes items get put back in the wrong section, and it might be something that you end up buying. I know for sure that some of my favorite thrifted items were only found because I took my time to go through the entire store.

A pair of earbuds and your favorite playlist is a must when going thrifting. Music puts me in a creative mood and helps to boost my intuition when it comes to visualizing outfits I can put together with pieces I find at the thrift store. Thrifting is an art form, in that you are looking for pieces that you can wear to add to your current wardrobe or use to experiment with new aesthetics. It’s also just nice to listen to your favorite songs when looking for clothes.

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Wear comfortable clothing. You’re going to be walking around a lot. Wearing comfortable clothes and shoes you can easily change out of makes it easier when trying on clothes. Along similar lines, don’t be afraid to pick out items that may be “outside of your aesthetic”. It doesn’t hurt to try on pieces that you wouldn’t normally wear. If you try it on and you don’t like it, not a big deal. But there’s also the possibility you love it, and even open doors to new styles that you would have never explored before.

What I love so much about thrifting is the fact that I can experiment with unique pieces and explore new styles without breaking the bank. In an effort to pull away from fast fashion brands, I’ve made it my lifelong goal to build a wardrobe consisting of second-hand and high-quality pieces. I’m still a long way from completing my goal, but I hope that these tips encourage and help you get started on your own thrifting adventures!

Emily is a fourth-year at UC Davis, pursuing a bachelor's degree in Communications and Cinema & Digital Media. She is currently Design Director for VITA at UC Davis and Digital Media Director for Her Campus UCD. She enjoys thrifting and getting coffee with friends.
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