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Lookbook: 5 Outfits, 5 Thrift Shops

Thrift shopping has recently become a popular pastime for savvy shoppers. It makes for inexpensive shopping, and it’s essentially a treasure hunt. I still consider myself new to Gainesville, so I decided to check out the best thrift shops in town. I wanted a little challenge along the way, so I decided to try to put together five different outfits from five different Gainesville thrift shops. Along the way I found a few treasures and few busts, but here’s the result of several hours of exploration.

1. Alachua County Humane Society

Not many people know that there’s a thrift store directly attached to the Alachua County Humane Society. The thrift store’s profits benefit the animals currently sheltering in the humane society. If you’re looking for clothes, like I was, then I’d try another thrift store. This one had a lot of antiquities, like silverware, old movies and rows upon rows of books. Don’t get me wrong, I love searching through old books and antiques. For my own personal mission, however, this place made it difficult to find an entire outfit that 1) would fit and 2) would somewhat match. I had to resort to searching through the kid’s section for bottoms that would come close to fitting. I found a pair of bell-bottom jeans that could only be described as groovy, at best.

While searching through the women’s section there were a few options I considered for a top. Since my jeans were already a little out-there, I decided to take the outfit even further with a sweater that my friend described as “Cookie Monster’s younger brother.” She wasn’t wrong. I felt like the sweater and jeans were missing something, so I went searching through the belts and I found a canary yellow belt that would add a little something extra. This store was the hardest to create an outfit out of but let me just say that the prices had me re-thinking every purchase I’d ever made at a name brand store. All adult clothing was $1.50, and kid’s clothes were $1. Meaning my entire outfit was around $3. My Starbucks order is more expensive than that.

2. Goodwill Industries of North Florida

Most people have stepped into a Goodwill and seen the type of clothing they have to offer. Some days you find some hidden treasures, and other days nothing catches your eye. It’s all a part of the game of thrifting. This Goodwill in Jacksonville had plenty of clothes to go searching through. For some people, thrift shopping can be overwhelming because of the sheer amount of clothes. This one was nice because they had their clothes organized by color and type. I found some interesting clothes to try on but most of them didn’t fit. Even the clothes I chose to use as my outfit didn’t fit me. You might not be able to tell in the picture, but the skirt I have picked out is tied to me with a scrunchie.

I chose this outfit because it was a warm day and I was really feeling those springtime vibes. I’ve been really into calf-length skirts lately because I feel like they are the perfect transition from spring to summer. This skirt was $4 and the shirt I picked out was $3. I chose the shirt mostly because I needed something that would match the skirt. I’m a big believer in having one staple piece in an outfit and being able to build up around it – the floral skirt. The total outfit cost came to just about $7.

3. CHS Upscale Thrift Store

Maybe it was just me, but man — I have been sleeping on this Gainesville thrift store. I talked to the owner and she said this thrift store has been named the top thrift store in the state for the past few years, and I can understand why. The prices are incredibly low, and they only have quality clothes and other antiques. To give you an example, my friend bought barely-worn Jack Rodger sandals for $4. We looked up the exact same sandals on Neiman Marcus and they’re retailing for $128. I’m not saying we scammed the system, but we scammed the system. I ended up buying the entire outfit that I put together for a total of $6.

I’ve been looking for black high-waisted jeans for a while, but I never wanted to pay full price. I found these Hollister jeans in the kid’s section for $2. They looked insanely small on the rack, but they ended up fitting perfectly. It just goes to show that when you’re thrifting, it’s always worth a shot to try on anything you remotely like. I found the striped sweater in the women’s section, also for $2. Winter may be ending, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not going to be rocking this sweater next season. And finally, I’ve also been looking for a light jean jacket or jean shirt – this one was perfect. The shirt is light, and it will be a perfect addition to my spring wardrobe.

4. Outreach Thrift Store

This thrift store was also a winner in my book. The store itself is set up in an old Victorian-looking home on the side of the road. The second I walked in I instantly gravitated towards the rack labeled “Gator Gear.” There were sweatshirts and t-shirts for $3.00 that would’ve run for at least $30 in the bookstore. This thrift store was solely clothes, meaning it took me a good while to sift through the racks of them. In this store I wanted to try to put an outfit together that was different from the others. Recently, I’ve been seeing a lot of celebrities and bloggers wearing trousers in a more casual setting than just an office job. Trousers can retail from $50-$100, so I thought, why not try thrifting some? There were multiple pairs of trousers, but I picked these because I thought the stripes were on trend. I had a challenging time trying to find a shirt to go with the trousers.

Originally, I wanted to find a retro-style T-shirt and tie it up, but I didn’t have much luck. I ended up going for this dark emerald top that leans more on the side of formal. The result of my outfit didn’t turn out casual, but I do think it would be cute for a night out. The trousers were $7, and the shirt was $3.50 making the grand total of my outfit $10.50.

5. Flashbacks

Flashbacks is famous in Gainesville. The thrift store is located a walking distance away from the University of Florida, the closest one out of the stores on the list. It’s the place everyone goes when they need a last-minute outfit for some retro-themed party. I’m just going to say it, personally I think that Flashbacks is overrated. They have some interesting and unique items, but so did every other thrift store on the list. Flashbacks is expensive when we were comparing their prices to other thrift stores. I tried on a pair of Levi jeans at Flashbacks that were selling for $15. In all my hunt I don’t remember seeing anything that even came close to being sold for $15.

Were the jeans a good deal? Of course. Were they best deal? Hardly. That being said, I really loved the outfit I put together. I found this jean dress on the rack from previously tried on clothes, its price was 12.99. I quickly snatched up the button-down shirt. The shirt stood out with its bright red cherry pattern and 1950s housewife vibes. I really liked this comfortable yet cute look.  It could be worn to a picnic or for a stroll through downtown.

Gainesville thrift stores did not disappoint. I found entire outfits at these stores that I would have no qualms wearing on a regular day out. You can find some amazing things in thrift stores if you’re willing to look for them. I love the experience of looking through clothes, usually from an entirely different time in history. Thrift shopping is akin to an archeologist digging up historical treasures. You just have to know where to look and you have to be willing to put in the effort.

The best part? You never know what’s waiting for you in between racks of previously loved clothes.

Michaela is a third-year journalism major at the University of Florida and is currently majoring in journalism. You can find her soaking up the Florida sun at the beach, shopping at a thrift store, or in the front row of a local band's show. Her friends, good coffee and a book are one of the many things that keep her smiling every day. 
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