Thrifting 101: Here’s How to Get Your Favorite Trends For Cheap

It was Halloween. I was sorting through piles of used clothes looking for anything that could be turned into a last-minute costume. Then I found the most perfect pair of overalls. Eight dollars for the perfect Tommy Hilfiger overalls that came straight from the streets of the 90s. I left the thrift store cotsumeless, but I had just bought something selling for over $100 on Depop for less than ten dollars. I love clothes, but I’m also a broke college student. So in an attempt to fill my closet with the trends I love, I’ve turned to thrift shopping to get my clothes for cheap.

Most of my favorite finds have all come from thrift stores. I’ve found everything from velvet blazers to basic black T-shirts, and I've never spent more than $20.

In one good thrift haul, I’ll bring home seven new items totaling just under $20. It allows me to afford unique patterns, timeless trends and new styles.

Want to upgrade your style on a budget? Here’s everything you need to know for a successful thrift haul.

Commit — it’s worth it

The first thing you should know about thrift shopping is that it’s not glamourous. The stores are often dusty and old. There won’t be mannequins – OK, there might be mannequins, but instead of wearing perfectly curated outfits in bright storefront windows, they’ll be wearing zebra print pants and teal derby hats. Thrift shopping takes a lot of commitment. You’re going to sort through a whole lot of ugly before you find anything worth your time, but when you finally do find that perfect jean jacket or turtleneck you’ve been looking for, and it’s only ONE DOLLAR, it will be totally worth it.

Go in with an open mind

Don’t expect to find clothes that looks like it belongs on the rack at Forever 21 or Zara. Thrifting is all about finding unique clothes at good prices. Don’t be afraid to try on something outside of your comfort zone. Think about how you can pair funky finds with what you already own. Wild patterns, bright colors and textures are always fun to experiment with. Might as well only spend a few bucks to try out something new.

Look out for your favorite trends

I usually flip through magazines and scroll through Instagram to find what’s trending before I go thrift shopping. Looking for trends can help make the endless racks of clothes feel a little less overwhelming. Old styles like 90s street wear and 70s patterns show up a lot in thrift stores and vintage markets. Trendy jackets are one of my favorite things to look for, because you will almost always find it for half the price you would pay somewhere else. I’ve found velvet blazers, teddy bear material and jeans jackets all under $20 each.

Favorite thrifted trends: Jean jacket, $10; 90s Tommy Hilfiger overalls, $8; turtleneck $1

Keep it local

Yes, I know you love Goodwill. So do I.  But if you’re looking for the best bang for your buck, Goodwill, and other chain re-sale stores like Plato’s Closet and Salvation Army aren’t the way to go. Local thrift stores are almost always cheaper and you’re more likely to find hidden gems. Local thrift stores, like the ones ran by churches, often run unbeatable deals. One of the best deals I’ve encountered was all I could fit in a shopping bag for $7. Another favorite is the 25¢ rack at Outreach.

Favorite Gainesville thrift stores: Outreach Thrift Store, Haven Hospice Attic

Check out vintage markets

If you don’t have the patience to spend hours sorting through people’s old clothes, there are people who actually do that for you! Vintage vendors handpick the best pieces and styles, but it will cost you a little more. You won’t get shirts for 25¢, but it’s a great alternative to still get the styles you love. I especially like to buy shorts and jeans at vintage shops because they find ones that actually fit. Vintage market pop-ups, which host a variety of vendors, are fairly common in Gainesville. Those events usually have great pieces with pretty good prices. If you find something you love, remember to get the name of your vendor’s shop! A lot of vendors don’t have storefronts and can be hard to track down.

Some of my favorite vintage vendors: Future Perfekt Vintage, Everyday in Retrograde, La Chua Vintage hosts great vintage markets

Belts and bags are better at thrift stores

You can never have too many accessories but buying a new purse for every outfit can add up pretty quickly. Thrift stores are great places to find belts and bags that are cute and reasonably priced. Especially belts. I spent $15 for a plain tan belt at Target, I found almost the exact same one at the thrift store for $1 the next week. Please don’t spend your money on your belts.

Favorite finds: Western style belt, $3; 70s style tooled leather belt, $1

Thrift shopping can help you venture into new trends, get localized with the fashion sense in your own communities and find all pieces you could never find at the mall. Take these tips and tricks with you to your next thrifting trip and see what gorgeous pieces you'll find next.