Thrift Shopping Tips That Will Change the Game

Thrift Shopping Tips

Sustainable Daisy: thrift shopping upcycling sustainable fashion recycled clothes ecofashion

1. Have an Open Mind

Sustainable Daisy: thrift shopping upcycling sustainable fashion recycled clothes ecofashionA big reason I started my blog was to change people’s mentality towards secondhand clothing. Thrift shops have a connotation of being full of dirty, outdated, unwanted pieces. This is quite untrue. I think there is a value in things that are old, well-made, and secondhand. In Europe I saw firsthand how people would save up to spend money on expensive, well-made designer shoes and bags rather than splurge on a few lower-quality pieces a year. In the US when our shoes break we’ll throw them away and buy a new pair. Usually, we’ll buy a few pairs. Often we’ll buy a pair of cheap white sneakers and know that they’ll be wrecked in a few months, but buy it anyway. How come we never think to just fix these items? Why is our first instinct to throw it away? Advertisers coax us to be the consumer; a subconscious belief that we deserve the best available.

In many cultures when your shoe breaks you take it to a cobbler and fix it. There’s a value and coolness in owning something that’s used and well taken care of. If you’re the first of your friends and family to shift towards secondhand shopping habits they may raise their eyebrows at you like… huh? Just recognize that you’re not crazy, it’s a cultural mentality, and that vintage thrift shops are a budgeting fashionista’s best kept secret.

2. Know What You’re Looking For

Sustainable Daisy: thrift shopping upcycling sustainable fashion recycled clothes ecofashionThrift shopping can be a little overwhelming at first because clothes are not always organized in pretty rows like department stores. Clothing is held in more general heaps – winter wear, shorts, pants, tops, dresses, accessories, etc. Since things are more mixed up and there are no sales associates to help you articulate exactly what you’re looking for, walk in with a general idea of what you’d like to find. Have a positive attitude, yield low expectations, and float along with it.

3. Be Creative

You’d be amazed what a waist belt can do to a boxy dress, what a resown button can do to a pair of pants, and how a lifted hem can change a skirt. Alternations are easier than you think! I’m not a seamstress (I don’t even have a sewing machine), but if you utilize these quick alteration tricks you can made almost anything work.

4. Check for Weekly Discounts

  • Goodwill has color of the week sales where clothing with a certain color tag will be discounted throughout the store. Salvation Army also has weekly sales and frequent 50% off days.
  • Check out vintage stores on Etsy. Shops like Spring Creature have really cute, high quality vintage clothing.
  • At Savers secondhand store you can sign up for a free Club Card where you can receive 50% off select items one day a week, every week.
  • Jetrag is an amazing vintage clothing store that has $1 Sundays, where they bring a huge heap of clothes you can look through. It’s a fun place to explore, I would definitely recommend it!
  • If you sell clothes to the Buffalo Exchange you can receive 50% store credit off the price they’ll mark your clothing piece for. If you bring in your student ID, you can receive an additional 10% off your purchase.

5. Have Fun!

Sustainable Daisy: thrift shopping upcycling sustainable fashion recycled clothes ecofashionThrifting is funny. You’re rummaging around in essentially the biggest collective garage sale in your neighborhood, finding singular unique pieces, mixing and matching, grabbing hella cute clothes from $2 bins with 5 other people reaching over and under you. You’re in this loophole of extremely cheap fashion with crazed treasure seekers who’ve learned this truth, or with people who just want to pick up a t-shirt for a buck. It cracks me up sometimes. There are so many quality, name brand pieces that people donate that’re marked just a dollar or two! The search for these treasures is like a little scavenger hunt. Shopping doesn’t have to be tiresome or a chore. Thrifting is silly, so make sure you enjoy it. ✿

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72 thoughts on “Thrift Shopping Tips That Will Change the Game

    1. I love your article here! You are spot on the money! I am always amazed at how many beautiful quality pieces I find in thrift stores. I wonder why someone would ever have given up such cool garments. I make up stories about what happened that made someone let go of a piece. They lost/gained weight. It was a gift from a goofy friend with a different taste in clothing. They moved to a Tiny Home…… etc. I also have difficulty paying full price for new items unless they are really good quality.

      1. That’s so funny, I imagine similar stories as well! I always assume someone was moving and needed to clear out their closet or something. I’m quite thrifty, financially speaking, so secondhand shopping has really helped me save money while helping the environment at the same time. Thanks for dropping by!

  1. Great post, I agree the concept of buying good quality and maintaining it is lost on most Americans! Although I don’t mind buying something trendy cheap, that way if its not in next season I don’t feel bad about donating it 🙂

    1. Thanks Anna! ❤ I like buying things on a budget too, however I think it’s good practice to shift our thinking to recognize that we live in a resource-limited world and things aren’t produced out of thin air–it takes a lot of energy and resources to make everything we see at a store. Got to agree with you though, I do like to buy trendy things too 🙂

    1. Thanks so much! I feel the same way! It’s pretty fun, especially if you stroll in during a half-off sale day. It’s crazy how many quality things you can typically walk out with for just a few bucks!

  2. awesome post!! i LOVE thrift store shopping and completely agree with all of these tips. i would add make it about the experience, go in with a sense of adventure and you never know what you might find! also even though i am not much of a fashion gal myself, i love your blog and perspective on things!!

  3. I love it when people ask: “Where did you get that?” Sometimes I lie and say I can’t remember; it depends on the person, but I love it! It’s a sense of treasure-hunting too, and the one other tip that has helped me is go small. Go to smaller stores if you find it overwhelming. Value Village is expensive and too much of a village.

    1. haha! Small stores are a lot less overwhelming. I tend to have small goals on what I’m looking for (new jacket, dress, etc) so I ignore some parts of a huge secondhand store and go straight to desired sections. I love telling people my clothes are thrifted too, I’ve gotten some surprised reactions. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  4. Thanks for liking my post on “Denim on Denim”. I really like your blog. It looks so fun! Anyhow, love this article. It helps to keep money in the bank haha. Are you on instagram or twitter? Let’s get connected!

    1. Thanks! You’d be surprised what shops you can find! I’ve been looking around the OC and LA areas a lot, but I also love to pop into small towns shops and even antique stores, sometimes i’ll find very eclectic pieces.

  5. I could not agree more with this post! I love thrift store and yard sales, garage sales, etc. I love getting good deals on things. Plus, when you buy previously loved clothing, you know they won’t shrink with the first wash!

    1. I feel the same way! I had a closet full of thrift clothes and kept finding really great, quality pieces. I felt like I found a loophole in cheap fashion. That combined with my love for sustainable living inspired me to create this website.

    1. That can be very true… I really like the loose bohemian looks so I’ll buy a dress I love that’s a size or two too big, and hem it or put a belt around and it ends up working well! I also like to tuck shirts into my pants/shorts slightly, so this helps balance larger shirts. I don’t think I looks awkward most of the time since oversized and comfy looks are in right now.If you have an open mind it’s much easier to scout out cute things. Good luck with it! ❤

  6. Ever since I heard Macklemore’s song ‘Thrift Shop’, I’ve wanted to go to a charity shop and see what bargains I can pick up. Thanks for giving me a starting point 🙂

  7. This is a great post – I used to shop at alot in charity shops and vintage stores when I lived back in the UK. Since being in Germany I have found it difficult to to find any – everyone here seems to love all brand new things! I did find a vintage store that lets by things by weight, so I’m super excited to check that out – I’ll defiantly use some of your tips.
    Great post xxx

    1. Oh really, Germany is such a sustainably-conscious country I’m surprised they don’t have a lot of secondhand shops. That’s interesting to me. The buy-by-weight shop sounds so cool! What a funny concept, I’ve never heard of that before. Thanks for coming by 🙂 xx.

  8. Great tips, Karen!

    I especially like #2: Know what you’re looking for! It really could be overwhelming process to go through so many different clothes indeed!

    I also can add another tip for your wonderful readers.

    #6. Style a whole outfit.
    Go even further when thrifting. When you find something you like, before buying it – look and find something to make a complete outfit.
    If it is a dress, find a necklace, scarf, a bag or hat that match the style or the colour palette! If it’s a blouse, match it with skirt or pants, add even a jacket for cooler months. There is so much variations for that. And the best is, you are still in the shop – don’t miss so much choice to find your best combination!

    I love thrifting and 95% of my wardrobe is second hand, but as we all do – I hit hard time when I want to make my outfit for the day. I have so much and I can’t find a satisfying combination, brrr!

    Karen, thank you so much for this inspiring post!


    1. That’s a great tip!! Sometimes when thrifting I’ll find a beautiful sweater, get excited and buy it, without taking a look at the skirts of pants… Items in thrift stores are unique and constantly coming and going so it’s good to give the store a through sweep. Thanks so much for stopping by and giving such great feedback! I think about 90% of my closet is thrifted too, and I love all the pieces I have hanging in there 🙂

    1. Definitely! I’m the same way, especially when I find a special vintage piece. It’s more exciting for me to hunt for beautiful items than to stroll around the mall. Thanks for popping by!

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