Shopping at a thrift store is not like going to the mall, and to build up a wardrobe of original thrift store style you need some special skills. Here they are:
1. Not all thrift stores are created equal. Some offer mostly vintage clothes that can be just as expensive as regular stores, while others sell bags of dirty clothes for $1. Some will have great furniture but hardly any clothes; others will be a gold mine of designer dresses. Ask friends for local references, and keep track of the stores you like and the ones you don’t.
2. Only go thrift store shopping when you have plenty of time and are in the mood to treasure hunt. Because thrift stores are much less organized than normal stores, it will take you longer to sort through all the sizes and colors to find what you like. Allow plenty of time, and never go shopping when you are hungry, tired or angry.
3. Take a friend. Having a buddy to laugh at silly fashions makes thrift store shopping much more fun, and your friend can give you an honest opinion about that $4 purple fake fur coat.
4. Check for deals. Many thrift stores run specials on a constant basis, offering half off all blue tags or a similar discount. Find out what the special is before you start shopping.
5. When sorting through the racks of garments, look at the material first. This will cancel out 75% of everything on the rack, because if you don’t like the material, the style and size do not matter. Next look at style – is that a butterfly collar? And finally, consider the size.
6. Before trying on anything, hold it up in front of you in a mirror. Sometimes this is all it takes to cull half of your items, and will save you heaps of time in the dressing room.
7. Try everything on. If this grosses you out, then wear leggings and a thin tank top to try on clothes over. We have all experienced the garment that looks great on the rack but awful on the body; even though thrift store clothes are cheap, you still don’t want to waste your money on something that you will never wear.
8. If you are petite, don’t forget to look in the little girl’s and little boy’s section for cute skirts and tops that you could wear- and they will probably be less expensive as well. On the fluffy side? Check the men’s department for unique clothes that suit you.
9. Know your style. Thrift stores are fun because they provide such a wide variety of clothing styles, however be careful not to buy something that is really cute for someone else- but that you will never wear. If you are going for “urban gypsy,” then that neon plaid jacket, while cute, is not going to match anything in your closet.
10.Chill out and check out. The thrift store is not the place to stress. If you don’t love an item, put it back. If you are buying an item because it is cheap, but would never buy the same garment for $30, put it back. However if you like a piece of clothing a lot but just can’t decide whether or not to take the risk, buy it. Worse case scenario- you are out $5. And such is the beauty of thrift store style.