Thrifting is an amazing way to score clothes on a budget, but it can be a little time-consuming. This is especially true when you’re looking for something that has a very particular fit, like jeans. Having a few tricks up your sleeve can make the entire process go smoother, especially when you’re in a rush.
Look for Tags
Thrift store clothing that still has the original price tags is always a good sign. It means that it’s probably never been worn, so if it’s an item you’re looking for, grab it! All in all, people are obsessed with buying clothes. Based on how quickly fashions change, many of the items from last season get handed off to secondhand stores, even if they’ve only been worn a handful of times – if they’ve ever been worn at all. That means that keeping a sharp eye out for tags can get you some great clothes at amazing prices.
Keep an Eye on the Brands
Some brands are better than others. They’ll be mixed in a bit, but you can’t just browse everything, unfortunately. If you see a brand that you know and love, it’s worth it to take a closer look at the piece. Good brands hold up better than cheap materials, which is especially important if you’re buying used.
Those pieces, especially ones that are clearly newer, will last you a long time. Pick them carefully, and choose them to be wardrobe staples. Jeans, a simple black blazer, nice slacks and a few good blouses can be the basis of a work-appropriate wardrobe, and you can find those items at most thrift stores.
Follow Your Nose
A really important aspect of thrift shopping isn’t knowing what to buy, it’s knowing what to avoid. One of the easiest ways to decide not to buy something is to smell it. It only takes a second, and if you smell something foul, put it back. You might think that the smell of stale cigarettes washes out easily, but it doesn’t. Neither do animal smells. If you find a piece that smells, put it back. It’s not worth the hassle.
Know Your Stores
Understanding your store is paramount to making a quick trip in and out. Get to know what kind of clothes they carry, and head to the stores that get better brands and items in your size. You can also investigate what days they restock every week, because that will give you the best chance at finding the perfect outfit.
The other thing is to know what time of day to hit the thrift stores. You should try and hit the stores early, during a weekday if possible. That reduces the number of people you’ll be competing against for good finds.
Stock up on Accessories
Accessories can make or break an outfit, and there’s no reason not to get them when they’re only about $2, right? Belts, bags, shoes and jewelry are staples that every closet needs, but they don’t have to cost a bundle. After all, a black belt goes with everything from skinny jeans to a red dress, and statement necklaces are a great trend. Besides, you often can’t tell cheap jewelry from expensive stuff without a magnifying glass, and thrift stores usually have a wide selection.
Sometimes, reality just doesn’t cut it. There are also some days where you just don’t want to put on pants and go out in public. On days like that, it can’t hurt to look elsewhere. Shopping online is a great way to find cheap clothing, especially if you’re browsing sites like eBay or Craigslist.
There’s no need to feel like you’re limited to just the traditional stores. There’s a whole host of options that aren’t that hard to find, from sites that list thrift stores in your area to sites that give you cash back and coupons, turning them into the trendiest thrift stores around.
If you go into the store with a plan and a good idea of how to look for items quickly, you’ll find that you have to spend less time sifting through bad choices than you thought. Go ahead and take the plunge!
Image via Kristen Bryant