In this article, you’ll learn the best thrift shopping tips to find your own gems. My thrifting curriculum experience started to build up at the age of fifteen when I thrifted my first and most valuable item: A Replay oversized denim jacket. I will keep this one forever in my closet and pass it along to my future children.
I love to find cheap vintage clothes and grew wiser doing it. I adore the 70’s and 80’s fashion and accumulated a lot of gems that I ended up selling. I made some money but I also cluttered my closet for a while. I don’t want you to make the same (in case you just want to buy for yourself). I learned how to appreciate vintage fashion but without feeling compelled to buy everything I would find special. You’ll find so many exclusive items while thrifting clothes but if it doesn’t match your personal style or needs, it will end up in the bag of the closet gathering dust. For that reason, I will share the best tips a thrift practitioner has to give.
#1 Make a list (and be specific)
What’s that item missing in your closet? Save that pin of that vintage-inspired style on your phone and look for the piece that ties the look together.
If you know what you are looking for you’ll find it. It may take time, and may not be at the first thrift shop you enter but it will show up.
I also get things that are not exactly in my list, if I can justify that it matches my personal style and seasonal wardrobe color palette but do it not more than one piece. Otherwise, you’ll bring a few pieces home that is nice, but that blank space won’t be filled. You’ll still need the things you were looking for.
#2 Research for shops in your area and your trips (and go when it’s less busy)
I am known in my local thrift shops already. I made my research and I hit different thrifting shops for different shopping needs.
I live in Berlin at the moment, and this is thrifter’s paradise. From curated to shop by kilo clothing shops, from flea markets to charity shops I have it all in my area. If I need a good statement or designer piece I go to a curated shop, if I need some basics or a pair of jeans I head to the kilo shops and flea markets. I know where to go for different needs but maybe where you live options might vary so it’s good to make research and not buy immediately at the first stop.
Research the vintage clothing shops in your area, their aesthetic and prices and see what you need. Go on times when it’s less quiet like during the week early afternoon or morning.
I come from a small city where the only place I could find second-hand vintage is a shop where they sell also used furniture as main activity. It’s where I found a Replay denim jacket for 2 euros. So less options also can mean cheaper prices. Still, I wanted more options and whenever I had a chance to travel I always made my research to find new places to thrift. Make some extra space in your luggage and do some conscious and green shopping by bringing goodies from the thrift shop.
Some shops don’t take payment by cards or only after a certain amount of money they take. It happened to me in many places. Think of a budget for the things you need and bring it in cash. Also put your comfiest and thinnest clothes because sometimes they also don’t have a dresser so you’ll need to try tight there at the shop floor next to a lady picking coffee mugs for her breakfast.
#4 Look out for sales days
That’s one of my best thrifting tips I have. Get that 50% off. Oftentimes thrift shops also have sale days. Get informed and get those items you were looking for and save money. They normally happen at the same time other stores have sales, like summer sale. Ask the clerk, they will let you know.
#5 Pass often by your local thrift shop (and smile)
Let them know your face. You’ll get to know when they are having arrivals, will look out for pieces arriving that you are looking for and will get you a discount when that button is missing.
#6 Learn basic sewing tricks (or get a local tailor)
Don’t stop yourself from buying an item because there’s a button missing or a fixable hole. Even with repairing you’ll still be saving money. Brand-new high-quality clothes are expensive. Look out for quality pieces and repair them because they will last you ages.
The same goes for oversized clothing. If the piece is something you were looking for, you get it adjusted for your size at your local tailor. I got a vintage reformation like the dress but better than Reformation, because it is really vintage. I got it for 20€ and tailored it to my size for 8€ instead paying 228€. Isn’t that awesome?
#7 Nothing in your area? Get vintage clothing online
There are no good thrift shops in your area? It’s alright. You can shop and also sell second-hand clothing online. It’s also good for finding very specific items. Check this article where I give you plenty of platforms to buy from like Depop, Asos Marketplace, and Poshmark. I include some shops where you can also find designer vintage clothing.
These are my best thrifting shopping tips for you to find the best and affordable vintage clothing. Give thrifting a real try with these tips. Thrifting is the most sustainable way of buying clothes nowadays. It will stop clothing from ending in a landfill and give them a new purpose. You’ll save money and get some really special gems. Share my tips for thrifting clothes with a friend and head together to your local thrift shop.