Thrift store clothes had something of a bad reputation, at least back in my day. Today, though, I think thrift store clothes are the new “in thing”, especially for the frugal crowd. I admit that I’m a bit of a thrift store junkie, and the majority of my clothes came from the thrift store. I often see college students as well as some of the neighborhood “higher ups” shopping at my local thrift store.
Shopping at the thrift store is a great way to snag some cheap clothes and build your wardrobe on a budget. I only wish my parents deemed it “acceptable” to shop at the thrift store when I was a child. I would probably have been the sharpest dressed little chickie at school.
However, shopping at the thrift store for clothes can be a frustrating experience, especially if you don’t know what to look for. When I first started my big ol’ collection of thrift store clothes, I ended up with lots of junk clothes that were nothing but a waste of money. I’ve learned a great deal since those days, and I’d like to share a few tips for buying clothes at a thrift store…
Know What You Need
If you’re on a very tight budget, don’t just buy thrift store clothes willy nilly. Take an inventory of your closet, and make a list of what you need. If you don’t have a warm winter jacket, you can probably add this to your list. On the other hand, if you have 13 pairs of jeans, leave these off the list. This might be a good time to purge your closet and dresser of items you no longer wear or no longer fit. When you go shopping, you can drop off your unwanted clothes.
Find Out When the Sales Are
Like other stores, thrift stores have sales. Good sales! Most thrift stores use different colored tags on their clothes and discount one color each week. For instance, the color of the week may be 50% off all week, and only $.39 on the weekends. Find out how your local thrift store works its sales, and find out when the really big sales are by making nice with the employees, who can be a valuable asset during your thrift store adventures! It’s important to hit thrift store sales early, though, before everything is picked over. Go in the morning on a day when a sale first starts.
Scan the Racks First
If you spend time closely inspecting each item on the rack, it’ll take you forever to get through all of the goodies. Instead, quickly scan the racks of thrift store clothes first for colors, patterns, or textures that jump out at you. If something catches your eye, you can take a closer look at it. There will be times, though, when nothing really jumps out at you during these quick scans. In that case, jump right in and take a quick closer look at each item on the rack.
Inspect Thrift Store Clothes Closely
I can’t stress this enough! Always inspect all thrift store clothes closely before you buy them! Check for rips, stains, loose threads, and open seems. No matter how cheap a garment is, it’s nearly worthless if it’s damaged. However, if you find an awesome deal on a garment you have to have and it has minor damage, it may be worth it if you know you can fix it.
Try it On
My local thrift store has a dressing room, which I take full advantage of when looking for new clothes. If you have this option when shopping for thrift store clothes, I strongly recommend it. Make sure garments fit – in all of the right places – before you buy it. If something seems “off” about a garment or it doesn’t fit nearly oerfectly, it may be a good idea to pass on it. If your thrift store doesn’t have a dressing room, you’ll have to get a little creative. You could always use the “jeans around the neck” trick, but this doesn’t always apply to everyone. Make sure it works for you first before you rely on it. You can also dress in body hugging clothes, like a tank top and leggings, and try thrift store clothes on over your street clothes.
By this, I don’t mean get in a fist fight with another customer over that perfect little black dress. No thrift store clothes are worth that. Instead, I mean be brutal with yourself. When you’re trying thrift store clothes on, take a good look at yourself in a mirror and ask yourself if a garment really does fit well. Does it hide your problem spots and accentuate your accents? Do you love the color, pattern, texture, and feel? Will you really wear it? More than once? If you answer yes to all of these, then buy it! If not, you might want to pass on it.
Know the Return Policy
Yes – thrift stores have return policies! Most thrift stores will happily return an item, but you should know how the return policy works. Know the window of time between purchases and returns, for instnace, as well as the acceptable reasons for returning items. Chances are, you’ll get store credit for a returned item and only for the amount you paid for it.