Helpful Tips on How to Shop Thrift


Thrift shopping is a rewarding and challenging task. You can find some great stuff, but sometimes you have to dig for it, thrift shopping truly requires patience. However, it is definitely worth it when you find that treasure you had no chance of finding in a regular store at an unbelievable price. Like the time I bought an Yves Saint Laurent dress shirt for $0.25! So, here are a few tips to help you on your hunt.
1) Have an idea of what you are looking for before your shopping trip. Many thrift stores are organized by garment type (pants, shirts, sweaters, etc.), so if you know you need dress pants and sweaters before you enter the store, you can go directly to that section. As opposed to wandering around the store with no direction and getting overwhelmed. This will also ensure that you get what you need, instead of getting home and exclaiming “Ugh, that’s what I forgot!”
2) Before you decide on an item check carefully for holes, stains, small tears and snags. You are shopping used, and not all stores are as selective of the merchandise they put out. If the item is damaged and you want it, be sure it can be repaired, it may be worth it. For example, you may find a great jacket with a hole in the seam, this can easily be repaired by a dry cleaners. But if the hole is in the cloth, it may not be salvageable.
3) Look for items that are new or like new. I have come across several new or gently worn items at thrift stores. But stay away from items that are faded or seem too dated. Even though it may be cheap, it can still be a waste of money if it won’t fit with your style, wardrobe or ends up sitting in your closet unworn.

 4) If all else fails, just go for accessories! You can find great neck ties, costume jewelry, hats, belts, etc. at thrift stores. You may even find a few valuable vintage pieces. If you are leery of used clothing, buying a few great neck ties or bangles for $1 can free up cash for new clothes. Mixing new and used is a great way to stretch your shopping dollar. 

5) And finally, do some trend research before you thrift shop. As we all know, fashion always comes back around, so there’s a good chance that what’s hot now, was hot 20 years ago and a vintage version of the latest style may be sitting on a rack at a thrift store 80% cheaper. By making yourself aware of a few hot trends before your thrift excursion, you will be able to select pieces that you can mix more easily with new items, and will help you inject fresh style into your wardrobe via thrift as opposed to dating your look. Fashion magazines and their websites, high fashion department store sites like or can help you identify new trends. 
If you have any questions or successful thrift shopping experiences to share leave a comment!! 
-Shereena Monique

Emerge Fashion Styling

3 comments on “Helpful Tips on How to Shop Thrift”

  1. I love thrifting! What I tend to do -weird as it may seem- is walk down the long aisles with my hand on the fabrics as I walk. I can usually tell if I should stop & spy something out by the feel of the fabric. Once it passes the “touch test,” I look at the pattern/color before even pulling it out. I find those two little tests save the time of flipping through every single piece of clothing when there could be literally thousands of shirts.

    Good tips!

  2. I grew up thrifting.

    I have to disagree with point #1. While I keep an idea of what I’d LIKE in the back of my mind, I am always disappointed to go in with an idea in mind, and come out with nothing, because of COURSE a thrift store does not stock everything. It’s better to go in saying to yourself “i’d LIKE to get a dress shirt”, but to keep an open mind, and YES look at everything. You’ll miss something if you don’t. I ALWAYS find something when I least expect it.

    And I definitely agree with #3. Sometimes I pick up cheap trendy stuff and I always regret it because it’s definitely done in about 3 washes. Watch for cheap brands!!

    • That’s a good point Meghan, it is good to keep an open mind. But it is good to have some idea of what you are looking for, that way you have a better chance of getting what you need. Some people have shopping phobias and get overwhelmed easily with shopping that is not direct and simple. Having a shopping list of sorts makes things easier, and you can always purchase that diamond in the rough that you may come across while shifting through the racks. It’s true that you can find great items you weren’t looking for; I too have found my share of gems when I did not expect to. Bless you, thanks for reading.

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