Thrifting Tips: How To Find Hidden Gems In Secondhand Stores

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Are you scouring the internet for the best thrifting tips for successful secondhand shopping? If you want to thrift like a pro for unique and one-of-a-kind, pre-loved clothing, read on for some tried-and-true tips for thrift store success. 

A rack of colorful shirts at a secondhand store.
Photo credit: Pexels.

The art of thrifting is not new. For years, creativity-charged folks have been hacking and refashioning pre-loved clothing into custom, upcycled pieces. These days, however, as more and more people are aware of the looming evils of fast fashion, the sustainable fashion industry has grown exponentially. In 2022, the global apparel resale market size reached $182.4 billion.

Budget-friendly sustainability is booming. The best thrifting tips for beginners are flooding our social media feeds while fashion activists and granola girls share eco-friendly thrifting tips and hauls. So it’s safe to say that secondhand shopping is the vehicle of self-expression for thousands of fashion-loving people worldwide. And the benefits of shopping at thrift stores are many.

A woman holding up two pieces of clothing at a store.
Photo credit: Pexels.

Why Thrift Shopping Is a Great Option?

Thrifting Is Sustainable

By buying secondhand items, you are reducing the demand for the production of new items, which helps to reduce the amount of waste generated and conserve natural resources. Thrifting is a key element of living sustainability.

Thrift Shopping Can Be Very Affordable

Thrift stores offer clothing, accessories, and household items at significantly lower prices than traditional retailers. This can be particularly beneficial for people on a budget or looking for a bargain. Gen Z is showing the world that experiences are more important than things and that there is no shame in shopping secondhand.  

Finding Unique Accessories at Thrift Stores

Thrift stores overflow with one-of-a-kind items from many different eras, such as vintage clothing, retro home decor, and rare jewelry. If you can’t find it at your parents’ house, you can probably find it at your local thrift store. 

Reduce Clothing Waste

The fashion industry produces a lot of waste, so by buying secondhand clothes instead of buying new, you can help reduce the amount of clothing that ends up in landfills.

Social Impact

Many thrift stores support charitable organizations, so by shopping there, you can feel good about supporting a cause you care about and finding great deals.

A rack of secondhand denim jeans at a thrift store.
Photo credit: Pexels.

Best Thrifting Tips for Buying Pre-Loved Clothing Like a Pro

Have a Clear Idea of What You’re Looking for Before You Start Browsing

The thrift shopping experience is exciting — and it may sometimes lead to impulse purchases. Make sure to list the essential items you are looking for to keep yourself on track. This will stay focused and on budget, even if you are practically surrounded by great finds. 

Be Patient and Take Your Time To Look Through Everything

Granted, this is one of the most common thrifting tips and tricks. When you are on a mission to find the best hidden gems in thrift stores, the hunt might take a bit longer than expected. Scan the aisles with patience to spot the particular color palettes, aesthetics, or silhouettes you are looking for. Some stellar pieces might be hidden under piles and piles of vintage goods. Practice makes perfect.

Consider the Cost-per-Wear of an Item To Ensure It’s a Worthwhile Purchase

Here’s one of the best thrifting tips for beginners. Secondhand shopping should always add value to your arsenal. The true value of a piece can easily be determined by its cost-per-wear. Cost per wear equals the cost of the item divided by the number of times you wear it. So if the cost is $15 and you plan to wear it 20 times within the next 4 months, the cost per wear would be $0.75. 

Check the Quality and Condition of the Clothes Before Purchasing

Unfortunately, in most cases, the art of thrifting leaves no room for error. That’s because purchases are final, so you can’t return an item later. When you are in a rush, it’s very easy to miss a small hole here or a stain there. A good thrift shop find may turn into a sustainable shopping disaster. So make sure to double-check everything before purchasing.

Check the Labels and Fabrics To Ensure They Are of Good Quality

Not all fabrics are made equal. Some are butter soft and luxurious, while others are laden with chemicals. Before you swipe your card or hand your cash, check the labels to ensure that the item you are holding is of good quality. Silk, cotton, leather, wool, and cashmere are the creme de la creme and will hold more value if you decide to resell them later on.

Look for Classic Styles That Never Go Out of Fashion

Whether you are buying new or pre-loved clothing, it’s important to opt for styles that will stay in fashion for decades. White t-shirts, crewneck sweaters, trench coats, tailored trousers — classic styles are classic for a reason. So before you opt for something trendy, stop and think about the longevity of your potential purchase.

Don’t Be Afraid To Try on Clothes Even if They Don’t Look Like Your Size

Sometimes, we are so set on the size that we tend to miss out on so many green fashion opportunities. Remember that different brands have different size charts. If you want to thrift shop like a boss, it’s crucial to try on sizes that might not look like your own. That’s especially true for items like outerwear, sweaters, hoodies, and more relaxed silhouettes in general.

Be Open to Alterations or Repairs To Make the Clothes Fit Better

You can score great deals at thrift stores. The only issue is that some of the clothing might not fit properly. That’s why it’s important to be open to the idea of visiting your local tailor if the piece is worth the investment.

Look For Unique and One-of-a-Kind Pieces

Among the many benefits of shopping at thrift stores, there’s the thrill of finding one-of-a-kind pieces that no one else owns. This shopping adventure requires you to scan the thrift shop for gorgeous textures, handmade pieces, and vintage treasures ready to be loved again.

Dress for the Occasion

That’s one of the less-talked-about thrifting tips, but have you ever noticed that thrift stores have very few or no fitting rooms? Since most purchases are final,  you have to be 100 percent sure about an item before you commit. That’s why most pro thrifters are spotted wearing form-fitting tank tops and biker shorts or leggings when shopping for pre-loved clothing. This way, they can change in the middle of the store and minimize the try-on time inside the fitting rooms.

Sell Your Pre-loved Items First

Here’s one of the most thrifting tips that is often overshadowed by the thrill of scoring great deals at thrift stores. Find consignment stores that buy used clothes to keep your pieces out of the landfill. Alternatively, you can sell used clothing and accessories online.

Shop Off Season

Next, one of the most useful thrifting tips for becoming a thrift pro in no time is to shop for off season items Consignment stores are just like regular stores. This means that off-season items will most likely be discounted because the demand is low. For example, shop for linen shirts in winter and look for coats in summer. 

Learn To Upcycle

Thrift store shopping is a great way to shop sustainably, save money, and find unique items while supporting a good cause. Secondhand shopping can be a creative and fun way to express your personal style and experiment with fashion. You can easily upcycle and repurpose a piece into something new and unique. For example, an oversized denim jacket can be transformed into a trendy crop top, or an old t-shirt can become a cute tote bag. The sartorial options are endless.

A woman looking through items in a trunk at a thrift store.
Photo credit: Pexels.

Have Fun and Enjoy the Thrill of the Hunt

Whether you love secondhand shopping or you are a beginning thrifter, don’t forget to have fun. Sure, leaving the store without anything special can feel rather disappointing. But if you really want to score great deals at thrift stores, you have to be equipped with patience. Not all thrift quests are successful. And that’s okay. Have fun and enjoy the thrill of the hunt. Your next treasure is right around the corner.

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