10 Tips for Thrift Store Shopping

Because the world needs more photos of me prancing around.

I consider myself an expert thrift store shopper. My fairy godmother gave me a wonderful gift: the gift of finding something spectacular almost every time I go thrift shopping. My three best finds to date are Givenchy rainboots for $50 (which originally retail for around $1,600), a silk Roberto Cavalli silk scarf for $40 (which typically sell AND re-sell for around $250) — pictured above, and a wool Ferragamo skirt for FOUR DOLLARS (see below: the power of haggling) (these retail for anywhere between $700-$1,000 and re-sell for about $550). Really, it is an abnormal and fantastic gift.

I wanted to share some of my thrift shopping tips with you!

  1. Go in with an open mind: Some people go into thrift shopping with the mentality that they are going to find something great, and some people go in begrudgingly because they don’t like looking at pre-worn clothes. It’s really best to just go in with an open mind because you really just never know what you might find.
  2. Know your stores: There are lots of different types of thrift stores! There are chains like the Salvation Army, charity thrift shops, high-end thrift stores…the list goes on! In New York City, you have somewhat more funky chains like Buffalo Exchange, and there are a lot of other thrift stores that are great for buying more business professional clothing. There are really great hole-in-the-wall type places, and really hip, over-branded places. Then you have your REALLY high end shops, where items can cost up to $5,000. It’s also good to know your area — the Upper East Side is a fantastic place to consignment shop because there are a lot of wealthy people tossing valuable brands like Chanel, Ferragamo, and Givenchy.
  3. Think in terms of value: Don’t lose sight of your ultimate goals — you still want to purchase items of great use-value. But don’t forget that a gently-used Chanel bag is a great investment, and could one day actually sell for more than you bought it for.
  4. Make sure to look at everything under bright lights: While this is good advice for any type of shopping (lookin’ at you, H&M, and your makeup-covered clothing), worn pieces are much more likely to have permanent stains or general damage. Inspect every single crevice of the items you like — EVEN THE INSIDES. I got 40% off my Roberto Cavalli silk shawl because there was a stain…on the inside of the scarf that no one would see if I wore it. Which leads me to my next point…
  5. Haggle: It’s the best! I usually go in with the mindset of “how can I pay as little for this as possible?” Tiny stains, pulling, frays…you might get a cashier who is willing to give you anywhere between 10-50% off for these things!
  6. Don’t forget the men’s section: The men’s section will have the most amazing over-sized flannel shirts, and other super comfy sweaters. Check it out!
  7. Know thy fakes: If you’re going into shop with valuable items, make sure that you have a basic understanding of what a fake looks like. The best way to tell is the seams and stitching, but make sure to do your research for your favorite brands.
  8. Know what to buy: There are some things that are just better to buy from a thrift store: distressed jeans, vintage graphic tees, gently-worn cashmere, and flannel.
  9. Realize that thrift may not be the same as vintage: They just aren’t the same thing. Just like you should know your fakes, know real vintage. Some stores have a “true” vintage section, while others say they are vintage and are really just selling clothes from 2003. Look at the tag if you aren’t sure. Vintage items tend to have strange looking tags with more stitching/threads, shoulder pads, a softer feel for tees, or they are just really dated. You will acquire an eye for it!
  10. Care for your new purchases: Know how to store nicer items (a google search will do!) and also know that you can also have items repaired. Shoes can go to a cobbler, and any type of leather can be restored if you have a good person. Items can be tailored. Don’t always rule out a worn down heel!

Thanks for reading! If you have any questions, let me know in the comments!

T. Louise

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2 thoughts on “10 Tips for Thrift Store Shopping

  1. Thrifting is one of my favour Saturday afternoon activities! Consignment stores are great for finding some awesome deals as well! Plus you get money for the items u bring in !

    Liked by 1 person

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