I adore resale fashion. Whether it’s consignment, vintage or a thrift shop find, I love that resale fashion helps me determine my own distinct personal style with pieces that I truly love and treasure. I also love that shopping fashion resale means that there’s just that much less pressure on the fashion industry to produce more collections faster.
One of my fave ways to shop resale is to hit up thrift shop sales, where it’s possible to score truly magnificent pieces for truly bargain basement prices. Like in the image above: all of the pieces that make up that outfit were ones that I found at thrift shop sales! However, my skills as a seasoned thrift shopper did have to be honed over time, and the ability to spot a treasure didn’t come to me overnight.
So today I’ve got my best thrift shop survival tips. Although these are specific to thrift shops (and thrift shops sales!), they could help you whether you’re shopping vintage, consignment, or thrift in order to transition to a sustainable closet:
Before hitting the thrift shop, it’s best to have a goal in mind. Unlike conventional mall shopping, where clothes are arranged by piece and shops have been designed to make browsing and impulse buys easy, thrifts shops can be arranged according to size or style, but there are rarely any repeats. Because of this, it can be easy to get overwhelmed.
Usually I go prepared with a short list of wardrobe basics that I need, or trends that I’ve been dying to try. And it’s funny, and perhaps speaking to the state of our fashion overconsumption, but more often than not I find what I was looking for — from a classic trench to a button up patterned with neon pink cats (true story)!
When walking the aisles of a 50% sale day, your best friend will be a cart. That way, when you hit up the jeans aisles, you’ll be able to toss anything and everything that looks interesting into it. I personally like to take an aisle or two at a time, find anything that catches my eye, and then try it all on to weed out anything that doesn’t fit quite right or just isn’t my style.
I find this process totally necessary as out of an entire rack of options, only one or two may be winners. But you never know when you’ll find a new fave! Just be sure to focus on your personal style and what you really love.
This tip comes to me from the girls at . I’ve been watching their videos for years, although it took me so long to thrift like they do. When entering a thrift shop (and especially during a crowded 50% sale day), it’s important to wear work out clothes. And no, it’s not because you’ll work up a sweat searching those all those racks to find treasures.
Instead, workout clothes that are fitted to your body make it so that you can skip horrendous lineups and try things on right when you find them. This was a really difficult thing for me to get used to, and I definitely get a lot of weird looks whenever I whip a dress over my head in the middle of an aisle, but the time save is worth it.
Other than feeling overwhelmed, the other danger of going to a thrift shop sale unprepared is giving yourself over to the thrill of the find. Sure, it can be awesome to stumble upon a designer garment in perfect condition for less than the cost of a Starbucks London Fog, but even I’ve been there before: suddenly you feel lightheaded and parched.
I always stock my purse with a bottle of water and a portable healthy snack for times like these. If you need to take a break, take a break! And don’t get too caught up: I’ve never personally been one of those people who storms the new arrivals rack to fight over a fur coat. Thanks in part to fast fashion, there’s so much resale fashion on the market today that it’s just not worth stressing over!
OK, let’s deal with one major thrift shop pitfall head on before going any further: the smell. It’s slightly horrifying and can scare many people away from buying resale fashion in the first place. I get it. Some days when I walk into a vintage, resale or thrift store, I have to walk right back out again because of that smell — and no amount of promised street cred can save the shopping trip. And at my most extreme, this dislike of the scent turns into germaphobia.
Sometimes, something as simple as carrying an organic hand sanitizer in a purse helps with it. But other times, I get why many people are totally turned off of resale fashion. If you find that you’re willing to try resale but just can’t stand the collective odor of other people’s closets, I’d go for high end consignment if you have a high fashion budget, or online resale apps such as if you’re not willing to pay a high price for your duds.
Most high end consignment shops are not going to let their shops get that peculiar smell. And dealing with well reviewed individual sellers and individual pieces takes away the necessity of browsing through weird scents!
If you follow these tips, you’ll be a thrift shop expert in no time, finding treasures and bringing home haulteratives too!
Those are my tips to surviving thrift shops & sales. What about you? Do you have any tips to share? Are you as obsessed with thrifting as I am? Let me know in the comments!