By Raven Roberts (@_ravenroberts),
First of all, congratulations, thrifting, is such an amazing way to add some great unique pieces into your wardrobe. So first off, get to know the stores. Try and visit different ones each time you thrift, just so you can get acclimated with the stores around you. Some thrift stores have days where certain items are on sale, whether it is in a certain category (dresses, shoes, accessories, etc.), a day of the week (50% on Tuesdays) or color of the week* (50% off for the week). Always find out their return policy, because each store is different and some may differ from state to state. For example, some Goodwill’s take returns, usually 7 days, but most don’t so be sure to ask.
On your visit, there are two ways to shop: for something specific or just because. When shopping for something specific, focus on what you’re looking for first; it is so easy to get sidetracked in a thrift store. Once you’ve checked the section(s) you can start exploring other areas. No matter how you shop, have the day’s sales in the back of your head when choosing items.
You can’t compare prices to other thrift stores but I usually google the brand if I don’t know it off hand. If it’s a discontinued brand there will sometimes be pricing on sites like eBay or you can gauge how popular the brand once was. I try to stay away from Forever21 and H&M items because the pricing is usually around the same as it would be new in store. I do sometimes find the items I want in store so I will purchase it then. Re-imagine items. Think of how you can up-cycle items with minor alterations. Calculate the cost of the dress and alterations and see if it’s worth the value.
Inspect the clothing.
Look for stains and holes, assess whether they can come out or be mended. Stains like oil, ink, coffee or wine won’t come out. Holes in seams are the easiest to repair, some other holes can be fixed with a patch or alterations. Alterations can include, making something short sleeved, hemming a skirt, making pants into shorts, etc.
Try it on.
Wear clothes you can easily get in and out of if there’s a dressing room. If there isn’t a dressing room, I suggest leggings and a tight top, something you can put clothes over easily. If there’s absolutely no way to try on the item, put it up to your body and try to estimate it as much as possible. Keep in mind vintage sizing. Vintage sizing usually runs smaller than our current sizing, about 2 or 3 sizes. For example, I am usually a 0-2 and in vintage sizing I would be a 4-6; sometimes an occasional 8, depending on if I want it over-sized or not. The further back the decade, the more in sizing I have to go back. Another example, a dress from the 80's I’d be a 4 but a dress from the 50's or 60's I’d be a 6.
**Color of the Week - some places will tag their clothes as they arrive each week with different colors. To keep clothes moving quickly, they put the oldest tag color on sale each week, so each week a different color is on sale.
Time to hit the register.
Most thrift stores keep their nicer small accessories and jewelry by the register. I usually look at items while I’m being checked out. If this is your first time at the store be sure to ask about their return policy here.
Once you get your items home, wash them or get them dry cleaned before wearing. Furthermore, take your items and get them altered. And of course enjoy!!!