Is there really a better feeling than landing the perfect pair of JNCO jeans for $5.99 in the boys’ section of a thrift store after seeing them listed for $150 online, all while swaying to the beat of the oldies playing through the loudspeaker? Filling your cart with Lip Service, Limited Too, and vintage Bebe from the Y2K era will never feel as good as it does after searching through racks and racks of secondhand clothing to find it. For anyone who loves the chase or a good scavenger hunt, steering clear of normal stores and heading to the nearest thrift might make your life just a little more exciting. But in order to make the most out of your trip, there are some things you should know.
Don’t limit yourself.
If there’s one thing you shouldn’t do while thrifting, it’s stick to what you know. Every item has its own history, and you have the potential to repurpose it. Your shopping experience will change entirely when you realize that you aren’t just restricted to the sector of the store that you’re expected to shop in for your age and gender. For example, most of the time it’s extremely tough for us girls to find fitted, cropped tees in the women’s section. A clever alternative would be to indulge in a ‘90s trend and scavenge through the kids’ section. If done correctly, you can walk out with a bag of cropped baby tees with amazing graphics and only spend $2 to $5 on each. For shorter girls looking to stray from outlet-store skinny jeans and dip their toes into the land of baggy pants, the boys’ section has a surprisingly sweet selection of construction-esque skater jeans.
And if we don’t allow it to threaten our masculinity or femininity, incorporating aspects of fashion from the opposite gender can actually deepen our personal style and help us realize that at the end of the day, clothes are clothes. Guys who want to experiment with different cuts, fits, and patterns can start by sifting through the women’s button-up blouse rack for a or maybe trying on some long vintage women’s trench coats. Looking into fashion figures that embrace feminine masculinity like The Garden or Harry Styles can widen your style horizon by a landslide.
Pay attention to detail.
Name brands are not the only thing of value when it comes to clothing. Although it’s always smart to keep an eye out for designer logos, you shouldn’t discriminate. Researching tags from different eras will help you decipher vintage pieces. Good-condition vintage alone is worth more than you know, and while you might not recognize the logo on the tag, a piece can be from a discontinued designer brand that’s being resold online for ten times its thrift store cost. Always keep your phone nearby to research the potential worth of your finds. But don’t let a pair of jeans with a bell-bottom cut fool you into thinking you just scored some ‘70s vintage. Always check the tag instructions, material, and logo for conformation. On another note, sometimes off-brand graphic tees can be better finds than those mass-produced by a company. If you find a cute top with an off-brand Hello Kitty printed on it, you might want to pick it up—it's less likely that someone else will be able to purchase the same top.
Lingerie is a look!
The lingerie section might be the most useful spot at thrift stores. Not only is it stocked with lacy tank tops and bustier tops, but its racks are lined with slip dresses that can be styled in dozens of different ways. Lingerie might seem promiscuous and private, but it can boost your confidence and help you feel sexier in your day-to-day life. And even if showing skin isn’t quite your thing, throwing on a t-shirt underneath can put you in your comfort zone while still accenting the beautiful colored embroidery and lace that lingerie has to offer. It’s a shame that all those lovely curve-hugging and body-accenting pieces are meant to be hidden underneath our clothes. Embrace your femininity and maybe even rub it in!
One of the strangest things that I tend to hear people say when explaining why they don’t thrift is that they “don’t know how to style thrifted clothes.” Thrifted clothes aren’t very different from store-bought clothes except for the fact that they’ve been worn before, but if vintage clothing is what people have been referring to when they say “thrifted,” then the solution to their problem is Pinterest. Pinterest is like Google but for pretty images. Searching something as simple as “goth outfits” or “y2k outfits” will yield thousands of images meant solely to inspire you. Any aesthetic that you might favor can be easily accessed with the click of a button. Admiring different styles and picturing yourself in them can help you get crafty when styling thrifted outfits.
If you’re really trying to go home with a bag full of unique finds, you cannot rush. Go on a day when you have nothing else to do, and bring your headphones and a snack. Look through every section and don’t be afraid to put stuff in your cart that you aren't sure about! The point is to have fun, and at the end of the day everything is cheap, so if you risk it and buy an item you aren’t sure about, you can always download Depop and make some money off it!