How To Thrift

If you are the kind of person who wants to thrift for key vintage pieces but doesn’t know where to start, then you are in luck. Here at Diary of a Vintage Girl, thrifting comes naturally.

In fact, thrifting does not even have to mean vintage. Knowing how to thrift is all about finding great clothes at affordable prices – yes, that means bargains!

How To Thrift

While you might need a helping hand to start you off with the thrifting process, no doubt you will have the process down to a T in no time.

Even so, let’s take a look at how to thrift

Plan Your Research

While you might want to head straight to your local thrift store to pick up bargains, you may not find what you are looking for.

To be more efficient and productive with your time, you will want to know exactly where you need to go. You will also want to know which places have the best prices.

There is no point heading to a store and finding out that they sell vintage clothes but at modern day prices. It defeats the point of thrifting.

Fortunately, there are a few online ways to help you with this research.

For example:

  • Route – use Google Maps to find where your local thrift stores are. This includes places like Goodwill and Salvation Army. You will then need to know the fastest route there.
  • Online – Use apps such as Etsy and Ebay to find out the prices of secondhand clothes and accessories. This way you will be able to spot a bargain. 
  • Current trends – you can find modern pieces of clothing in thrift stores. In fact, a lot of vintage pieces roll back around again, for example bell bottoms. Look at stores such as Zara and Forever 21 to find out what is currently on-trend. Then find these pieces in a thrift store.
  • Unworn clothes – before you head out to the store, make a note of all the clothes you have not worn yet that are still hanging up in the closet. This helps you find pieces that will match these clothes. Hello, full outfit!

Prepare For The Day Of Thrifting

You might be surprised, but thrifting can take longer than you think. For this reason, you will want to be prepared for at least an hour of rummaging through racks of clothes.

This includes taking a small bag with you. This should contain a bottle of water, tissues, some hand sanitizer and a small stain remover. The latter should only be used if allowed – it is not uncommon to find stains on old clothes.

You may also want to take a collapsible grocery store style bag with you as well. This can double up as your ‘trolly’. 

Also, before you decide to pick up new clothes, consider donating some of the items in your closet which you do not plan on wearing again. 

You may also want to set yourself a spending limit. $20 for each store should be enough. This allows you to not go overboard, and only spend what you can afford.

Thrift Shopping Strategy

Having a strategy will not only save you time, but ensure that you are only picking up key pieces that you actually want to buy. This means no more letting clothes stay in your closet.

You will need to know exactly which aisles you want to look at. This will ensure that you only target where you need to be, saving you a lot of time. 

You may also want to wear a full bodysuit. If the store is busy, then this allows you to try on clothes without needing to go to the fitting room. 

After so long, take stock of what you have picked up. Take a look through them and put back anything you picked up on impulse that you know you would never wear. Your wallet will thank you too!

Inspect Thrift Store Clothes

Inspect Thrift Store Clothes

When you pick up an item of clothing, inspect it well. The last thing you want is a huge fail. This is when you find out there are tears and stains that you didn’t spot in the store.

When you pick up a garment or accessory, take a look at it from every single angle possible. Turn it inside out if you have to. There could be hidden stains and tiny tears in the fabric.

You will also want to make sure zippers are working, buttons are on properly, and that snaps are working well. 

You may also want to check the pockets in case you find anything in there, for example old tissues.

Looking For Vintage Clothing At The Thrift Store?

If you are specifically looking for vintage clothing at thrift stores, then fortunately there are some easy things to look for to help you.

These include the brand’s label, the where made label, and union tags.

So, what are these?

  • Union tag – the union tag is a great way to ensure certain pieces are vintage. It should have a scalloped edge circle that has some threaded needle work behind it. The letters ILGWU will stand with the letters AFL-CIO. Around this are the words: ‘Int’l Ladies Garment Workers Union’.
  • Made in the USA label – most vintage pieces will be made in the USA. If it isn’t, there is a chance that it is not authentic.
  • Brand – if the piece is branded, then you will need to look at it thoroughly to see if it is real or fake. You can use something like the Vintage Fashion Guild to find out more information.

Final Thoughts

Searching through a thrift store for bargains is always fun, especially when you find that one magical piece of clothing at a great price.

Hopefully this article will help you to be a whiz at thrifting. It is way easier than you think, so have fun and enjoy the process.

Once you have thrifted once, there is no doubt it will become a lifelong affair. 

Willa Price
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