A Basic Guide to Successful Thrift Store Shopping

I love thrifting!…though it wasn’t always that way. When my mom went thrifting as a kid I would be completely embarrassed and ashamed. I hated the smell and idea of buying clothes second hand. But one day I took a chance and gave it a try. I found the cutest screen tees and label clothing and was henceforth sold on second-hand shopping.

As my interest in styling developed, I found it fun to find dated clothing and create modern looks. I love a challenge! I reveled in seeing questionable items and then turning it into a look. This charade isn’t as fun and effortless to some, so I’ve created a guide to successful thrift shopping





Sweaters are essential for Ohio weather. Because many sweaters are needed, it’s most cost efficient to grab large quantities at low prices.

Similar to sweaters, pants help build a solid wardrobe. You can never have too many pants, so I like finding various styles and colors for a variety.

Blazers add polish and professionalism to ensembles, but they don’t have to be expensive! Build up your collection with ease by thrifting. I’ve found the most retro, 80s era blazers and sleek and trendy blazers by thrifting. Finding blazers for mere dollars is most rewarding to me because they are invaluable in a wardrobe.


Wardrobe staples. Wardrobe staples are an investment. You must find pieces that are versatile, flattering, and timeless. Why spend $80 on GAP jeans, that will last years, when you can thrift them for $12?

I have an affinity for picking out high quality items. It’s not a joke. I can look at a collection of clothing and my eye will naturally like and pick out the most expensive item. It’s inconvenient for my budget-conscious lifestyle, but I consider it a gift. You can do this, too! Learn to identify what makes quality clothing items: sturdy fabrics, thick knits, structure, and bilateral stretch. When you’ve become comfortable with this practice, search for these qualities when thrifting. 9/10 you’ll find those hidden Ralph Lauren and J. Crew items!

If you are unsure of your sizing in these label brands and don’t want to try on thrifted clothing before washing, go to the retailers and find your fit. This way you can skip the guessing game and thrift efficiently.


DO NOT buy undergarments and sportswear from thrift shops. The fluids, secretions, and odors trapped in such garments are not worth the low price tag. Buy these items outright and avoid any gross transference of the unknown.

DO NOT buy items with trapped odors. No matter how cute the item, nothing will bother you more than carrying around the thrift store smell. It’s so hard to get this smell out. After several washes, you may in turn ruin the item. Additionally, some thrift store items can be decades old and subsequently stay in the thrift store for years. That combination can make for a musty odor. We want to smell our best in addition to looking our best. Leave these items behind!


It is very easy to become sucked in and lose your way in a thrift store.  The point of thrifitng is to save money, so I refuse to pay competitive prices. Make a list of items you need and then create a two-part budget. Create a limit to what you’d pay for specific items and then set a budget for what you want to spend on your total items. Typically my overall budget is $35 and below. Bellow is my item by item budget:

Tops…No more than $5

Jackets/Coats….No more than $12

Pants….No more than $10

Shoes….No more than $10

Dresses/Jumpsuits….No more than $10


Find thrift stores with the greatest deals in your area. I find that national thrift stores and second-hand shops have inflated prices within the last five years. Places like Goodwill and Buffalo Exchange have more trendy, label pieces but you’ll be paying more than thrift store prices when shopping there. If you want cheap prices, instead discover the thrift stores with daily specials. For example, the pants in this look were 75% off $2 because the tag was red. I paid practically nothing! Become familiar with the discounted colored tags and clean up on deals!

If finding label clothing items at a cheaper price is your objective, go to wealthier areas. There are often thrift stores tucked away. They are magnets for vintage and designer clothing. I found these Ralph Lauren pants in a suburban Goodwill.

Practice makes perfect! Even if you don’t purchase anything, become acquainted with the layout of thrift stores and challenge yourself to find items of high quality. Once you’ve become comfortable and utilized the above tips, create a list and go shopping! You’ll be sure to have a fun and successful trip.

Details: Mock Neck Shell (Macy’s)//Olive Pants (thrifted)//Block Heels (Express, thrifted)//Fur Vest (thrifted)//Earrings (thrifted)