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The 10 Sacred Rules of Thrifting

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If you are new to thrifting and can’t seem to discover any good finds here is some guidance to help navigate your next trip to the thrift store. 

The sacred rules of thrifting are tried and true. Embrace the hunt and get into it without expectations or hopes of any one item. Take your time and explore the full store and pick out items that stick out to you and give them a try on. Be prepared to get a little dirty, but in the end, the search can be highly rewarding. 

The 10 Rules

Rule One: Enter open-minded

It is essential to enter any thrift store open-minded as you may find some true gems or nothing at all. Don’t start off looking for a specific item as you likely will not find it. Instead, allow yourself to discover what is available and collect everything you find interesting while shopping to try on. In order to manifest success while thrifting, you really need to think positive. 

Rule Two: Don’t love it, don’t buy it

Thrift stores are packed full of garments and knick-knacks for you to choose from. Don’t be enticed by the price tag, there is plenty to keep looking through. If you don’t love the item and can’t envision wearing it immediately, don’t buy it. You also need to think about clothing that will make you happy to wear. And if it doesn’t fit these requirements, then, more likely than not, this item will just sit in your closet and end up right back at a thrift store. 

Rule Three: Get ready to get dirty

Thrift stores are not known for their cleanliness, getting dirty is just part of the experience. These are items that have been previously owned and do not get cleaned after donation, they go directly onto the rack once sorted. It is important to carry sanitizer with you for a quick refresh. Wash all the items you buy before your first wear, this is a must. 

Rule Four: Know how to spot a diamond in the rough

Know what to look for, there are some gems to find. High-end brands and materials are often under-priced at thrift stores, but take some digging to find. Be sure to know which brands are your favorite. With familiarity, you will know what to expect for fit and longevity. When sifting through, make sure you are checking tags for the brand and material composition. 

Rule Five: Check the fabric composition

Check the composition tags, synthetic materials like polyester degrade quickly and garments made of this material show damage and quickly deform. Be on the lookout for natural materials like cotton, wool, and leather. These items will look better and will hold their shape substantially longer. In addition, when looking at technical brands and outerwear, these brands use high quality technical fabric that feels a lot more comfortable than cheaper plastics. 

Rule Six: Give yourself time and shop all departments

Take your time, thrift shopping is a marathon, not a sprint. You don’t know what you are looking for, so you need to give yourself time to hit all of the items on all the racks. Thrift stores are not well organized, so you will find items misplaced in the wrong departments. Plan ahead and set yourself time to go through the entire store to ensure you get all the best finds. If you really know what to look for, you can find amazing accessories like belts and hats that are in the wrong section. Some of the best mens belts I have found were sitting in the women’s section!

Rule Seven: Try on everything

This is a good rule of thumb for shopping in general, but especially for thrifting. Items will look and fit differently compared to how they look on the hanger. Jeans, for example, often take the shape of the wearer over time. All secondhand items have lived a previous life, so it is essential to test out these pre-broken-in items before you buy. 

Rule Eight: Don’t assume you can make alterations

Yes, in theory, everything can be altered to fit, however, alterations can be expensive and time-consuming. Look for items that fit straight away to ensure you know you will like the fit and feel of the garment. Unless you know what you are looking for, only buy the items that require minimal work to wear. 

Rule Nine: Double check the condition of each item

Always do a double check on your items before heading to the register. There might be some sneaky stains or holes that you might have previously missed. Do your quality check with proper lighting. Sometimes the dressing room or the rack you discovered your item was poorly lit making blemishes easy to overlook. 

Rule Ten: Contribute

Don’t forget to give back! Go through your closet and donate items you no longer use and give your clothes a second life. Before you donate, clean your garments well and schedule a donation time at your local thrift store.

Final Thoughts:

Be patient, thrifting is not for the faint of heart. There are great finds to be found, but be prepared to get a little dirty and invest the time to search for those gems. . If you follow these rules, who knows, you might end up becoming a pro at thrifting!

Thrifting FAQs

The number one mistake people make when thrifting is not thoroughly checking items for damage, such as stains, rips, or missing buttons, which could make them unusable or difficult to repair.
Beginners often make the mistake of not being patient and thorough in their search, overlooking potentially valuable items or purchasing items without considering their true value or usability.
You can improve your thrifting skills by studying the brands that you find and learning more about fashion trends. The more knowledgeable you are about clothing, the better you will become at thrifting.

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