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5 Tips on How to go Thrifting like a Pro​

Professional thrifter well dressed in a thrift store.

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If you love the thrill of searching for new clothes, you’re going to love to have these tips in the back pocket of your vintage Levi’s when you go to the thrift shop. And by the end of reading these tips, you’ll learn why it may not be wise to wear baggy jeans to the thrift!

Whether you’re looking to cut down on the cost of your wardrobe or to find that perfect item that fits your style, there are certain things you can do to increase your success rate when thrifting for unique items…

Find out when thrift stores restock inventory

Thrift stores generally operate in very structured ways, restocking items at a particular time that often repeats each week / season. If you know exactly when they’ll have new stock, you can plan your shopping trip and get there at the perfect time. By searching through items before they get picked through by other shoppers, you are maximizing your chances of finding a true gem. 

How to find out when thrift stores restock inventory?

Ask them! When you’re there shopping, ask one of the employees how often they restock inventory. It’s great to get friendly with the employees, compliment them on their style, so that they’ll be happy to share the valuable tips with you. 

And if you’re too shy to ask, bring a boisterous friend to ask the employees when the next big shipment is coming in. But there’s nothing to be nervous about, many thrift store employees are happy to share this information with their customers since it means more sales for them!

You can also keep an eye on their website or Facebook page. Many thrift shops will post photos of new items as they come in, and that’s a pretty good indicator that they’ve just restocked! Some thrift stores even ask you to sign up for text messages, to tell you when certain color tags go on sale. Generally when a new color goes on sale it means they’ve added new inventory and are trying to get rid of the old stuff for cheap.

Try looking for clothing that is off-season

Clothing rack that is out of season is marked down 70 percent at thrift store

Thrift stores aren’t necessarily the best bargain. If you go there looking for a winter coat or warm balaclava in the middle of winter, chances are they have increased prices because of the increase in demand

. Same goes for that cute sundress you’re eyeing in the middle of June! Even though you might find some great stuff in season, it probably won’t be the biggest bargain.

Looking for clothing that is off-season is a great tip to save a lot of money when thrifting. This is similar to retail stores that put last season’s items on clearance. Except if you’re looking for vintage clothing there really is no last season.

Like with retail stores, the best time to buy seasonal clothing is when the demand is low. Shop for jackets and boots in the summer, and look for sundresses and sandals in the winter.

Clothing that is off-season will generally be cheaper than the clothing that’s in season. Why spend $30 on a sweater when you can get it for $3? You might be able to find a pair of vintage sunglasses for very cheap during the winter months when no one is looking for them.

Know how to tell the difference in quality of materials 

When thrift shopping, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of finding that perfect piece for a great price. But it’s also important to know what you’re looking for when you walk into the store and to be able to differentiate high-quality fabrics from the low-quality ones.

When you’re about to invest in a designer item, you want to make sure that it’s genuine and original. Whether it’s a vintage Chanel piece or a knockoff from Forever 21, there are certain ways to tell if the look is up to par. The quality of items can vary greatly in vintage stores, but here are some tips on telling the difference between good stuff and shoddy knockoffs.

Telling the difference in fabric quality:

Natural Materials: If you’re looking for clothes, look for 100% cotton or wool blends rather than synthetic (laboratory made) fabrics and fibers. Natural silk, wool and cotton are much more expensive than synthetics like polyester and often times will last longer and are more durable. Generally higher end brands and vintage clothing is made of higher quality, more natural feeling materials. Trust me when I say you will know the difference between a buttery soft leather jacket and a cheap plastic knockoff.

Luxury Items: For higher-end brands like Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Prada, shoes, and handbags will be made with higher-quality materials like leather or canvas. You can also look for telltale signs of synthetic materials like PVC plastic, which is soft and shiny instead of smooth and dull.

Be strategic by planning before you shop

A trip to the thrift store can sometimes take up an entire afternoon. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get in and out of the thrift in an hour.Instead of wasting valuable hours, you can maximize your time thrifting by using a couple of specific strategies.

Before you even step into a thrift store, think about some specific things you want to look for while you’re there.

Be intentional about what items you’ll hunt down at the thrift store so you’ll know exactly where to look when you get in there. That way, if nothing else, you’ll at least have a specific idea of what kind of items to look for in each aisle or section within the store itself. It’s easy to get caught up in tons of distractions at the thrift. 

Survey the walls. Look at what items are on display to get a sense of how much the store values items you like. If you see a lot of clothes with designer labels, you might want to move on because you probably won’t find anything low-priced there.

Pick specific colors: If you’re searching for a special vintage item, make sure that it’s in the color palette you’ve been looking for.

Bring a friend. Thrift stores can be overwhelming, so consider bringing a friend along who has a good taste to help you focus on key pieces.

When thrift shopping, it’s important to dress appropriately.

Wear something fitted. Since a lot of thrift stores don’t have easily accessible fitting rooms, try to wear a fitted shirt and leggings so that you can try on clothes over your outfit. You can try on a sundress over your gym leggings and fitted t-shirt much and get a good sense of fit. Now if you were wearing those vintage 501 Levi’s you’d be off to the dressing room and spending value time that you could have been scouring for more clothes. 

Just remember to try on everything. Well, at least as much as possible. Even if you think a piece of clothing doesn’t fit right, try it on anyway. Vintage clothing fits a bit differently, so you may be positively or negatively surprised by how something fits. Also, by trying the garment on you will have a better chance at spotting flaws like stains or rips.Trying the clothing on forces you to inspect it closer, which will reduce your chances of making a mistake!

Final thoughts

The bottom line is that thrifting can be a rewarding experience if you do it the right way. Follow these tips the next time you visit a thrift shop, and see for yourself. 

A great wardrobe doesn’t have to cost a lot of money – you just have to know where and how to look for it.

FAQs About Thrifting Like a Pro

The best time to go thrifting is typically early in the morning on weekdays when new stock has been put out and fewer shoppers have had the chance to sift through the items.
To thrift without getting overwhelmed, come prepared with a specific list of items you’re looking for, focus on one section at a time, and consider bringing a friend for a second opinion and to make the experience more enjoyable.
Most thrift stores accept both cash and card payments, but it’s always wise to check the store’s payment policy before shopping. Some small local thrift stores do not accept credit card.

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