I love new clothes as much as everyone else, but honestly my budget doesn’t have room for all the new clothes I want. Thrift shopping has been part of my life since I can remember, but it can be draining to spend hours looking through racks at the thrift store and not find a single thing you want to leave the store with. Throughout my life I’ve learned a few tips and tricks for surviving secondhand stores and how to actually enjoy the process!
If you need something specific, just buy that specific item new or on a secondhand store online where you can do specific searches.
Odds are not in your favor to find a specific item at a secondhand store. If you want a vintage Chanel bag, going to your local Goodwill probably won’t be the best use of your time. There are so many ways to get secondhand clothes online that you should start there. Examples are eBay.com, ThredUp, Poshmark, even craigslist/Facebook Marketplace might work depending on your neighborhood.
Buying Dry-Clean only clothes is possible and can still be cheap if you use an at-home dry clean kit
It used to be a mistake to buy dry-clean only clothes at the thrift shop; but since there are DIY at-home kits that are so easy to use it would be a mistake to pass them up! I’ve used the (affiliate link) Dryel At-Home Dry Cleaning Kit and loved it.
When doing some research for this article, I found this article that describes other ways to clean vintage/secondhand clothes:
Love the dress but don’t love how faded it is? Use RIT dye to spruce it up.
A recent favorite way to use RIT dye is to re-dye all my black clothes and to dye my jeans darker. I must wash all my black clothes too often because they get so faded, but using RIT dye is so easy! It is always easier to dye something darker, so keep that in mind when choosing an item to dye. RIT’s website has about a bajillion tips, videos, and step-by-step instructions on how to best use their products.
Get to know a tailor in your area and customize clothes to your specific shape
Don’t make the mistake of thinking “I only spent $5 on this, I’m not going to spend $20 more on tailoring”. If the item is worth $25, then it doesn’t really matter that $5 of it went to the secondhand store and $20 went to your tailor, right? If it’s a t-shirt, then I wouldn’t bother, but if it’s a quality piece that you would pay full-price for in the store, don’t use flawed logic to miss out on great pieces.
Look at the rack one size up and one size down from your current size
You know how there are some stores where you wear a size Med and others where you’re a size Large? If your store is sorted by size, keep that in mind and look in a variety of sizes. Vintage clothes are sized very differently than modern clothes, so if you want to shop for vintage clothes, you might want to do some research on the brands and what to look for.
They probably have a customer appreciation program; sign up for it.
Many thrift shops have some sort of customer appreciation program whether it is an email with coupons or certain days where different colored tags are on sale. Ask the cashier what they offer and how you can keep up on their deals.