5 Ways to Navigate a Thrift Store

I post about thrift shopping often and people always ask me how I do it!  I figured it was time to share a few tips on thrifting and it turns out The Salvation Army Thrift Store is having a $2 sale this Friday and Saturday so you can put these to the test! The photo above, everything except the jeans are thrifted!

  1. HAVE A PLAN | It can be overwhelming walking into a thrift store if you don’t know what you want.  If you are new to thrift shopping I think having a plan is key!  It will help you focus and hunt for items easily.  Even if you don’t know the style of shirt you want, having colour inspiration or style of clothing can simplify shopping.  I love the Salvation Army Thrift Store because all of their clothing are organized by colour! TIP: We are now transitioning into fall, what are a few key pieces that would complete your wardrobe?  Write them down and when you go thrifting specifically look for those items.
  2. LET THE SIZE GO | When looking for clothing don’t limit yourself to one size, branch out!  You would be amazed how many times I find clothing that fits great in a different section.  You have to remember some of this clothing is vintage or may be an odd size or sometimes people move the clothing around so it ends up in the wrong section.  Take a chance on a different size, you might be surprised! TIP: Forget about the label!  If you are always a medium but find a shirt you love in a large, try it on!  There is only one so it won’t hurt to try.
  3. TRY IT ALL ON | Unlike a department store where you look in your size and pick out one or two items, the thrift store is a numbers game. Every piece of clothing you are attracted to or really like the style, take it with you.  I usually go into the changing room with an arm load of clothing, it guarantees I am going to come out with a few items. TIP: Don’t think about items too long, if you are attracted to a piece of clothing, grab it and try it on, you never know what will work!
  4. LOOK AT THE TAG | When I am thrifting I always feel the material and check the tags.  You might see a great shirt, look at the label and think it’s cheap, but when you check the material tag it’s actually silk.  Also checking the brand is a great idea since you can find quality items for a lot less.  I recently found a pair of Free People faux leather pants for $4 at my local Salvation Army Thrift Store. Looking at the pants I might have passed them up, but when I checked the tag I was thrilled! TIP: Material is more important than the brand.  If you find a 100% silk shirt but don’t know the brand, that’s ok.  It’s probably a really nice one.  Material will make sure the secondhand item is good quality and will last.
  5. EVERY PURCHASE IS A WIN | If you walk into a thrift store with a plan, try on a handful of clothes and only walk out with 2 pieces, you’re doing really great.  Thrifting is a process.  Maybe you have your fall clothing dream list, it might take you four trips to the thrift store to find everything you want, but that’s part of the fun! At the end when you have refreshed your wardrobe, it’ll feel like a win! TIP: You probably won’t find everything you are looking for in one trip, but don’t be disappointed, wait for the right piece of clothing!

When I was thinking of all the thrifting tips I had, a few popped up that were in the Don’t category.  See below for a list of thrifting don’ts.

  1. DON’T GO SHOPPING ON A WHIM | I think where thrift shopping can get frustrating is when you walk away empty handed.  This happens most often for me when I stop in and think I can magically find something amazing.  The thing is, I don’t know what I am looking for or what I really want, I am simply hoping to find something. TIP:  Do go shopping on a whim if you saw a killer off the shoulder sweater earlier in the day and would love to find something similar, it might not be on your fall list but you know what you are looking for.
  2. DON’T BUY ITEMS THAT DON’T FIT | I think this is an easy trap to fall into, I am definitely guilty of it!  You find an amazing designer top, it’s beautiful, you want it, but it’s two sizes too big.  You reason with yourself by saying oh I can tuck it in or wear a belt or maybe alter it, they never work!  It’s best to walk away. If not that piece of clothing will most likely end up back at the thrift store. TIP: Buying items that don’t fit is essentially throwing money away, even if it is a $5 shirt!
  3. DON’T BUY SOMETHING JUST TO BUY SOMETHING | Sometimes I walk into the thrift store with a plan, knowing exactly what I want, I try on an armful of clothing, but nothing works.  Maybe it doesn’t fit or the colour isn’t right or it’s too big.  It’s really easy to buy a piece of clothing that kind of works, saying to yourself, it’s only $4.  The thing is, those $4 purchases add up.  They also sit in your closet and can sometimes make you feel like you have nothing to wear.  TIP: Best to leave empty handed than make a purchase you’ll regret.

Ok so start thinking about what you need in your fall wardrobe and hit up the sale at The Salvation Army Thrift Store this weekend! Here are some pieces I found this year as I was refreshing my wardrobe.  My plan was to add some shirts I could later into my summer wardrobe and retire some of my old beat up shirts!  For fall I want some cozy sweaters, new shoes and a nice pair of jeans.

Leather jacket above was thrifted for $20 at my local Salvation Army Thrift Store.

Love this leopard print shirt, it goes great with a sweater and is fun for a girls night out.  It was only $4 which is a great deal!

Loving this brown vintage purse I found at my local Salvation Army Thrift Store!  At only $8 it will definitely be a new fall staple.

This BCBG jumpsuit was a great find last year for only $15 at my local Salvation Army Thrift Store, great all year round.




All words and phots by Tijana Popovic of A Plentiful Life





2 thoughts on “5 Ways to Navigate a Thrift Store

  1. I wish to include one more terrific reason to purchase garments from thrift stores. Not all, but a lot of the apparel there has currently been washed. So when you attempt something on, the method it fits in the thrift store is the way it will match after you obtain it home and also clean it yourself.

    1. Lilly, that is 100% true and something I will be sure to add in a future post. Sometimes I buy clothes, wash them and they no longer fit! Where do they end up? The thrift store. Great tip, thank you for sharing. Tijana

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