Tips and Tricks on How to Thrift Shop Like a Pro 

*Cue Thrift Shop by Macklemore*

I’ve been wanting to write a thrift shop guide for a while so here it goes! Anyone who knows me knows I love thrift shopping. I scored this cashmere Diane Von Furstenberg dress for 6 dollars a couple weeks ago and then I looked it up online when I got home and found it’s retail value was $400. I was pretty pumped to say the least! You won’t find deals like that every time but when you do, it feels pretty rewarding.

Not only is thrifting great for the environment and your wallet, but it’s the best way to have an awesome wardrobe full of unique pieces that no one else will probably have. I get lots of my clothes from second-hand shops, and I’m going to share some of my best tips and a general guide for thrift shopping. So whether you’re a master thrifter or a complete novice, there will be something in this for you.

There are two main kinds of secondhand shops:

  • Chain Thrift Stores: These are stores like Salvation Army, Goodwill and AMVETS. There is a stigma around these stores that they are gross or dirty, and I’m here to totally put that view out of your mind. Yes, it’s not like shopping at Saks, but it’s not all that bad. The bottom line is these stores are filled with ALL kinds of things, so you’ll probably have to spend a lot of time digging through racks. But once you’ve come up with a bunch of unique, vintage, or designer pieces for super cheap prices, you’ll never go back. Plus these stores usually use their money for good causes. PROS: cheapest option, lots to look through, usually has good sales. CONS: fluorescent lighting, tiny changing rooms, usually need to dedicate a long amount of time to it
  • Consignment Boutiques: These are like thrift stores where someone has already done the work for you and now you can just look at the best of the used clothes and decide what you like from there. These stores are located all over the place, but my favorite local one is Second Chic. These are usually independently run stores where people sell their clothes to the store, and they either receive commission once the item is sold or is paid a small amount upon selling it. This is a good way to get a few bucks for your designer item. These stores are wonderful for vintage finds, good brands, and newer items, but a little bit of the fun of scoring a great deal is taken out of it. Not to mention the prices are significantly higher at these stores than the larger thrift shops. PROS: supporting local business, can sell own clothes there, less time required to find something amazing, better luck. CONS: more expensive, less of a hunt.

Now that we’ve gone over the major thrifting differences, let’s get onto my tips!

  1. Keep an open mind: This is my number one tip I’ve always told friends and family. So many people say they don’t like wearing people’s old clothes, and they think it’s dirty. It’s not dirty! Wash them and that problem is solved. Also, keep an open mind when picking out clothing too. Not too open, because you don’t want to buy something you’ll never wear, something I’ve done all too often while thrifting. But the easiest way to try out a new style is to only spend a few dollars on it at the thrift store.
  2. Pretend you found it at your favorite store: I started doing this a few years ago and it seriously changed how I approached shopping. I pictured that I found the item at Free People, would I want it then? If the answer was yes, I knew I must get it.
  3. Start with what you’re most interested in: I usually start at the dresses because it tends to be a smaller section and easier to look through. Then I go to sweaters and blouses, skirts, then home goods. Pants shopping has always been hard for me while thrifting and usually at the large stores, there are aisles upon aisles of jeans so I don’t bother looking at those unless I really need to find a pair.
  4. Check the rack by the dressing rooms: People usually put back really cute items here, so always make sure to check it out!
  5. Don’t neglect the home goods: Most of the items are garbage, not going to lie. However, you only need one awesome thing to make it successful, and I’ve gotten beautiful plates, home decor, and kitchen items from this section! It’s always worth a look-over.
  6. Look for sales: The Salvation Army usually discounts one color tag every week. The colors of their tags depend on which week the item was donated, so there are all sorts of different colors. After a few weeks, the clothes that are still there are discounted half-off. There is usually a board at the front of the store saying which tag is on sale. Goodwill does something similar, and also offers student and senior discounts.
  7. Try everything on: This is a shopping rule in general, but definitely follow this while secondhand shopping. It’s too easy to grab a million things you think are cute and then feel too lazy to try them on, but you definitely don’t want to clutter your closet with used clothes you’ll never wear. Try it on, and picture different outfits you’ll wear with it. Do one better and even create those outfits when you go home, and snap a pic so you remember to wear it!

{Wearing: thrifted DVF dress, Laundry by Shelli Segal coat, Seychelles boots, Nine West bag, beret, H&M tights}

Those are my best strategies for thrift shopping! I hope I’ve inspired some of you to go give it a chance. If you have any thrift store tips, I would love to hear them!

Love, Francesca

 

 

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88 Comments

    • vintagelillies
      January 30, 2017 / 3:05 am

      Thanks so much Elena!

  1. Linda Schifferle
    January 30, 2017 / 2:26 am

    Hi Francesca,
    I loved your tips on thrift store shopping. I am a faithful thrift store shopper myself, and have found so many great items over the years. Just like you, I love the hunt. It becomes addicting doesn’t it? When you were in high school, I always thought to myself if I was young again, I would want to dress just like you. I loved your style. Did you shop at thrift stores then too?

    • vintagelillies
      January 30, 2017 / 3:05 am

      Aww thank you, that is so sweet and means a lot to me!! I’ve always thought you had an amazing sense of style too. Yes I’ve been shopping at thrift stores since I first discovered fashion, my dad would always take me along with him. He’d look for kitchen supplies and I’d look for clothes! 🙂

      • Linda Schifferle
        February 1, 2017 / 3:27 pm

        Thank you sweetie. I miss seeing you in school, but happy to see that you are doing well. 🙂 I hope to run into you someday, maybe at a thrift store❤

        • vintagelillies
          February 2, 2017 / 4:29 pm

          I miss seeing you too!! Thank you, and I hope I run into you again as well. Shopping would be ideal! 🙂

    • vintagelillies
      January 30, 2017 / 8:04 pm

      Thank you Violette!

    • vintagelillies
      January 30, 2017 / 8:05 pm

      Thanks!

  2. January 30, 2017 / 7:55 pm

    Beautiful photos! Love your outfit, especially the beret!

    ANOUK

    • vintagelillies
      January 30, 2017 / 8:05 pm

      Thank you so much!

    • vintagelillies
      January 30, 2017 / 8:06 pm

      Thanks Nicole, me too!

  3. Amy
    January 30, 2017 / 8:46 pm

    I am not very good at thrift shopping. Good tips!

    Amy Ann
    Straight A Style

    • vintagelillies
      February 1, 2017 / 12:47 am

      Thanks Amy! Glad you enjoyed them!

    • vintagelillies
      February 1, 2017 / 12:48 am

      Ha I’m sure you’re not! Glad you liked them!

  4. January 31, 2017 / 12:10 am

    I love these photos first off, and I these tips are so helpful! I’m the worst at thrift shopping, so I’ll definitely keep this post in mind next time I give it a go.

    Amber – amberelb.com

    • vintagelillies
      February 1, 2017 / 12:48 am

      Thanks Amber! Let me know if it’s easier next time, sometimes what you have to get used to it!

  5. January 31, 2017 / 3:49 am

    Love your tips on how to approach thrift shopping! I always lose hope after a couple of times but I will give the tips a go!

    xo, Yasmin
    http://www.iamyasmin.ca

    • vintagelillies
      February 1, 2017 / 12:49 am

      Thanks Yasmin! Good luck!

  6. Siffat
    January 31, 2017 / 4:18 am

    These are great tips! I went thrift shopping for the first time last year, and found the denim jacket of my dreams in the men’s section!
    xo
    Siffat
    http://icingandglitter.com

    • vintagelillies
      February 1, 2017 / 12:49 am

      Yay that’s awesome! Glad you had fun!

    • vintagelillies
      February 1, 2017 / 12:50 am

      Thanks Katherine!

  7. January 31, 2017 / 8:35 am

    These are good tips!! I seriously always struggle at shops like this. I always envy those who could come out of a vintage shop with such a find like your dress… seriously amazing!!! I will give it another go in a couple weeks 🙂
    Also you look darling in the snow! So gorge!
    xx Leah

    http://www.fashtrav.com

    • vintagelillies
      February 1, 2017 / 12:50 am

      Thanks so much Leah! I’m sure you’ll be able to have good luck! Let me know!

  8. January 31, 2017 / 12:11 pm

    Great tips, I can’t believe that you got a DVF dress that cheap! I definitely need to go to the thrift shop some more <3

    TheNormcoreRebel

    • vintagelillies
      February 1, 2017 / 12:51 am

      I was so excited! Thanks Nikoline!

  9. January 31, 2017 / 2:22 pm

    Amazing outfit, all perfectly match, absolutely such great combo, I love it. Thank you for sharing and for the tips, truly inspiring, you look gorgeous!!!

    xxx

    http://www.noragouma.com

    • vintagelillies
      February 1, 2017 / 12:52 am

      Thank you so much Nora!

    • vintagelillies
      February 1, 2017 / 12:52 am

      Thank you so much!

    • vintagelillies
      February 1, 2017 / 12:52 am

      Thank you!!

    • vintagelillies
      February 1, 2017 / 12:52 am

      Thank you Stella!

    • vintagelillies
      February 1, 2017 / 12:47 am

      Thanks so much!

  10. January 31, 2017 / 8:35 pm

    Really great tips and loving these photos! I typically only thrift for home goods, but maybe I need to make the switch! 😉

    -Emily http://www.coatandcoffee.com

    • vintagelillies
      February 1, 2017 / 12:53 am

      Thanks Emily! You should, they’re good for all kinds of things!

  11. February 1, 2017 / 7:52 am

    I have to be honest, I’ve never thrift shopped before so this was really eye opening! I learned so much from this post! And btw, your outfit is so chic!

    Tina
    http://www.justatinabit.com

    • vintagelillies
      February 2, 2017 / 4:30 pm

      Thanks Tina! I’m really happy you liked it!

    • vintagelillies
      February 2, 2017 / 4:30 pm

      Thanks!

  12. February 1, 2017 / 5:00 pm

    Such stunning photos – the white snowy backdrop compliments your outfit perfectly. These are such great tips – I really am horrible at thrifting, I get so impatient! So I always love hearing from the pros 😉

    xx, Amy
    http://www.theluxilook.com

    • vintagelillies
      February 2, 2017 / 4:31 pm

      Thank you Amy! Hope these tips will help you! Let me know! 🙂

  13. February 1, 2017 / 6:47 pm

    Interesting tips Francesca. Thank you for sharing!!! Love the outfit! Love the dress!!! Xo 🙂

    • vintagelillies
      February 2, 2017 / 4:31 pm

      Thanks so much! 🙂

    • vintagelillies
      February 2, 2017 / 4:31 pm

      Thank you!!

  14. February 1, 2017 / 7:22 pm

    These are all such great tips, girlie! I’ve been to a few chain stores as well as consignment shops and have found cute pieces at both, it all comes down to searching and having patience, as you’ve mentioned. Thanks for sharing and I hope you’re having a great week so far!

    XO,

    Jalisa
    http://www.thestylecontour.com

    • vintagelillies
      February 2, 2017 / 4:31 pm

      I completely agree! Thank you!

  15. February 1, 2017 / 8:38 pm

    A great sense of style!

    • vintagelillies
      February 2, 2017 / 4:32 pm

      Thanks Tanya!

  16. February 1, 2017 / 8:45 pm

    I definitely want to start hitting up more thirft stores. I just find that my patience as I get older lessens and I don’t have the energy to shop rack by rack. That’s why online shopping is a much easier choice! I do tend to gravitate more towards the consignment thrift shops because it is a lot easier to sift through and find gems.

    Thank for all your tips! I’ll definitely keep them in mind the next time I go thrift shopping!

    xoxo Rina
    http://www.andshedressed.com

    • vintagelillies
      February 2, 2017 / 4:33 pm

      I totally understand, it can be quite daunting. And the consignment shops do usually have a larger amount of nicer things! Thanks!

    • vintagelillies
      February 2, 2017 / 4:33 pm

      Thanks Dora!

    • vintagelillies
      February 2, 2017 / 4:34 pm

      Thanks!

  17. February 2, 2017 / 10:15 am

    Amazing tips and tricks! Love your style <3

    mystylishcorner.blogspot.ba

    • vintagelillies
      February 2, 2017 / 4:34 pm

      Thank you!

  18. February 2, 2017 / 2:13 pm

    I could definitely use these tips! Been trying to get more into thrift shopping recently! 🙂

    • vintagelillies
      February 2, 2017 / 4:35 pm

      Awesome, thank you!

    • vintagelillies
      February 2, 2017 / 4:35 pm

      Thank you so much Stella! I gotta stay warm, it’s always freezing where I live! Haha

  19. Gabrielle
    February 3, 2017 / 6:50 pm

    This was a great read, so interesting and especially as i’ve never really tried thrift shopping before! I can appreciate it’s kind of both your wallet and the environment – a win-win! 🙂 These are super beautiful photos of you by the way. And.. SNOW!!

    aglassofice.com
    x

    • vintagelillies
      February 5, 2017 / 8:31 pm

      Thanks Gabrielle- glad you liked it!

  20. February 3, 2017 / 8:48 pm

    These are such amazing tips! I love this post 😀
    LA VEINE

    • vintagelillies
      February 5, 2017 / 8:32 pm

      Thanks Marta!

  21. February 4, 2017 / 10:58 am

    Gorgeous outfit ! Your coat is perfect, I really love it ! You are very pretty. Kisses 🙂

    • vintagelillies
      February 5, 2017 / 8:32 pm

      Thank you so much!

  22. February 4, 2017 / 2:18 pm

    Oh thank you so much for sharing those tips! I really like to thrift shop but I often have the problem to not find something appropriate. Now I will give it another try for sure 🙂
    xx, Carmen – http://www.carmitive.com

    • vintagelillies
      February 5, 2017 / 8:33 pm

      Let me know if you find anything good! 🙂

  23. February 5, 2017 / 1:33 pm

    Love this outfit! Perfect pieces ♡
    I love thrift shops but where I live there’s barely one…

    • vintagelillies
      February 5, 2017 / 8:34 pm

      Thanks Catherine! That’s a bummer, I would be so sad if there were no thrift shops by me!

  24. February 6, 2017 / 2:24 pm

    so happy this post was sitting in my Bloglovin’ feed and I could finally read it! pretty much everything you wrote goes about Estonian thrift stores as well. okay, we only have two bigger chains and then we have stores where Estonian people sell their own clothes but we also have smaller thrift shops where stuff from a specific country is being sold. I mostly visit one of those bigger chains and the smaller thrift shops in my hometown. some of my best finds have been Kenzo cardigan/kimono, Ralph Lauren top, Miu Miu loafers, Lacoste top, Levi’s jeans and more! I’ve also bought home stuff like (new) kitchen towels, plates, candle holders, flower pots… by the way, your outfit looks beautiful! is the dress forest green? anyway, it looks great paired with that coat, the beautiful red bag and classy boots! a my cup of tea look for sure!

    • vintagelillies
      February 19, 2017 / 10:16 pm

      Those are great finds!! And thank you, the dress is black, it could be the lighting! Thanks for commenting Maiken, you’re always so sweet!

    • vintagelillies
      February 19, 2017 / 10:16 pm

      Thank you!

  25. February 25, 2017 / 12:00 am

    Wonderful photography Francesca darling! So much snow!
    Such a shame we don’t have such a big second-hand culture here in Germany. I buy most of my second-hand items on eBay.
    Like you I felt so smart for getting an amazing dress for 60€ while it retails for 510€ the other day.

    Love from https://tbymallano.com/

  26. September 19, 2017 / 7:06 pm

    Amazing photos, all of them you look great with that smile!

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  28. October 15, 2017 / 12:02 pm

    I have been thrift store shopping since meeting an artist who was always beautifully dressed when she came to the place I worked. A co-worker told me that the client shopped at thrift stores. I have shopped at second-hand stores ever since. I find great name brands that fit my budget and friends frequently complement my wardrobe.

  29. October 24, 2017 / 5:12 pm

    My friend came over to hang out one night and she had this really cute jacket on. I asked her where she got it and she said she got it at a thrift store. I couldn’t believe it. I would love to find cute clothes like that from a thrift store. That is great to know that they will have a huge selection and the money I use to buy the clothes will go to a good cause. That makes it even better. Thank you for the information!

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