My sister, Emma, and I started thrifting together when I got my drivers license in high school. There are several shops in our town that stay open until 9PM, so that is what we would do for fun several times a week. With absolutely no knowledge of vintage we collected dresses and accessories from the decades that we loved, the 1950s-1970s. We also collected little boys cartoon t-shirts from the 1980s and a pretty sweet collection of "hope chest" items like fondue pots and retro coffee mugs. We started thrifting because it was a way to be unique (something very important to our high-school-selves) and a way to stretch the small budget we had for clothing.
Fast forward ten years and we still love thrifting. We might not collect polyester jumpsuits anymore, but we still love fashion from the mid-century and we still get a thrill out of finding a great treasure for $2! Here are a few tips that I've picked up along the way…
Thrifting can be overwhelming when you start out. There are racks and racks of clothing to sort through! I have found it helpful to keep a list in my purse of things I am in the market for. That way, if I'm short on time, I can go straight to the dresses, blouses or scarves. Keeping an organized focus never hurts!
This next tip can be a little tricky. On any given thrift trip, I will find maybe 10 things I like and 2 things that I absolutely love! I've learned that it's best to only leave with the things I love. When you thrift often it's easy to amass a collection of b-list vintage… focus on only purchasing pieces that you are super excited about!
The nature of thrifting is that you choose pieces you love from the most random assortment. Charity thrift shops run on donations, so you have to keep in mind that you never know when an AMAZING estate is going to be donated. Sorting through racks of clothing from the 2000s to find these vintage gems is part of the fun! Always keep an open mind when thrifting. It's ok to buy things that are out of season or out of style if you love them. I try to rely on my instincts more than anything.
Sometimes you'll find a piece that could maybe work, but you aren't sure. I find myself asking Emma, "What do you think?" or "Where would you wear this?" a lot. If you aren't sure about a piece, just skip it. As I said above, it's easy to collect too much. If you aren't obsessed over it, you probably don't need it! Think of it as saving room in your closet for the things you REALLY want.
Emma and I try to thrift every week. It's always best to go in the middle of the week because the shops are freshly stocked. On the weekends things tend to get picked through. We know when our favorite shops are open, when they run sales and when they put out new stock. If you keep a consistent schedule, you'll always find better treasures!
A couple years ago I had to have a HUGE garage sale and simplify my home because I had just collected too many things. Most of the things I had collected were "future D.I.Y. projects" that never happened. After this experience I learned to be more selective about what I bought. Now I only actively collect a few things… vintage luggage, dresses, jewelry and records. Choose what you want to collect and focus on those things. This will help keep you safe from ending up on an episode of Hoarders!
Many thrifts are "cash only" or run weekly sales. Keep a list of this kind of information so you can always be prepared. Depending on where you live, garage sales might be a good option too. Since they are almost always "cash only" it's always good to keep an envelope of cash handy for a quick trip!
I always check the racks for purses, belts, fabric (including vintage sheets and drapary) and jewelry. Don't forget to look for these little things. Most thrift shops have a glass case for jewelry at the checkout counter. If you're looking for something special, don't be afraid to ask.
When you find a piece of clothing you love, ask yourself the following questions…. Does it fit and flatter my body? Where would I wear this? Is it my style? If you are happy with your answers to all of those questions then you should definitely purchase the piece!
Sometimes people buy things just because they want to find a treasure that day. It's totally ok to walk out empty handed if nothing strikes you! I love vintage thermos', but I already have about twenty in my kitchen. As much as I want to buy every single one, I don't. It's ok not to buy every cool piece of vintage you find. Save your money (and space) for the pieces that are most special to you!
I hope these tips have been helpful! Thrifting is one of my favorite hobbies and I hope you have fun on your next adventure! xo. elsie