Wednesday, February 27, 2013

10 Tips for Thrift Shopping

I like to shop. I shop at thriftstores weekly, does that count as a lot? I can understand why someone might assume that this is materialistic, and in essence, yes - it is. I am collecting material items, but allow myself to defend....myself. The act of thrifting is something different than waltzing into a Forever 21 soley to distract my mind from reality or fill a void like a broken hearted lover does with a pint of Ben and Jerry's. Don't get me wrong, I have done that (the Forever 21 thing and the Coffee Toffee Crunch thing). Unlike fast fashion retailers though, thrifting comes with a thrill - walking into the mothball smelling and occasionally itchy unknown. Thrift Stores are in a way our own little modern-day museums of anthropology. You have NO CLUE what treasures you will stumble upon whilst you peruse amongst the belongings of the departed or the items previously stowed in attics until someone finally decided to donate them (thank you, someone). When you find that weird and wonderful something, it is the best feeling. And that's the difference.

With all that said, I can state with enough confidence that I've got some thrifting skillzzzz, and I would like to share them with you, lover.

1. Scan aisles for color and texture: This is skill I acquired only in the past year or so. Thrift stores can be a bit over whelming. Instead of thumbing through every item on a 20 foot rack (particularly if you plan on hitting more than one shop in a day especially if you plan on hitting more than one shop a day) scan slowly with your eyes. Look for colors and patterns you love or good texture in the clothing. You know when something is well made by the feel of it. When an item catches your eye take a better look. No need to put your eyes on the entirely of every piece of clothing in a thrift store.

2. Inspect like mofackin' inspector gadget: For realzz. Look for loose or missing buttons, tears and/or doo doo stains. (Sorry I'm not sorry I went there). If it has any of these, move on. Which leads me to #3...

3. If it needs too much work or doesn't fit, don't buy it: Unless you are a DIY ninja or the piece is AMAZING OUT OF THIS WORLD DYNO-MITE, don't bring home things you'll need to alter/fix. You will most likely NOT get that stain out. You will most likely NOT take that dress in. You will however end up with bags full of clothes at Buffalo Exchange/Beacons Closet/Your neighborhood consignment shop hoping they will throw you some bones for the items that you never got around to altering.

4. Take your time (it's supposed to be fun and fascinating): Secondhand stores are like museums. For full thrifting satisfaction don't just look for a specific thing. Have a good laugh at some of items. Marvel in the weirdness of it all. It's fun to treasure hunt! I like to take my time and look in every section. If you're in a hurry or with someone who doesn't necessarily dig on digging in thrift stores all the fun will be RUINED!!! RUUUUU-EEEEEEEEND!!! (I yelled that at the sky with my fist in the air for added drama)

5. Wear your thriftin' clothes! Many thrift stores don't have dressing rooms. It's good to wear something comfortable and easy to try things on over (tights, t-shirts, flats, sandals or skirts for example). Don't be too prideful to pull a dress over your head in the aisles. Really, no one there gives a care. Also, bring a pair of socks incase you want to try shoes on. And for the love of all things holy, wear underwear.

6. Venture outside the women's section: You can find some great plaid button ups in the youth section, or cute little jackets and coats. The men's section has a plethora of oversized dress shirts and chunky Cosby sweaters. (I've found some great shoes in the men's section too!)

7. Home Goods is a DIY haven: I've always found home good DIY's to be easier than anything that has to do with sewing. The home goods sections in a thrift store is a wooden/metal/plastic junk pile of inspiration! Pretty much any item in this section can be painted and spruced up. (Candle holders, frames, vases, etc).

8. Ask when they restock: Typically thrift stores have certain days when they haul new items out (specifically furniture). Ask a friendly clerk! Show up early too for first dibs!

9. Go off the beaten path: Take the time to drive 15 more minutes to a more obscure part of town. Everyone LOVES the "novelty" of thrift stores, but many people aren't going to drive to the "less economically affluent" parts of town to really treasure hunt. My favorite thrift stores are in places I don't otherwise normally go. The Goodwill in Santa Monica? Not fabulous. Sun Thrift in Sun Valley? Booya.

10. Don't forget the jewelry: I use my phone to tell time. Watches? Fashion statement. I love buying those little gold and silver watches and wearing 2 or 3 at once. Retro men's watches are cute to stack too (see here). Also, you can find tons of far out broaches and maybe even a bolo tie in the jewelry case at a thrift store.

BONUS*** Do yourself a favor and if you're going thrift shopping go to more than one place in a trip. If you strike out at one place, chances are you'll do better at the next.


  1. These are fabulous tips... and I couldn't agree with you more about your tip at the end of #5... WORD...

  2. Love this detailed explanation of thrift shopping! You nailed it...I couldn't agree more! XOXO!!


  3. Great tips! I totally agree with point 4,5,6,7 Thrift shop hunting it's a lot more fun than going to the high streets because like you said you don't know what you are going to find and it's amazing when you find something cheap and amazing! Love that feeling :)

  4. Great post! #6 is definitely a good tip! I'm a bit small up top, so I shop in the little boy's section occasionally. I've found some of my favorite basics there :)

  5. This is great! I live by all of these tips.

    Also you mentioned there not being many bloggers in LA, I know a couple amazing local bloggers out there! It's always hard to find the bloggers, I'm surprised there are so many near to me too.

  6. These tips are all so true! I love that floral bag that you found - so perfectly oversized!


  7. Wow, your thift store finds are really pretty, and those are some great tips :)
    Loving the floral weekender!


  8. ZOMG #4. YES. You know my non-thrifting girlfriends are like, "Take me to Goodwill with you!" and I'm just I gotta be in the zoooooooooone.

    Love this, love you.


  9. Great post! Nice tips. :D

    xx MJ

  10. Great post!!! Thank you for visiting me :)
    I like your blog too, you have a great style!
    Would you like to follow each other on GFC, Bloglovin, Facebook?
    Let me know via comment on my blog when and where you follow so i can return the love :)

    Happy March

  11. Excellent post! I love thrifting, and these tips are perfect.

  12. These are GREAT tips! I so needed this. I am challenged when it comes to thrifting for clothing but now I want to try again. #3 is the tip I need to listen to the most - there are way too many pieces in my closet that I bought with the intention of "fixing" but it hasn't happened. Ugh!

  13. nice post
    do you want to follow each other?

  14. Great post, well written.


  15. Doo doo stains... <3 you Ashley!

  16. I love thrift shopping...whenever i go i always want to sing the song "thrift shop"! Thanks for the tips they were definetely helpful

  17. Great tips! I've actually never been thrift shopping - mostly because it seems overwhelming to me and I don't have a lot of patience for sorting through things!

  18. Hello, I found your blog from a friend and I went to visit! I loved your post and I am going to stay on top of all the news!

    I hope my blog:

    If you want to follow me I'll be very happy! ♥ Hugs..

  19. nice post
    Maybe we can follow each other !?
    Just let me know :)

  20. I thought I was the only one who did that with the skinny little watches! I wear like, 3 of my grandmas at once!

    These are such good tips. They're really helpful, and I completely agree - don't buy it if it needs work, feel the texture, and take. your. time.
    I like going by myself or with a friend who absolutelylove it as much as I do.

    Great tip on not forgetting the jewelry, too. I always need to remind myself! Bet you're awesome to go thrifting with.


    PS: I work with a girl who goes every single day of the week. She literally treats it like a part time job.
    So no, I don't think you're materialistic. not in the least

  21. Great tips from a seasoned 'thrifter' I must say ! We don't exactly have thrift stores here in Delhi(India), but a similar market that happens once weekly. I love it for the very same reason, the chance of getting something out of the world and awesome.

    Love your tips and specially all the drama in the writing. Your voice really filters through your writing. Love that!

    Swati @ The Creative Bent

  22. Excellent post I agree with this. And definitely most thrift stores in Santa Monica are no longer thrift. They've caught on an overprice the sh!t out of stuff.

  23. these are excellent tips! i will admit, i've tried thrifting a few times and have been pretty discouraged with it, but these tips definitely can turn anyone into a strategic thrifter!

  24. GREAT POST! I think we were sisters in another life.....
    great blog-new follower!

  25. I love thrifting and these are great tips! Thanks for sharing them :)


  26. First time I've visited your blog (I like it!) I actually laughed at loud at your plea for thrifty shoppers to wear underwear!

    I visit charity shops at least once a week, as you say it's not like Forever21 where you're getting the same kind of stock in week in week out.

    Thrift stores rely on donations, and you've got to be in to win it!

  27. Wow! These are such great tips! I'm the same about scanning; I just started doing that recently as well, and it's the best way to shop your way through the store without getting bored or agitated.

    Thrifting is the best! I hope this post inspires some of the mall-friendly folks to go out and get their hands dirty! Not literally, of course...


  28. I came here to stealing your tips. I love Vintage so the Thrif stores are my friends. thanks for the post.



  29. These are some awesome tips! I will definitely be keeping this post in mind during my shopping trip to the outlet mall in San Diego. Thanks.


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