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Thrifting Advice From That Random Hipster Girl

Updated on April 3, 2013

Thrifting 101

Why do I have so many clothes that I could go (and admittedly have gone) a full three months without doing laundry?

A) I'm that really rich girl,

B) I steal a lot,

or C) I shop at thrift stores?

Look at the title. Clearly the answer is C) I shop at thrift stores. I am definitely not that really rich girl and definitely do not have the cajones (or morals, I guess) to steal.

Here's how you do it (Pardon my cliches and bragging):

  • Get over the fact that someone else has already worn it.
  • Get over trying to look exactly the same as the rest of your friends. Embrace the absurdity of your wardrobe. Try new things. Try things you've never seen anyone wear. I know how "hipster" that sounds, but it's the only way to develop a truly you-nique sense of style, which, according to Michelle Obama, every woman should have. Our first lady has an amazing sense of style, so I'm going to go with her on this one. You gotta do you.
  • Understand that you won't wear every piece that you think you will. It's tempting to buy so much because it's all so cheap, but if every time you shop, you buy two pieces at $10 that you don't end up wearing, it adds up.

  • "Trendy" thrift stores like the Buffalo Exchange (, Crossroads (, Plato's Closet (, and other boutiques are extremely selective about the clothes they will buy from people. They only choose items that have been lightly worn or still have the tags on them, and items that are, according to fashion magazines and blogs, going to be popular in the upcoming seasons.
  • This is why they tend to be more expensive than Goodwill or the Salvation Army, who accept all donations charge-free. I love shopping at both types of thrift stores for different reasons.

  • Next, get over caring about what size you buy things in.
  • If you're a size 0-2 (first off, great for you), look for stuff in Medium and Large sizes. Because thrift store pieces come from a variety of decades, the sizing is never constant. I wear a size 4/6, but have items in a size 2 and items that are 3XL. Sometimes over-sized is better, especially when it comes to comfy sweaters to wear with leggings on days you don't feel like being a fashionista.
  • Also, if you find something you really like that's cheap, worth $10-12 more to you than you'll pay for it, you can always get it altered by a tailor to be smaller or larger.

  • "Trendy" thrift stores are good for finding statement pieces. How else would I own a black lace, long-sleeved romper (Retail $90, I paid $13), silk 7 For All Mankind t-shirt dress (Retail $100, I paid $25), or this gorgeous black, silk, feather-pleated cocktail dress from Neiman Marcus in the 70s (Retail $275, I paid $20)? Trendy thrift stores have plenty of designer apparel, but it's still more expensive than their non-designer items.
  • You can also usually find things from stores such as Urban Outfitters, American Apparel, AKIRA, Anthropologie, Forever 21, et cetera at greatly discounted rates.
  • For example, I own 15 items of clothing from American Apparel, but haven't ever actually bought anything at a real American Apparel (in my opinion, it is overpriced for basics).
  • You can also sometimes find good shoes, belts, bags, and other accessories. I've had pretty good luck with buying rings from thrift stores.

  • Places like Goodwill and the Salvation Army are so much fun, but you have to be willing to dig to find gems.
  • They're good for big, comfy sweaters and sometimes statement pieces. I wear a blazer with every outfit because I'm into that business-casual look and I've bought about eight of them at $3-4 apiece at the Salvation Army. Some even have shoulder pads, which I absolutely adore.
  • They also have some amazing floor-length dresses and skirts for $5-10. Sometimes if I find ones that I like that are too big, I buy them, cut a few inches off, and re-sew the hem. If you don't know how to sew, but really like the skirt or dress, it might be worth shelling out the money to have it hemmed by a tailor.
  • They're amazing for vintage jewelry and vintage, leather purses. I've bought four leather Coach purses circa 1970 from Salvation Army and one from Goodwill and several sterling silver rings from both places.
  • Bragging: I once walked out of a Salvation Army with three silk shirts, two sweaters, six blazers in varying colors, and a vintage, leather, authentic Coach purse for $60 total.
  • One big tip: stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army often don't have dressing rooms. So come dressed in leggings, a t-shirt, a hoodie or sweater, and shoes that slip on and off so you can actually try things on in front of the giant mirrors they have set up around the store.

There you have it. All of my worldly (ha ha) advice on thrift store shopping. Ta da!


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