Thrifting and shopping for Vintage has become a major sport for fashionistas all over the world. You never know what you might find when you’re on the hunt! Some people still aren’t sure where or how to start so I reached out to my friend Ariane Patrice, a personal shopper who is KNOWN for her drool-worthy finds, to get her tips on what to do!
Whether you are interested in finding investment pieces, incorporating trends into your wardrobe, or owning unique items, thrifting can grant you all of your wardrobe and style wishes.
Being a smart thrifter can help you find the “it” color, print, or style dujour with very minimal impact on your wallet. Not to mention, thrift stores are excellent places to find inexpensive yet unique and beautiful pieces, and yes sometimes that rare Chanel, or Oscar de la Renta, or Givency item that is just waiting for you to give it a brand new home.
The following are my top 10 tips to help you become a smart and chic thrifter, sprinkled with my top five thrift finds.
1. KNOW YOUR BODY BUT DON’T GET STUCK ON SIZES
It’s important to understand the shape of your body and how certain cuts, styles, and materials will drape you. Ask yourself… Will this fit? Would I actually wear this and where? Will this compliment items already in my wardrobe?
It is also helpful to invest in a great tailor. However, if tailoring is not something that will fit into your budget, think outside of the box and remix.
Look at the item and decide: can it be belted… can it be worn other ways (i.e wearing an oversize shirt or a skirt as a dress).
I did similar with the pictured lime vintage overcoat. It is a size or two too big, but the drapery of it is soo exquisite. So like the chic thrifter I am, I decided that for now, I will belt it :).
2. WHEN IN DOUBT QUESTION, QUESTION, & THEN BUY ONLY WHAT YOU LOVE
Finding a BEAUTIFUL shoe or some FABULOUS pants a size too small should give you inspiration, not be an impulse buy. In situations like these, if there is any doubt on the purchase…don’t. Leave it there to a be a thrift find for some other fabulous person. I find literally 10 to 15 things that are beautiful and fabulous, however they aren’t my style, size or in my price range.
By abiding by this one rule, you will only leave with things you utterly love. It is super okay to leave the store empty-handed. Please keep in mind, though it is important to buy things you would love to wear in the current season, it is okay to buy off season. Don’t be afraid to buy the awesome overcoat because it’s currently 100+ degrees outside.
3. PAY ATTENTION TO FABRIC QUALITY & STYLE
The main thing that got me hooked onto thrifting was finding top-notch pieces that if were in a vintage store or a current department store, would break the bank. Paying attention to material used, stitching, and structure of the item is key to finding solid pieces. It is also important to pay attention to any defaults like stains and tears that are not an easy fix.
Using such tips has helped me create a small collection of vintage furs. When buying these pieces, I look to ensure that the stitching is still intact or any fixes it will take minimal effort on my part to correct.
4. KNOW THE STORE SCHEDULE AND SHOP OFTEN
I have a confession. I am a thriftaholic. I thrift at least once a week (ok ok, twice, but that’s all you’re getting out of me). Knowing when new merch is put out and how often is a necessity. Knowing the schedule allowS you to know when they reduce items, or when you can ask for a reduction (I do this all the time at GoodWill). I also suggest to not only go on the weekends, but also visit during off peak times such as in the middle of the week or early in the morning.
*bonus tip* It doesn’t hurt to strike up a conversation or build a relationship with the employees. I’ve always made it point to make small talk with the clerks, so that they come to realize that I frequent their store. Just by doing this, I have been gifted awesome discounts and heads-up on future sales and in-store incentives.
5. THINK OUT OF THE BOX. SHOP THE ENTIRE STORE
When visiting a thrift store scour the entire place for finds: men’s, home furnishings, jewelry, shoes & purses. By shopping the entire store I have been able to fill my home with beautiful furnishings, own an extensive collection of gorgeous vintage clutches, and yes I have found both vintage Chanel and Givency earrings.
6. UNDERSTAND WHAT TO WEAR. HAVE A THRIFTING UNIFORM
One of the most important things to remember when thrifting for clothing is that vintage sizes vary greatly from current day. It is important to try on clothing because just eye-balling it can be misleading; in most cases you can’t make a return. Most thrift stores have dressing room areas, but there are few that do not.
To address this, you want to wear something that allows you to easily put on, pull over, or pull up clothes. I suggest the following as a great and simple thrifting uniform:
- tights or leggings
- oversize t-shirt (but not too big)
- cross body bag (great at not getting in the way, keeping your hands free, & holding your essentials)
7. HAVE PATIENCE AND BE PREPARED TO DIG
One of the top complaints I have always hearD is that thrifting requires one to do entirely too much digging and hunting through all the stuff. Thrift stores, to me, are no different than any other clothing store. Usually, the items are arranged by section (men’s, women’s, kid’s, etc.) and by type (pants, shirts, dresses, etc.). The main difference is that there is soo much more and all types of styles, eras, and looks are stacked together.
So yes, be prepared to dig. That perfect blouse, or designer item, is potentially stuck between some mom jeans, or some tossed out DIY faux pas. If you are willing to get over that fear of digging you will find some truly great items.
8. GO WITH A LIST & SET A BUDGET
Thrifting is a great way to spend less on more expensive looks, however I highly recommend that you go with a list and set a budget. Numerous times I have found myself with a cart full of items. Though they might be $3 to $4 each, times that by the 15 items in my cart and it starts to add up.
Going in with an idea of what you are looking for will help you not lose your mind in the store and also keep you from spending all of your pocket change.
There are certain items that are no-brainers for me, like the coach purses pictured. The price I purchased, compared to the price in department stores make them a sure and safe bet. However, outerwear and home furnishings are things I will put back if price is not right and are not on my list.
9. MAP OUT THE STORE & KNOW THE HOTSPOTS
Throughout my thrifting excursions, I have discovered that certain stores always have awesome home furnishings, while others have the best blazers. However, I only acquired this knowledge by understanding the layout of my favorites stores. If the shop always has great shoes go there first. If it always has great furnishings go there first, if its always has great clothing…you get my point.
10. DON’T BE AFRAID TO GET YOUR GOOGLE ON
If you have questions about a piece, look it up. I have no qualms pulling out my phone and searching for a brand or looking for similar pieces on the internet while still in the store.
This sequinned beauty caught my eye and I knew that I had to own it. Of course, my interest was piqued about the brand. After a little in-store research, I learned that it was truly a one-of-a kind from a line that created custom made pieces.
If you keep these 10 tips in mind, I’m sure you will be successful in your thrifting endeavors. Hope you find these tips helpful and you come across some wonderful pieces. If you do use these tips, please share with me your finds! If thrifting is already your forte, share any additional tips you might have when going on a thrift hunt.
To keep up with Ariane, visit her blog That’s So Chic!