Thrift Shopping 101

Welcome back to another installation of Ro&Co! This week, Jessie is back and sharing her tips for thrifting to help you prepare your spring wardrobe!

pinterest_thrift shopping.png

Why Thrift?

There are a number of reasons why I love thrift shopping. It’s good for the environment to recycle. Stores carry not just what’s in trend but what used to be—an fashion goes in cycles so it’ll probably be in again. I find unique things I wasn’t looking for. It’s a cheaper way to expand my wardrobe. And, it means I’m not dependent on flash fashion for cheap basics.

You Don’t have a Size:

Let go of that number/letter which tells you which pants/tops will and won’t fit. More often than not, stores have clothing sorted by color rather than size anyways. While this seems annoying at first glance, remember this store contains last season’s designer clothing, elderly grandmother’s vintage, flash-fashion from china, things which have shrunk or stretched in the wash, etc. Basically, size no longer exists. Besides, enough of the clothing has an itchy tag cut out and you don’t know the size anyways.

If you’re insecure about your size, this is a relief. If you’re proud of your size, you’re going to have to let go of the ego which won’t let you try on an XL. (this was very hard for me)

It’s gotta’ fit

Good clothing is important, but it has to fit.

This goes for all clothing—you will not shrink or grow into it after the 8th grade. It needs to fit your waist, chest, shoulders, hips etc. Moreover: you need to know how a piece is supposed to fit. By all means: go for bigger jackets and men’s clothing sections; BUT before you bring any piece home you need to make sure it fits your frame exactly how you want it to—or you’ve gone large enough that a tailor can make it fit you—I recommend at least an inch on your shoulders, arms, chest etc. If you don’t know how a blazer/pencil skirt/flapper dress or some other kind of clothing should fit, ask your mom or google.

This means you probably want to be able to try stuff on. If your thrift shop has a dressing room—take advantage of it. If not you use what you have. Firstly, find a corner so if you mess up stripping not too many people will see you. I often bring a friend and make them hold up a blanket (most thrift stores have a linens section. Otherwise, a long skirt you can wear over your lower half while you strip will protect your modestly while you can try on pants, shorts etc.

In this same corner, a tight tank will let you try on most shirts (I recommend wearing one ahead of time). Dresses are like shirts and then you take off your pants after.

Take Your Time

While you are saving money by buying used, the cheaper the thrift shop you attend, the less well organized. You can go to The Buffalo Exchange or Second Time Around if you’re looking for the thrifting experience without a few hours to dig through huge racks—but you’re paying about 200% markup for someone else to organize the clothes and decide which ones are or aren’t on trend. I find sorting through the racks is therapeutic, and allows me to get out my shopaholic without spending the same kind of money—as well as coming home with things I’m really excited about. In addition, part of the fun of thrifting is buying strange and unique things like a woolen hounds-tooth blazer or a red trench coat. It takes me almost an hour to get through the jacket section of the thrift store, because there are always so many unique pieces.

Thoroughly Inspect What You Take Home

Everything in the store is a good deal, and I am often grabbing everything at the beginning and need to do a lot of cutting at the end. Some people set themselves a budget, limit themselves to ten items etc. This has never worked for me since I find stores have good and bad days, and there are good and bad stores. I also know I will buy up to any budget even if I don’t like all the things as much.

Instead, I search every item for a reason why someone might tell me I shouldn’t get it. This includes: stains, tears, signs on wear, and fit (as mentioned above). Finally, I have to think of an occasion/outfit to wear with this, as well as the question all shoppers must ask ourselves “Do I need this? Do I have something similar? Will I really wear this?”

Your Aesthetic won’t change

I walk into a thrift store and desperately want to become the kind of girl who wears: maxi-skirt, bootcut jeans, large necklaces, tight leather pants, pink casual dresses, high heeled boots every day…whatever nice things I happen to find. These are nice clothes, at good prices but…unless its something which you can fit into your every day wardrobe or have an occasion to wear, it’s probably not worth the money.

Me, I don’t dress like a hipster. If you do, that’s rad. But me, I prefer neutral colors; I like tight pants and loose tops; I will not wear heels everyday. Nothing about you wardrobe preferences will change by the fact that the boots are three dollars, or this shirt is so hipster. If it isn’t you, you won’t wear it. If you don’t wear it, it takes up space in your closet and wastes your money.



Huge thanks to Jessie for sharing her tips! You can find her on Instagram here!

Jessie Wrobel is a Mathematics major with a specializition in Economics at the University of Chicago. In her free time (what free time) she enjoys brunch, thrift shopping, and traveling the world.

Leave a Reply