With the cost of living only growing, thrifting is a great way to update your wardrobe and invest in quality pieces without breaking the bank at the same time. I’ve thrifted SO MUCH over the years – from great vintage pieces to work wear and designer clothing with the tags still on.
It’s a cheap way to revive your look or pull together the things you need for work, uni or an upcoming event. Plus, it’s sustainable and better for the environment than heading down to your local shopping centre and buying a cheap shirt that won’t last longer than three washes. Here are my tips on how to get the most out of your next visit to Vinnies or the Salvos:
No thrift store is the same – some are huge spaces dedicated to clothing, and others have a tiny clothing section at the back. Visiting a thrift store can often feel overwhelming due to the sheer size or number of items inside.
To combat this and get the most out of the store, a good approach is to have an open mind and take it slow. If you’re set on finding a specific item from a specific brand in a specific size, you’ll leave the store feeling deflated when you don’t find it. Because there’s a very high chance you won’t. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to find a particular item, for example a pair of blue jeans or a plain black skirt, but don’t let this stop you from exploring what the rest of the store has to offer. If you walk in there knowing you want a pair of light blue Acne jeans in a size 32, you’ll be leaving empty handed.
Take your time and don’t rush. Don’t stick to the confines of gender categories or size categories. Check out the jackets even if you’re searching for pants. If you’re drawn to certain styles or colours, look there even if it’s not your normal style. Avoid falling into the trap of only running to the designer label section (if there is one) – it’ll be slightly more expensive and sometimes brands will fly under the radar and end up with the other stock. By having an open approach in thrift stores, you’ll be surprised at what you might find.
2. Don’t just shop in areas known for their great thrift stores
Areas that are known for their great thrift stores often make the items more expensive. Also, by the time you get there, no doubt everything good will have been thrifted before you even arrive. While these areas are still great to visit and often you will find gems, the best places to thrift are in the suburbs or whatever random store you come across on your day off.
I’ve thrifted in most cities in Australia, and found 90% of the best purchases in suburban stores. I found a brand new Forever New faux leather skirt with the tags still on for $5, a brand new Diana Ferrari jacket that retailed for $170 originally with a $10 price tag and an almost brand new Cue white button down work shirt for $4 in a random thrift store in a small town on the South Coast of NSW. There’s another thrift store in a suburb near me that gets sent left over clothes from brands like Atmos & Here. I once found Zimmerman and Kenzo in another. I also found an amazing Mt Fuji tour guide vintage jumper in the men’s section of another suburban Vinnies. Trust me, the suburbs are where it’s at.
3. Look out for sales
If you find a thrift store you really like or if there’s one you drive/walk/bus past every day, look in the window and see if there’s a sale coming up. This is a great time to go thrifting – you’ll save some extra $$$ and the buzz of lots of people around makes it way more fun.
4. Try it on
The day I found Kenzo jeans in Vinnies was one of the greatest moments for me in thrifting history. I saw the label, bought them immediately. Got home – and they didn’t fit.
It’s a good idea to try everything on before you buy, especially with vintage clothing or older styles as the sizing can be very different. I’m normally a size 14-16, but I’ve fit into size 10 before in a thrift shop. Keep that in mind while you’re browsing the store, and don’t be afraid to try something one or two sizes too big or small than what you are today.
5. Don’t be a brand snob
Two of my favourite and most worn thrifted items were originally from Target. Although I do love the thrill of finding big brands in these stores, don’t shy away from the rest. You don’t need to spend money to look great, and the label on the back of your shirt is meaningless if the item is ill fitted or doesn’t suit who you are.
Written by Amanda Louise
Amanda Louise is a writer and photographer based on the South Coast of New South Wales, Australia. You can view more of her work at http://amandalouise.squarespace.com/