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10 Thrift Shop Fashion Tips

I am an AVID thrift store shopper! Every week I make my rounds to my favorite local thrift shops. Since our local area has an awesome Goodwill & two wonderful second hand stores I have lots of fun shopping. So I thought why not share 10 of my best thrift shop fashion tips. These thrift shop fashion tips will get you thrifting like a pro in no time!

10 thrift shop fashion tips you can start using right now!

Tip #1 – Make a list of your fashion needs

Thrift shopping without a list is like grocery shopping on an empty stomach. Not the best idea! So, one of the best thrift shop fashion tips is to make a list of what you are looking for based on what you already have in your closet. This will help keep you focused and prevent you from buying items you really don’t need & spending money you may not have budgeted.

Tip #2 – Get the lay of the land

When you get to the store ask the sales attendant if they have any discount days or colored discount tags. Find out if they restock all the time or on a certain day of the week. Always ask if you can return or exchange any items. If you can’t then make sure they fit and are in good shape before you buy. Avoid shopping on Saturdays when it is the busiest. I like to stop on Sunday morning or early in the week for the best shopping experience.

Scan the store and get a feel for the layout. Is it sorted by color, styles or department? Check your list and head first to the area(s) that house the items on your shopping list. If you have the time and the energy, you can then head back to the beginning of the store and enjoy the thrill of the hunt!

Here is some great insider secrets from thrift store employees at “Goodwill stores use five different colors and rotate them weekly in a regular pattern: A new batch of clothing going onto the sales floor might get a blue tag, for example, and next week’s merchandise might get yellow. Every week on a Sunday, Goodwill puts the oldest color on sale for 50 percent off to help get it off the floor. If you can figure out your local store’s color pattern, you can predict when an item that catches your eye will go on sale. Tip: Try (nicely) asking an employee.”

Tip #3 – Go prepared when thrift shopping

I really don’t like to try on clothes when I’m shopping. So, when I go thrifting I wear clothes that I can try clothes on over them. I’ll wear a tank top under a lightweight jacket that I can slip off and try blouses and shirts on over it. I’ll also wear leggings under a skirt or alone so I can just slip on pants and skirts to make sure they fit.

Always wear slip on shoes with socks, so you can just kick them off easily while trying clothes on. Don’t wear lipstick or a lot of make up that could rub off onto the clothes. This is a good tip when ever you try on clothes!

Tip #4 – Look for brands & feel for quality

As I’m scanning through the racks of clothes I do THREE things consistently: 1. Scan by color/print – I only go to the pieces that are the colors or prints that are attractive to me and would fit into my wardrobe. 2. Feel the fabric – feeling the fabric will give you an idea of the quality and wearability. If it is too thin, too thick, rough or just made of a material that feels icky, then pass on it. Avoid fabrics such as polyester and nylon that look cheap. If you know you will never take “dry clean” only clothes to a cleaner then don’t waste your money buying it. 3. Check the tag – Look at the tag to see what brand it is, check the size and check the fabric/care directions. This is my favorite part of thrift shopping! Scoring amazing high end brand clothing at a fraction of the price. Sometimes you will come across a piece that still has the store tags on it and has not even been worn.

leather blazer with red and white blouse outfit idea thrifted

BCBG Leather Blazer | Goodwill $14.99 Calvin Klein Blouse | Goodwill $4.99 1/2 off tag

Tip #5 – Be wary but don’t pass on thrift shop shoes

So I have mixed feelings about buying shoes second hand or foot! Here are three tips on what you should look for & do if you thrift a pair of shoes: 1. Check the condition. You might be surprised to find a lot of brand new shoes or rarely worn shoes at a thrift shop, I look at the soles and if they are super worn out, the shoes were worn a lot and are possibly not worth it. Also, check to see what the material is made of and if they have any holes, stains or missing lining. 2. What to avoid & what to go for: Avoid shoes that don’t fit, are made with cheap materials, overly worn or stained. It’s also not a great idea to buy athletic shoes or shoes as they will have lost most of their support. Go for it if they are new or almost new, fit you perfect and are a high quality brand or material. 100%-leather shoes will have a mark on the sole and the words “vero curo.” Shoes that are leather but have a rubber sole will be marked “leather upper.” 3. Clean them up before wearing. Some ways to do that are to spray some bleach and water on them, rub them down with rubbing alcohol, spray them with Lysol or just use some soap and warm water.

Tip #6 – When in doubt, google it

If you find a piece that may seem a bit spendy or you are not too sure if the price is worth it, get out your phone and “google” it! I do this all the time. If I’m not familiar with the brand name I’ll google it to see if it is a higher quality brand and worth the purchase!

Tip #7 – Go Vintage

If you come across a piece that you think is vintage, you can use your smartphone to check the Label Resource at the Vintage Fashion Guild to help you identify it. Remember to always size up, when shopping for vintage pieces So take a look at the racks a size or two larger than what you would usually wear. Also check out the jewelry and bags section for vintage pieces. I have found some really beautiful costume jewelry and great rings while out thrifting.

Tip #8 – Get Trendy with your Thrift Shop Fashion Finds

Leopard print cardigan with kelly green ruffle dress thrift shop fashion

Ralph Lauren Leopard Cardigan | Goodwill $9.99 Ruffle Dress | Goodwill $4.99

One of the fun things about thrift shop fashion is that it allows you to try new trends and styles without any real risk! Trying new colors, mixing in trendy patterns and playing with unique styles is one of the best parts of thrift fashion. Thrift fashion lets you be creative and allows you to show off your own unique fashion sense. I found this fun Ralph Lauren leopard print silk cardigan and this kelly green dress at Goodwill and just love how they go together!

Tip #9 – Launder and Repair

Yellow printed cardigan thrift shop outfit idea

Jones of NY Cardigan Set | Goodwill $3.99

Before you wear clothes from the thrift store, you should always launder and repair. Check the items fabric care tag to find out how it can be laundered. If the item can be washed in a regular washing machine, pre-treat any areas that need a bit of extra cleaning and wash them in hot water. I usually don’t dry my clothes in the dryer, but hang them up to air dry or place them on a drying rack.

If the item is delicate or needs to be hand washed or dry cleaned make sure to separate those out for special care. Get yourself a fabric shaver to remove any snags or pills. Take the time to replace a missing button or an open seam before you put them away in your closet.

Tip #10 – Mix in your Thrift Shop Finds

Banana Republic pleated skirt and cardigan outfit from consignment shop.

Banana Republic Pleated Skirt | Consignment Shop $18

Once you get your “new to you” pieces home, go right to your closet and start mixing and matching with what you have. You’ll be able to really personalize your own style and bring a uniqueness into your outfits that will make you feel and look great! I scored this floral Banana Republic pleated skirt ($18) and mixed it with a cute cardigan and sleeveless blouse I already had! Check out how I have incorporated my thrift shop fashion tips and finds into other outfits here!

To sum it all up…

thrift shop floral dress from Garnett Hill with soft pink cardigan

Garnett Hill Dress | Goodwill $5.99

Use these 10 thrift shop fashion tips to make your next thrifting experience a successful one. Just remember that quality is better than quantity. Bring a list, go prepared and give yourself lots of time. Your thrift shop finds will not only save you money, but will get you looking and dressing like a real fashionista in no time!


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