3 Tips for Thrifting a Wardrobe You'll Love

clothes thrift shopping tips

Thrifting my wardrobe is one of my favourite hobbies. Not only does it save me a ton of cash compared to buying brand new, but I find it super fun and feel great about keeping perfectly good clothing out of the landfill. It’s also one of the ways I use my paycheque to vote for the world I want to live in - one where perfectly useable items are reused or repurposed instead of being sacrificed to the altar of fast fashion. My consumption habits are far from perfect, but this is one area at least where I feel like my values and my actions are aligned.

There are a few things I don’t thrift (socks & undies, mostly) and I will occasionally buy new if I haven’t been able to find what I want used. On the whole, I’d say my wardrobe is about 60-70% thrifted, which I think is pretty decent.

With all that said, here are a few tips I’ve picked up along the way that have contributed to my thrifty success:

#1 - Inspect everything Before You Buy 

Take a good look for holes, missing buttons, stains, or other flaws. If you find something that needs to be fixed or altered before it will be wearable, be real with yourself about whether or not you’re willing to go through the effort. I don’t enjoy repairing or altering clothes, so those items would just sit in my drawer for months on end before ultimately ending up back in the donation pile. If you do enjoy those activities then that’s another story altogether - the important thing is to be honest with yourself.

Likewise, check the tag to see how the item should be laundered. I prefer to wash any clothing I buy (thrifted or new) immediately after bringing it home and run it through the dryer to prevent the spread of any bed bugs that might be hanging out in the seams. I’ve never met anyone who has brought home bed bugs from a store (that I know of), but I still like to take this precautionary measure just in case. I also know that I’m not likely to bother getting something dry cleaned, which is just another reason for me to avoid those pieces.

Basically, if you know deep down that you’re never going to give an item the care it needs to be wearable, it’s probably best to just leave it behind.

#2 - Check your mood before you shop and Get Ready to be patient

Thrifting can be tedious. Depending on where you shop, you might pick your way through an entire rack and still come up empty handed. The thing is, pretty much the only way to find the good stuff is to go through the racks item by item, which can take a long time and potentially leave you irritated. 

Over time I’ve learned that I enjoy thrifting the most when I don’t have any time constraints, I’m not hungry or tired, and I’m feeling relaxed and at ease. Understanding your shopping habits and emotional needs can help you decide what your ideal experience might be.

If you’re trying to be ultra thrifty by hitting up your local shop on a sale day, you should be prepared to be rubbing elbows with other bargain hunters and to wait in line to try things on or pay for your finds. I'm a pretty introverted person, so that kind of environment can be really overwhelming for me sometimes. I’ve straight up skipped great sales that I’d planned to go to because I was too anxious or just not in the mood that day and have zero regrets about it. 

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#3 - Come prepared and be picky

I like to keep a list of gaps in my wardrobe that I’d like to fill and/or specific pieces that I’m looking for in Google Keep and review it before I go shopping. This helps me focus and prioritize which sections I want to look through. 

I also find that taking a quick look through my closet before heading out is really helpful. I have a tendency to pick things off the rack that are super similar to items I already own, which is not exactly the recipe for a fun closet. I’ve put many a little black dress or cardigan back simply because they were identical or close to something I already owned. On the flip side, I’ve bought many pieces that I wouldn’t have otherwise looked at simply because I realized mid-shop that I needed to seek out things that were different from what I already had.

One more thing to watch out for is buying things you won’t actually need or wear just because they’re in good shape or a really good deal. If something isn’t quite your style don’t be afraid to leave it behind - someone else will thank you for it.

What about you - do you thrift your clothing? If so, do you have any tips or strategies that you’d like to share?