For years, I was a bit ashamed to be seen or even let my friends know that I was an avid thrift-shopper, because years ago there was a social stigma attached to it. Today, it has become more accepted. The following are my tips for a successful thrifting trip
HAVE PATIENCE. Thrifting is not for the faint of heart and requires a great deal of patience. Go in without expectations and don't give up if you do not find specifically what you are looking for.
WEAR A THRIFTING UNIFORM. Some stores do not have dressing rooms or if they do the lines are long and they limit the amount of pieces you can take in the dressing. So wear leggings (or a skirt, dress) a close fitting top and shoes that are easy to slip on and off. This will allow you to try on clothes without getting undressed. Plus wear a cross body bag to free up your hands for searching the racks.
BRING A LIST. To avoid getting overwhelmed and possibly buying too much, make a list of your wants and/or needs. Bring your inspiration style diary or tear sheets to serve as a visual guide of your must have pieces. Buy only what you need, pieces that you love and wear immediately.
LOOK FOR BARGAINS. Most clothes at thrift stores are used so take advantage of the low prices. But don’t simply buy items because of the price. Make sure that it is something that you love and can integrate into your wardrobe.
BE CREATIVE. Consider how the look could be changed to meet your needs and match your style. For example, a man's shirt can be worn as a dress or an oversize blazer can be belted.
SHOP FOR ACCESSORIES. Shop for silk scarves, leather purses, vintage jewelry, and belts. Accessories are an inexpensive way to update your wardrobe. Look especially for the basic essentials that your accessory wardrobe may be missing, like a pearl necklace or black leather bag.
SHOP FOR TRENDS (and classics too). Thrifting is a guilt-free and an inexpensive way to determine if you would like a certain look or style. So go ahead and experiment with a new style or trend. Stock up on classics like black pants, blazers, button down shirts, denim shirts and denim jackets.
SHOP THE LABEL. Whether shopping for vintage pieces or high end brands, labels tell the story. Labels will identify if a piece is vintage; if the item is designer; if the item is worth the price marked; and the care instructions for the piece.
SPEND TIME/SAVE MONEY. One of the most important things to remember about secondhand style is that it requires patience and thinking outside the box. Unlike department store shopping, where you are wowed rack after rack of clothing, a thrift stores is sometimes a hit or miss. But if you can spend the time, you will find so many new inexpensive additions for your wardrobe.
I make it a point to never wear a thrift store purchase without cleaning the item. But honestly, there are a few times when I have been so excited about wearing an item, that I may spray it with some FeBreeze and toss it in the dryer. But I know better than to do that. Here are a few quick tips to clean your thrifty finds:
Clothing: I personally don’t think you have to dry clean everything, just because it is thrifted. That can be very expensive. So just look at the label and follow the instructions.
Shoes: Spray with a disinfectant spray like Lysol and use diluted vinegar or rubbing alcohol for the insoles.
Jewelry: Wipe the piece with rubbing alcohol and let it dry completely before wearing.