Thrifting takes time. Even a seasoned thrifter is unlikely to pop into a thrift store for 20 minutes and emerge with a few great finds. Thrift stores are generally large and slightly disorganized, so shopping trips will be most successful when they’re relaxed and un-rushed.
But there are plenty of ways to make sure you stay focused and on-task when you do thrift, so you don’t waste time faffing about with stuff you don’t need or want. Here are some tips that will help you up your thrifting game:
Shop by color: If you know you need a turquoise sweater or maroon skirt, you may have better luck at the thrift store than the mall. Most thrift stores organize their wares by size, then by color. This comes in especially handy if you’re thrifting for a trend, and that trend happens to be the season’s hottest shade. Zero in on the appropriate portion of the color wheel, and start going through the racks.
Shop by pattern: Nearly all of my patterned pieces have been thrifted. Since patterns have a reputation for being trickier to style than solids, I think many patterned pieces are bought on whims, worn a few times, and then donated. Patterned garments are typically grouped with their dominant colors on the racks, but that actually makes them far easier to spot. Scan along until your eye lands on a pattern, decide if it’s of interest, and either pull the garment or move on.
Shop by fabric: I’m no sewist, but years of thrifting have taught me how to feel the difference between genuine silk and silky-feeling materials. I highly recommend running your hands over any piece that looks interesting before you bother to pull it out. You’ll be able to tell instantly if it’s too scratchy, staticky, or otherwise unpleasant to the touch. And if a garment passes the fondle test, yank it and check the fiber content. Anything that necessitates dry cleaning should give you pause, since cleaning bills can negate bargain prices. And, of course, you can check for your own fiber preferences and allergies.
Shop by type: Tackle the store department by department. Otherwise, you’ll get overwhelmed and give yourself a migraine! Start with pants, then move on to sweaters, then dresses, then outerwear … and if you just can’t do it all, that’s OK. Come back next week.
Image courtesy Brad K