Essays

How I thrift

The upsurge of thrift-tok has risen over the years, which may come as a surprising shock for experienced thrifters or a ‘been there, done that’ eye roll for some. In my experience, buying second-hand clothes was considered taboo, given their affiliation with being cheap. In a way, it’s reassuring to know that the stigma is no longer there, but I’ve got to admit that it’s a little unnerving for people to label thrifting the newest in-thing. Call me a special snowflake; I’ve been doing this for years.

Obviously, you shouldn’t view my thrifting skills as the peak of expertise, as I’m sure that my methods may be questionable for some. With that being said, I’m fairly confident that I picked up a few things along the way. If you find yourself at a stand-still at your local Goodwill (or Value Village), I’ll share some tips and tricks for thrifters to keep in mind. In my opinion, the goal of every shopping trip is to walk away satisfiedhaul or no haul.

  1. Look for quality, not the brand tag

I’ve seen a fair amount of thrifters scour for the brand tag when it comes to clothes. Obviously, fast fashion labels such as Shein or Romwe get a bad rep for being cheap and unsustainable. I’m not here to defend companies with questionable manufacturing practices, but I’d like to re-instate the fact that sustainability starts at the transaction. The person behind the Shein purchase is half-to-blame, but you can at least decrease their carbon footprint by picking up a pre-used Shein dress. It won’t win any awards in quality, but I’m sure that it’ll last for a decent amount of time. If that Boohoo shirt calls your name, don’t be ashamed in adding it to your shopping cart.

2. Leave no aisle unturned

I’m not referring to children’s clothes, as most experienced thrifters advise newbies. Instead, I’m talking about aisles pertaining to fabric, loose material, sleepwear, and even maternity garments. You’d be surprised with the number of finds tucked away in unseen corners. A good amount of my thrift finds are found in random places.

3. Don’t pay attention to shoe sizing

Popular thrift stores, such as Goodwill, Value Village, and Salvation Army, aren’t known to be super curated and organized. This bodes especially true for shoes, as most shoppers aren’t keen to put back pairs in their original spots. As a result, it’s not uncommon to find a size 7 in a size 6. You should also look for footwear in other sections, such as the men’s, women’s, or even children’s.

4. Be skeptical about designer finds

This includes behind-the-counter items and products sold openly for customer viewing. Some store reps confuse counterfeit goods with the real thing, as it’s increasingly difficult to differentiate designer from dupe nowadays. Unless you’re 100% sure about a certain purse or garment, I suggest double-checking on the internet before committing to purchase.

5. Never underestimate the power of a one-piece (and a pair of slip-on shoes)

If you often shop for second-hand clothes, chances are that you’ll be stuck in the try-on stall for a majority of your time. Instead of waiting around for the next open booth, I advise wearing a simple jumpsuit or romper to make the process easier. I recommend opting for a neutral-toned one-piece, as it can easily test a garment’s versatility and practicality. Of course, wearing hassle-free shoes is also an asset. Trust me, there’s nothing more frustrating than untying and re-tying your Chuck Taylors over and over again.

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