10 Secrets The Thrifting Girls Are Gatekeeping

Ever wonder how that stylish girl you follow on Instagram scores the best thrift finds every time she steps foot in a store, yet all you see are smelly clogs and cheaply made sweaters when you visit? There's a reason for that.

By Molly Farinholt3 min read
Pexels/Zarina Khalilova

Thrifting is always a fun outing with the girls, whether you snag the pieces of your dreams or not. In the case of smart thrifting, it can also be a way to save money, find unique and high-quality pieces, and reduce waste! It’s shopping that you can feel all-around good about. It pays to know the tricks the thrifty pros use to navigate the world of thrifting, though. So, in the spirit of being a girl's girl, we're revealing 10 of the secrets the best thrift girls are gatekeeping. Here you go:

1. Purge First 

Out with the old, in with the new (well, new to you anyway). Before you add to your wardrobe, weed out the pieces that you no longer wear. Donate them or sell them to a consignment store that accepts the styles you wear. You'll begin your shopping with room in your closet and maybe some extra cash in your wallet. 

2. Go with a List 

It's all too easy to over-purchase when thrifting because it's a good deal or it's just so pretty! But then you end up spending money on items you don't need, won't wear often, or – especially in the case of a good deal – don't even really like. This is a great time to reevaluate your signature style and create a secret Pinterest board full of inspiration. Take stock of the pieces that your wardrobe is lacking, make a list, and only purchase pieces that are on that list. 

3. Ask for Specifics 

Looking for some cardigans and just not seeing any? Ask! Stores often have more inventory in the back that they just haven’t displayed yet. They may be willing to rummage around for you (or, better yet, they may already have the perfect piece in mind)! Likewise, if you see something you love but it’s on a mannequin, just ask if it’s for sale and if you can try it on! 

4. Shop a Season Ahead

Don't expect to find the sweetest sundresses in the middle of June. The best ones have likely been snatched up already. Consider what your wardrobe needs for the next season and begin shopping early. As soon as the cozy sweaters and jeans hit the floor toward the middle to end of summer, you should be browsing and buying for your autumn closet.

5. Have a Tailor on Hand

It might seem like a total bummer when you find a gorgeous piece at an incredible price, but it just doesn't fit you quite right. If you are up for it, though, it could be absolutely worth it to still purchase and then spend a little extra to get it tailored! Consider the cost of buying that piece new, do the math, and see if it's worth it. Know that there's a wide range when it comes to tailoring costs, though. Depending on the fabric, designer, and what needs to be done, tailoring a dress, for instance, can be anywhere from $30 to $200. While small repairs and size alterations can be worth it, stay away from irreparable rips and stains.

6. Know the Schedule 

Most thrift stores have days where certain items are discounted (i.e. 25% off all dresses on Thursdays) or certain groups get discounts (i.e. 10% off for teachers on Mondays). Get friendly with the staff at your local consignment shops and take note of their schedules. What are their most popular donation days? When do they put new items out? Know the schedule and plan to go early on discount days or go the day before if you don’t mind paying full price so that you’re sure to hit the store before it gets picked over. 

7. Dress for Trying Things On

You're going to want to try things on, especially if you're shopping brands that are unfamiliar to you. So dress for success by wearing something cute (of course) but easy to change into and out of. You may want to opt for separate bottoms and a top instead of a dress so that you can more easily try on individual pieces and show your friends. If your favorite thrift store doesn’t have a dressing room, then a fitted tank top and bike shorts or leggings will allow you to try things on without needing to change.

8. Ignore Sizes 

You may be a size six in your go-to brands, but don't be afraid to try sizes both above and below your normal. Vintage sizes are different (and brands even change their sizing over the years), so don't be deterred by the numbers on the tags. Try it on and see how it actually fits your body!

9. Forget the Brand 

Likewise, ignore the brand on the tag (for the most part). Shop for material, instead. Even if you’ve never heard of the brand, a silk, linen, cashmere, or wool find in good condition is so worth it! And remember: Part of the fun of thrifting is finding unusual pieces with a more “one-of-a-kind” feel. Who cares about big brand names if you look and feel fabulous in it? 

10. Go Early and Often 

To optimize your chances of scoring the best finds, go when the store opens for the day and frequent it often. Give yourself at least an hour each time to browse through each section thoroughly rather than running in and rushing when you only have 15 minutes. Thrift and consignment stores are constantly receiving new inventory. By popping in often, you'll give yourself a better chance of finding quality items you actually like. You’ll also likely build a rapport with the workers who may even be up for watching out for items that you’re hoping to find. 

Closing Thoughts

Now that you’re armed with the tricks of a seasoned thrifter, gather your gal pals, clean out your closets, and spend the day getting lost among the racks, searching for little treasures for your wardrobe. 

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