Thrifting (an exhaustive study)

I’ve been thinking about this post for years. I really feel like we’ve talked about this already, but I am obsessed with thrifting. It’s a version of self-expression for me and it’s so much more fun than shopping at any “basic” store. If you go into American Eagle or Charlotte Russe, they tell you how to wear their clothes. And, as much as I love the American Eagle style, I end up never buying anything because in order to wear one of their pieces you have to wear it with another one of their pieces. And I’m really not interested in being an advertisement for any company or business (besides my own, of course).

Note** If you don’t care about style this post really isn’t for you! This isn’t a guideline for all women, this is a “if you care about style like I do, if it’s fun for you, here are my findings”. If you don’t care much about style or shopping or what you wear I have a lot of other posts about other things that you might enjoy more :)

I thought about my reasons for thrifting and realized that I really only have two:

  1. Price. I can buy 5 items for $25 at a thrift store or one item for $25 anywhere else (on a good day). You do the math.
  2. Self expression. I get to choose my own style without a store agenda being shoved down my throat.


So yesterday I went to Goodwill and The Salvation Army to find some mom jeans (a blog post for another day!) and here are some tips I thought of along the way… (Also I’ve added a few pictures of me sporting some of my favorite thrifted pieces)

Before You Go


Before you go thrifting you need to arm yourself with the knowledge of two things:
1. what’s in style and
2. what works for you and what doesn’t.

Let’s begin with point number one…“What’s in Style”. I am not talking about what’s in style at Abecrombie or Target. If that’s the style “standard” for which you hold yourself to than I can guarantee you won’t find anything at a thrift store to your liking (or if you do it’ll be “so 5-7 years ago” or grungy and you’ll give up all faith in thrift stores which is not ok!!). Your standard for trends needs to come from a bigger industry, the fashion industry. The fashion industry guides Target in the details, but why not just go straight to the source for your guide? According to several articles I’ve found online, a couple of Autumn 2016 trends that I’m interested in are: shearling, lace and velvet. I’ve also seen that denim trends are leaning away from the skinny jeans of our mid-2000s past and leaning more toward a thicker, all-cotton denim with a high waist (mom jeans). Another thing to keep a look out for is silhouette. Remember the leggings, tall boots and big flannel trend of 2010? That was a silhouette. Now, and you can see it everywhere, the silhouette is more high waisted and crop tops with ankle boots or sneakers. Hello 90’s! Having an idea of what’s on trend right now will keep you looking modern. Thrift store shopping isn’t a faux paux, but looking like you walked out of a 1980’s catalog is! You want to be able to find quality thrift store pieces that still look modern and stylish.

Secondly, what works for you and what doesn’t? This, again, needs a post of it’s own. But there are a few basics to figure out – Style, Color and Body Type.

– What’s your style? Are you a classic? Edgy? Glam? If you prefer classic pieces you will shop very differently from someone who is more eclectic. For example, I am not at all “Glam”. I will go into a thrift store, try on a fabulous sequin dress, look amazing and still not buy the dress because I will never feel comfortable in it (and I actually did buy the dress and never wore it, bad choice). I prefer more of a natural, soft, eclectic, vintage look with a touch of edgy, it’s what I’m drawn to and the style I tend to create out of the items in my closet. Knowing this allows me to not waste time or money on pieces that aren’t “me”.

– What colors look best on you? Are you a “summer”, “winter”, “fall” coloring? Within the last 6 months I figured out that I am what’s known as a “soft summer”.

These colors on the left are the ones I keep my eye out for in thrift stores (and everywhere), and they look amazing on me and make me feel my best. The ones on the right I steer clear of (even my beloved black! sob!). Thrift stores are often sorted by color, so this makes my life much easier. I’ve learned that for a color to be right for me, it must be dusty, soft and slightly gray. Another trait of a “soft summer” is soft and delicate patterns and textures and shapes. So while I originally loved the sharp minimalism look and edgy “off duty model” styles, I learned that I won’t look my best in these. But, going back to finding your personal style, keep balanced and be true to what you love and feel good in. My personality isn’t ruffles and rosebuds, but I can still buy a chic dusty purple leather jacket or a soft gray tee, staying true to my colors, my style and my personality for a look that is perfect for me. Like I said, there’s so much to this, enough for it’s own post. I’d love to help you find your colors and personal style, so just ask me if you need some help! You can also look at Pinterest (where I found the image above) and online for “Seasonal Color Analysis” to help you find your color profile.

– The last thing you need to know about yourself is body type. No, I didn’t say body hate, I said body type. Every body is different and beautiful, especially if you choose the pieces that work best for you! I’m a pear shape, I have rounded shoulders and a big booty, I’m 5’8″ with long arms and legs and size 10 feet. I understand that I’ll look great in structured jackets, clavicle bearing scoop neck tops, (no crew-neck tees for me, please!), slim pants, high waisted items. Babydoll dresses will always be too short. I need to show off my waist and not wear super baggy things. Obviously, I don’t dress “perfectly” all the time! I wear what I want to wear. BUT, when I’m shopping, I don’t want to be distracted by a cute item that won’t work for me. What works for you? What doesn’t work for you? It’s ok if you don’t know these things now, it’s a fun learning process.

OK! Now, you’re armed with this new knowledge, you know the basics trends that you’re interested in, you know your personal style and preferences, you’re aware of what colors and textures look best on you and you know your body type and what makes it look amazing. Awesome! Let’s go shopping…

The Thrift Store


When to go? Early morning is best! It’s quiet and the employees are generally pushing around big racks of new clothing that hasn’t been picked through yet, jackpot!

What to shop for? I usually go for jeans, sweaters, shirts, skirts and dresses. These are my favorites and where I’ve had the most luck.

What to steer clear of? Being a size 10 foot I never have much luck with shoes and, though I’ve seen some cute ones, I rarely see any that I would purchase and wear. Definitely steer clear of undies and PJs (gross). I’m going to put shirts here too for sake of value. I can find a fabulous pair of Lucky jeans at a thrift store for $5 when in the Lucky store they’re $65+. I rarely find a shirt for $5 that I couldn’t find somewhere else brand new for $10-$15, so the “deal” isn’t quite as amazing.

How to Shop? LOOK EVERYWHERE. Going to your specific “size” on a rack really doesn’t exist in the thrift store world. In fact, sizes don’t really exist in thrift store world! In thrift stores I’ve purchased jeans anywhere from size 2 to size 12 and both look amazing. So throw the number out the window and shop visually. Go to the color that you like (and that fits within your season), feel the textures, go through every single item (something might be hiding!), if you like the color take it out and look at it – does it look like it’ll fit you? Yes? No? When shopping for jeans I seriously pay ZERO attention to size. Instead my thought process goes one of two ways, “I think my booty will fit into these pants!” or “There’s no way my booty is fitting into these pants!”. Sometimes I’m way off on what actually fits, but that’s ok. Other things to look at, hows the neckline? Sleeve length? If you like the way it looks and if you think it’ll fit then try it on. Always try it on. Do this around as much of the store as you like, fill a shopping cart, take your time. This is different than shopping at Target or the mall. This is an art form.

In the Fitting Room


I usually do a fast try on. In thrift stores knowing when something for sure isn’t right for you is often really quick. Put it in a pile of “no thanks” items (better yet, hang it up and put it on the hook please, you’re friendly thrift store employee will thank you) and move on to the next thing. If it fits you (read: if you can get into it or if you’re not swimming in it), look in the mirror a minute to check out the details. See any stains? Is the fabric old and stretched or faded? Hows the neckline? How’s the color next to your skin, your hair? Check the booty on pants – where are the pockets? Where’s the waist band? For me, low rise and low pocket jeans make my booty look saggy and lifeless. Do a little dance, squat, look over your shoulder, check yourself out. If the items passes all these tests, is your color/style/preferences than by golly PUT IT ON THE “I LIKE IT” HOOK! (did you think I was going to say, “buy it”? Ha! Wait and see.)

Once you’ve gone through all your items I want you to take one more look at what’s on your “Like it” hook. Hold up each piece and ask yourself if it’s really worth the price. Ask yourself if you’re really going to wear it. If the answer to these questions is “Yes” then you buy that thing and don’t look back! If you like an item and think you can come back for it later, you’re wrong. Especially since theirs not a bunch of one item, there is ONE. So if you love it, buy it.


A couple other tips:

– Stick with almost new or vintage pieces. 9 times out of 10 that item from 2009 is going to be faded, stretched and not in style.

– Go by yourself or someone who doesn’t mind you taking forever. Because it just might take forever. You never know until you start looking!

– Have fun! Because guess what, no size 0 model is breathing down your neck showing you how amazing she looks in those booty shorts or that bodycon dress. This is where YOU can express yourself and dress for happiness and fun, however that looks for you, without anyone dragging you down. So enjoy yourself and explore! (and let me know if you find any good thrift stores, I’ll want to check them out!)

2 thoughts on “Thrifting (an exhaustive study)”

  1. Thank you for the little color chart! I was googling this stuff the other day without really figuring out what colors are good for me. Instinctively, I avoid black and bright colors and almost always prefer muted tones. I was talking about my black avoidance with someone else recently and I couldn’t explain why I didn’t think it looked best on me. I tend toward charcoal and navy for neutrals. Anyway, the color chart matches what I’m usually attracted to, so that’s a good sign, right?

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