HP Bagpipe

HP Bagpipe

HP Bagpipe

How To Thrift

As sustainable thrifting moves from a trend to a wider practice, here are some tips on how to make the most of your thrifting trip.
Graphic by Zoie Carlile and Will Gaffey

As soon as I walk into a thrift store, preferably with a friend, there’s an instant overwhelming feeling that takes over as soon as I take the store in all at once. Racks on racks of clothes, shoes, jewelry and other miscellaneous items fill the store, not to mention the bright, fluorescent lights peering down whilst shopping. With all of these factors it’s difficult to decide where to start, so here are some strategies to tackle a thrift store no matter the size, and how to get a good haul. Having inspiration for what you may want, being able to scan through the clothes, looking at the specific designs and styles that are with it or not, and asking yourself if you actually like what you just picked out are the main pieces of advice I have for you. I tend to explore many different thrift stores, but the following are my frequent favorites: Genesis Women’s thrift store, Goodwill, Salvation Army and Uptown Cheapskate. Many of these thrift stores will also take unwanted clothes, so before you go thrifting you can clean out your closet and try donating. That way you’ll have more room for whenever you get a good haul.

Have an idea of what you’re looking for

Going in without a plan can leave you drowning in a disarray of items that don’t fit into your personal aesthetic. However, going to a thrift store with an idea of items you are interested in can help you pick and choose what looks best for you and your personal style. Thrifting for clothes can be tedious because of all the different styles and types of clothing there are. I like to make a Pinterest board of clothing items I might want. Of course, I may not find everything on my list, but it gives me a starting point.

Practice for scanning different items

Looking through every rack and piece of clothing isn’t plausible or efficient, so being able to quickly scan at different items in the racks or bins is a necessary skill. Each thrift store organizes their sections differently, so when you enter, make sure to get your bearings first. Then stick to the areas that you’d be able to find something from your list based off of their colors, fabrics, textures and patterns. Being able to do this will save a lot of time and energy for yourself, instead of burning out and looking at every piece of clothing that may not even be your style. I mostly like starting from the back of thrift stores, and then make my way to the sides and then the middle. If I don’t find something I like when just scanning around then it’s about time to move onto another one.

Look at the tags/fabric and determine their worth

If you can determine if the fabric quality is really worth the price, you can save time and money. Most clothing in thrift stores is made from polyester, which is not necessarily a bad fabric, but not really one made with high quality. Being able to determine which clothes are made with real, quality material will help save money, instead of paying for a polyester item that’ll probably shrink. I like to try to look at tags to find some pieces from high-end designers that might be in the stores. If I do find something with a designer name, I google to see if the item is real, and if the clothing doesn’t come up anywhere it’s most likely a fake. Then again, it could be a vintage item, in that case checking the tags would be ideal.

Ask yourself if you’d actually wear what you picked out

Thrifting can always be fun, but it’s very easy to get carried away when picking out items. Make sure to really look at what you picked out and see if it’s your personal preference or style, if you would feel comfortable wearing it in public and if you could pair it with existing clothes that you have. If you can’t see yourself really wearing it, then don’t purchase it, since it’ll be just another piece of clothing hanging from your closet. That’s where bringing a friend can be helpful, so you can exchange clothes and try out different styles.

Overall, thrifting is a fun way to shop sustainably for lower prices. Even though the items might’ve been used before, they can still be fashionable and suit your style.

About the Contributor
Ellie Cooper, Reporter
What are you looking forward to on the staff this year? I'm looking forward to creating great stories, promoting the Bagpipe to the school, and overall having a successful year What are your hobbies? Reading, spending time with friends, and yoga What causes are you passionate about? World hunger, poverty, homelessness, and climate change