The concept of shopping in thrift stores originally started out as a way for me to build my professional wardrobe while I operated on a college student budget. Today it is one of my favorite hobbies (more of an obsession). Shopping at thrift stores allow me to experiment with different pieces at insanely low prices, all while I continue to develop my personal aesthetic. When I started out I mostly purchased blazers and ties, and then I went on to developing a rather impressive thrift store shoe collection. However, my road to successful thrift store shopping was not an easy one. I purchased several items with the intent of eventually getting it tailored or just purchasing things that I thought was unique. As a result, I found myself wasting money even though the goal was always to save money. Therefore, in an effort to help you all from making the same mistakes that I did, I created a “How-To” guide to thrift store shopping. Many others have made similar guides in the past, but since 80% of my wardrobe is comprised of garments found in a thrift store, I think its only right that I provide some insight on the topic.
I cannot stress this enough. Shopping at several thrift stores on a consistent basis is essential to acquiring great finds. I visit 3-4 different thrift stores during the week, and sometimes I go back on the weekends.
From my personal experience, the thrift stores that are located in the suburban neighborhoods the best items, especially if you are in the market for furniture, and other household items. However, I shop at all thrift stores, from the unkempt ones to the most tidy ones.
3) Research brands
Most of my free time is usually spent on researching various clothing brands. I have realized that by being knowledgeable about different brands you will know what brands to look for and you will be able to sift through the racks more efficiently and expeditiously.
4) Try it on
Most thrift stores have fitting rooms so it is best that you try on any and everything that you find because most thrift stores do not accept exchanges or returns.
5) Carefully inspect your items
Some items might have stains and or imperfections. Some might even have a dreaded moth hole from being stored away for years. So carefully scrutinize all of your garments before purchasing them because like I said before, most thrift stores do not accept exchanges or returns.
6) Check different sections of the store
Some more experienced thrift store shoppers like to hide items all around the store. So be on the lookout for items like a men’s blazer carefully tucked away in the children’s section. Sounds petty, but trust me I see it happen all the time.
7) Donate to your local thrift stores
Please donate your lightly used clothes and unused household items to your local thrift stores. Like the saying goes, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” I like to call it good karma.
8) Clean your finds
Some items like leather jackets do not necessarily need cleaning. However, anything that has direct contact with your skin should be washed or dry cleaned. I wouldn’t feel right if I did not add this to the list.
Lastly, here are some of my latest and greatest thrift store finds. I also added the prices so that it could inspire you get up and check out one of your local thrift stores.
Vintage Gap Blazer $3 | Linen Pocket Square $.50
Vintage Blazer $4 | Vintage Tie $2 | Tie Clip $2 | Shoes $7 | Briefcase $5
Vintage Blazer $5 | Vintage Tie $2
Adriano Goldschmied Leather Jacket $7 | Ralph Lauren Bag $5
Vintage Top Coat $20 | Pendleton Tie $2
Wilsons Leather Jacket $20
Vintage Blazer $6 | Linen Pocket Square $.50
Quail Run Suede Leather Jacket $15 | Vintage Yves Saint Laurent Tie $1 | Leather Driving Gloves $5
LL Bean Leather Bomber Jacket $20
Pendleton Overcoat $20 | Ralph Lauren Suit $25 | J. Crew shirt $5 | Vintage tie $2 | Dexter Shoes $6
London Fog Trench Coat $15 | Hart Schaffer & Marx Suit $12 | Vintage Tie $2 | Bass Shoes $8
Vintage Tweed Blazer $4 | Pendleton Tie $2 | Jack Georges Briefcase $3
As always, thanks for reading!
The Dapper Advisor