thrifting 101: tips from one junkie to another

it's no secret that i love a bargain, the thrill of the hunt, and vintage. even if i knew the number of hours i've spent searching thrift stores, i still probably wouldn't tell you because it would be embarrassing (and it would also provide proof, once and for all, that i am a thrift store junkie), but what i will tell you is that in all of my hunting, digging, rummaging, and gathering, i have learned a few things. i've had some people tell me before that i have "the best luck" finding things, but since i think it's more about how dirty you're willing to get your hands than luck, i thought i'd share what i've learned...

1. completely throw sizing out of the window. if you see something you like, pick it up to try on, but pay no attention to the size tag because it can trick you. the skirt above (one of my more recent, and beloved vintage thrift store finds) is marked a size 9 but fits like it was made for me. i wear a modern day size 0, and had i paid attention to the tag, this beauty might hanging on someone else's wall for pictures. i can't bare the thought.

2. keep in mind you will be washing items when you get home. when i was new at thrifting, if i saw a spot, i rejected the item entirely. what a dummy. i'm not saying that if something has a 30-year-old permanent mustard stain you should get it, but sometimes you can tell that spots (or, yes, even pit stains) are of the removable variety, and when washed, old items can become almost new again! the same goes for smells; old lady perfume isn't permanent, thank god.

3. most thrift stores have clothing separated by type, season, even color. i can't tell you how many times i've found a gorgeous vintage cardigan tucked in with the tank tops (probably something someone was hiding for later, but it's fair game at the thrift store), or a perfectly fitted jacket hidden in the dresses. look everywhere, because you'll probably find something good!

4. one of the biggest problems i have when thrifting is telling myself that i'm going to make alterations, but never actually doing it. unless you sew often and enjoy doing alterations, be honest with yourself, and don't get something if you know deep down you won't fix it.

5. try things on! thrift stores have dressing rooms for a reason - because most won't accept returns, and you don't want to be stuck with something that's ill-fitting. it took me a long time to actually use the dressing rooms, and to be honest, i have no idea what i was so afraid of. now, they're my best thrifting friend right behind a low price!

6. don't go to the thrift store expecting to find a diamond in the rough. lately i've been overwhelmed with all of the good finds - so much so that i actually have to put some things back because i don't have enough room in my house - but often times there just isn't anything i like or that fits. you have to be willing to keep trying; sometimes you hit it big, other times you may go home empty-handed.

i think that about sums it up, but if you have any other tips or rules you follow when thrifting, i'd love to hear them! also, have you found anything good lately?


  1. Micaela wrote/asked about thrifting today too! I commented that I wish I had her around, cause I never go to thrift stores and don't possess the knowledge/skills that you two do. But I think it's fate that you both wrote about it--I need to check some out, cause lord knows there are plenty in SF!

  2. Thanks for sharing the tips. Yes, that skirt is beautiful!

  3. girl, too many good finds. its like thrifting heaven out here. but not for clothes. i hate clothes shopping anyways....
    I want to see that skirt in an outfit post next!

  4. The sizing is so weird even for recent items. D: I do have a favorite store but of course NO DRESSING ROOMS! -___-

  5. thrifting is awesome, gracias for the tips :)

  6. I feel the same way that once you find something that you like, don't think too much and just buy it :) before having regrets on not bringing it home.

    By the way, I'm having a mini giveaway over at my blog:

    Feel free to check it out :-)

  7. This is excellent. And I heart you. I'm not good at thrifting but I've never really had good thrift stores to go's just recycled Walmart crap.

  8. I love thrifting, but there have been way too many times where I've purchased something not quite perfect and told myself that I'll hem it when I get home, or I'll take in the sides, and then I never do. So now, I'm not allowing myself to purchase anything at thrift stores unless it fits perfectly. Someday, when I actually have a spot in my home where I can permanently set up my sewing machine, maybe I'll let myself buy things that need some alteration.


I'd love to hear what you think!