How To Choose Thrifted Clothes

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One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. This adage has a lot of truth to it. Thrift stores may have a reputation for being unglamorous or dowdy, but there are true gems hidden away at every Goodwill. The truth is an average American buys 68 pieces of clothing every year. This is terrible for the environment and bad for the budget, too. Eighty percent of these items are worn very seldom and hastily given away as the buyer realizes that they were impulse buys. There is a growing amount of clothes that end up in secondhand stores with their tags still on! If you feel overwhelmed by the idea of thrift shopping, here are some helpful ways to start:

  • Shop your own closet first: Chances are, there are things in your closet and drawers and storage that you have forgotten about. Create a complete itemized list of everything you own and ask yourself, is this my style? Which of these clothes help me put my best foot forward? Better still, do this with a friend. You can even swap items from each other’s closets if they are better suited to the other person. Consider donating what no longer serves you. This might even get you a discount at the thrift store you want to buy from.
  • Fabric, fabric, fabric: Look for natural fabrics such as cotton, linen, and bamboo. Make sure that the fabric is thick enough and does not feel flimsy. These are often easier to machine wash and age better than polyester and rayon. Synthetic fibers also release microplastics into the water every time they are washed, and therefore not a great idea. Leather is also best bought secondhand- worn-in leather has a better look.
  • Look for apparent defects: Stains, tears, missing zippers, and pilling fabric are all a big no-no. Unless you are very handy with the sewing machine and know how to mend clothes on your own, do not get things that need repair- often, these are the pieces that sit around in closets for years without being used.
  • Set a budget: Decide the key pieces you want to buy and give yourself a budget. You will likely see other cute things at the thrift store or something at a throwaway price. A clear goal and set budget will help you stay away from distractions. Remember, the end goal is to buy fewer things in total as well.
  • Ask for help: Most thrift stores will have people who are there to guide you. Ask what you need and if you need guidance with any aspect of the store. Ask nicely, and you will find people who know the exact source of the pieces and gladly help you out. 

Thrift stores are great for finding a personal style and not conform to trends that increase the stores. You can pick from things that belong to different decades and mix them up to find your unique statement. Get your snacks, get your totes, and let’s go thrifting. 

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