A guide to thrifting

The green turtlenecked top purchased at Goodwill partners nicely with the Plato's Closet denim jacket.

Thrifting, popularized by both Macklemore and trendy teens across America is an activity on the rise. As a frequent thrift shopper, I’ve discovered a few tips to guide you as you embark on your journey into the depths of second-hand shopping.

When you first go thrift shopping, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed especially if you’re on your own. I always advise setting aside a fairly large amount of time to thrift, giving you the ability to truly search through all of the wonderful treasures thrift stores can hold. Also, it is way more fun to thrift shop with friends. Thrifting offers a great time for bonding, and bouncing around ideas with another person can be super encouraging.

Thrifting offers a great time for bonding.”

— Kodi Hicks, 11

As you plan a trip to a thrift store, reduce expectations. You don’t know what you will find. Going into thrift stores with a specific item in mind limits you, and you can miss out on tons of great clothing opportunities. Many of my favorite thrift items were things that I came across on accident while browsing a unfamiliar section of the store. Take time to look through each aisle. Even if you think you will only want something from a specific section, start on one side and just make your way around the store.

Most thrift stores are divided into sections based on style, size and gender. It is good to know what section you are in, but don’t allow the sections to limit where you search. Thrift stores are not always the most organized, so sometimes things are placed in unexpected locations. Taking time to look through all sections can lead to great finds.

Be willing to try on clothes that are not necessarily in your size. This will expand your options and give you more clothes to discover. Thrift stores are made up of hundreds of brands, and most size their clothes differently. So looking throughout different sections of sizes is very beneficial. Plus, who doesn’t love a good oversized t-shirt? If you are worried about an item not fitting properly, you can work around that. From cuffing, tucking or knotting, plenty of techniques make larger clothing items work. A lot of my favorite thrifted tops are two sizes larger than what I would normally buy, but by simply tucking it in and adding a cardigan, the size difference becomes almost unnoticeable.

Things like jewelry, belts and cardigans can completely tie an outfit together.”

— Kodi Hicks, 11

When you are looking through clothes, think to yourself “How can I style this?” A lot of the time, the clothes that you come across are not going to be outstandingly cute on their own. Accessorizing is key for thrifting. Things like jewelry, belts and cardigans can completely tie an outfit together.

While considering a piece of clothing, think to yourself “When will I wear this?” Thrifting is fun because you can find some very wild clothing, but be sure to consider your personal style and imagine yourself wearing it. It can be easy to get caught up in the moment and buy a bold shirt that will just end up sitting in your closet never seeing the light of day. Make sure it is something you would be willing to wear.

Once you finish selecting clothes, be sure to try them on. I cannot stress enough that trying on the clothes is a vital step in thrifting. This is when you make your final decisions. You are going to be by yourself in the dressing room, so feel free to pose and strut your stuff. Get a feel for the clothes and see what you look like in them. After you have decided on your favorites, go through each one and check the hems and buttons (if there are any), making sure they are in good condition. Carefully inspect all of the clothes, because there is nothing more frustrating than realizing a huge flaw in a shirt after you take it home.

The most important step is to wear the thrifts. After spending the time and money to get them, you should show them off. Honestly, I get more compliments on the clothes that I’ve thrifted than I do on clothes that I’ve bought from retail stores. Plus, it’s so fun to be able to respond to compliments with “Oh thanks! I got it at Goodwill!” because it never fails to strike up a conversation about thrifting.

Not only does thrifting help you find a multitude of cool pieces of clothing, it helps you save money.”

— Kodi Hicks, 11

One of the thrifts that I am most proud of is a purchase I made last year while at Goodwill with a group of friends. We were looking around, and I wandered into the dress section. I found a beautiful prom dress for only $5. I was over the moon excited about the find because the dress was in perfect condition. I searched the dress for a flaw, trying to understand why its previous owner would have discarded such a wonderful dress, but I couldn’t find any. The royal blue silk seemed untouched and the silver beading was intricately woven across the top without a single bead misplaced.

Not only does thrifting help you find a multitude of cool pieces of clothing, it helps you save money. Many stores, such as Goodwill, have cheap prices on essentially all of their items, so you can find great fashion without breaking your bank.

Of all the things that thrifting has taught me, the most impactful has been the importance of an open mind and optimistic view. You never know what you’ll find, and I think that’s the beauty in it. It’s so wonderful to know that you can take a once abandoned shirt, give it a second chance, and make it your own.