The Best Thrifting Tips

The Best Thrifting Tips

It's no surprise to learn that a truckload of clothing is wasted every second across the world when clothing production has more than doubled since 2000. We wear items less than 5 times before literally throwing them away. So much stuff gets wasted, and the only way to prevent that is by shopping less and thrifting more.

Thrifting is one of the easiest and most environmentally-friendly ways you can shop for the things you want. I challenged myself to a year of buying nothing new, and discovered it was surprisingly easy to thrift for what I needed when I needed it.

The biggest barriers that stop people from shopping secondhand more often is not knowing how to find what they're looking for. I'm sharing with you my top thrifting tips to help you find what you need in charity shops, and create a more sustainable wardrobe.

Thrift Regularly

If you want to be successful, you need to thrift as often as you can. Charity shops change their rails frequently, often weekly but sometimes daily. Stock turns over quickly with items being sold or rotated through. The more frequently you go thrifting, the higher chance you'll have of finding what you want.

An easy way to thrift more often is to drop by your local charity shops for a quick browse whenever you've got time and are close by. If I see a charity shop, I try to nip in on my way passed. You never know when you're going to find the thing you've been looking for.

Choose Places With Lots Of Shops

To increase your chances of success, visit locations with several charity shops close to each other. This is so you can cram in as much thrifting in a shorter space of time. Dropping into charity shops when you're nearby is great for thrifting as often as you can. But the most efficient way to thrift is to pick locations wisely.

If you know people that thrift, ask them where the best places to shop are. Everyone has their own favourite spots, and you might find some new locations you'd never thought of. After a while you'll learn which places to avoid, and which ones have the best quality items. There are only a couple of charity shops in the city where I live. I drop by these when I'm passing by and travel out of the centre to the best spots for thrifting.

Thrift During Off-Peak Times

There is the potential to find what you want at any time when thrifting. Although choosing to thrift during off-peak times will provide a more comfortable experience. Weekends are best avoided as the shops are busier making it hard to search the rails slowly.

It's a great idea to pay attention to when charity shops rotate their stock too. You might notice the rails get sparse on certain days, or when they're crammed full. If you time it right, you can thrift when new stock has just been put out.

The Best Thrifting Tips

Dress Appropriately

Changing rooms in charity shops are scarce, tiny, often occupied or blocked off completely. A way to avoid making purchases that don't fit is to wear an outfit you can try clothes on over the top of or underneath. Even if you're not looking for clothes, it's a good idea to wear a comfortable outfit.

If you are looking for clothes, consider an outfit choice that will help you to make a decision when you try something on. I typically wear a couple of different thrifting-appropriate outfits. Leggings and a t-shirt with a loose dress over the top, or trousers and a top. Both are outfits I can try things on over the top of or underneath without needing a changing room.

Have A Goal

Charity shops can be overwhelming with the amount of stuff crammed into them. Keep a running list of what you'd like to find and refer to it when thrifting. It gives you a purpose and will help focus your attention on specific rails or areas of the charity shops. Make a note of measurements for furniture or homewares, and take a tape measure with you.

I have a Wardrobe Wishlist Pinterest board for things I want to buy and I check it before thrifting. I choose 1 or 2 items to focus on to help narrow down my search. Some items are general ideas and others are very specific items. Having a list will help you thrift for items you can pair with the rest of your wardrobe, instead of just buying what looks nice.

Focus On Specific Categories

Charity shops in the UK are small, tightly packed, and often busy. If you went through every single rail of every shop you go in, you'd be there for all day. Focus your efforts on the rails that are most likely to contain the items you're looking for. You can skim the rest of the rails quickly or ignore them completely. Having said that, don't overlook opportunities. My partner frequently finds items in the women's section, and I often browse menswear.

There are specific items that just aren't worth thrifting for because finding the right size is so hard. For me, it's trousers and skirts so I ignore those rails completely. It's just not worth the time or effort hunting for them. Over time you'll learn what rails to skip, or items to stop thrifting for.

Examine Garments

Charity shops give items a quick cursory check and certainly don't wash them before putting them out for sale. So you'll want to look everything over carefully to check for damage, marks or stains. It's worth looking at the labels too, both for the brand name and what the garment is made from. It's important to know care instructions too. Most items can be washed on a cool, gentle cycle and be fine, although some may require special treatment.

I have a couple of wardrobe rules that guides my thrifting purchases. I avoid all cheap fast fashion brands, and clothes made from synthetic materials. Mainly because they don't feel nice to wear but also because they're not durable and shed microplastics. I also avoid high-maintenance clothes like silk and suede. I don't want the hassle of hand washing or dry cleaning items.

Have Patience

You either need patience to find exactly what you want, or be willing to compromise for something similar. You also need to be in the mood to thrift. Otherwise thrifting becomes tedious and frustrating when you leave empty handed, which happens most of the time! Be prepared to spend time scour the rails and rummage in piles.

A lot of the time, the things I thrift aren't exactly what I was looking for but they're close enough. The beauty of thrifting is that you can buy one-of-a-kind items. While you might start off looking for a specific fast fashion dress, you could end up with a unique vintage one that no one else has.

If your heart is set on finding a certain item, it's better to thrift online instead of hunting in charity shops. You'll have more chance of finding what you want. You can set up alerts to be notified when it becomes available. Learn more tips for thrifting online.

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