Fall 2017

7 Tips for Getting the Most out of Thrift Shopping

It’s no secret that here at Trendsetters at the U we love fashion. However, fashion isn’t all sunshine and rainbows – it gets expensive. Seasonal trends can be limiting, and the clothing manufacturing industry has some serious flaws. That’s where thrift stores come in: you can get a one-of-a-kind piece for a minimal price, and even the chance to support a local charity instead of a huge corporation. Navigating thrift stores can be tricky, so I’ve compiled my top seven tips for getting the most out of thrift shopping.

1. Location is Key

If you can, try to seek out thrift stores in small towns, or industrial areas. Thrift stores in downtown areas can and do have awesome clothes, but as a lot more people shop there, the clothes are picked over by a lot more people. Rural or industrial stores usually have more variety and lower prices. If you’re like me, however, and rely purely on buses and the charity of friends, the Goodwill here in Missoula is massive! If you don’t mind paying a couple extra dollars (seriously, only a couple), it’s definitely worth a visit

2. Wear the Right Clothes

It sounds like a no-brainer, but there’s nothing worse than asking for the fitting room and being informed that there isn’t one – this does happen in smaller stores. When you’re forced to try on items over your own clothes, the best thing to wear is a close-fitting t shirt and leggings with slip on shoes. Which brings us to the next tip…

3. Try On Everything

I cannot stress enough how important this is. Most thrift stores have a no-refunds policy, and while you can always donate clothing back, you won’t get a refund for something that doesn’t fit. Also, sizing varies from brand-to-brand, year-to-year, and country-to country. Even if you think something isn’t your size, give it a try anyway! You never know what hidden gems you might find.

Woman in jeans and yellow dress with a dark pattern over it that has a cut out in the front so that you can see her jeans. Black stilettos complete the outfitwoman in jean shorts, black Converse, white top with lacy detail on top, green cardiganwoman in white off the shoulder top, cuffed capri jeans, platform light brown sandals, denim jacket tied around waist and aviator sunglasses

4. Donate!

It always feels good to give back, and if you have clothes that are in good condition but you just don’t wear anymore, donating them helps second hand stores to stay open and often supports a charity as well. As an added bonus, it also stops you from accumulating a mountain of clothing in your closet!

5. Bring a Friend

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought I’ve fallen in love with something, only for a friend to point out that the colour isn’t for me or it’s just a little bit too oversized. It’s always good to have a second opinion (again, there’s no refunds), even if you ultimately decide that you just love the piece anyway.

Trendsetters, many in Griz attire, holding out full Goodwill bags after a successful thrifting adventure!

6. Don’t Be Afraid to Shop in Other Sections

If you’re a woman, for example, try checking out the men’s or even children’s sections. Nobody’s going to know that the extremely cozy flannel you’re wearing was actually made for a man, and children’s clothes often have fun patterns.

7. Consider Learning How to Sew

This opens up your opportunities endlessly. You love a piece but it’s a little too big or small? Resize it! You like the pattern of a shirt but not the cut? No problem, just alter it to something you like! Having basic sewing skills especially helps if you’re shopping in other sections – and Pinterest is a great place to get inspiration!

Before and after shot of an altered dress. In before shot: the off-white colored dress with buttons down the front is baggy and well past the models knee's, the baggy sleeves hit her just above her elbows. In the after shot, the sleeves have been cuffed up to a more flattering fit, the skirt has been shortened to just above the model's knees and a pocket on the right side has been added. The model has switched from black, old fashioned, kitten heels to more fun and playful red strappy heelsA collage of a oversized shirt being turned into a dress. Photo 1: the oversized shirt on the model. It is a pattern made of marroon, reds, oranges and white and a button up collared shirt. Photo 2: The model wears the shirt with both her arms out of the neck opening, with the sleeves hanging loose below her armpits. She has buttoned the shirt just so that the neckline lays in a sweetheart neckline of sorts. Photo 3: The model ties the loose sleeves around her waist to create a makeshift belt. Photo 4: The model shows her new, more flattering makeshift dress.

Happy shopping!

Hannah Bennet


Photos by McKenna Munden | @kennaphotography and Pinterest

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