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Essential Tips for Successful Thrift Shopping

thrift shopping

Thrift shopping can be a fun and profitable experience when you follow a bit of advice.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve been op-shopping more and more. It’s a great way to save money and appreciate the hard work that went into creating your fashion items.

You’ll need to visit a charity shop with an open mind and be prepared to spend some time. I find it might be easier to select five items to try on, and then you might end up with one you take home. As you’ll often be trying on brands that you might not have heard of, be mindful that your regular sizing might go out the window.

Be aware that there are different types of charity shops. You might like to find the ones that curate their collection. They might have rules about the brands they accept. For example, they will often refuse to stock fast fashion brands. There are also charity shops that specialise in streetwear and business wear (think Dress for Success).

I always like to try on clothes before I buy them. I’ll know instantly if I like something. I’ll smile at myself in the mirror and feel good because it looks good on me. If I start to pull at the sleeves or have self-doubts, then I know it’s not right for my style and body type.

Thrift Shopping Tips:

  • Try the clothes on. Check the arms and that you can sit down in pants or skirts
  • You might like to make a list of your measurements and take a measuring tape.
  • Be careful that zippers and buttons work.
  • Don’t buy anything that is damaged, stained or torn.
  • If you change your mind then pop the item back in a charity shop or bin and know that your money has gone to a charity organisation that needs the funds.

Be aware of any additional costs for sewing adjustments. To make items more modern or suit the weather, you can easily have long dresses hemmed to the knee. You can add extra holes in leather belts. I don’t mind dropping things off to be altered, but I do like to factor this into the total cost of the item.

One of my friends likes to feel the material. Then she looks at the hemming to see how well the item is constructed. Then she’ll think about how often she might wear the item and the cost per wear.

Many of my influencer friends sell their clothes on Gumtree and eBay. As they frequently attend events where their photo might be taken, they like to keep their look fresh. One of them was a well-known model, who volunteers her time at charity shops. She told me she’s able to get first dibs on the stock, as she sorts and hangs the donations. Many of my influencers (both fashion and foodies) frequently thrift shop.

I like to keep an alert on my favourite brands on eBay (you can even specify your size).

Here are some of my good finds:

  • I’ve bought a designer day dress valued at $200 for $30 that had an asymmetrical hem. I had a dressmaker hem it for $50. Then I wore the dress nearly once a fortnight to work for a whole year.
  • I own two denim jackets. One is a seventies-style Sass and Bide jacket that I had the arms shortened. I then added a large tiger iron-on that I bought off eBay on the back panel (it’s a Gucci inspired design). The second denim jacket I customised with fabric paint and studs at a workshop.
  • I’ve bought a designer evening black jacket for $10
  • I found an off the shoulder black evening gown that I hope to wear to an awards ceremony when the borders are back open. It cost around $30.

Please leave a comment and tell us about your great thrifting shop finds?

Written by Emma Crameri

Emma Crameri is a freelance lifestyle reviewer and writer. She is editor of the Brisbane-based food and lifestyle website Brisbanista.

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