How To Shop For Stylish Clothes at The Thrift Store


I’ve been known to enjoy shopping on occasion. When I decided to change to a much more frugal lifestyle I still wanted to go shopping without breaking the bank. One of the best ways to do that is to go thrift shopping. It should be mentioned that when I was little I hated thrift shopping because that was one of the money saving options that my mom embraced. Now, I love it.

But thrift shopping brings with it a particular set of challenges: stigma, stores that aren’t well managed, and a confusing variety of stores. Today I want to share some simple but straightforward ways to approach this process, look amazing, and keep your sanity.

Have a Vision of What You Want:

Don’t just go to the thrift store and browse. This is  just asking for trouble and a huge time suck. Be intentional about what you want to purchase. You might even look at magazines or jot down a couple of the items that you would like to find and then go to your favorite thrift store to find your items. Last year I wanted a white dressy jacket from Express. I had literally visited Express to price the jacket and decided not to purchase it. I kept it in my mind and then on one of my shopping runs actually found the SAME jacket at my favorite store-I call it Magical Goodwill.

Set A Time Limit

The longer you’re in the store the more unnecessary stuff that  you’re going to find and the more time you’re going to waste. I would use the time limit standard for all shopping excursions. Especially for those of you who are time challenged, have kids, or a crazy work schedule. My other question would be why would you want to wander around a store for hours? So, just go in for no more than an hour and then GET OUT.

It’s All About The Material

When shopping in the thrift store be mindful of the materials that your clothing items are made out of. You might have to do the “smell test.” This is a little daunting but if the pits smell then you will smell if you purchase that item. Manmade materials are specifically the ones that I would be the most cautious about buying. I also would do the “smell test” for wool sweaters too. Finally, if a cotton or wool sweater is nubby-don’t buy them. They will look bad on you.

There Are New Items At The Thrift Store

I purchase a ton of new items at the thrift store. That is my secret. I mean a ton of lovely items at the thrift store. I just purchased two lovely cocktail dresses that were $6 (together) I can’t wait to wear those dresses and I did save a lot of money 🙂 I’ve seen the following brand new items at my local Goodwill: baby onesies, infinity scarves, socks, underwear, and soap.


Don’t be intimidated or put off by the idea of shopping at the thrift store. Take time to vet the different stores in your area. If you’re in a larger city you will have better options. The smaller the city the trickier your choice selection will be BUT I did find a brand new trench coat at a thrift store in my Grandma’s tiny town. Make sure you evaluate the following: how clean is the store? Is the merchandise well organized, and organized by color? Are sales clearly explained and is there a well articulated return policy. When is 1/2 off day? Are the items “on trend?” The items should be no more than one or two seasons off. If the clothing is super outdated don’t shop at that store.

Have You Shopped At A Thrift Store Anymore?

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I am an obsessive foodie, but not self-righteous with it, love travel, meeting new people, helping you look good, and am freaked out by people who don't enjoying reading...something! I have always liked issues connected to personal finance, the movement of money on a bigger scale, and now am fascinated by how people’s emotions affect their personal spending. You can read more at: I’ve had an amazing time writing for my blog, The Shop My Closet Project, and love the transformative power of connecting with people through writing.

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