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The Art of Thrifting

Updated: Oct 30, 2023

by Annabelle Hullinger and Ava Brennan

In a world where fast fashion and disposable consumer culture dominates, thrifting has emerged as a beacon of hope for both the environmentally conscious and budget-conscious individuals. Thrifting has become a majorly popular form of buying and selling clothes. It’s a lifestyle choice that promotes sustainability, individuality, and the thrill of the hunt. In the past, thrifting was seen as a last resort or a way for the less fortunate to buy clothes for cheaper, but this stigma has declined in recent years and now all groups of people shop at their local thrift stores.

Like most things in life, there are pros and cons to thrifting. Thrifting is excellent because it gives the opportunity to buy more expensive items for cheaper prices and often still in a good condition. Whether you are a student with a limited income or a discount loving shopper, thrift stores offer a variety of choices that will do minimal damage to your wallet. The fashion industry is known for its excessive waste, with vast amounts of clothing ending up in landfills. Individuals are recycling pre-loved clothing instead of buying an entirely new item. By opting for secondhand goods, we extend the life cycle of these clothes and reduce the need for excessive production. However, the high levels of thrifting can take away from the individuals it was originally intended for. Many thrifters go to thrift stores to buy clothing items for cheap just so they can resell the same products online using apps such as Depop and Poshmark.

For many others, thrifting can be a way to sell as a business. Places like Kobey's Swap Meet, located on 3600 Sports Arena Blvd, or other flea markets, can be used as a way to sell and make profit. After gathering clothes that don’t fit or you no longer enjoy, they can be sold to make money and give the items to someone else. This is often looked at as something negative due to inflated prices. Although, if you’re interested in selling, one recommendation is to be sure to set prices as something reasonable.

One of the most enticing motives of thrifting is the treasure hunt aspect. Thrifting brings a sense of adventure and thrill from the very moment you enter the store or swap meet. You never know what items they will have because new goods come in every week. This is a unique experience compared to regular clothing stores, which will often have the same stock of clothes for multiple weeks at a time before gaining new pieces to sell. The organization of thrift stores also allows buyers to search for items in a more rewarding way. For example, at Goodwill thrift stores, they have large bins full of clothes that shoppers must dig through themselves in order to look through all of the items. This makes it more exciting when you find a piece you like because you feel like you worked hard for it.

Purchasing second-hand clothes can often be a difficult task, causing people to be overwhelmed on how to start. When it comes to finding the best places to look, you’ll need to be open to going through the nooks and crannies. Clothes sometimes come with all sorts of mysterious substances on them, especially if you go to the Goodwill bins, a place that gives clothes a last chance to be sold before being brought to a landfill. Each item comes with its own surprise, but thrifting becomes really enjoyable when you’re able to find items that fit your personal style. Finding good pieces is rewarding, as long as you don’t give up. Searching for good clothes may take a while and can be much easier at places that already sort their clothes. Places such as Salvation Army or Goodwill can be easier to search, along with being affordable and nearby. Although thrifting may take long and good pieces are rare, it can be an enjoyable way to be different from following fashion trends.

Thrifting is a cheap way to build your closet, but it depends where you go. Places like the Goodwill bins either have a select price on items, such as a low price per pound. Salvation Army and Goodwill stores usually price differently per piece. Visiting flea markets or swap meets are always a mystery because the vendors get to choose their own price. Usually you can haggle and lower the price to be somewhat cheaper. Don’t be afraid to ask sellers of their prices and if they can go lower. If they are firm with their choice, rethink the worth. Ask yourself questions like, “how nice is the material?” or “is the price worth it?” This can help determine how much you spend, but don’t be afraid to buy something if you really like it, while making sure you aren’t pressured into buying something you don’t want.

Another thrift tip is what you do after finding a piece of clothing. When you see something that catches your eye, look over your item and check for damage, like holes or stains. Most of the clothes you find will be used, and you’ll want to clean them as well as keep them in good condition. Check for the fabric on your clothes. Pieces that are cotton or linen can be washed and dried in a machine, and should be washed at least twice before being worn. Check to make sure there are no stains, as well as fabrics or colors that won’t bleed onto your other clothes. If the fabric is delicate and should be treated gently, hand wash it in warm water and hang to dry. For stains, the best remover is OxiClean Stain Remover spray. For best results, spray it several times over the course of a week until the stains are fully removed. If the stain still remains, you may have to look at other choices or alternatives.

It can be difficult to find your true style when thrifting. It is important to not always be influenced by what’s trendy at the moment and look for pieces that you can have in your closet for a long time. A helpful tool to discover your style is the app Pinterest, which can make it easy to find clothing you like and see more items recommended to you. When you go thrifting you can look for similar pieces. The cheap prices also make it ideal to explore your personal style because if you end up not loving something, you only pay a small cost and instead you can donate or sell yourself. Thrift stores also allow for a sense of individuality. Individuals can express their own unique style because a lot of thrifted pieces are items you won’t find anywhere else. The format of thrift stores gives shoppers the choice of stylish vintage clothes or one of the latest fashion trends.

Thrifting may be difficult due to its random sizing. You may find a really cute top but it ends up fitting too tight or loose. In addition to thrifting, learning how to sew may come in handy to patch tears or make pieces fit better. While thrifting, search for clothes that interest you. Ways to help verify if pants will fit is to either put your arm through the waist or wrap the waist around your neck in order to see how it will measure for your waist. Finding good fitting clothes is arduous but it will eventually happen. Gathering skills to customize your clothes will help build your style, as well as your confidence. Clothes can help make you look more put together, especially by fitting well. Building your wardrobe with staple pieces will help you to learn ways to style and layer, making you look as if you’re wearing the clothes, not them wearing you. It all comes down to what you enjoy and how it makes you feel. Learning what goes well with your body type is another big help to finding how to express who you are.

Overall, the rise of thrifting is economically and environmentally positive. It can be difficult to navigate the unique experience that thrifting offers but with these tips and a good mindset, you can find pieces you will love.


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