Tips and Tricks for New Thrifters

Aug. 12, 2022, 11:53 a.m. | By Lillian Paterson | 1 year, 9 months ago

A beginners guide to thrifting

Thrift stores can range from being curated racks to unorganized stacks (photo courtesy of Lillian Paterson). Photo courtesy of Lillian Paterson.

Say goodbye to buying from brands and hello to thrifting! With these tips, you’ll become a knowledgeable thrifter in no time.

Thrifting is an easy and accessible way to a journey of personal sustainability. Even so, when first walking into a store, it can feel overwhelming. The differences between thrift and name brand stores are glaring, and it takes a certain level of knowledge and expertise in order to navigate them. So, let’s go into some tips on how to feel more comfortable when first walking into a store.

Prep & Plan

Before anything, it’s important to have a plan. What do you want? What styles are you into? Are you looking for staple pieces? Accent pieces? Accessories? Making the mistake of not having a plan when first walking into a store can result in a lot of aimless wandering. As an alternative, look at Pinterest for outfits to recreate, write down specific items of clothing and have a clear idea of the silhouette, color and style you are looking for.

Now, with a plan, it’s time to go into the store. Junior Sofia Woldeab suggests shopping in urban areas instead of small towns. “There will be cooler clothes rather than donations of deceased people,” Woldeab says.

Racks on Racks

While the racks of clothing can feel overwhelming, it’s important to look through each clothing piece. Picture this: you’re skimming through the t-shirt aisle of your local thrift store, when the shirt of your dreams falls out of its hanger. You would have missed it if it hadn’t fallen out at that moment! Individually sorting through pieces might sound boring, but it is very well worth the time. 


Senior Iane Cunningham knows that realistically, they aren’t always going to find exactly what they want when thrifting. “If you want something specific, it’s better to be willing to upcycle than just throwing away something that has the potential to be what you want,” Cunningham says.

It’s important not to develop the expectation that you’ll find precisely what you need. Upcycling is transforming one piece of clothing into something new. It can be as simple as using a pair of scissors to crop a shirt, or using safety pins to cinch the waist of a skirt or pair of pants. 

Find your Fit

A common struggle when thrifting is not being able to find clothing that fits. Thrift stores have a mix of different brands and types of clothing, so sizing is not consistent. It’s usually easy to tell when shirts and tank tops fit, but pants can be difficult.

There are a couple of tips that have circulated around the internet to determine if a pair of pants will fit, as it is a common struggle. 

First, wrap the waistband around your neck. If the two ends touch each other, then it is likely the pair of pants will fit. Additionally, if you place one end of the waist to your belly button and the opposite end touches your spine, the pants will probably also fit. 

Even so, it is important to keep in mind that these tips are not guaranteed to work. The only way to know for sure if something well fits is to try it on.

Though thrifting may seem daunting at first, it is an easy way to find unique clothing for a cheap price. There’s something for everyone, and with these tips you might just find that something for you.

Last updated: Aug. 12, 2022, 3:09 p.m.

Tags: Lifestyle Blog Clothing industry thrifting

Lillian Paterson. Hey, I'm Lillian (she/her) and I'm a co-sports and co-op-ed editor for SCO. When I'm not being totally consumed by school work I like to play guitar and read! More »

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