The ultimate guide to thrift shopping

As a high school student without a job, updating my wardrobe for the upcoming Summer season is no easy, or cheap, feat. Stores like Urban Outfitters, Forever 21, and H&M all have cute clothes, but for a price; a price not friendly to my wallet. Over the years, I have learned how to be smart about my shopping. Brand new clothes off the shelf are not the only option available. A new summer closet can be found at second-hand thrift stores as well.

Walking into a thrift store can be a daunting experience and often scares people off. However, there is a method to the madness, and in order to find the hidden gems there are certain guidelines that should be followed if you want to be successful.

A tip for the girls out there looking for cute shirts and sweatshirts is to not limit yourself to one section; explore the men’s isles. Yes, it is super awkward to shop next to a bunch of old men, but once you do it, it gets easier and less nerve-racking. I have found some of my best summer t-shirts in the men’s section. Good brands like Nike, Champion, Adidas, Under Armour, Polo, and so much more can be found in this sections. Many times, thrift stores keep the unisex tee shirts in the men’s section, so if you are looking for the cute, big-tee-shirt-and-nike-shorts look, make sure to check the Men’s tee shirts.

Also, go into your shopping trip with an open mind. Look at pieces of clothing not only at face value; think about the ways you can alter them. Simply cropping a shirt a little can change a whole look and increase the item’s worth. If you find a pair of jeans that are too long or too short, you can cut them and make them into shorts for the summer. Turn a dress into a cute skirt. You do not need to be a master at sewing, there are plenty of non-needle techniques for altering clothes, just google it. The possibilities are endless, you can flip any boring item into an unique, trendy look.

Another hack for thrift store shopping is to go on a good day. Most Goodwill’s restock their shelves on Sundays, so the beginning of the week is a goldmine of new-used clothes. Try not to go at the end of the week if possible, because most of the good pieces have all been picked out by that point and the lame grandpa pieces have been left behind. Also, do not limit yourself to one thrift store. Travel around a little, because every location has their own gems; a Goodwill on one side of town could be a dry desert while another one can be chock-full of good finds. Simply setting out time with friends to drive around to different locations is key to success.

Another thing to make sure you have is diversity in the places you shop. There are so many different thrift stores around, do not limit your horizons by just investigating Goodwills. There are other, smaller thrift stores that have just as many, if not more, good clothes to choose from. Liberty Thrift on Bethlehem Pike, In Full Swing in Doylestown, 2nd Avenue on Welsh Road, and Salvation Army in Norristown are all places to make sure to add to your thrifting adventures.

A fun, easy way to make a little extra cash for the summer is to purchase some items from trendy brands and sell them online. Apps like Ebay, Poshmark, and other online shopping apps can be great resources to sell second hand items for more than what you paid at Goodwill. The nice thing about reselling thrifted clothes is that they do not need to fit you perfectly, you simply pick up any item that is in good shape and would be bought by online shoppers. Old “vintage” jeans always sell for a lot on these apps, so keep an eye out for brands of jeans like Levi’s, Lucky Brand, Tommy Hilfiger, Wrangler, etc. Good quality, popular brands are the items that sell the most and for the most, so look out for them when browsing the aisles of thrift stores.

Thrift stores can be great resources for cheap clothes and shoes for the new summer season. So many of my good finds have caught the eyes of my friends, because when you shop at thrift stores, every item you find is unique and fun. You can walk out of your house confidently knowing that no other person at school will have the same shirt or jeans as you. Many people are turned off by the fact that the origin of the clothes is unknown, but that is what makes it fun! You are continuing the legacy of the clothes for a fraction of the price. You are saving so much money by not buying the item full-price from a mainstream store. So instead of going to the mall with your friends, help yourself and you wallet and visit some thrift stores.