Much like baking a soufflé, or playing an instrument, successful thrifting takes practice. When entering a thrift store it is easy to become overwhelmed by the waves of clothing, furniture, knick knacks, and oh so many picture frames. This article will focus mainly on the clothing side of thrifting but hopefully these words of wisdom can help you become a thoroughly thoughtful thrifter in all aspects.

1. Where to shop

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This might seem like an obvious first step but it can be tricky finding a good thrift store that matches your needs. As with everything else in life, I recommend Google. Check out the thrift stores in your surrounding area; most will likely have a website and/or Facebook page that will give you an idea of their products and costs. 

Keep in mind that different thrift stores donate to different charities, organizations, and causes. For example, The Salvation Army—one of the most well-known thrift stores in the world—works to eradicate poverty. Take some time to find a thrift store that supports a cause you are passionate about

2. Narrow it down

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The vast majority of thrift stores have an incredibly large variety. Even if you just want a leather jacket it can still take a long time to find because different stores have a different way of cataloguing and displaying their merchandise, which leads me to...

3Don't just shop in one section

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This sweater was actually in the kids section. It was obviously put there by a customer or by accident, but it never hurts to take a peak. This sweater is definitely not for everyone but it's exactly my style of tacky. It's also from Oscar de la Renta #bonus.

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It's really easy to stick to the sections you know and love, but each thrift store arranges their merchandise a little bit differently. Try to not just stick to the women's department. It's well known that the men's section is where all the best items are kept and I've even found some gems in the kid's section as well.


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This is one of my favourite thrifted outfits. Only the lace top and the cardigan are thrifted but the top is a M and the cardigan is an XL.

Not worrying about sizes is just a good life lesson to begin with, but it's especially important when shopping in thrift stores. When the employees sort through the clothes they often misunderstand the sizing; for instance, a size 8 top might be found in the XL section. It's inevitable—workers at thrift stores sort through hundreds of items a week and some slip through the cracks. Where an item is from, what brand, and what decade it originated in play into sizing as well. 

Keep in mind that thrift stores are an amalgamation of hundreds of brands from all over the world and from different decades. You know when people say “Marilyn Monroe was a size 14”? In current North American sizing, she would actually be closer to an 8. This happened because sizing standards changed, so if you are buying something vintage keep in mind that sizing standards are constantly fluctuating.

Where a brand is from influences the sizing as well. In the UK and Australia, sizes are about 2x smaller than in North America. This means that me being a size 10-12 here would actually translate to 14-16 across the pond. The point I'm trying to make is: don't worry about it. I have things in my closet that range from XS to 3XL; it's all arbitrary nonsense and size truly does not matter. If it fits, buy it!

5. Decorations

Thrift stores are great places to buy holiday decorations and seasonal goodies. FYI, thrift stores tend to hoard all of the seasonal stuff until a few weeks beforehand. Make sure to ask staff members in the holiday lead-up when they will start bringing out the holiday stuff so you can get first pickings.

6. Know your weakness(es)

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So tempting. There's always that one thing that will pull you in like nothing else. Personally, my weaknesses are what I lovingly call Grandpa sweaters and mugs. I just can't help it—if I see a worn out bulky sweater or a cute mug I have to buy it! So I suggest trying to avoid your own personal weakness(es) to avoid having cupboards full of mugs like me.

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This is just a starting guide for your thrift store adventures. There's a ton of information and videos online to help expand your knowledge. Thrifting is meant to be enjoyable, so make sure you don't take it too seriously and don't feel disheartened if you come up empty. Have fun and stay thrifty.