Thrifting secrets

The best ways to get the most bang for your buck

Photo: Burst

Since high school, I’ve been a loyal customer to Value Village. What started as a method of getting wacky costumes for my summers at camp turned into a sustainable way for me to build a unique wardrobe. Over the years, I’ve become more adventurous with fashion and discovered the many independent consignment shops in the city. My thrift finds have gone from splotchy tie-dye tops and hideous wolf-howling-at-the-moon fleeces (OK, I still wear these) to worn-in Levi’s and one-of-a-kind Harley Davidson tees.

So, how did I manage this? It’s taken a lot of time, practice, and patience. Some people must be born with a good eye for cool thrifty pieces, but if you’re not (like me), then try out these tips I’ve compiled. Good luck thrifting, and don’t forget to leave some for me!

Take your time

This tip is especially relevant for big thrift stores, like Value Village and Frenchy’s. Those places are massive and can be pretty overwhelming. I like to get a cart or a basket and pick things out as I look. By the time I’m ready to try things on, I usually end up putting back most of the pieces I grabbed at the beginning of my search. Don’t give up hope early on! Chances are you’ll find some similar items as you go through the racks.

Hit the men’s section

Regardless of how you identify, I find the men’s section to be the most versatile and abundant in pieces for all body types. In fact, I’d say 80% of my thrifted clothes were found in the men’s section. Men’s clothes always seem to be more durable and more comfortable, plus they offer a greater array of sizes and tend to suit my style more.

Bring your friends

It can be fun to bring a friend and thrift for each other. OK, so this tip can backfire if the friends you bring with you have the same style as you. On the other hand, every friend you bring is another set of eyes that will be looking for pieces that you’re interested in. You’ll be surprised by what they pick out for you. I also find that shopping for other people can help me figure out what I want. I’ve had times where a friend and I both love a piece so much that we end up splitting the cost and sharing it. Another good part of having a friend to thrift with is that you can keep each other accountable for your individual budgets.

Keep an open mind

I try not to set my expectations too high when thrifting. You never know what items a thrift store will have, because they obtain and sell pieces every single day. A trip to the mall is more predictable; want a Nike t-shirt? No problem. When I go to a thrift store, I may have a specific style or colour that I’m looking for, but I try to keep an open mind. If you go thrifting with a specific image in your head of what you want, you may never be satisfied, and you’ll end up frustrated.

Think outside the box

Do you ever see a piece of clothing and think, “If only it looked a little more like [blank]”? The nice part about thrifting is that clothes are far less expensive, so you can get creative with them. I’ve ripped holes in jeans, rolled cuffs and sleeves, and cut up more shirts than I can count. It’s fun to transform old clothes into pieces that are truly one-of-a-kind.