Thrift Shop Tips – Part II

Marcia and I were walking the other day and she asked me about Part II of Thrift Shop Tips. “It’s too long to tell you while we’re walking,” I said. “I’ll publish Part II soon though.” (That was a month ago!) And here it is. (finally!) It’s twelve steps. Not too many really, and they go by quickly.

As I mentioned to Marcia, I’m really proud of my system. In the old days, I bought many, many clothes that I ended up never wearing. They didn’t fit quite right, they had problems I didn’t notice in the store, and worst of all, more than once, I bought something that was great, only to find that it didn’t go well with anything I owned.

But those days are over! I’ve been using this system for a few years now. It’s fast, easy, and very, very successful! You can read Part 1 for general thrifting tips. This post is about the nitty gritty – sorting through your finds to make sure your money is well spent.

  1. Think broad when picking sizes. Normally a 10? Look at 8s and 12s too. Thrift stores carry a wide variety of brands, which translates to a wide variety of sizing standards. If it looks like it might fit and it’s on your list, put it in your cart. Put anything interesting in your cart. Don’t hesitate or give it too much thought. Gather everything in all your categories (if there’s room), or start with the most important category if you’re looking for multiple items. There’s a winnowing process, but the first step to efficient thrifting is to quickly choose items of interest.

    My initial haul at Red, White, and Blue. These clothes are not just draped on top of the cart. That thing is FULL!

  2. Initially, try everything on quickly. After you’ve finished your reconnaissance, slip into each item for an initial reaction. This is gut-feeling level judgement.
  3. A “no” or “meh” response means discard immediately. Don’t hesitate or try to talk yourself into keeping a “meh“. The goal here is to leave with things you love and more importantly, things you’ll actually wear. There’s no way something will end up being a go-to item in your wardrobe if your initial reaction is “meh.”

    Coral and cream open weave color block sweater – $8.

  4. Take time to put the item on properly before deciding, but don’t arrange it to look “right” in the dressing room. If it’s not right, it’s a no. You’re gonna walk, sit, and stand in whatever you wear. Arranging or rearranging your clothes throughout the day is never a good idea. 
  5. If you’re thinking maybe or yes, do a quick fit check. Is it tight in the shoulders? Does the chest button pull open? Any fit issues equals a no. Does it need altering or repair to be a yes? Is alteration feasible? Look at the price. Add in the cost. Still worth it? If yes, keep it for now.
  6. When you’re taking off a maybe, immediately look at the price. Still a maybe, put it in the yes pile. Sometimes, just looking at the price will turn a maybe into a no. Absolutely reject something because it’s more than you want to pay. Conversely, don’t buy something because the “price is too good to pass up.”
  7. When you’ve gone through everything once, get rid of all the nos. Get em out of there.
  8. Try on each of the maybes and yeses one more time. Take a minute or two to move around. Still laying properly? Is it flattering? Does the material feel good? Great!


  9. Now, think of at least three items you already own that will work with it. Still a yes? Excellent! Now, all you have left are solid potential purchases.
  10. What’s left? The fine print. Examine everything carefully now. Do the following:
    1. check the seams
    2. check the zippers/buttons/ other fasteners
    3. look for tears in the material or stains
    4. smell!!!! armpits or crotch area. Gross huh? Trust me, it’s much worse to find out AFTER you buy the item.


  11.  Once you have looked over everything carefully, add up the cost of all the items. Are you within or close to your budget? If not, look through what you’ve got and decide what to give up.
  12. Buy your YESSES! Take them home, wash them, add them to your closet. Wear them, rock them, love them!

I shopped for about an hour and a half and came away with six solid pieces for my wardrobe. A year and a half later, I’m still enjoying my purchases. The total cost: $52! 


About LeilaPiazza

I am a wife and mother. I am an Orthodox Christian. I am a Syrian American with family living in Syria. I am a also a yoga teacher and freelance writer. I recently described myself in a job pitch as "a person who's lived in Portland, Oregon for over 20 years with a passion for writing and a passion for all things Portland. I'm a foodie, knitter, wine and beer lover, bee-keeper (yep, I said it), mead and fruit-liqueur maker, organic gardener, home-canner, hiker, biker, runner, and occasional skinny-dipper. I’ve camped all over the state, I sail a sailboat that’s moored on the Columbia (o.k., I'm the first mate), and I spend a large percentage of my time at our beach house in Seaside." That about sums it up.
This entry was posted in Fashion and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Thrift Shop Tips – Part II

  1. These are such great tips, Leila!! I’ve been itching to go thrifting lately and this was just the thing I needed to get out there. Your comment about searching a variety of sizes is especially important! The few times I’ve gone thrifting, the pieces I ended up with were sizes I normally wouldn’t look at (but ended up fitting like a glove). And you can’t beat that amazing price tag!! And how thrifting is more eco-friendly. 🙂

    Miles of smiles,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s