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Guest Blogger: Tips & Tricks to Thirfting

I’ve been all over the country for All Thrifty States, taking pictures, talking to thrifters and looking at what various places offer in their thrift stores. I can tell you that southern women definitely know how to dress, Nebraska has a wealth of vintage and Oklahoma City is a lot more multicultural than you might think. But no matter where I go, I’m often asked for tips and tricks to finding the best stuff quickly and easily. I’ll tell you—it’s taken me years to figure some of this stuff out.

So whether you’re a seasoned thrifter or you’re new to the game, here’s a few tips to make your next thrifting trip a fruitful one.

1)  Bring a size buddy. This is a person who shares your size digits and knows your style. You can do double the damage in half the time and find stuff you think each other would like. It also helps to have someone to show your finds to who will give you honest opinions.

2)  Scan the racks for colors you like in the cuts and shapes you know work on your body—THEN check the size and condition.  Even if that JCrew sweater is
in perfect shape and it’s your size, if it’s not a color you’d usually wear, it’s probably going to stay parked in your closet. Don’t get fidgety about what you find—put it back and move along. Your better off buying something of a color that catches your eye rather than just buying something simply because it fits.

3)  Don’t trust that the store has put things in their correct areas. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve found cute dresses mistaken for nightgowns or skirts.  Or a cute ladies shirt accidentally put into the men’s section. So check the racks for things you might not even be interested in buying because chances are good you’ll find a gem hiding in there somewhere.

4)  Scan magazines for styles you’d like to copy before hand and/or take them with you. Many seasonal styles are just a matter of a fresh way of pairing or accessorizing-­‐-­‐ and a thrift store is the perfect place to find similar pieces on looks you’d like to knock off.

5)  If you’re looking for furniture, look at the shape and quality. Don’t be put off by gold metal table legs or an old well-­‐worn dresser. A little paint and some new hardware can go a long, long way and older furniture is more likely to be built better and last longer. It might take more work, but it’s a fun and easy way to customize your.

6) Finally, know you’ll have to go in when you have time to kill and a well of patience. Some days you’ll find bags of goodies and others you might walk out empty handed. But don’t get discouraged. It’ll only take one fabulous $3 pair of Frye boots (true story!) and you’ll  see why it’s worth it!

My name is Jenna.

I’m an independent visual journalist, proud Midwesterner, craft enthusiast and thrift store addict.

I started All Thrifty States blog project as a fun way to keep my bored, jobless self busy as I trudged through two years of the economic downturn, patiently waiting for a job to come along.  I told a few friends about the site I threw together on iWeb and occasionally posted a photo or two. I would go to thrift stores while visiting friends out-of-state to cross a few off the list, figuring I’d eventually be able to finish it over a period of years. I never dreamed it would get any bigger than that.

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2 Comments for Guest Blogger: Tips & Tricks to Thirfting

meg gierszewski
March 9, 2012

Love this! I totally agree with your tips! You have to look in each section, pulling out what catches your eye. I have often found junior skirts for DDs the kids section and some evening type purses with the kids backpacks. It is also true that dresses can be in the pj section. I found my last “Lilly P.” dress in the nightgown!!

March 9, 2012

I am from Nebraska and can confirm it is a GOLD MINE! Vintage clothes galore — and cheap. Twice a month in Lincoln they have 99 cent clothing sales. My favorite ring is a Wedgewood Cameo I purchased for $3.99…but it’s worth about 100 times that. Most of my clothing came from Nebraska thrifting…East and West coast have some great newer items, but the Midwest has a lock on vintage.

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