I am an expert thrifter; my entire family is, really. I grew up thrifting alongside my mom, my aunt and my cousins. (My cousin Devon even bought her wedding gown secondhand from a vintage shop, which is ah-mazing. Hey, Dev!)
Over the years I’ve gathered a ton of tips and tricks for successful thrifting, and I am thrilled to be able to share them with my community. Not only is shopping secondhand an environmentally friendly alternative to fast fashion, it is a great way to find unique, high-quality pieces at an affordable price.
It’s no secret that clothes, shoes, accessories, even home furnishings aren’t made with the craftsmanship of yesteryear, and for this reason alone I believe thrifting is worth the hassle it can sometimes cause.
Thankfully, technology has made thrifting something you can do from the comfort of your couch with a bowl of popcorn. For more of my preferred methods, keep reading!
- Your local, trusted tailor is your best friend! This is my first tip because it is the most important! Americans don’t utilize tailors like they used to, and for that reason, we modern Americans suck at dressing ourselves. By supporting your local tailor, you’re actually doing yourself a huge favor, too: not only will you be more comfortable and confident in your clothes, you’ll actually get more wear out of them. Because thrift shops almost always stock one of each piece, it is unlikely all your finds will be the right size. DON’T LET THAT DISCOURAGE YOU. I cannot emphasize this enough! If you find something you love, but it’s a little to big, a little too long, or needs some patching up, take the time to bring it to a tailor you can trust. It’s worth it. This tip is especially useful for petite gals like me; I’ve found that vintage retailers tend to stock sizes 27 (i.e., size 4) and up. Sizes 24 (00), 25 (0) and 26 (2) are super hard to come by.
- Download buy & sell apps! Poshmark and Depop are my favs, but there’s also a handful of others like Mercari or even Etsy. You can make bank by selling your own pieces, and you could also score pre-loved goodies from across the country or around the world! Spend a Saturday or Sunday uploading to your virtual closet so that others can shop from you, then settle down and explore what’s out there! Though a scammer may try to contact you every now and then, they are pretty easy to spot, and the apps, which are businesses in and of themselves equipped with 24/7 support teams, are safe and reliable. Poshmark even allows returns if your purchase doesn’t arrive as listed. However, I will say this: STAY ON THE APP AND ONLY BUY/SELL DIRECTLY FROM THE APP. A surefire way to spot a scammer is if they message you, reply to you or comment on your page asking if you’ll buy from them or sell to them off the app (either through Paypal or some other method). Politely tell them that you only buy/sell directly from the app, and block them if necessary. And definitely don’t give them your email address.
- Pictures matter! When it comes to selling on apps like Poshmark and Depop, pictures matter! Your potential buyers want to see clear, well-lit, unfiltered and unobstructed images. Think about it–you wouldn’t want to purchase something if the picture of it is crappy, so why would others? Invest some time in taking good quality pictures for your virtual closet (smartphone cameras work fine!), and remember that if you model your pieces, they are more likely to sell.
- Be patient! This tip applies to real-life shopping, as well as shopping through apps. Every once in a while, you may get lucky by finding your dream piece right away, but most of the time, it will take time! For this reason, thrifting digitally has a clear advantage over thrifting IRL. Most of the apps allow you to save a piece for future purchase by “liking” it, whereas leaving a piece behind on a thrift store shelf in hopes of finding something better can give you that one-that-got-away feeling. If there’s something super specific you’re looking for, apps are your best bet. You can check for it by typing a word or phrase into the search bar multiple times a day and on multiple different apps to maximize your chances. With a little patience, you’re sure to come across the right one in a matter of weeks, days or even hours! As far as thrifting IRL, strategic searching takes time, energy and even a little research, but it is almost always rewarding!
Some of my absolute favorite pieces were thrifted by yours truly. If you’re in LA and love thrifting as much as I do (or are a first-time who wants to get into thrifting), stop by my go-to spots Melrose Trading Post (open only on Sunday’s–get there early!), Reformation Vintage (8253 Melrose Ave) and Wasteland. The best part is that these spots are all on the same street, with walking distance of one another (although Wasteland has two other locations in Santa Monica and Studio City, both in the LA area).