There’s a reason it’s called retail therapy. It feels good to buy clothes. Buying something new is exciting. But buying something new comes with more of a cost than just the price tag. That price is the environment. Not only does fast fashion production use large amounts of energy and water, but the emissions of the fashion industry accounts for 10% of all global carbon emissions. On top of this, one garbage truck worth of clothing is sent to a landfill or burned every second.
So here we are, caught between the desire to buy clothes and the desire to help the environment. Fortunately for us, there is a solution that satisfies both ends of this problem. Thrift shopping. Just like Macklemore and Ryan Lewis suggested.
Shopping-second hand creates what is called a circular economy and reduces your carbon footprint. Not only does it prevent the need to contribute to fast fashion and carbon emissions, but it also reduces the number of perfectly good clothes sent to landfills every day.
Thrifting doesn’t always come easy though. The best styles are mixed in with dusty and outdated looks. Becoming an expert takes some practice, so we’ve come up with some tips to help you thrift like a pro.
Preparing For Your Thrift
Check out your closet – The best way to shop is to know what you need before you go. Buying clothes that you don’t need results in them not being worn and taking up space in your closet. Prevent overflowing your wardrobe by making a mental list of what you need.
via: Instagram @fashiontakesaction
See what you can donate yourself – Not only does this clear some space for your new clothes and prevent your clothes from going to a landfill, but some second-hand stores offer coupons for their stores when you donate. Most Value Village locations offer 20% off your next purchase when you donate, so donating before you shop is a win-win.
Decide where to shop – Little thrift shops have options just as good as the bigger chain stores, so check out a map to see what’s around. It’s also a good idea to see if any stores have promotions to ensure you get the best deals. Online thrifting is also an option. Facebook marketplace is a good place to look for gently-used clothes being sold nearby, or online stores like Poshmark or thredUP can be used to buy and sell apparel as well.
via: Instagram @erintheinsomniac
At The Store
Certain sections in second-hand stores are just better than others for finding quality clothing, and while you may head straight over to your favourite go-to sections, you should always expand your search to include areas you might not normally wander into.
via: Instagram @lionwitch__wardrobe. Fully thrifted outfit.
Men’s section – The men’s section is a must. If looking for plain tee-shirts or graphic tees, this section often has a lot to offer. Extra-large tees can be worn as a tee-shirt dress if that’s your style. The sweater rack can help you score some great plain hoodies or street-wear style sweaters, and if you’re lucky you might spot a few cute vintage vests as well.
All sizes – While you may feel inclined to only search for clothes within your size, trying to look for larger items can also lead to a great find. Sizes are not all equal, and being a 12 in one pair of pant could be the same as being an 8 in another. Oversized shirts are also in-style, so looking in the larger sections could lead to some on-trend finds.
via: Instagram @simplymarynoelle.Fully thrifted outfit.
Pajama section – If you need shirts specifically, the pajama section may have exactly what you’re looking for. This area often houses satin tank tops or slip dresses that you can totally wear during the day. Or check out the pajama section for cute matching PJ sets to wear at night.
Accessories – You can’t forget about accessories. The shoe, belt, and bag section all house treasures you don’t want to miss out on. Here you’ll find chunky shoes, great heels, brand-name bags, and classic belts for a fraction of the price.
via: Instagram @thrifting_bitch. Fully thrifted outfit.
Quality check – Mixed in with the great thrifted finds are low quality and over-worn clothes. Before you add something to your cart, be sure to check the entire article of clothing for rips, stains, or general low quality signs. These indicate that you would not get much use out of these clothes. If you think you can fix it, consider still buying the clothing, but large stains or pilling are harder to fix. You are better off buying clothes that still have many years left in them.
via: Instagram @thredup. Fully thrifted outfit.
Be realistic – Before you buy something, also try to think about if it fits in with your other clothes. Don’t buy something if it can’t be styled with anything else you own: you’ll likely never wear it. These finds are better left in the store for someone else to buy so that the clothing isn’t wasted.
Get creative – Sometimes the clothes in the store have potential to be something better. Cropping shirts, ripping jeans or pants into shorts are all basic ways that a pair of scissors can take something you buy to the next level. Tie-dying is an option that is fun to do and results in a unique piece of clothing that you create. If you own a sewing machine, taking-in clothes that may be too big is another way to have a hand in creating your own clothes.
via: Instagram @gothruvintage. Fully thrifted outfits.
Second-hand shopping has a lot of potential. Not only does thrifting reduce your carbon footprint, but also reduces the strain on your wallet when finding new clothes. Vintage styles are in, and there is no place better to find real vintage items than in a thrift store. Thrift stores also house hundreds of other styles, so there will always be something for you when you look.
Thrifting: help your closet, help your wallet, and help the planet.