How to successfully thrift shop


Thrifted and vintage fashion have seen a huge soar in popularity over recent years, as people become more aware of sustainable options and want to flaunt their unique sense of style.

Thrifting is a great way to express yourself in a different way and also to help combat the rise of fast fashion. Not to mention that it’s fun to ferret around for a truly unique piece. With this popularity also comes the commodification of secondhand clothing and a huge rise in prices. What used to be an option for those on a low income is now becoming popular with a bigger crowd and it can be frustrating when searching for those bargains that make your heart sing. Until the craze dies down, you need to change tactics.

Think about what you’re shopping for

British Heart Foundation clothing. Pic: @diaryofathriftaddict

When it comes to deciding what you’re looking for, it’s a good idea to note that there’s thrifting for vintage or designer pieces and then there’s secondhand. You’re going to pay more for those designer items. Be prepared to spend £40/50 on a jacket and £20/30 on a t-shirt. However, if you’re looking for high street garbs, then you can find tons of well priced items in charity shops and online, expect to pay no more than £15 even for the most recent or well kept garments.

Which app is best?

Vinted clothing. Pic: Klara Gregorova

The era of eBay and Depop is slowly dying. A couple of years ago, eBay would’ve been your first port of call but nowadays you have to trawl long and hard to find genuinely secondhand clothes. Unfortunately, Depop has become a platform for those who buy vintage clothes in bulk and hike up the prices. They’re not necessarily a right off but make sure you investigate the seller a bit, if it looks like a business then maybe steer clear if you want a good price.

Apps like Shpock and Vinted seem to be a good option instead and even Facebook Marketplace. On these apps, you’re much more likely to find average people who are selling their own clothes or older relatives’ things for them, rather than small businesses who are trying to make a profit.

Take it offline

Pic: @cowmanchester

It might be an idea to take your shopping offline into the real world. The true bargains require a bit of leg work. If you’re looking purely for second hand and aren’t bothered about vintage, it’s a good idea to have a think about which affluent towns or villages are near you and start there in the charity shops. Places where the wealthy congregate are always full of bargains, the upper echelons wouldn’t be seen dead in last seasons’ collections but you can snap them up and wear them for years to come.

Cities are better known for their vintage or designer shopping which comes with a higher price tag. London can seem the obvious choice for markets like Portobello and Camden but finding low-cost options can be difficult there. Instead try Manchester, Brighton, and Liverpool which are great places to go for a weekend and splurge on vintage pieces.

Cow Vintage and Pop Boutique have multiple thrift stores, including Manchester and Liverpool. In Manchester, you need to head to the Piccadilly Gardens to find your bargains, whereas, in Liverpool, Bold Street is the place to go. Brighton has a huge secondhand selection, the Laines are packed full of shops to pick your way through. From the more curated selections at Wolf & Gypsy to the more warehouse style of To Be Worn Again, you can wander through the Laines with a coffee and maximise your chances of finding a few amazing items.

Try the old fashioned way

If you’re really committed to the best buys, consider the good old fashioned car boot sale. Again, this isn’t for those who don’t have the time, preferring to spend fifteen minutes scrawling through the apps. If you’re someone who likes to dedicate a morning finding hidden treasures then this is the one for you. Car boots are not only a lot of fun but also a trove of low-cost options. Not only will you find clothes but furniture, books, and tons of trinkets. The sellers are always up for a bargain and open to offers for multiple purchases.

Get crafty

Pic: Getty Images

When shopping second hand, you should also consider an item’s potential for upcycling or tailoring. If you’ve found a dress that isn’t your style but has fabulous fabric, could you fashion it into something else? If a pair of trousers are too big, you could very easily make them smaller, either take them to a tailor or ask a friend who is handy with a sewing machine to take them in. If you’re utterly in love with a piece but it doesn’t quite work for your body, be creative and think outside the box, because often the clothes you tailor to your style are the ones you wear the longest. 

Thrifting can seem like an intimidating world and it does take patience but once you have the steps down, you will be in fashion heaven.

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