Inspired by the comments on my "5 Reasons why I love Thrifting" thread, I've decided to compile my Top 5 Tips for smooth and successful thrift shopping for you so you can get the most out of your thrifting experience.
1. How to Dress
On flea markets, but also often in thrift stores, there won't be any or adequate changing rooms, so come prepared. I like to wear a knee length full skirt, with opaque tights or leggings below in winter and as light weight a top as possible. That way I can try on almost anything without actually needing a changing room nor drawing unwanted attention.
2. Bring time & patience
It is important to bring time and the patience to go thoroughly through racks, tables and bins. At least the first few times. After a while, you are developing the skill to skim over the offered goods quicker, because you have experience in both what you personally are looking for, what you are drawn to, and what items you can discard by fabric appearance alone.
3. Come prepared with Intention
You can do it just for the fun of it, of course, but if you are serious about getting the best bang for the buck out of it, come prepared. Have an idea what you are looking for. Have a shopping list. And even tho the stuff is cheap, keep the 5 rules for shopping in mind, unless you don't care about ending up with a ton of stuff you won't actually be wearing and thus wasting money. Consider looking for quality even in those pieces you want to use for experiments, you know, just in case you like it and would love for it to stay with you for awhile.
4. Check what you intend to buy thoroughly
Without wanting to get specifically nasty here, check the item/garment you intend to buy for any defects like stains, rips, holes, color fading due to sun exposure, yellowness on white items, intact seems, slashed or ripped lining etc. Since I am capable of sewing buttons back on, having a missing one for me is just a reason to barter, as are some stains I know I can easily remove, but there are other stains or defects that would be a big, resounding "No" for me.
Likewise, things like the inner seams and the quality of the fabric can tell you weather you are making a good purchase or not.
I am talking from my experience with flea markets, thrift and consignment stores here in Europe. Asking to get it for less is kind of expected on flea markets and I also do it in "for profit" thrift & consignment stores (commercial purpose, not linked to charitable organisations etc) if the item has visible defects like the aforementioned missing buttons. Especially if you are buying more than one item from a person on a flea market, don't be shy to ask for a discount. Initially, this was a huge problem for me, but it gets easier with practise.
+1 Tip for Clothes Thrifting
6. Bonus: Think outside of the box
Often, I see a fabric or pattern I like, but the item itself isn't exactly what I would wear. Think of how you can alter items, especially if you are either capable of sewing or know someone who is. A dress can become either a top or a skirt. Or both. A shirt can be taken in (see link below for an example) and the sleeves removed. Any of these can become a scarf. Maybe you can merge two different pieces. Or add some embellishment of your own liking. There's almost no end to creativity. Maybe you just like the fabric but would rather make a pillow case or the back of a frame out of it.
Here is a tutorial on how to alter a man's shirt into more of a female fit:
So much to make - How to alter man's shirt to woman's shape
Edit: Also check out "this post" for more ideas on how to refashion clothing.
Picture taken from this outfit post
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