So You Want to be a Thrifter – Part 1: Making a Plan

- Shopping

{thrifted top and skirt}

Hello!!!!!!!! Happy Tuesday. I have decided to start a short series on my thrifting experiences, and the best way to go about it if you are new to it. Just this past week, I scored a pair of 7 for All Mankind jeans at my local Goodwill for $14.99! Fit perfectly, were in great shape and just a fraction of the price. A lot of my favorite pieces have been thrifted over the years, so I can’t wait to share some of my tips (hopefully they are helpful)!

First a little background into my thrifting experience: I have been a thrifter since high school… unwillingly at the time, but in college I learned how much I could appreciate buying cute clothes for school and my internship without spending a fortune. Goodwill was the first place I went when I graduated college to find work pants, full suits, pencil skirts and blouses. And guess what?! I found it all there and it has all been high quality and worn over and over again. Now I go there to find good deals and just to have fun with my friends and mom, who was the first person to take me to a thrift store!


Your first time thrifting ever can be extremely overwhelming and is often the reason why people don’t want to go. You might worry that you won’t be able to find the “good stuff” and it will just be a waste of time. Well, if you make a plan, you can easily come out of a thrift store a winner! Here are some easy ways to make a plan and make your trip worthwhile:

Where do you want to shop? I usually shop at Goodwill, Savers, Plato’s Closet, Closet Mentor and antique shops in the area. I’ve had the most luck at Goodwill, so I usually start there. Consider what you are looking for. If you want to find JUST vintage items, an antique store is your best bet. If you are looking for brand name clothing from the local mall such as Old Navy, Banana Republic, J.Crew, etc. Goodwill, Plato’s Closet and Savers all usually carry these brands. If you are looking for high-end retail items, your best bet is a consignment shop.


{thrifted jacket and dress}

Another point to think about is sales. Typically each thrift store has a calendar with a schedule of sales for the month. Last time I had a huge thrifting haul, I went to Savers when everything was half off for Memorial Day. It can be scary to go during a sale your first time, but you are also going to be saving that much more money, making it worth it.

Once you know where you are going to shop, figure out WHERE TO START when you are actually at the store. I always start with blazers because they are so versatile and are typically more expensive than some other items full price, so I always want to find a good deal. I honestly will never feel bad for buying a blazer for $8 or under. Anyway, think about the holes in your closet or what you are really looking for and make that your starting point. The thing is that you aren’t always going to find what you are looking for the first time, or the second time, or the third time… but you will find it eventually! And by having one section of the store to start at, you can go straight to that spot in the store without being overwhelmed. A starting point is always a good thing to have.


{thrifted blazer and skirt}

Know Your Budget and Needs I think one thing that is key about shopping in general is knowing your budget and knowing what you need for your closet. Thrifting is so much fun and it is fun to find fantastic deals, but the last thing you want is spending a ton of money on clothes because they are a great deal at the time and then either not wearing them and have them take up extra room in your closet or realizing you don’t love it and bringing it back to the thrift store as a donation. It wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, but just like sales racks I think it can be hard to control the urge to buy buy buy when things are so greatly reduced, but having a plan and knowing what you plan to spend will help you keep it under control!

Alright…. ready to make a plan and find some good deals?! Go for it!

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  • Reply
    March 11, 2014 at 11:30 AM

    Love this! I started thrifting as a necessity. I was finishing college and I had two kids to clothe as well as my husband and myself. Now I go for fun! There have been certain items that go back to the thrift store, but it’s usually trendy things that I’m done with. I recently went to goodwill on $5 leather day where all the leather clothing was $5. I bought myself a jacket and my sister a GORGEOUS red leather jacket, as well as a purple leather skirt. I had them dry cleaned through work for free/1

    • Reply
      March 11, 2014 at 12:20 PM

      WOW! Nice 🙂 I haven’t ever been to a sale like that… I wish they would do that around here! I still love going to Goodwills in Iowa because it is so much less expensive than around Minneapolis…. !

  • Reply
    March 11, 2014 at 11:38 AM

    I agree with all of these tips – and you named several of my favorite places to shop too!

    • Reply
      March 11, 2014 at 12:21 PM

      Yes! I went last week for the first time in months and was like WHY HAVEN’T I BEEN DOING THIS MORE OFTEN haha.

  • Reply
    March 11, 2014 at 11:50 AM

    You have wayyy better luck than I do at thrifting! I find a good item maybe once or twice a year. I clearly need to take some of your advice next time 🙂

    • Reply
      March 11, 2014 at 12:22 PM

      I’m not going to lie. Sometimes it sucks. Like you look through racks and racks and racks of clothing and NO LUCK! Wasted trip, looking for a shopping high and NOTHING. Nothing at all 🙁 But continually going, even as much as once a week (if you have a place nearby) is totally worth it!

  • Reply
    March 11, 2014 at 1:56 PM

    That first skirt is amazing!! I love the shape and it looks so good on you! Love all of the pieces you’ve found Rachel. I’ve had some luck thrifting but I don’t do it too often.

  • Reply
    Gracey the Giant
    March 11, 2014 at 2:17 PM

    Great tips! I’m an avid thrifter and these tips are just spot on!

  • Reply
    March 11, 2014 at 2:17 PM

    Great tips. I haven’t thrift shop seen moving to Germany but I do go to the recycling center. I have got an old navy shirt and a brand new charlotte russ belt from there.

  • Reply
    March 11, 2014 at 3:49 PM

    i never have luck thrifting – apparently i need to follow your steps! 🙂 love all of these thrifted looks!

  • Reply
    March 11, 2014 at 4:46 PM

    You are so good, I think most of all it’s luck cause I never get anything :/

  • Reply
    Kacie's Kloset
    March 11, 2014 at 8:22 PM

    I went on my first thrifting adventure a couple weeks ago and it was so fun! I went with my friend who thrifts a lot…I don’t think I’m ready to go by myself yet. lol

  • Reply
    March 11, 2014 at 9:05 PM

    You are my thirfting hero! I’ve gotten a few good pieces over the years, but you’re kicking my butt haha. Love this series, can’t wait to see more! xx

  • Reply
    Rachel's Fashion Patch
    March 12, 2014 at 3:42 AM

    You are such a good thrifter! Some of these pieces really are amazing finds! I am so jealous I never feel I am very good at thrifting, but I will remember your tips nest time I go!

  • Reply
    March 12, 2014 at 6:31 AM

    These are great finds doll, I love thrifting!! x

  • Reply
    Valerie @ The Style Files
    March 12, 2014 at 6:54 AM

    What fantastic tips! I can’t believe you got all this great stuff by thrifting! I just discovered Savers and found some great stuff there but it all depends on which communities where you shop- I feel like the more affluent towns have much better merchandise 🙂 Gorgeous outfits Rachel!

  • Reply
    March 12, 2014 at 9:49 AM

    Great post! I looove thrifting, especially when I’m on vacation 🙂

    • Reply
      March 12, 2014 at 1:33 PM

      AGREED! That’s when I find the best vintage items 🙂 I love finding brand name things, but vintage thrifiting is the best!

  • Reply
    March 12, 2014 at 3:02 PM

    I wish thrifting was easier to find out here in SLC. I crave great vintage stores!

    Eleventh & Sixteenth

  • Reply
    March 12, 2014 at 8:13 PM

    Such pretty clothes. I really need to pick up a little white dress for spring. I had one I loved but I stained it last year and could never get the stain out.

    Tracy @ Sunny Days and Starry Nights

  • Reply
    March 12, 2014 at 8:17 PM

    I definitely want to get more into thrifting – so thank you for this encouraging post! We have a Clothes Mentor in our town, and it is where I take my clothes to consign. They always surprise me with their selection of J.Crew and designer bags!

  • Reply
    Chelsea Pearl
    March 13, 2014 at 12:27 AM

    Loved this post! Another great tip is that some thrift stores do coupons in local papers and magazines. We have a small chain in the SF area called Thrift Town and they do coupons regularly. Always a fun treasure hunt, and always worth it.

    • Reply
      March 14, 2014 at 9:15 AM

      Oh how cool! I will have to look into more papers around here… I’m sure there has to be coupons for stores in one of the papers! Thanks for the tip Chelsea!

  • Reply
    March 13, 2014 at 12:39 AM

    I love thrifting – I frequent both thrift and consignment stores constantly and am always amazed at the things I can find. It’s a great way to get more for your money or to purchase a designer piece that would otherwise be impossible. Love that you have shared your thrift finds here, they are fabulous!

  • Reply
    March 13, 2014 at 8:14 AM

    I love thrifiting! I’ve found though that if I am in a hurry it’s never as successful so I usually try to make sure I have plenty of time to dig and find some treasures!

  • Reply
    March 13, 2014 at 8:34 AM

    Thanks for all the great tips! I’ve done some thrifting at my Goodwill but lately I haven’t had any luck.

    The Tiny Heart
    JCrew Giveaway!

  • Reply
    March 13, 2014 at 5:46 PM

    This is a great thrifting guide! I wish I were better at thrifting, but I don’t have the patience… Just yet. But you have scored some amazing pieces, so perhaps I should give it a shot!

    My one and only incredible thrift store success was I found a vintage men’s Brooks Brothers blazer in a size small for $15, which has turned out to be my go-to boyfriend blazer. 🙂 That was one lucky pull.


  • Reply
    Jewel Laura (@StyleOptimist)
    March 14, 2014 at 5:37 PM

    You look so pretty in the white dress and denim jacket. I love thrifting although I don’t do it often. My loves to thrift and last weekend, I scored a pair of leopard flat and hi-lo dress for 5 bucks, both new with tags. I seriously need to do it more. Looking forward to go blog social, lady! have a good weekend!

  • Reply
    March 29, 2014 at 8:09 PM

    I really enjoyed this post, Rachel. Unfortunately, I’ve gained quite a bit of weight this winter, so I don’t fit into a lot of my clothes right now (UGH), and with job interviews coming up, I’m going to need to get some new, good-fitting interview attire. I’m for sure going to start with thrift stores because I don’t want to spend a lot of money on clothes that I am hoping will be too big in a couple of months, haha.

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