These days everything is vintage, pre-loved, up-cycled or thrifted. Everywhere across the globe the fashion conscious men and women smile smugly as they explain that their skirt/dress/pants/cardigan is actually a one-of-a-kind, discovered after hours of dedicated trawling through vintage stores, market stalls and charity shops.

‘Thrifting’ as it is known, refers to the act of shopping at charity shops, garage sales and second-hand stores and websites with the intent of finding interesting pieces at a cheap price. It has become a very popular pastime as more people shun mass produced, throwaway fashions in preference for recycling unique pre-loved clothing. While some people consider used clothing shops to be dirty, nasty places, the fact is most of them aren’t. And there’s something quite romantic about the whole process of finding an amazing piece and getting swept away imagining what the former life of the garment was like. People thrift for different reasons. For some, economic realities dictate that they can only buy second-hand.

For bargain hunters, thrifting can be an extreme sport, where finding an incredible piece at an amazing price is a total adrenaline rush. So whatever your reasons for thrifting, here are a few tips to improve your shopping experience.

Try things on

Sounds obvious, but you would be surprised just how much sizes vary between manufacturers and eras (for instance today’s clothes have looser fits than those of years gone by). Knowing your general size and measurements will help, but trying on a garment is always the best way to check fit.

Examine each item – thoroughly

Check garments for tears, holes, stains and snags. Don’t buy anything damaged that you can’t fix yourself (it’s easy to replace a button or mend a small hole, but anything more complicated will require money spent on a tailor, so consider giving it a miss). Check zippers and garment lining, examine embellishments and make sure there aren’t any weird smells. Also, always check the washing instructions – do you really want to pay for a garment you’re never going to dry clean?


One of the best things about buying second-hand is that you can afford to experiment a bit more. If doesn’t hurt to spend five dollars on a 50s style dress and then discover it’s not really your look. Plus, if something isn’t right you can offer it to a friend or try to get your money back on eBay.

If you won’t wear it, don’t buy it

This is true of all shopping, but perhaps more so when it comes to thrifting. When items are cheap it’s tempting to purchase pieces that you are a little indifferent about. But remember, thrifting is about saving money, so buying something that just sits in your closet isn’t a good idea.

Curb your enthusiasm

As I said before, when everything is so cheap it’s easy to get carried away. If second-hand shopping becomes too much of a habit, try a one-in-one out policy. Every time you bring home something new, you have to get rid of something old. Sell it, swap it, donate it to charity or give it to a friend. You’ll make more room in your closet and avoid any hoarding instincts or anxiety.

Don’t forget accessories

Second hand stores are an absolute gold mine for accessories. You’ll always find great scarves, clutch bags and interesting pieces of costume jewellery. Why pay forty dollars for a belt at a chain store when you could get something way better for five dollars? Remember, thrifting is about taking your time and exploring. It’s a fun and interesting way to shop, save money and help out the environment. So enjoy yourself, be adventurous and have fun!