Thrifting Like a Pro – 4 Experts Share Their Tips

I’m always asked about my thrifting tips, which I love sharing with you. This time, I decided to reach out to my favorite thrifting gals to dish on their favorite shops, trends they’re shopping for, and their tips for thrifting like a pro. These gals not only inspire me, but they are dropping some serious knowledge and tips so you can plan out your next thrift haul.

Beth Jones

@bjonesstyle // Orange County, CA

Your go to thrift store: Savers or Goodwill Orange County

Top tips for thrifting like a pro: Start by finding a great blazer! Everyone could use a great blazer and they are easy to find in thrift stores. Take a friend who loves thrifting and have them fill your cart. Look for belts, bags and costume jewelry – starting with accessories can be a great way to dip your toe in. 

Why do you love thrifting: I love the creative process! I never know what I’m going to find, and once I start finding it sparks so many new styling ideas. It excites me, rejuvenates my brain and brings me joy! I love it!

You’re the OG thrifting queen. How has thrifting changed over the years? The PRICES!!! Thrift stores have raised their prices really high, and now like to label things as “vintage” and charge more for them. Also, a lot more people are thrifting now then when I started 15 years ago, but I love that! When I’m out in stores I love spotting the other girls like me who are hunting for treasures. It is inspiring!

You just finished a big house renovation and you’re shopping for home decor? How is that different from thrifting for clothing? Are you having more fun? It takes a lot longer to find things for your home! It’s a lot of hopping out of the car, running in a thrift store – quickly scanning and then maybe finding one thing at at time. I get a little crazy.. and I’ve been known to hit the same store daily looking for new pieces as they pop up! I love it so much! It feels different then finding clothes, it can be a lot more special when you find something for your home. It’s about curating and collecting and bringing things in your home that tell a whole story and that you live with everyday. It just takes a lot more patience! But, when you find the right thing… it is so worth it!

Currently thrifting for: Well, right now I’m on the HUNT for dining room chairs to go with the marble table I found off Craigslist. But for clothes, I just filmed my fall trends video.. so I’m starting to look for all the fall trends, and I’m really into BIG BELTS right now. Any big gaudy belt that I can find is on the list!

Buy this, leave that (what do you recommend people always buy and is there anything you recommend that they pass up)? Always buy great accessories like belts, statement earrings and a great bag. Always buy a dreamy dress even if you can’t think of where you will wear it. Always buy a great blazer, even if you have 5 other versions but this one fits a gap. LEAVE the things that aren’t sparking magic.

Abby Mills

@clothesandpizza // Bay Area, CA

Your go to thrift store: Salvation Army

Top tips for thrifting like a pro:  Give yourself time — don’t rush through the store. Go section by section. Or just focus on ONE section that doesn’t overwhelm you. For example, go to the thrift store and just focus on dresses, or housewares.  Buy things that you already love. I know this sounds weird but hear me out. If you know you love cardigans, or striped tees, or medium wash jeans, look for those items at the thrift store. You already know you’re comfortable in those types of pieces, so it’s an easy way to dip your toe into the thrift store pool. Don’t pay attention to the size on the label. Vintage sizing is WAY different then modern sizing, and sizes vary wildly by brand. Throw everything in your cart and try it all on. And remember you can always tailor things if they are too big!  

Why do you love thrifting: The ability to find something super unique that no one else has (for a fraction of traditional retail cost). And the sustainability factor: you’re not buy something newly fabricated (clothing production uses water, chemicals, gas, oil, etc) and you’re keeping something out of a landfill!

Thrifting in the Bay Area vs New York better? Spill the beans!: Different! I didn’t thrift so much in NYC, but I did a lot of vintage shopping. Thrift stores are few and far between (there are a handful of Goodwills and Housing Works in Manhattan), but there are more curated vintage stores than here in the Bay. I love to do both, it totally depends on my mood!

You support sustainable brands, what items do you find are best when thrifted or purchased second hand? I love to try trends at the thrift store (especially because trends are cyclical — so you’ll definitely find on-trend pieces by thrifting). I like to thrift trends because trends are impermanent by definition, they come and go — trendy pieces are not really something you want to invest in. 

Currently thrifting for: anything marbled (I just scored my dream 70s marbled blouse), layering pieces for fall (patterned turtlenecks, chunky sweaters), and anything in tartan/plaid!

Buy this, leave that Buy this: Unique home pieces. If you find a weird and wonderful painting or vase or knick knack, buy it! Unique and funky decor pieces can transform your home and make it truly yours. Leave that: Cheap fabrics that don’t breathe. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bought something incredible only to never wear it because the fabric is just so uncomfortable. These days I won’t buy anything in that stuffy 70s polyester fabric—no matter how killer it is.

Jayme Sy

@thehellajam // Bay Area, CA

Your go to thrift store: I live a stones throw away from Savers and it is DANGEROUS territory. I’ve always loved thrifting as a little girl, but I feel like I grew more confident and defined my style through a lot of thrifted pieces from Savers.

Top tips for thrifting like a pro: First and foremost, I always tell my friends to take a deep breath when you’re in the store because it can be overwhelming for newbies. Do a little research and see what pieces/trends you are drawn to and go to that section in the thrift store and see if you can find a piece similar. Whether it’s a square neckline top, an 80’s puff sleeve top  that you can cut into a crop top or a pair of 90s strappy heels. Fashion trends are constantly repeating itself so whatever is “in” right now, you can without a doubt find thrifting. If it’s a maybe, plop it in the cart and do a quick process of elimination right before you check out. I like to throw everything in the cart so I have time to think about each piece and see if I can either style it multiple ways. 

Why do you love thrifting: I love thrifting because its an affordable way for me to express my style without leaving a carbon footprint on this earth. I love the thrill of the treasure hunt and being able to use my imagination to reinvent a piece to make it my own. I like to think it’s my way of being stylishly resourceful. 

Watching your IG stories and YouTube, everyone knows you have a blast when thrifting. What is the most fun thing about it for you? I never thought I was “artistic” or “creative” until I started styling thrifted pieces. I love finding pieces that people would usually shy away from bc its “too outdated” or reminds them of their grandma,  and adding my own personal flair to make it cool again. I guess what makes it so fun for me is being able to creatively re-imagine someones trash and make it my own treasure.

You’ve thrifted home decor for your city apartment and your suburban home? What did you learn about second hand furniture and thrifting for home decor that is different than shopping for clothes? When I thrift for clothes, I really have to think about each piece before buying. I try to be a conscious shopper, even when thrifting. But when it comes to furniture, it’s a gut feeling. If it matches my vision or is something that I could repurpose to, you bet your ass I’m calling a supervisor to see if I can get it cheaper and haul it to my car. It’s an instant yes or no, and an immediate transaction. I love looking at vintage home decor magazines and books to gain inspiration, and if I can reimagine someone’s junk to fit the aesthetic that I want, I’m all in. 

Currently thrifting for: I need to step up my game when thrifting for baby clothes. I found some cute pieces recently but I wish I had more thrifted clothes bc all if his fast fashion pieces fade and tear so fast. They don’t make clothes like they used to.

Buy this, leave that: You can’t go wrong with with vintage dish ware or homemade ceramics. Especially if you’re a newb thrifting and you’re unsure how to thrift for clothes just yet. I stay away from baby toys and stuffed animals… I can’t go but think about all the germs that have been living on them for years. Hard no lol 

Taylor Blanton

@taylor_made_style // Nashville, TN

Your go to thrift store: Rivergate Goodwill, Madison, TN

Top tips for thrifting like a pro: Go often! The more you thrift, the better treasures you can find! Get inspired! Head to Pinterest, your favorite fashion blogs, or instagram accounts to pull inspiration of items you want to thrift. Keep a running list of items you are looking for! It’s easy to get overwhelmed in a thrift store. Lists help keep you focused and on track for what you are looking for!

Why do you love thrifting? Apart from not contributing to the negative effects on the environment through shopping fast fashion, thrifting has helped me develop my own unique personal style. It’s a creative outlet to express myself through fashion! Walking into a thrift store, you never know what you’ll find, or what will inspire you. I love that feeling of total creative freedom that I get from thrifting, and of course, the rush of finding unique treasures!

Is it true that thrifting is better in the South? As a thrifter for over 10 years, I can pretty much say I can go anywhere at all in the World and find something at a thrift store! However, I would have to say the thrifting IS better in the South! We have the variety of small, local shops in quaint towns where you can find vintage gems for cents to huge warehouse-sized stores where you can spend hours digging for items old and new. You heard it here, y’all!

You just came back from Europe! What were you shopping for? Specific items or trends? Did you notice any vintage items trending in Europe? The thrifting in Europe was incredible! Thrift stores there are definitely more curated and items cost more than in the US, so you have to be choosy about what you do pick up.

Buy this, leave that: I was looking for items specifically made in Europe, or rare items I hadn’t seen in thrift/vintage shops in the US. For example, one of my favorite shops in Brussels had an amazing selection of vintage angora sweaters. I picked one up because I knew it was a piece I could wear for a long time, and have never been able to find one in second-hand shops in the US before. My suggestion is leaving anything that you know you could find in the US, and look for those rare items! There’s a huge selection of 80s and 90s items in Europe, I found, although there’s plenty of other items in between as well. I was most impressed with the trouser selection across Europe; I wish I could’ve taken home a pair from every country! 

Thank you for reading.

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