Every Thursday, a Western Front reporter will bring you their fashion opinions, give fashion tips or highlight what Western students are wearing.
Thrift and vintage stores are more than a place to find an ugly Christmas sweater or a costume for a themed party. They’re great places for college students on a budget to build their wardrobe.
My longest lasting, highest quality and most loved pieces in my wardrobe are from thrift stores. It can be overwhelming at first, but thrifting can turn into a fun activity once you master it.
Here are 10 tips for successful thrift and vintage shopping.
1. Shop all sizes
Most of the clothes have been worn and washed multiple times. This affects the size and shape of the item. A large could be shrunk to a small, or a small could be stretched to a medium. You will have a higher chance at finding pieces you love if you search through all sizes.
2. Look for trends
While shopping, look for items that are on trend now. Statement sleeves, athleisure, deconstructed denim, the color red, shearling coats and chenille sweaters are a few of the current trends.
3. Get creative
If you like an item but it doesn’t fit you perfectly, don’t give up on it. Shoulder pads can be cut out, sleeves and hems can be adjusted and oversized tops can be worn as dresses.
4. Have low expectations
When you go searching for a specific item, chances are you won’t find it. So instead view the shopping as a fun activity to do and go with an open mind.
5. Gender-neutral shopping
The men’s section has cool T-shirts, sweatshirts and jackets that can be worn in a feminine or androgynous way. So be sure to check those sections as well for more creative ways to dress.
6. Red flags
Check for armpit stains, pilling fabric, stains, rips and holes.
7. Check the tag and label
Some items can be overpriced. If the brand is known to be cheap, reconsider buying it if it is more than $5. Clothes from stores like Forever21 only hold up for a few wears, and if it’s at a thrift store then chances are you won’t get much use out of it. Keep your eye out for quality brands like Levis, Tommy Hilfiger, Zara and Woolrich. You can also tell the quality of an item by feeling the fabric and trying it on.
8. Try things on
Clothes look much different on a hanger than it will on you. Return policies aren’t the best so make sure to try everything on before your purchase.
9. Go right before big events
Some stores have extra discount events that can turn into a feeding frenzy. I leave those events with nothing but a pounding migraine. I recommend going the day before instead. The staff will be preparing for the event by putting new clothes on the racks.
10. Don’t be afraid of different sections
The intimates section is full of great layering pieces like silk camisoles and slip dresses that look great under chunky sweaters. Accessories and jewelry are also often overlooked but make an outfit unique.
Give yourself time to go through the racks and have fun with it. Bring a friend to laugh at the downright ugly or find a good playlist to listen to while you search.
Stay true to yourself but don’t be afraid to try something new, it is a cheap risk to take.