How to Thrift Like a Pro: A Comprehensive Guide


There are many ways to build an ethical wardrobe, such as shopping locally and buying from transparent, sustainable companies, but the most tried-and-true way to be both fashionable and eco-friendly is thrifting!

Buying second-hand is often more affordable than buying in-store, and you can still find well-known brands and great quality clothing. One of thrifting’s biggest pros, however, is the hunt! Thrifting is an adventure, which makes finding those vintage Tommy jeans or that 100% cashmere sweater even more fulfilling!

Read below for more information on how to thrift like a pro. 

Picking a Thrift Store

The first step in thrifting like a pro is choosing what store to go to. There’s three main types of places to thrift: traditional stores such as Salvation Army, consignment stores and specialty resale stores.

  • Traditional stores run almost completely on a donation basis. This means that their selection is much larger and also cheaper, but often times it’s harder to find quality pieces.
  • Consignment stores serve as a middle man between people seeking to get rid of their clothing and people looking to buy second-hand, and they are often somewhat more selective. While they’re not as cheap as traditional stores, consignments stores don’t usually require a high budget.
  • Specialty resale stores are second-hand suppliers who pick through pre-owned clothing in order to create a curated collection. Specialty resale stores are usually pricier, but are a great way to find designer and vintage pieces for cheaper than their market value!

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Best Sections to Browse

Once you’ve chosen the best type of thrift store for you, the hunt begins. While it may be common knowledge to avoid sections such as bedding, undergarments and shoes, what sections are the best for good finds? My top 3 for consistently quality pieces are:

  • Sweaters – Second-hand sweaters are a goldmine. Whether you’re looking for a classic scoop neck or a thick winter cardigan, your local thrift store probably has it, and don’t forget to take a peek at the men’s section too!
  • Jeans – With the rise of the mom and boyfriend jeans, thrifting is hands down the best place to shop for on trend jeans at a fraction of the price, and there’s never a lack of selection in this department!
  • T-Shirts – Thrift stores are a great place for basics, and among the ironic, and sometimes oddly specific shirt, quality white, navy, and black t-shirts can be found! If you’re lucky enough, there might even be a vintage CK.

Quality Check!

Now that you’ve found some promising pieces, the final step before checkout is a final quality check! When choosing quality second-hand clothing, there are certain things to look for such as brand, material, and condition.

Some common quality brands found at thrift stores include Charter Club, Ralph Lauren, Pendleton, LL Bean, and Nautica. However, don’t throw out a shirt just because it’s not produced by a well-known brand!

If a brand isn’t well-known, next look at the material. The material a piece is made out of often determines it’s quality more than the brand, since cheaper and artificial materials such as rayon, acrylic, and nylon age badly and can fall apart after a few wears. Look for natural materials such as cotton, linen, and different types of wool!

Above all is the condition of the clothing. This is a simple step: if you see piling, obvious wear-and-tear, or ripped seams… TOSS IT! This is a sign that the clothing wasn’t well made to begin with, but don’t let smaller damages such as a minor rip or stain that can be fixed hold you back from your purchase either.

Boro Detroit Logo

Local Spotlight: Boro

Boro is a Detroit based resale company that sells quality designer and vintage pieces. The atmosphere of the store is welcoming and warm, and they regularly host a Ladie’s Night! Check out Boro’s instagram where they regularly post their unique items.

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Student at The University of Michigan studying communications and digital studies. Strong interests in fashion and film.

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