For today’s post, I called on one of my best friends to share why she loves thrift shopping. Follow her on Instagram @allysa.jpeg to see how she styles her thrifted finds. Also, check out her blog and photography site! Thanks, Allysa!
I remember my first time thrift shopping; I was with my older brother and utterly confused about why he would want to buy old clothes that other people had already worn. However, as I followed him through the aisles and started to pick things out for him, I became excited to see the finished outfit. I was even more excited when I saw that the total cost was under $15, knowing that his outfit would’ve been at least $50 at a regular retailer. From that moment, you could say I was hooked. Looking back, my initial interest in thrifting was because of lower prices, but now I realize that my love for second-hand shopping is about much more than that. I enjoy thrifting because of better all-around cost, comfort, adventure, and style.
Of course, the cheaper price of most thrifted clothing is a huge selling point. The extra money that you save on each item allows you to buy more than you would at a regularly priced store. For instance, I recently bought 8 items for $31 at a local Salvation Army family store, which would have easily cost me upwards of $100 at somewhere like Urban Outfitters, which sells similar vintage items at 3-4x the price. Because it is difficult to find certain items at thrift stores, you can also use the money you save to splurge on a nice pair of shoes or a jacket that you’ve been waiting to come out. In addition to monetary cost, thrifting is a lot less of an environmental cost. By buying clothes second-hand, you shift your monetary contributions away from the fast fashion market. Every purchase you make at a thrift store decreases the amount of air and water pollution that comes from making clothes, and decreases your overall environmental footprint. Also, many thrift stores work for the good of the community. For example, many are part of larger charity networks, and some hire those who experience chronic underemployment, such as army veterans or those with felony convictions.
Yes, thrifted clothes are generally more comfortable (because they’ve already been worn), but this sense of comfort comes from the in-store experience. Thrift store employees do not work on commission, so while they are usually there to help if you need them, they’re not hounding you to buy something. As a young black woman who has been followed around in stores before, this makes my shopping experience much more comfortable and allows me to breathe easy, take my time, and purchase things that I’m sure I actually want to buy. The comfort of thrift shopping extends to the dressing rooms as well. While thrift store dressing rooms are not always the most spacious or well-furnished, there’s usually no one else in line behind me, so I can take as long as I need and don’t feel rushed to get in and get out. Overall, I find thrift stores to be a much more comfortable shopping experience, which allows me to have more fun!
I love that thrifting is like a treasure hunt. Because each item is one of a kind, you never know what you’re going to find! The adventure of roaming around the store, searching through the racks with a friend and showing off the cool jackets, jeans, and shirts I find is so much fun. It’s a great time to hang out with friends or significant others – I even took my dad thrifting one time and it was a bonding experience that we were both surprised to have. On a deeper level, I think thrifting can be a great exercise in self-care – it’s essentially retail therapy with none of the guilt.
Of course, my thrifting experiences have forced me to carefully consider my own personal style. I really got into it right before I left for college, which is already a time of reinvention and self-definition, and I believe that thrifting helped me to become more confident as I went off on my own. Because thrift store clothing doesn’t follow trends (it actually tends to lag 5-7 years behind), I had to figure out what types of colors, cuts, and patterns I liked, and not just copy what I saw on a mannequin. Thrifting also taught me a lot about how to shop for my body, and what looks best on me. For example, I know that my height makes long dresses look great, and that most of the time I can get away with wearing a men’s medium in jackets and shirts. While thrift stores are generally broken up by gender, I also feel a lot more comfortable venturing into looks with menswear because stores are less crowded and have less pushy employees which means less people judging when I’m not in the women’s section. Another style benefit is that I’m more willing to try bolder pieces of clothing, because even if something doesn’t work, I’ve paid $4.99 for it instead of $24.99. If it turns out to be a good choice, then I’ve moved into new territory for a small price. Overall, thrifting has helped me to develop a stronger sense of style, and led me to great pieces of clothing that no one else has!
Before I graduate college, my goal is to have 80% of my wardrobe thrifted. Ideally it would be 100%, but I realize that some essentials like underwear, swimsuits, shoes, and most accessories are things I wouldn’t want to buy, or can’t find in my size at thrift stores. Hopefully this post inspired you try your hand at thrifting! I can personally say that it has become one of my most exciting and fulfilling hobbies thus far, and I don’t see it slowing down any time soon. Happy hunting!
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