5 Tips for Building a Wardrobe at the Thrift Store

clothingrackThis past month I’ve been hitting up the thrift store and man have I found some good deals. Last year I went on this whole minimalism kick and I ended up not having much clothes to choose from. So I decided to go back on the hunt to re-build my wardrobe with my personal style and budget in mind. What better place to start then the thrift store. Shopping at the the thrift store is not for everyone: the smell, the “fitting rooms,” and the massive amount of clothing is offsetting for some people. But it can be really fun and exciting finding unique or trendy pieces. If you want to build a new wardrobe on a budget, then I suggest entering the thrift store before you head to those cheap stores at the mall. Those stores are really affordable but you can find even cheaper pieces at the thrift store if you look correctly, and I’m here to help. Here are my tips to find kick ass clothes for your wardrobe on a budget.


Tip 1: Prep Work

Before you even enter the thrift store you need a plan. I know we’re talking fashion but this is still a finance blog and we need to be strategic about our spending! You don’t wanna go in there and fall into the “Oh this is cute” or “I saw this in a magazine” trap. Make sure you know your own personal style before shopping. Here are a few questions to help you to do the prep work.

  1. 1. Where do you spend most of your time? What is your lifestyle like? Are you working in an office or a gym, do you stay at home with the kids, or do you enjoy going out to events. Figuring out your lifestyle will help you focus on the items you truly need.
  2. 2. What items do you gravitate towards? What items make you feel confident? If you know you feel good in a t-shirt and jeans why buy a floral a line dress that you know you will never wear and end up back at the thrift store. I know the thrift store is cheap but you want to stick with pieces that are your style, so instead maybe try a denim dress or a t-shirt dress. This way you are still staying true to your California comfy chic.
  3. 3. What pieces are you always saying you need to complete a certain outfit? Is it a belt, or a purple crop top, or a grey cardigan? You want to search for these pieces first because they already complete an outfit you have instead of having to create a whole new outfit based off one item.
  4. 4. Do you need to replace any seasonal items? Your favorite sweater has a hole in it or your bikini cover up’s seams are coming loose. Time to find a replacement.

Tip 2: Focus on Quality

When shopping make sure you focus on quality, you don’t want to go home and notice there is a stain or a seam coming loose on your new clothes. When I am shopping if I find an interesting item, before putting it in my cart I always check for stains, any weird odors, piling, fades, undone seams, loose threads, and the type of fabric the clothing is. If you are hunting for designer items make sure you check the tag for proper logos and fabric type. Sometimes counterfeit items will have slightly different logos than the real thing like misspelled words or different characters. Also check what kind of fabric the item is, better quality fabrics are silk, linen, cotton, cashmere and wool. Fake items will be made of cheaper quality fabrics like polyester and nylon.

Tip 3: Know your Thrift Store

Once you start thrifting a lot you start to familiarize yourself with the stores. For me, I know that if I go to Savers I will always find really good outerwear pieces and shoes. If I go to Sav-mor in Fullerton I know I will find super cheap items I can diy like denim I can make into shorts or boyfriend jeans or a dress I can alter to make more flattering. If I go to the Sav-mor in Santa Ana I can find cheap cheap cheap trendy items and furniture. I’ll tailor my shopping based on what I’m hunting for. After you start to get a feel for certain thrift stores, when you shop, it will be easier to find the best deals. So go explore!

Tip 4: Explore the Whole Store

I love walking around the whole store because you never know what you are going to find, sometimes you find items in the wrong places. I like looking in the Home section for cool decor, I found shot glasses I use in my bathroom for Q-tips and cotton pads. Or a mirror tray can be used to display your perfume or jewelry. Think out of the box at the thrift store and let your creative juices flow. I like to look for skirts with nice patterns and wear them as off the shoulder tops, or hunt in the men’s section for androgynous looking pieces like a denim top or white button ups, also try checking the boys’ section for cool graphic tees.

Tip 5: Experiment

Finally, make it fun! Experiment with new pieces and try out new things. You should always go to the thrift store with a plan but once in a while try breaking out of your comfort zone by picking something that is your style but maybe a different silhouette. If you hate bodycon dresses, don’t go out and buy that. But maybe try a fitted top or a sequin top that gives you those daring vibes. Just make it fun and personal to you and your aesthetic.


You can’t find everything at the thrift store but checking there first can save you some money, especially if you’re shopping for trends. With some time and dedication your closet will be packed with uniquely personal items. Next week I’ll show you how I styled my August finds for different outfit ideas.

What tip will you use the next time you’re thrifting?




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