Thrifting 101: the basics of looking for vintage, secondhand fashion
Image via @purplefashionmagazine on Instagram
Written by: Hanna Shaw

Buying used items by means of thrifting and online fashion resale platforms can be daunting. I’ll say it. However, shopping with a purpose doesn’t have to be a hassle. 

Thrifting achieves the tenants of saving money while looking cute, reducing waste, and being practical. It allows you to proudly say “it’s vintage” when someone compliments the pair of patent loafers you snagged at a local Goodwill. Above all, buying clothing secondhand is a better way to buy better quality items, grow a one-of-a-kind sense of style, and experiment with new looks. 

Below you’ll find some tips and tricks on how to hack the system and find hidden gems while protecting the environment.

When Shopping In-Person:

Go thrifting with the correct mindset
Image via @kenzo on Instagram

Go Thrifting with the Correct Mindset

Whether you’re spontaneously looking for a hidden treasure or are dead-set on finding a killer pair of vintage bell bottoms, go into your thrifting experience with a set intention that you are open to receiving what is truly meant for you (as philosophically corny as this sounds). Doing so saves you from experiencing buyer’s remorse and prevents further textile waste.

Look Through the Entire Store

I know this sounds absurd, but thrifting is a long process that requires you to be fully invested. If you want to walk away with pieces you will actually wear, or even make it to the point of finding something to add to your wardrobe in the first place, I suggest at least browsing the store once to get a general picture of what is offered. Then, after the first walk-through, go back in for a second time to round up what initially caught your eye.

Don't Be Afraid to Browse Different Sections

Ladies, don’t be afraid to look through the men’s or kid’s section, and vice versa! You never know where your hidden treasure lies when thrifting, so don’t leave it up to fate for it to simply appear. Instead, go out and actively look for it. Plus, clothing in another gender’s section may have a niche item that fits better than your own, like a perfectly worn men’s t-shirt or a pair of light-wash women’s jeans.

Have a Mental Filter for Items While Thrifting

Knowing the quality of fabric and colors you are looking for helps narrow down the pieces that truly reflect your personal style and standards from the overwhelming amount of items that can be found in thrift stores. This piggy-backs off of the first point mentioned – having a mental filter makes sure you end up with pieces you genuinely appreciate. However, you don’t necessarily need to follow this rule rigidly. If you see something that catches your eye, put it in the cart to at least try on! This brings us to our next point…

When We Move into a Post-COVID World, Try On the Items

Use your senses of sight and touch to determine whether the item is worth taking home or should be returned to the rack. Remember, thrift store items are typically final sale, so you don’t want to end up with a purchase that looks great on the rack but feels uncomfortable on.

Just 'Cause It’s Cheap Doesn’t Mean You Need It

The last and most important hack for thrifting in-person is to make sure you don’t buy an item solely because it’s a “steal.” A great deal can be awesome when the clothing item will actually be worn and will reduce fashion waste, but be wary of falling into the consumerism mindset. Thinking that you should buy a top simply because it costs $5 or because it is a designer piece on a major sale may mean that it ends up sitting in your closet, never to be worn outside the dressing room. Being conscious while you shop diverts against the possibility of overconsumption and makes sure your fashion sustainability efforts have an impact.

Seek External Help from Professionals

Don’t be afraid to turn to professionals like tailors or cobblers to make sure the gem you just thrifted is the perfect fit! Using a tailor to mend or alter an item makes it one-of-a-kind, and is a great way to reuse what already exists. Since this adds another expense to the total cost of your thrifting experience, be sure to use foresight to determine if it’s worth the extra effort.

Video via @willamazing on Instagram

When Thrifting Online:

Image via @gigihadid on Instagram

Filters are Your Best Friend

If you’re on the hunt for a specific item, brand, color, size, or style, look no further than the filters provided on the re-sell platform you’re using. Like many other digital secondhand fashion spaces, ÀLA.HAUSSE makes the shopping experience easier for users looking to buy, sell, lend, or rent already worn items by offering filters that can be applied to their heart’s content.

Check Back Constantly

Like thrifting in-person, shopping online for resale items can be a process because of the amount of inventory and competition from fellow consumers. Check the platforms you use to shop for secondhand fashion regularly when you are on the search for revamping your closet. The early bird gets the worm!

Use the Search Bar While Thrifting

A perk to thrifting online is that you don’t have to scour rack after rack to find an item that sparks your interest. Not only are search bars useful for narrowing down clothing items to a specific brand, but they are particularly convenient when looking for a certain style, pattern, or fabric.

Negotiate. Negotiate. Negotiate.

Sellers are there to bid adieu to items they no longer have a use for. Keep this in mind before accepting the price of an item at face value. If you see an item that is overpriced compared to its market value or want to save a few bucks, use reasonable judgement and bargain the price down to what you would be willing to pay for in an ideal world.

ÀLA.HAUSSE Fashion Ecosystem

Don’t Give Up on Sold Items

In today’s day and age, computer algorithms make it much easier to find items that match your style from your search history and the suggestions they make on the platform. Use this feature to your advantage with any item, sold or unsold, so you can leave with exactly what you came there looking for. If you stumble upon an item that has already been sold, go back to its listing. At the bottom or the side of the page, you can usually check and see if there are any equivalent or similar items to the one that got away.

Sellers are Your Co-Workers, Not Your Boss

At the end of the day, online resale transactions are a two-way street. Reach out to the seller if you ever need additional pictures, measurements, descriptions, or other pieces of information that will help determine whether or not you will purchase the item.

Have fun while thrifting!
Image via @purplefashionmagazine on Instagram

With the tips and tricks outlined above, you’ll be ready to navigate second-hand retail in a whole new light. If you take away one thing from this post, make sure to have fun while thrifting and be proud of your conscious efforts to reduce waste!

We at ÀLA.HAUSSE are committed to providing fashion lovers with a multifunctional ecosystem in which they can practice more sustainable consumption habits. Via ÀLA.HAUSSE‘s Multi-functional and Multi-purposeful Fashion Ecosystem- BUY/SELL/RENT/LEND/ (swap BETA 2021) mobile application, INDIVIDUALS & brands ( BETA 2021) are encouraged to REBUY, RESELL, REUSE and UP-CYCLE their personal “Clossets” aka Clothing Assets, along with overstock inventory and samples. Through this consumerism habit shift we indirectly slow down the urgency on fashion’s carbon footprint, aiding sustainability as a whole.

BETA Early Access Application Now Open for CA Fashion Lovers: Apply Now for LAST CALL 


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