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Thrifting is…so hot right now. Secondhand shopping has never been more popular—but for me, that spark was ignited over a decade ago. In my world, fashion has always involved thrifting. I was raised by a single mom in Ohio and spent every Wednesday at my local Salvation Army. I’d roll through the aisles combing through every rack, go home, throw my finds in the wash and play endless hours of dress-up.
I was captivated by the idea that one store could make all my fashion dreams come to life, and the best part…I could afford it! I’d found my home away from home and never did I think, over ten years later, that I’d be doing that same thing, now with an audience of hundreds of thousands of strangers cheering me on online as opposed to my mom and sister applauding my finds in my basement.
Much like the rest of the world, the pandemic trapped me inside my Los Angeles apartment for most of 2020. However, when secondhand shops began to open back up in July, I started posting on TikTok as Blazed and Glazed to share with others my best thrifting tips. I shared my favorite secondhand spots around LA with people from all over the world, in hopes of showing them that you can truly find anything at the thrift store.
From recreating runway trends to finding your own version of that viral Instagram sweater, I can assure you that secondhand shopping will always have you covered, whether you prefer thrift stores or online resellers. Oh, and did I mention the fabulous home decor in addition to fashion finds?! After stumbling upon the jackpot that is estate sales this past year, my vintage finds from the Hollywood Hills area have turned my apartment into the 80’s Sexy Dad Pad of my dreams.
I know that the world of thrifting can be a bit overwhelming and even confusing to those just starting out, so I’ve rounded up my go-to thrifting tips below to take your sustainable style game to the next level. Read on, queens!
1. Do Your Research
Selecting where your thrift moment will take place is crucial, as there are many different options to choose from. Lucky for you, if you’re in LA or ever here for a visit, my TikTok has you covered! If not, let me propose a few questions to consider before your hunt begins…
What am I looking for?
In the mood for a more curated selection or a bit of retro designer? Vintage stores and flea markets will be your havens, ranging from small boutiques with racks devoted to different decades to outside venues with countless sellers hosting unique finds and treasures.
On the other hand, if you are down for a dig and want a more classic thrift experience, I recommend searching up your cities’ local thrift shops and finding out what their individual missions are. Hit up one…or a few that align with what’s important to you. Here in LA, one of my favorite spots is St. Vincent de Paul thrift store, where all proceeds go to aiding those experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles.
There are also the “for profit” thrift store chains, that may or may not give back to the local community but do offer a huge selection of clothing and home decor for those just looking to shop in a more circular and sustainable way.
When should I go?
Most thrift shops like Goodwill for example, have specific discounts on certain days of the week. There are even some shops that will list their “color tags” of the day on their Instagram pages, so give your local spots a follow! I also highly encourage you to get there early if you can, especially now when social distancing is key.
What about estate sales?
Head straight to estatesales.net, type in your zip code and scroll through homes in your area where the owners may have passed or simply moved away, leaving a true treasure trove for you to sift through. They are often filled with designer finds, cool clothing and great furniture. Key things to note are to arrive early, bring cash (if possible) and note that most sales last a few days and the further into the sale it is, the bigger the discounts will be.
2. Gather Your Inspo
Instagram and Pinterest should be your go-to tools for this! I want you to scroll and save whatever inspires you, or search for specific outfits/trends you are looking to recreate. In my opinion, thrift manifesting is VERY real and doing this will quite literally let the universe know what items are on your list, while also keeping you focused on certain colorways, patterns and fabrics. I often put together entire Pinterest boards for my thrift trips, which you can check out on my Pinterest here.
3. Give The Good To Get The Good
AKA, donate! Thrift karma is absolutely real and I am a firm believer that you must give the good shit to get the good shit. So, before you take off on that thrift trip, take a look through your closet and pull out a few pieces that you just aren’t vibing with anymore. If you aren’t gravitating toward it and it’s still in pretty nice condition, consider how happy it could make someone else on their own thrift mission. Then, toss it in a bag and take it with you to your local spot. I guarantee it will pay off.
4. Dress the Part
Hold onto this tip for post-pandemic, ladies! Not all secondhand spots will have fitting rooms, so you may have to try on your finds over your clothes every now and then. With this in mind, you’ll want to throw on your more “base” layering pieces, so I usually opt for a pair of shorts, fitted tank, open-face shimmy shake top (or, in more plain terms, a button down) and sneakers, but figure out whatever thrift uniform works for you.
5. See An Item For What It Can Be…
…Not just for what it is hanging on the rack! For example, if you’re on the hunt for a matching set but instead come across a jacket in the print of your dreams, what do you do? Snag that baby, bring it home, chop off the bottom and give that jacket it’s meant-to-be moment instead! I’m a big fan of thrift flips, and post about them on my TikTok often.
6. Keep Compassion, Empathy & Size Privilege In Mind
Thrifting is for everyone! However, it’s important to be aware that thrift stores are a massive resource for low-income individuals and families, so when filling up that cart, ask yourself how many coats absolutely need to come home with you. Snag the one (or two) that makes you want to get up and shimmy the second you slap it on your body, and leave the rest for someone else to find.
Something I have also come to learn over my time in the “thrift world” is how essential it is to keep your size privilege in mind while hitting the secondhand shops. I’m not saying you can’t purchase whatever size you feel best in, or telling you to stick strictly to fitted garments, but I’ve learned from fabulous creators like Carrie Dayton and Karina Gomez that thrifting in a larger body can at times be a more limiting experience, so maybe skip the top that feels a little too oversized so someone else can enjoy it.
That said, there is a massive amount of clothing donated yearly that ends up in landfills, so I still encourage anyone and everyone to thrift their damn booties off—just be conscious while doing so!
7. Do You!
To me, the most beautiful thing about thrifting is that it allows for self-expression. It’s the opportunity for a pair of $2.99 trousers to make you feel powerful, or a leather blazer worn by a ’90s suburban mom to give you major Bella Hadid energy! It’s a genderless, timeless and sustainable activity, not to mention a hell of a good time.