Whether you want to save some money, shop more ethically or just become a fashion girlie, thrifting is the way to go. While thrift stores have existed for decades, only recently has the stigma of shopping at these stores been reduced. The process and rate of manufacturing clothes that fast fashion brands resort to are terrible for the environment and many of these brands underpay their workers. This is why many people have been resorting to thrifting. In addition to being more sustainable, thrifting is a great way to find unique items that add character to your wardrobe and don’t strain your budget. If you’re convinced by my rousing speech or the cool girl influencer on Instagram but are wondering where to start, here’s a little primer on thrift stores; or else known as Thrifting for Dummies.

Where to shop

 Do you want a carefully curated store that stocks things based on a specific aesthetic, or would you rather do the handpicking yourself? To appeal to a younger crowd many of the best places to thrift are more akin to carefully chosen boutiques, often built around a particular style. Some hinging the abstract patterns and loud nylon jackets of the 80s while others could have a more dramatic taste with sequined dresses and formal gloves. If you know what your style is or what variety of fashion you’re looking for, these curated vintage boutiques may be where you should head. 

Of course, these thrift stores are sometimes more expensive than their more economic counterparts: the charity stores. Every spring, when your mom collects all your unworn clothes to donate, they mostly end up in your local charity store. If you still don’t know what I’m talking about, I recommend watching the classic Emma Roberts movie Wild Child where Roberts’ valley girl character is dragged to a cancer research charity store during a quintessential makeover scene. While you will have to dig through a bit more, charity stores are generally inexpensive, have far more variety and the proceeds go towards societies working for different causes (for instance, Dublin Simon Community works to address homelessness in the city). An additional consideration when hitting up charity stores is the neighbourhoods they are in. My friend exclusively goes to charity stores in rich suburbs and always finds amazing clothes of great quality that are usually rarely used. For more vintage clothes go to areas with an older population and more youthful garments shops near colleges in the city. 

There is additionally the option of thrifting from the comfort of your room as well. Depop, the thrifting equivalent of online shopping. The prices here are varied but it helps if you are looking for something very specific. However, shipping charges may be extra, and verifying fit and quality can be difficult.

How to shop 

When Carrie Bradshaw said shopping is my cardio, she wasn’t lying. She wasn’t necessarily talking about thrift shopping, but it especially applies here. Walking around stores and sorting through piles of clothes for hours can be exhausting. I highly recommend wearing comfortable shoes and clothes (also so that’s easier to try on items at the store!) and fueling up before (My friend and I have a boba and thrifting policy). Decide what you want before heading out, or else you risk finding nothing or things you don’t need. Additionally, take a friend for company and a second opinion.

Thrifting doesn’t necessarily mean only clothes you can also find old books, board games, houseware, and more. Make sure to look in all sections, there can be hidden gems anywhere. Also keep in mind that these clothes are second-hand so verify that there are no holes, tears, fraying, broken zips, etc. Look for stains and make sure to try on all the pieces. You can consider if some things can be fixed or altered, if not leave it. As is the tendency with shopping try not to buy things you will not use and be very selective with your choices. At the same time, don’t overthink it if you really like something because likely it will not be there when you get back. Timing is also essential; it can be useful to ask when the stores restock so you get the collections as they come in. It is also advisable to shop during the weekdays so that the stores are relatively less crowded. Most importantly, be patient and regular. You don’t usually find something immediately or always, so it is good to keep looking and coming back regularly, you never know when you will strike gold!

Written by Ruia Safir