Thrifting for that “IT” wardrobe on a budget

Thrift shopping, as well as other methods, is a great way to obtain cute clothing options without harming the environment. Photo by Julieann Tran | The Signal

Georgia State is a runway for the latest trends. Sitting across from Walter’s, and not far from Atlantic Station, Georgia State is the place to make your own fashion STATEment. Many thrift stores such as Rag-O-Ramo and Buffalo Exchange are closer to consignment stores that are overpriced and underwhelming. With tuition steadily on the rise, how can college students afford their dream look? It’s the time of your life to take chances and rock outfits your mom complains about. Here’s some beginner steps to master the art of thrifting and to get the wardrobe of your dreams while still on a college budget.

1. Do a cleanse!
You can’t build a wardrobe if your closet is full. Go through and pull out old clothes you never wear. If they are nice, try to sell them at second hand shops like Plato’s Closet, Rag-O-Rama, and Buffalo Exchange. If you’re able to sell some, great! But if not, don’t fret! Drop them off at your local Goodwill. Hold onto the receipt they give you. You can always write it off on your taxes.

2. Plan and prepare!
Take a day and look up all the best thrift stores near you. Think outside of the box. Check local thrift stores and don’t forget to check out religious organizations. They get tons of donations and are doing it for charity. These are the places that you can buy a T-shirt for $1. Second-hand clothing is already recycled and there’s tons of it going to waste so there’s no reason it should be expensive. Clothing is one of the biggest pollutants and waste of resources. Check out The Signal’s latest story about ecological clothing, “Thrifting: Hip for your Closet, Hip for the Environment” to learn more about the issue.

3. Today’s the day!
Plan out a day to devote to thrifting. Some of the best thrift stores don’t have dressing rooms so come dressed in tight leggings and a tank top so you can be the person trying on clothes in the middle of the aisle next to a mirror. You may get dirty looks, but who cares! It’s not like you can return them if they don’t fit and your wardrobe will, thank you very much.

4. Stay Calm!
Make a plan to tackle the store in sections. Don’t get overwhelmed looking at the racks and racks of clothing. Make a game plan. Think: shoes, shirts, pants, jackets, jewelry and accessories

5. Like your Starbucks frappe, think BASIC!
Building any wardrobe starts at the base – think basic T’s and tanks for layering. Look for pieces that will last! Make sure to grab basic all-colored pieces for layering. Remember, an outfit is built by different pieces. Think of a beautiful mosaic of textures and patterns; you need the basic white grout to make the tile pieces POP.

6. Check the Quality!

  • This means check the brands, seams, and fabric quality.
  • Check zippers and buttons. If you’re a pro, you can fix and alter these yourself but if you’re just starting out, don’t worry.
  • Check the texture. If it feels scratchy on the rack, it’ll feel scratchier on your body. Find good feeling threads.
  • Be weary of stretchy fabrics. Spandex doesn’t keep for long so be prepared to get clothes that last through the washer.
  • Look at the brands. If you’re familiar with it, like GAP or Levis, it’s usually a good find.

7. Forget about sizes!
Thrift stores hold clothes from tons of different brands. Women’s clothing doesn’t have to follow size guidelines so stores will make you feel like you wear a size six jeans in their brand but in another you wear an eight. Forget about sizing, it’s not the size of you, it’s hardly the size of the clothes. Keep your sizes in mind but don’t rely too heavily on the numbers. It takes practice, but one day you’ll be able to look at a pair of jeans and know they’ll fit.
Hold jeans up and make sure you know how the waist and inseam falls. There’s nothing worse than finding a great pair of jeans and realizing they are 2000’s Britney Spears’ low rise.
Check the arm and neck holes. Sometimes clothing is too tight in the upper arms and neck. There’s nothing worse than buying a new blouse and not being able to raise your arms.

8. Think Color!
While you need basics, you also need some pieces that will POP. Check out jackets and sweaters. Some clothes are split up by color so check through all your best colors.

9. Think Texture!
Look for sequence, patterns, and fur (faux of course)! There isn’t anything a nice fur vest can’t accentuate. Look for sparkles and anything fun. Style can be exciting! Don’t be afraid to take risks. You can be lucky and find some funky stuff at thrift stores with patience, but you can always go to Raga-Rama or Buffalo Exchange if you don’t want to wait and don’t mind spending the extra money.

10. Shoes!
Some people feel weird about buying second hand shoes. Most rock climbing places spray a basic Lysol spray to disinfect their shoes so pick up a bottle of that and you’ll be fine. Shoes at the thrift store are great because they are already broken in! Look at the soles, seams, laces, eyelets, etc. Look for quality. Shoes don’t always go bad and many of them will be leather and good quality. Be careful though; sometimes they are donated because they are uncomfortable so make sure you try them on and walk around.

11. Time to accessorize!
Thrift stores have the best belts and jewelry. Make sure to try the belts on to make sure they fit. Check out the jewelry counter for some fun watches, earrings, necklaces, and bracelets. If you’re a pro, you can even recycle the old jewelry into something new.

12. Take a breathe and move on!
You won’t find everything you want in one store. Be prepared to make a day of it and go to several.

13. Time to clean!
Now that you have all of your new pieces, find ways to wash them. These items are new to you, not new to the world, so wash your clothes to get the “thrift store smell” out of them and disinfect your shoes and jewelry. You never want to put in some new earrings without washing them first.

Now that you’ve completed your first thrift journey, take inventory of your new closet and get ready to get back out there! Thrifting is an ongoing lifestyle. It’s addicting and once you start, you’ll never be able to stop. Be safe, be you, and happy thrifting!