I Thrift Almost All My Outfits—Here’s What I Always Look for While Shopping

When a thrifting haul comes up on my TikTok For You Page, it’s hard to resist the urge to watch. I love seeing the unique items people find in their local thrift or vintage shop and living vicariously through them. I thrifted heavily throughout college, but sometimes I still struggle with knowing what to look for in the massive stores and figuring out what could easily be styled. One of my favorite avid thrifters on TikTok, Bridget Brown, eases that struggle for me. I cannot ignore her videos, because she simply finds stuff that sometimes looks too good to be true. She knows how to find the goods, from ’70s heeled boots to chunky knits and scarves. Since she seems to be an expert at thrifting and incorporating the pieces into her everyday wardrobe, I decided to ask her for all her shopping tips and what she looks for heading into the store. 

If you’re looking for some thrifting help or simply want some styling inspiration from a girl who knows her way around vintage clothing, Brown is one to follow. Keep scrolling for her tips to find hidden gems. If you can’t make it out to the thrift store IRL, I found some secondhand items online for you to shop, but act quick because they sell fast.

What do you love about thrifting? Do you have any tips or advice for people who want to be more sustainable and thrift more clothing items?

Thrifting is what helped me define my style and gain the confidence to challenge it daily. Some people find thrifting stressful and overwhelming, but I find it to be the exact opposite. I have always had a passion for sustainability, so shopping secondhand has really helped with lowering my carbon footprint. I would say I shop 80% secondhand and 20% new. When I shop new though, I always try and buy pieces that I know will last and be staples within my wardrobe. Thrifting has also been a huge inspiration to me when it comes to fashion—being able to shop for unique pieces that don’t necessarily fit in with the current “trends.”

In your videos, you always talk about staples you like to look for at the thrift store. Can you list five staples you always look for while thrifting?

I think building a capsule wardrobe is not only super fun but also super important. Versatility is very important to me when picking out new pieces. When I thrift, I try to find timeless pieces that I know I will be able to piece with a lot and create many different outfits. A capsule wardrobe isn’t going to look the same for everyone, and that’s what makes it so fun.

“Almost all of the outerwear I own has not only been purchased secondhand but is also vintage. The thrift store (the ones in my area at least) is always flooded with incredible jackets. Not only are you able to find beautifully well-made vintage pieces, but you’re also paying a fraction of the price of a new one.”

“A good pair of denim might be the number one wardrobe essential in my opinion. When shopping for denim, I strictly look in the men’s section. I find that the women’s section is always flooded with jeggings and outdated styles, whereas the men’s section is packed with good vintage denim. I do typically have to alter men’s jeans when I thrift them, but they end up fitting perfectly, and the entire process is still cheaper than buying new and better in my opinion. Vintage denim hits different.”

“Another staple that I look for when thrifting is trousers and dress pants. Pants are something that I have good luck finding in the women’s section at the thrift store. Having a few good pairs of trousers will completely amp up your wardrobe and help when you’re looking to elevate an outfit.”

“Knitwear is another great staple to look for at the thrift. Knitwear can get expensive, so being able to source them secondhand is not only saving you money but allowing you to find more unique knits that no one else will have.”

“Shoes and bags are the last staple that I look for at the thrift. To some, buying used shoes can seem icky, which is understandable, but the nice thing about buying used shoes is that they are most likely already broken in and stretched out, which makes life so much easier. Bags are also great to look for at the thrift. There are always super-fun and unique styles that are great to elevate any outfit.”

Tip #1: “I always tell people who want to get into thrifting and shopping secondhand that they need to be patient. The thrift store can be overwhelming and disorganized, so if you’re not patient, you probably won’t enjoy yourself.”

Tip #2: “Throw everything in your cart that catches your eye and go through it every so often. A big thing, especially when thrifting alone and not having a second opinion, is sometimes not knowing if something is cool and unique or just straight-up ugly. I will put anything in my cart or basket that catches my eye, and over the course of my shopping, I will go through the cart and look everything over. I find this helps a lot. I either end up loving items more or realizing I don’t like them at all.”

Tip #3: “Have an idea of things you would like to look for at the thrift. I find it much more enjoyable to go in without a list in mind and just see what sticks out to you. You’ll have much better luck finding interesting pieces when you aren’t fixated on finding specific items.”

Tip #4: “A sizing tip for when you’re not able to try pants on is the neck trick. I’m sure most people know about this already, but it essentially claims that if the waistband of a pair of pants fits around your neck, then the pants will likely fit your waist.” 

Tip #5: “Donate old items beforehand. Many thrift stores give out coupons when you donate even one item, and with inflation and the rise of prices in the thrift, a 20% off coupon is always nice when you don’t want to spend $50 on a leather jacket.”

Tip #6: “For people who don’t enjoy in-person shopping and would rather scroll on their phone, Depop has become a huge player in the secondhand market in the past few years, but I have always been an eBay lover. I find that eBay has a wider selection of vintage pieces to scroll through, and a lot of the time, things are listed for extremely low prices. If not, there is also the offer feature on eBay to put bids on items, and if you’re lucky, the seller will accept your extremely low bid ;).”

Is there anything specific in terms of a fashion item or trend you’re eyeing to thrift or buy in 2021?

I wouldn’t consider myself much of a trendy person, so there aren’t any specific trends or fads that I am hoping to thrift. However, I have really been into layering as of late, so I would love to find more little jackets and knitwear to be able to achieve more layered looks. I am always on the hunt for oversized coats, so that is on my list as well. As for winter fashion, I would love to find some fun winter accessories. I have really been loving big scarves and furry hats, so anything related to that. On a completely unrealistic note, I would absolutely love to find a vintage designer bag, preferably a Fendi Baguette. I have thrifted a few designer pieces before such as a Christian Dior dress shirt and blazer, as well as some Prada mules, so it’s not completely out of reach. I might cave and treat myself to a vintage designer bag at some point next year from a consignment shop.

Next, These 30 Products Went Viral on TikTok This Year, and They’re Worth the Hype

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