Thrift store or secondhand shopping for a frugal girl wardrobe is not always easy, but if you enjoy the hunt, it can be a real cash saver. Some of my higher quality frugal fashion finds were mostly purchased from either a secondhand or thrift store. I took a break from thrifting for a few years, and now I’m back and sharing a few frugal fashion tips. Some of my most beautiful frugal fashion finds I purchased at thrift stores for under $10 a piece.
Shopping Tip: When on vacation, shop estate sales and check out the thrifting and antique areas of the city.
My personal style has always been a mix of vintage and nerdy, which has worked well for me, even now as I get a little older. For an everyday look, I may wear a vintage jacket or top with a classic black ankle pant or jean with a pair of beautiful shoes.
Purses are 50/50, for everyday needs, I carry a classic tote, for evening events or parties, I don one of my many vintage top-handle handbags. I also buy and wear vintage eyeglass frames to set me just slightly apart from the crowd.
My accessories are about 90% vintage, Bakelite bracelets, old rhinestone brooches, and earrings.
When I get bored with one of my vintage pieces, I’ll clean and store it away. I never toss out or sell my vintage or designer pieces, I learned that lesson years ago. Deciding that since I was all grown up and working in an office, and that I should dress the part, out went the vintage to make way for inferior but office appropriate clothing. Now I know how to mix it up and style thrift pieces to make it work for the office. Sometimes I still long for some of those old pieces I had uncovered in dusty old thrift stores. My advice is to get a clothing storage box and dedicate it to your “currently out of favor,” but to cool to dispose of items.
Frugal Fashion Tip: when commuting wear a pair of folding ballet slippers and change into you good shoes upon arriving at your destination. This one tip will keep the tips and heels of your shoes looking great for a long time.
Look for Quality When Thrifting for Your Frugal Girl Wardrobe
Don’t rely solely on the label for quality. The quality of the fabric and garment construction is the best indicator of overall quality. I’ve honed my ability to feel a great fabric, so I’ll walk down the aisles feel the garments instead of sliding the hangers.
Professionals have a term for describing the feel of the fabric – “the hand of the fabric” which refers to the quality or characteristic of fabric, in other words, the tactile quality.
Check out different fabric qualities at a mid-range department store that carries both higher end and budget fashion. Go into the designer section of the store and feel the wool, cotton and rayon’s, then head over to the Junior section and look for the same type of fabrics. Note the differences in the feel of each. Also, scrunch the fabric in your hand to see how much or little it will wrinkle when worn. Look at the content labels; maybe you prefer the blended fabric.
The drape or how the fabric hangs on the body is extremely important.
The construction of a garment also determines true quality. The fabric and the garment construction are the main reason high-end clothes cost so much more than the bargain knockoff.
Quality Indicators to Look For when Thrift Store Shopping
- Fabric pattern matching – Look for how the patterns line up on the garment. Stripes, checks, plaid and other patterns should align across any break or seam in the fabric and give the illusion of being seamless.
- Horizontal patterns should connect and align across any front buttons or other types of fasteners.
- Vertical patterns line up cleanly from the collar to the back.
- Motifs or patterns on lapels should be symmetrical on each side.
- Patterns should continue seamlessly along any pockets.
- Complicated patterns will rarely match up perfectly over the shoulder when you have a set-in sleeve.
- Finished interior seams that are clean, no fraying edges.
- Buttons that are attached cleanly without threads haphazardly sewn.
- Interior pockets should be attached and not flapping freely.
- A pocket opening is sewn closed in new clothes. Pockets that are still sewn shut may indicate the garment is new.
- Interior weights that are sewn in to help the garment drape nicely.
Found a garment that doesn’t meet the above criteria but fits great, have some fun and go for it. A decent fabric, a beautiful drape, and a perfect fit will make even a low-cost item look great.
Proper Fit is everything
Every garment in a frugal girl wardrobe should fit perfect.
Frugal Fashion Tips for Shopping for Your Frugal Girl Wardrobe in Thrift Stores
- If you’re concerned about touching used clothing in a thrift shop, bring hand sanitizer or individually wrapped alcohol wipes.
- Dress appropriately, your clothing should be form-fitting enough so you can try on over your clothes or wear leggings under a skirt. Dress so unwashed clothing won’t meet your skin. Wear slip-on flats and sock liners. Leave the jewelry and accessories at home.
- Carry a lightweight cross-body bag, so your hands are free to shop.
- Use the flashlight on your smartphone to inspect carefully for rips, tears, stains or moth holes.
- Know your labels and what sizes you wear in each.
- Pay attention to the care label, don’t buy a dry clean only item unless your willing to commit to dry cleaning.
- Know what flaws your willing to accept and know how to fix them before buying. Do you know how to repair a moth hole in cashmere or wool? Can you remove underarm or blood stains from different types of fabrics?
“Shoes and purses will never let you down; even if you gain or lose weight they stand with you ready to serve your fashion needs”- My fashion motto since 1989