In a world where fashion trends come and go in the blink of an eye, thrifting is a way to stay stylish without going broke. Not only does thrifting save you money, it also lets you express your personal style and contribute to sustainability. Whether you’re a seasoned thrifter or a total newb looking to discover the world of secondhand treasures, get ready to pop some tags—here’s how to dress cool in a way that’s surprisingly affordable.

1. Why thrift?

Affordability: One of the biggest draws of thrifting is the potential for huge savings. Clothing, accessories, and even home decor items are often available at a fraction of their original cost.

Sustainability: Thrifting is a form of recycling that reduces waste and minimizes the demand for new clothing production, which is often resource-intensive and exploitative to workers. By buying used, you’re helping the planet and reducing unethical labor practices.

Unique finds: Thrift stores are a place to find unique items that you won’t find in mainstream stores. From vintage pieces to quirky accessories, thrifting allows you to curate a wardrobe that’s truly one-of-a-kind and reflects your personality. You’re not going to run into anyone wearing the same outfit!

2. Getting started: where to thrift

Consignment shops: These stores usually carry higher-end items that have been gently used. While prices might be slightly higher than regular thrift stores, the quality and brand names can be worth it.

Local thrift stores: Start with thrift stores in your area. Chains like Goodwill, Salvation Army, and Value Village offer a wide range of items at affordable prices. Smaller, local shops can also have hidden gems.

Online thrifting: Websites and apps like ThredUp, Poshmark, and Depop bring the thrift store experience to your fingertips. These platforms allow you to browse and purchase secondhand items from the comfort of your home.

3. Tips for thrifting success

Patience, Grasshopper: Thrifting requires time and patience. Don’t expect to find the perfect item right away. Give yourself plenty of time to browse, and try to enjoy the process.

Visit regularly: Thrift store inventories change all the time, so it’s worth visiting often. New items are added daily, and regular visits increase your chances of finding great deals.

Know what you’re looking for: Having a rough idea of what you need can help you stay focused. Whether it’s a new pair of jeans, a vintage dress, or home decor, knowing your goals can streamline your search.

Check for quality: Inspect items carefully for damage like stains, tears, or missing buttons. Minor issues like a loose button or a small tear can usually be fixed easily.

Try things on: Sizes can vary widely between brands and eras, so it’s important to try things on. Many thrift stores have fitting rooms, but if they don’t, wear tight-fitting clothing to try items on over.

4. Styling your thrift finds

Mix and match: Don’t be afraid to mix thrifted pieces with items from your existing wardrobe. This creates a unique blend of old and new that can boost your style.

Accessorize: Accessories can transform any outfit. Look for scarves, hats, belts, and jewelry to add a touch of flair to your thrifted finds.

Tailoring: Sometimes a great find needs a little adjustment to fit just right. Simple alterations like hemming pants or taking in a dress can make a big difference. If you’re not handy with a needle and thread, a local dry cleaner or tailor can help.

5. Thrift store etiquette

Respect the Store: Thrift stores are often run by nonprofits or small businesses. Treat the staff with respect and help keep the store tidy by putting items back where you found them.

Don’t hoard: Be mindful of how much you’re buying. Thrifting is about finding what you need, not overconsuming just because it’s cheap. Leave some of the good stuff for other shoppers to discover.

Donate: If you’re a regular thrifter, consider donating items you no longer need. This keeps the cycle of reuse going and supports the thrift store’s mission. (It’s a little like catch-and-release fishing!)