What are the best beginner thrift shopping tips?

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Answered by: Kelsie, An Expert in the Fashion - Style on a Budget Category
If you're in need of a wardrobe update, but don't want to spend your money on new, full-priced items, then thrift shopping is for you. Thrift stores sell items that people have donated at a low price; items at thrift stores are always previously-owned, but can range in condition from decent to nearly brand new. Often, a thrift store's profits go to charitable organizations, such as the Salvation Army or Goodwill. So, shopping at a thrift store saves you money, and does some good too. Going to your first thrift store can be overwhelming though--you want the best deals on the highest-quality items, but there are rows and rows of things to look through. If you want to begin thrift shopping, but don't know where to start, read the four best beginner thrift shopping tips, which will get you looking great on a budget.

1. Plan Ahead

When you're new to thrift shopping, it's tempting to buy clothes just because they're cheap, even if you don't really love the item or it doesn't fit perfectly. This only wastes more money in the end, though, because you bought something that will hang unworn in your closet until you donate it yourself. To combat overbuying, look through your current wardrobe and write down what's missing, or what you need to buy more of. Take this list to the thrift store with you, and shop only for the items on your list. This way, you'll only purchase pieces you'll use, which saves even more money. Plus, knowing where to look makes thrift shopping a lot easier.

2. Look It Over

So you've found that perfect top, dress, watch, or pair of shoes you've been looking for--don't run to the register just yet! Be sure to examine everything you find at a thrift store carefully; there might be stains, holes, missing parts, or other defects you don't want. You might find some wear and tear that's easy to fix, but if your clothing requires major repair, you might want not want to purchase it. If you do find a major issue with an item you want, try asking for a lower price, which some stores will give you. If not, it's okay to put the piece away--chances are, you'll find something similar another time.

3. Try It On

Much like how you'll want to know an item's condition before you buy it, you'll want to know if it fits. Try on every article of clothing you think you will purchase, even if the label says it's your size. Some thrift stores will have fitting rooms, but if you can't find one, wear tight clothing and try on the items over your outfit. If it fits, great! But if not, consider whether you want to make alterations, which could be another expense if you don't know how to alter clothes yourself. You can also look in sections outside of your normal size range; with the variety of donated items, you may find similar clothes that do fit.

4. Visit Often

One of the best beginner thrift shopping tips is to visit thrift stores often. If you don't find anything you like at one store during one visit, don't give up on that store. Thrift stores receive new donations every day, so their inventory is always changing. You never know what you're going to find on any thrift shopping day, and it might just be exactly what you want. That's half the fun on thrift shopping: Every visit is a new adventure.

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