Column: Fashion Forward

This week’s topic: Thrifting hacks and why it’s better to buy used clothing

By Sarah Youngblood

Thrifting is a great way to repurpose old clothing and find unique pieces for your wardrobe. Over the past few years, a rise in popularity for this type of buying has progressively increased. With many styles going in and out of what’s “in” and with the recent surge in demand for styles inspired by periods, like the early 2000s and the 90s, it’s clear to see why many people would turn to thrift stores. Thrift stores can carry clothes from all time periods of fashion and can have something for everyone, at an affordable price too. 

Part of the fun is the uncertainty of what could be found as well. A shopper could go home with a jackpot or nothing depending on what that store has received from donations. There is also the possibility of finding some high-quality brands for a fraction of the price. When an old dress is donated, it can be recycled and turned into something else or used for fabric. There are a multitude of possibilities for used clothing and some crafty people are more likely to design their clothes when the item wasn’t very expensive.

The major plus to shopping at thrift stores is that it’s good for the environment. In short, thrifting is an easy and cheap way to go green. By buying used clothing, we are helping reduce pollution and waste by reducing the demand for fast fashion industries. According to the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world. Just in America, 10.5 million tons of clothing get thrown away every year and all of it just collects in landfills. Most clothing also takes a lot of resources to make. A simple pair of jeans can take roughly 1,800 gallons of water to make and the production process generates the amount of greenhouse gases equivalent to driving over 80 miles. These statistics are similar for most other articles of clothing as well. This waste of resources can be avoided by simply buying used clothing instead.

Some options in Gainesville for buying secondhand clothing include Goodwill, Plato’s Closet, Outreach Thrift Store, St. Vincent De Paul Thrift Store, and someone can always search for local estate sales or yard sales online.

Now that you know why thrifting is good for you and your wallet, here are some thrifting hacks that will help you get the most out of your experience:

  • Check the back racks: Some of the best pieces can be found by the racks next to the dressing rooms. These items have already been found in the store somewhere and desired enough to be tried on. Therefore, there’s a better chance of finding good items here.
  • Visit strategically: Find out when your local thrift store restocks its clothes in order to find the newest items and get first dibs.
  • Check clothing: Thrift stores, like Goodwill, do not wash their clothes before putting them on the rack so it’s important to check for stains before purchasing. It is also important to check for holes or rips. Another thing to keep in mind is to wash any clothing thoroughly after you buy it before it is worn.
  • Have an idea or what you want to find: Knowing what you want before visiting the store can help make a faster and more efficient trip. 
  • Don’t always trust the sizing: Sizing at thrift stores can be anywhere from 4 sizes smaller than it says to 4 sizes larger. It’s good to measure the article of clothing on yourself or try it on before buying it.
  • Don’t stick to one section: You don’t need to always stay in the women’s section if you’re a woman or the men’s section if you’re a man. For different styles or fits, you may want to look in other sections. If you want more of an oversized look, you should look in the men’s and if you want a more fitted and tighter look, you should check out the section for women.
  • Look through everything: If you are looking for a t-shirt, for example, sift through every shirt on the rack because you never know what you’ll find.
  • Check for original tags: If an item still has its original tag then chances are, it has never been worn.
  • Have cash: Some stores don’t accept credit cards.
  • Dress simple: You may want to try stuff on, so it’s easier if you aren’t wearing too many layers.
  • Keep an open mind: You should think outside the box on how an item can be worn or even how it can be changed to fit you style better.
  • Go with friends: They can give advice or help you find something specific. Plus, it can make the trip more fun!