Expert Tips for Creating Thrifted Looks

Andrew M. Santos

“Depending on your taste, budget, knowledge, and willingness to search, you can find vintage clothing and accessories in many places,” Wilds says. And that goes for newer secondhand pieces as well. 

Wilds says that your basic thrift store, such as those operated by Goodwill or the Salvation Army, may have newer vintage—as in pieces that are just 20 to 30 years old. Because there’s often a mishmash of inventory, thrift stores often offer an opportunity to mix pieces from different eras. 

Curated consignment shops, meanwhile, may sell at a slightly higher price than a thrift store. Those shops often feature both secondhand and vintage clothing, but they’ve usually been somewhat vetted for condition and style. 

“If you love clothing that predates 1980, you are going to have to look harder,” Wilds says. For those items, she recommends prowling estate, garage, and yard sales. “Flea markets sometimes have vintage fashion vendors, and auctions can include fashion, or even exclusively offer vintage and antique fashion.” 

Shopping vintage while traveling is a unique way to explore the place you’re visiting. “Whenever I’m in a new place, I like to find the nearby thrift stores or antique stores,” says Saraid Claxton, a fashion blogger and founder of vintage fashion blog Sunset Saraid. “You never know what you’ll find.” 

It’s also possible to get your thrifting fix online. “There are huge numbers of vintage fashion sellers online, some with their own websites, and many on sites such as Thrilling, Fashion Constellate, Ruby Lane, and others,” Wilds says.

Claxton tends to frequent peer-to-peer platforms like Depop, Etsy, eBay, Poshmark, and Facebook Marketplace. 

“I really enjoy online thrifting if I’m looking for a specific piece or more special vintage pieces I might not find at my local thrift store,” she says.

Here are a few of Claxton’s top tips for shopping secondhand online: 

Use search tools & filters. The Gem Vintage app or website searches through several different shopping platforms at once, which can save you time if you’re looking for a specific item. When shopping online, search filters are your best friend—many sites allow you to filter by brand, size, price, and even the condition of the item. Many sites allow you to set up notifications for a specific search.

Check where the item is shipping from. Usually, shipping is cheaper and faster if it’s within the country. Often, you can select in your search filters to see items shipping from the US. 

Make sure the seller is active. “Typically the site will tell you if they’ve been active lately,” Claxton says. “I’ve found a couple shops where I bought something from sellers who weren’t active and never shipped the item. Luckily, it was pretty easy to get refunded.”

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