Thrift Store Shopping 101: How To Score Vintage Treasures

Thrift stores are so much more fun than they used to be. I remember when the only thing you could find at a thrift store was a rickety dresser and a pair of dented rolling pins. 

Nowadays, I’m regularly surprised by what I can find at my local Goodwill a pair of really cute vintage boots that fit perfectly or maybe even some vintage china that’s marked way down from retail price. 

And as with all things in life, there are certain unwritten rules for how to make the most out of your time spent shopping at these secondhand shops.

– Thrift store shopping can be a great way to score vintage treasures.
– Revamping your wardrobe with DIY fashion projects is a budget-friendly option.
– Exploring sustainable fashion brands aligns with the concept of thrift store shopping.
– Achieving a chic and casual outfit is possible with the right tips and tricks.
– Pampering yourself with homemade skincare recipes complements your vintage finds.

1. Know Your Aesthetic

A rule of thumb is to know your aesthetic. This might sound obvious, but it’s an important step that many people forget. 

If you don’t know what you like and what you don’t like, how can you be sure that any piece of clothing or accessory would be right for you? Be sure to consider things like color schemes and styles. 

If a store sells both vintage and modern clothes, then the prices are likely lower than if the store only sells vintage pieces because there is less demand for those items. But don’t worry about buying something brand new; we all have our budgets! 

You can always shop thrift stores on a budget. Just keep in mind that older pieces tend to be more expensive due to scarcity and quality craftsmanship (the original designer often had very little input into massproduced versions).

Building a unique and trendy wardrobe doesn’t have to break the bank. Explore our collection of 15 DIY Fashion Projects to revamp your style and make the most out of your thrift store finds.

2. Shop In Your Size

When you’re shopping for vintage clothing, it’s important to remember that what looks good on the rack doesn’t always translate into how it will look when worn. To get a good fit, try things on and ask for help if necessary. 

Don’t be afraid to ask someone at the store if they can assist with sizing or alteration services—they may even know where else you can find that item!

3. Be Willing To Alter

The thrift store shopping experience can be a little bit like a treasure hunt. It’s exciting to find something that has potential and then add it to your cart (or bag) with the hope that it’ll look really cool once you alter it. 

Assuming you don’t want to spend a ton of money on alterations, here are some tips for how to make alterations yourself:

  • If an item needs to be altered, move toward altering it yourself instead of paying someone else. You may need help from friends if your sewing skills aren’t up to snuff!
  • If an item needs more than just some minor adjustments, re-think whether or not this is the right piece for you before deciding whether or not to take on the project.
  • Don’t worry if something doesn’t go as planned; just try again!

Elevate your fashion game with sustainable choices. Check out our Ultimate Guide to DIY Makeup Tips and Tricks and discover how to create stunning looks using eco-friendly and budget-friendly makeup options while thrift store shopping.

4. Find The Good Brands

If you’re looking for vintage treasures, it’s a good idea to start by looking at the brands. After all, if you want something that will last and be in style for decades to come, you need to find good quality brands.

There are many great vintage clothing brands that have been around for years or even decades and are still going strong today. These include:

  • Calvin Klein
  • Donna Karan (DKNY)
  • Ralph Lauren Purple Label
  • Tommy Hilfiger
PatagoniaKnown for its commitment to sustainability and high-quality outdoor apparel.
Levi’sRenowned for their durable denim jeans and classic American style.
L.L.BeanOffers a range of durable and stylish outdoor clothing and footwear.
EverlaneFocuses on ethical and transparent production, offering modern basics and elevated essentials.
MadewellKnown for their timeless and versatile clothing, particularly denim and casual wear.
AnthropologieOffers unique and bohemian-inspired clothing, accessories, and home goods.
J.CrewKnown for its classic and preppy style, offering versatile pieces for both men and women.

5. Ask Questions

If a garment has a label, ask the store owner if they know what it’s from. If it doesn’t have a label, do your best to figure out where the clothes were made and when. This can help you determine whether it is vintage or not. 

Vintage clothing tends to be more expensive than newer versions of the same item; so if you aren’t sure how old something is, ask whether they think they’re selling an authentic vintage piece.

This is also an opportune time to ask about any imperfections in your potential scores like holes or stains and if there are any flaws that may make them less desirable (like missing buttons). You’ll want to know this before buying anything so you won’t get home only realize that something isn’t quite right with your purchase after all!

Discover fashion brands that align with your values and contribute to a sustainable future. Our comprehensive Ultimate Guide to Sustainable Fashion Brands will help you make informed choices and promote ethical fashion alongside your vintage treasures.

6. Shop At Regular Hours

If you want to get the best deals on your thrift store shopping adventures, make sure that you’re hitting up thrift stores during their normal operating hours. 

Most of them have websites where they list their business hours, so it’s pretty easy to find out when they’re open or closed. 

On top of that, some stores are closed for holidays like Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day—so double check before heading over if you’re planning on visiting a specific store in the near future!

7. Keep Your Receipts

If you’re shopping at a thrift store, chances are that many of the items being sold will not be new. 

Because of this, it can be difficult to return or exchange an item if it doesn’t fit or you decide that it isn’t something that makes you happy. Luckily, most thrift stores will accept returns and exchanges on items if they have a receipt because they know they are selling used merchandise. 

If a customer has lost their receipt, then the customer may have to provide proof of purchase such as credit card statements in order for them to give him/her back his/her money on a defective piece of clothing or furniture. 

Receipts also come in handy when making large purchases like furniture because they are much more helpful than just signing up some paperwork saying that everything was kosher when buying something secondhand (although sometimes these documents aren’t enough).

Achieving the perfect outfit that is both chic and casual is easier than you think. Follow our tips and tricks on how to Get the Look with our curated fashion guide, ideal for pairing with your thrift store vintage finds.

8. Sign Up For Emails And Text Messages

Your local thrift stores are always sending out emails and text messages about new items, sales, and discounts. If you’re looking for something specific, it’s worth signing up for those alerts so you can get the heads up when it comes in.

9. Follow On Social Media

As you’re leaving the thrift store, make sure to follow it on social media for coupons and deals. That way, if you plan to go back at a later date, you won’t have to pay full price! Also be sure to check out their website; they may offer additional discounts there as well.

Follow Thrift Stores on Social MediaStay updated with the latest offers, coupons, and deals from thrift stores by following them on social media platforms. Brands like [Store Name] often share exclusive discounts, flash sales, and upcoming promotions on their social media accounts.
Check Store Websites for Additional DiscountsVisit the websites of thrift stores like [Store Name] to find additional discounts and special offers not available in-store. Online promotions and coupon codes can provide extra savings on your next thrift store visit.
Subscribe to Store NewslettersSubscribe to the newsletters of popular thrift stores such as [Store Name] to receive updates about new arrivals, upcoming sales, and exclusive subscriber discounts. Their newsletters can be a valuable resource for staying informed about the latest deals.
Join Store Loyalty ProgramsJoin loyalty or rewards programs offered by thrift stores like [Store Name] for additional perks and benefits. These programs often provide members with exclusive discounts, early access to sales, and other money-saving incentives.
Participate in Store Contests and GiveawaysKeep an eye out for contests and giveaways hosted by thrift stores like [Store Name] on their social media platforms or websites. Participating in these promotions can give you a chance to win free items or receive special discounts.

Maximize Savings with Social Media and Online Discounts

When leaving the thrift store, be sure to leverage social media and online resources to save money on future visits. Follow thrift stores on social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook to access exclusive coupons and deals. Additionally, check their websites for additional discounts and promotions.

By subscribing to store newsletters and joining loyalty programs, you can enjoy further savings and gain early access to sales. Don’t miss out on participating in store contests and giveaways for a chance to win free items or receive special discounts. Consider popular thrift store brands such as [Store Name] to maximize your savings through their online presence.

10. Visit Often

The frequency with which you visit thrift stores will depend on your budget and how much you want to spend. 

If you have a small budget, it’s important to go as often as possible in order to find good deals. However, if you have a large budget, you may be able to visit less often because the best items are usually snatched up within hours of being put out on display.

Pamper yourself with natural homemade skincare recipes for a spa-like experience. Explore our collection of 15 Homemade Skincare Recipes and discover a range of luxurious treatments to enhance your beauty routine alongside your vintage treasures.

11. Use The Buddy System

Going to the thrift store with a friend can be a great way to get some one-on-one time with someone you care about. 

You can also use each other as support, since it’s not always easy to know what’s going to happen when you walk into an unfamiliar store. 

If you’re going shopping with a group of friends or family members, consider organizing a “thrift day” where everyone brings something from their house and everyone gets an even share of whatever finds are made during the trip.

This could also be helpful for people who have never visited their local thrift store before, or if they’re new to thrifting in general! 

Not only will having another person there give them reassurance that they won’t get lost or become overwhelmed by all the choices available at Goodwill stores; they’ll also have someone else around who’s willing to help them out if they need direction on what sorts of items might be worth buying (or just general advice).

12. Buy Items That Are Easy To Clean

When you buy something, it’s important to consider how much time and money it will take to clean. If an item is difficult to wash, you won’t want to deal with that hassle when you have better things to do (like watching TV).

Some examples of “easy-to-clean” items include: metal bowls, glass dishes and cups, plastic tableware and kitchen utensils.

Opt for Machine-Washable ClothingChoose items that can be easily thrown in the washing machine for hassle-free cleaning. Save time and effort by avoiding delicate fabrics that require handwashing or expensive dry cleaning.
Look for Stain-Resistant FabricsSelect garments made from stain-resistant materials like Teflon-coated or treated fabrics that repel spills and stains, reducing the need for frequent washing. This ensures your clothes stay fresh and clean without much effort.
Consider Low-Maintenance Home DécorWhen purchasing home décor items, prioritize those that are easy to clean. Look for materials like leather or microfiber for furniture that can be easily wiped clean, or washable slipcovers that can be removed and cleaned as needed.
Invest in Dishwasher-Safe KitchenwareOpt for kitchen utensils and dinnerware that are dishwasher-safe, saving you time and effort in cleaning up after meals. Check for brand recommendations that offer dishwasher-safe products for convenience and ease of use.
Choose Easy-to-Clean ElectronicsSelect electronic items with smooth, easily wipeable surfaces that are resistant to dust and smudges. Look for brands known for designing products that are both functional and easy to clean, making maintenance a breeze.


Thrift store shopping is a great way to save money on vintage clothing without sacrificing style. With these tips, you’ll be able to find amazing pieces that fit into your wardrobe and work for any occasion.

Further Reading

Here are some additional resources you can explore to expand your knowledge on thrift store shopping:

10 Thrift Store Shopping Secrets: Discover insider tips and tricks to help you navigate thrift store shopping like a pro.

Thrift Store Shopping Tips for Hidden Gems: Uncover hidden gems with these expert tips for making the most out of your thrift store visits.

Thrift Store Shopping: A Complete Guide: Get a comprehensive guide to thrift store shopping, covering everything from finding the best deals to styling your vintage treasures.


How can I find the best vintage treasures at thrift stores?

Exploring different sections, like clothing racks and homeware aisles, can lead to unexpected finds. Keep an open mind and take your time to browse through various items.

How do I determine the quality of thrift store items?

Inspect items closely, checking for any signs of wear or damage. Look for well-made pieces with sturdy construction and avoid items with significant defects.

What are some popular vintage clothing trends?

Vintage clothing trends vary over time, but some popular styles include high-waisted jeans, oversized blazers, and vintage band tees. Experiment with different eras and find what suits your personal style.

How can I negotiate prices at thrift stores?

Polite negotiation is key when discussing prices at thrift stores. Consider offering a lower price or ask if a discount is available for multiple items. Remember to be respectful and understanding if the price cannot be adjusted.

What’s the best way to care for vintage garments?

Proper care is essential to preserve the quality of vintage garments. Follow the care instructions, hand wash delicate items, and store them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight to prevent damage.