How to Thrift Trends

We all love the idea of thrift shopping, right? It reduces clothing waste, it often supports a non-profit, and (most importantly for college kids like me) IT’S CHEAP!

Okay, but how do you achieve the look of a trendsetter (or even a trend follower let’s be real here, people) if everything you’re buying is donated by someone’s grandmother?

I have GOOD NEWS for you because guess what? I’ve spent three years trying to figure out this exact thing. And I think I’ve finally got it. Which is great news for all of you, because I am going to share my methods with you.

STEP 1: Do Your Research

For My Dedicated Ladies

The trap I fell into when I was first on my thrifting kick was buying EVERYTHING. Literally anything that wasn’t dirty, I bought. Which, of course, is just my natural tendency because I get so excited about clothes, but I ended up with over a hundred items in my church/class wardrobe.

So, how to avoid buying things that aren’t cute, flattering, or trendy? Do your research. I don’t mean that you have to write a five page paper before you go. Only that you take a minute to figure out what you like. Maybe Google search something as simple as “Fall Trends 2018”, take mental notes on which items in your closet look best on you, and make a short list of what you’re looking for.

Hopefully, this will keep you from becoming overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of clothes in your average thrift store.

STEP 2: Do Your Research Pt. 2

The key to thrifting well: Thrift in affluent cities. Honestly, it makes all the difference in quality. The people who live in a certain area will be donating in a certain area. That’s why the Goodwill in Wesley Chapel, FL has so many amazing finds.

The same concept applies to the type of thrift store to which women in the community donate. If the name of the store includes “boutique” or if the business is a local nonprofit (because people who donate high quality items like to know exactly where the money is going), their quality is likely to be better. Using these guidelines will help you find stores to look at that have higher-end, more current pieces.

STEP 3: Look for Modern Patterns

The easiest way to discriminate grandma clothes from thrift shop chic in a single glance is skimming the rack for on-trend patterns. Right now, that means SOLIDS, hounds tooth, gingham, etc. Next season these patterns will be different, but the tactic stays the same.

Usually (if you’re striving for trendy), you want to avoid pieces that look like couches, curtains, and wallpaper. This is a lesson that took three years for me to learn.

Of course, if you want pieces in your wardrobe that are strictly your own personal style, get whatever pattern you want. Live your life and look fabulous while doing it. But if you want to wear trendy thrift, stick to modern and chic patterns.

STEP 4: Uniqueness is Still Everything

So once you 1) know your favorite trends and 2) keep your eyes peeled for the right pattern, the fun begins! One of the BEST reasons to thrift shop is that everything is unique; you won’t be wearing the same PacSun crop top as every other girl in school.

So be brave! If you want a black tee, get one with a cool cut. If everyone is wearing Jesus sandals, get Jesus sandals in a different brand. Get the white button down you need, but make it vintage. Thrifting gives you the chance to insert your personal style into trends! You’ll be wearing all the right styles, but in your own way!

STEP 5: Please Make Sure it Fits Right

I would like to preface this section by saying that vintage-cut jean shorts, dresses, shirts, etc. are so in. BUT there is a difference between a vintage cut and an ill-fitted article of clothing. Don’t mistake too oversized for vintage. I know this is common sense, but it’s a reminder I have definitely needed in the past.


Now here’s the fun part. I’m about to show you examples of my thrift shopping method using my recent Top Buttons and Salvation Army haul! I completed my school wardrobe with these pieces and I can’t wait to share.

These houndstooth pants are my favorite trend of the season, but instead of paying 20+ dollars for them new, I went hunting for them in thrift stores. Not only are they fashionable, but because they’re vintage, they also are extremely high waisted with an elastic waist and pleats.
Now, baby doll dresses haven’t exploded into the fashion world yet, but I have a feeling they will! This old Loft dress is a blast from the past while still keeping me ahead of the trends.
Comfortable sandals have been popular with the college demographic for so long that I almost hesitate to call them a trendy. All of the popular sandals right now (Birkenstocks, Chacos, and Alohas) I unfortunately find very ugly. I LOVED these Taos though! With these, I can jump on the comfy sandals bandwagon without wearing shoes I don’t find cute.
This is the white button down I mentioned in the post. While it is still a trendy white button down, it is linen and v-neck and even has pockets! Just a little unique twist on a basic.

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