If you’re new to thrifting, it can be very exciting to discover a whole new world of affordable and sustainable goods available at your fingertips. But let me tell you, as a thrifter of more than 40 years now, there are some things about my Goodwill shopping style that have changed and evolved over the years. Perhaps they date me, perhaps they show I’ve learned a few things, but they all definitely scream, “She’s been doing this a while!”
Here are a few ways to tell if you might be a seasoned thrifter.
1. You look for comfortable shoes.
You might be a seasoned thrifter if you’re done teetering around in ill-fitting heels for fashion’s sake. While there are pumps-a-plenty available at Goodwill, finding a pair that are so comfortable and supportive you could run in them is like striking middle-aged Goodwill gold. I recently found this pair of leather, nude-colored wedges that looked and felt like a sneaker. Cute shoes with a good arch that add some height but don’t cause back pain or calluses? YES. PLEASE! You can have your plastic leather faux Louboutins to teeter around in. I’ll just be over here dancing in my kitchen to 90s rap in my Naturalizers.
2. You can spot 100% natural fibers — especially wool.
You might be a seasoned thrifter if you noticed how fast fashion has pummeled the selection of secondhand clothes with a dearth of synthetic fibers and scratchy polyester. For us old-schoolers, wearing clothing that holds stink or makes us itch is no longer worth being on-trend. Because the trend that never goes out of style is natural fibers. Leather, wool, cotton, silk, bamboo — the closer it is to nature, the longer it’ll last and FEEL! I recently found a (VINTAGE!) brand new 100% wool dress shirt for my husband. It still had the creases from the store in it. I had to look twice because the wool fabric was so fine and light, I thought it was certainly synthetic. Lo and behold, it was a button-up shirt made with fine wool suiting material. OH YEAH. So walk on by those Night at the Roxbury-reject-lookin’ rayon shirts. Natural fibers are oh-so-hot these days.
3. You buy off-season.
You might be a seasoned thrifter if you look for a great new coat in the sweltering summer heat. That’s right, looking for what you need right now is SO over. Looking ahead in the off-season shows you really know your stuff and is the perfect time to buy it. Christmas decor in July? Sure! When else do you think your neighbors are cleaning their basements out? Swanky swimwear in December? You betcha. Often the things you don’t need immediately are the exact same racks that get walked past by everyone else too. If you know your stuff, you’ll make the time to swing by the off-season racks to set yourself up for success long before you need it.
Knowing what you’re looking for at Goodwill is the perfect strategy at any age. And knowing that all your hard-earned scouting skills are paying off for you and your wallet AND help fund job skills programs in your community make the treasure hunt even more rewarding.