National Secondhand Month
Did you know that August was National Secondhand Month?! It’s like an entire month of our very own Christmas!
In true Outfit Repeater fashion, I patronized many of my favorite thrift stores. Specifically in this post, you’ll see me hanging out at some of my go-to Madison-area thrift spots.
You can view the full list of places I’ve been to by checking out my Thrift Store Map. I try to update it when I’m able to. It’s still missing so many places but it’s a good place to start if you’re thrifting in the Midwest and would like a personal recommendation.
But back to National National Secondhand Month! I visited Vinny’s Verona as well as Goodwill Verona and Goodwill Fitchburg.
It was so much fun to flip through the racks and do some treasure hunting. I only ended up buying one thing but it was a deal I couldn’t pass up! It was a purse that came out to only 26 cents because I’m in the rewards program. Score!
I’m frequently asked about my best tips and tricks for shopping for secondhand clothes so I decided to focus this post on what to do before and during a visit to the fitting room. I have a few things I do that I haven’t seen others on the internet talk about so hopefully this helps if you’re a newbie or a seasoned pro!
Thrifted Fit Check
A productive thrift outing usually starts with what you’re wearing.
Some swear by comfort, some by style, and others commit to a ‘fit that allows you to try on pieces over your clothes, in case a fitting room is closed.
For National Thrift Shop Day on August 17th (yes, another National thing!) I chose comfort and style. Though my outfit still did allow for impromptu try-ons in the aisle. For example – slipping a skirt over my pants and trying on a jacket really quick.
My entire look was secondhand, which was my main purpose that day!
👗 WHAT I’M WEARING 💄
Thrifted tee, pants, and purse, $10 | Old Lulu’s sandals, $20 | Claire’s headband, $10 | Colourpop lippie stix in Trust Me, (shop exact lipstick)
Before You Go Into The Fitting Room
If this is your first time at a thrift store, I don’t expect you to follow a lot of rules or put much thought into things. You’re there to figure out if you like thrifting and to just have fun!
But to my lifers, I highly suggest starting by making a thrift wishlist so you keep yourself on task while shopping. Other tips to consider before you even start browsing:
• If you’re trying to find a specific piece to match something in your closet, WEAR IT! Whether it’s a color or a garment, you won’t have to take guess if it matches.
• Use a measuring tape to gauge fit while on the floor. This comes in handy for me, particularly, because I’m always in search of high-waisted pants. I’ve learned I have zero ability to eyeball it so I just whip out a measuring tape and can decide from there. (9 times out of 10, the pants aren’t right and it saves me trouble from having to actually try them on!)
• Ignore the tag. One more time for those in the back – IGNORE THE SIZE ON THE TAG! If you measure it or eyeball and it looks right, just ignore the size on the tag and try the damn thing on. No one can see your size except you and, even then, it’s only an arbitrary number.
• Shop for your favorite colors. This tip can go so many different ways. If you’re overwhelmed by a new store, focus on looking for one color on the rack. If you’re trying to match something in your closet, carry a color sample so you can easily spot it.
I go one step extra and have worked to curate a cohesive closet to eliminate decision fatigue. I used my skills as a stylist to come up a color palette to shop for, then I DIY’d a color sample keychain that I carry with me. It’s been a game-changer for me! My mom has also pointed out that it’s handy when you can’t tell the true color of something because of the variant in lighting in stores.
P.S. All the color samples were free from the paint section at different hardware stores. FREE! 🤑
Inside The Thrift Store Fitting Room
Once you’re in the fitting room, there’s such a plethora of questions to ask yourself and criteria to go over. I’ll cover just a few basics to look for when you’re trying to talk yourself into (or out of) something you’re trying on.
• The stretch test. Can you bend over, sit down, and raise your arms in comfort? If you said no, then pass!
• Check for flaws. It can be overwhelming to stop and check every item while you’re shopping on the floor. Once you’re in the fitting room, take your time to find any rips or stains. You usually find them pretty fast once you put an item on your body!
• Can you restyle the piece more than 3 ways with your current closet? This is important if you care about versatility in your wardrobe. It would be a bummer if you found the most amazing sequin skirt but don’t actually have anything to wear it with and it will just sit in the back of your closet for years.
Carry pictures on your phone of pieces in your closet, in case you need a little reminder while shopping!
• And just in general if you’re concerned about fitting room cleanliness, carry a pair of socks/sock booties with you or stand on your shoes, as I did!
Also please return the items to the designated space outside of the fitting room. This is helpful for the attendants and is a win for fellow shoppers who can “shop” through your putbacks!
Editing Your Thrift Store Selection
Once everything has been tried on, edit down your top picks. Decide based on budget, how much you actually love it, how great the fit was, etc.
Or maybe you picked none at all, like me. In which case, you just saved a ton of money! lol
But don’t despair. There is always more time, more thrift stores, and more treasures to be found.
Let me know in the comments some of your best thrift store fitting room tips and tricks! Were any on my list new to you? Be sure to Pin this post or share it with a friend if you found it helpful.