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  • Writer's pictureCait

Thrifting: 3 Things to Buy & 3 Things to Avoid

Updated: Apr 13, 2019

Not all thrifting is going to result in amazing scores. I've regretted some thrifting purchases, and learned a lot about items to tread carefully with. I made up this starter guide for anyone who is interested in thrifting but has no idea where to start! Enjoy!


1. Dishes + Kitchen Ware

Kitchen dishes can be cleaned, maintained, and easily passed down to a new owner without looking, well, USED. You can hone your skills in thrifting for kitchen items by being aware of nice brands, tell-tale signs of overuse, and by asking yourself if something is really worth the price.

LOOK FOR: Glassware is especially inexpensive and abundant in the thrift world, and I would never dream of buying a flower vase from a store. Or even a tea set. Go thrift it.

AVOID: Cutting boards (unless they are new,) cheap flatware, sticky bamboo utensils, and any containers that are stained, or pots and pains that are scratched.

2. Lamps + Baskets

All my lamps are second hand. A lamp at Target or Home Goods is going to cost you upwards of $35.00, go thrift one for $6.00. Baskets are also a hot ticket item in the home goods sections these days, but they are usually nicked with an outrageous prices. Most baskets don't get a lot of wear and tear, so those are ideal items for thrifting!

LOOK FOR: Solid lamps that WORK. Plug it in at the store, or ask for a bulb to test. Find solid bases and unstained shades. No rips or tears. Baskets: same thing. Look for solid, undamaged baskets in the color tone you want.

AVOID: Old lampshades often have strange tears or stains on them. Don't buy those lamps. Try not to buy lamp stands with no shades, unless you have the perfect shade in mind. Obviously avoid cheap or broken baskets.

3. Structured Vintage Clothing

A lot of structured clothing bottoms and dresses can maintain their shape and wear for a long time. Almost all my feminine skirts and pants are second hand, not to mention my dresses. Remember, just because you are thrifting doesn't mean you are going to find vintage clothing. A lot of the clothing is cheaply made from Taiwan in 2008. Look for older, better made pieces and proceed with caution.

LOOK FOR: Thicker materials, well tailored clothing, and brands like Levi, for jeans. For skirts, as long as there are not tears or stains, they can last a long time.

AVOID: I don't buy short shorts, or anything that rides super close to the crotch. I also don't purchase bottoms in cheap stretchy materials, or anything that is not going to last. A safe bet is to avoid pieces that look like they came from a grocery store. Look for special items.



1. Padded Furniture

As much as I love seeing a cute arm chair or floral couch, I would be extremely cautious purchasing padded furniture second hand. Bed Bugs are notorious residents of second hand padded furniture, and can live in a piece of furniture for up to a year with no food supply. Furthermore, padded furniture can often be misshapen, worn, or stained. Getting it reupholstered is expensive, and you are better off getting new padded furniture.

EXCEPTIONS: If you are die-hard in love with a piece, get it, but apply proper cleaning to it. I would also make exceptions for pieces that are in great condition, or if you know the previous owner personally.

2. Shoes

Shoes can be hit or miss, but they are mostly a miss. Shoes are often damaged, worn into the shape of the previous owner's foot, and contain scuffs, foot sweat, and other unpleasant elements.

EXCEPTIONS: An immaculately clean shoe that seems as if it has not been worn before. I would also make an exception for shoe styles that I would only wear a couple times a year.

3. Cheap Clothing

There is no need to buy cheap clothing just because you are thrifting to be cheap. If something seems like it's going to fall apart, doesn't fit right, or has other cheapness related problem, just avoid it! I don't care if it's $0.99, you are going to regret that purchase.

EXCEPTIONS: If you cannot live without it, or if it is for a costume.


There you have it! This is in no ways a final guide, but just a little go-to if you need help navigating the thrift store for the first time.




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