Thinking of thrifting up a storm as we transition into fall? Here are some tips to ponder before you hit the shops:

  • Check organization websites for coupons or deal days (50% off purple tags on Thursday, and the like).
  • If you're shopping at a place that takes donations from the public, bring YOUR giveaway pile. Often, you'll get a coupon to shop just for donating.
  • Either wear something that's easy to tear off (a dress and slip-on shoes) or underlayers that will serve as a bodysuit (leggings and a tank) in case you end up somewhere sans dressing rooms.
  • Keep an open mind. You just never know what kind of bizarre and amazing items the Thrift Gods may bestow upon you!
  • If you're bringing a list, make sure it's pretty general. You're more likely to score looking for "floral dresses" than "large-print floral dresses in cotton voile."
  • If you're not bringing a list, tackle the store department by department. Otherwise, you'll get overwhelmed and give yourself a migraine. Start with pants, then move on to sweaters, then dresses, then outerwear ... and if you just can't do it all, that's OK. Come back next week.
  • Speaking of which, come back next week regardless! Thrift store merch turns over frequently, so what's on the racks today will be replaced with brand new-to-you items in seven days or less. (Ask employees when new items are brought out if you want first pick.)
  • Don't forget to check accessories. 90% of my scarves and belts hail from thrift stores, and most were $2 or less.
  • Durable goods like blazers, outerwear, leather handbags, and jeans usually hold up to wear better than tees, dresses, and blouses. If you're concerned about thrifted clothes falling apart, stick to the sure things.
  • Always check every inch of a potential purchase for flaws. A $3 sweater fails to be a bargain if it has a giant ink stain on the cuff that you don't notice until you got home.
  • If an item is at ALL damaged, haggle. Prices are seldom firm.

Wondering where in your town you can hone your thrifting skills? Check out thethriftshopper.com, a great resource for tracking down thrift shops by geographic area. And for more advice on and ruminations about thrfiting, check the thrifting category at Already Pretty!

Image via weheartit.

Sally McGraw is the author of Already Pretty, a daily blog about the intersection of style and body image.

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