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Fashion Challenge: Wear Something from a Thrift Store


Vintage clothes

Shopping at thrift stores, to me, has always felt a bit like exercise: I know it’s beneficial and gets easier with practice, but most of the time, I’m just too lazy to do it. To tell you the truth, aside from shopping for date party costumes, I haven’t thought about going to a thrift store in years — that is, until I asked my friend last week where she got the most adorable romper I’ve ever seen, and she gleefully replied “the Salvation Army, for six dollars!”

As most of you probably know, there are gems to be found in thrift stores — it just takes a little bit of practice to sort out the wearable pieces from the atrocious. Since school is out, you’ve probably got a little bit of extra time on your hands. This is the perfect week to take a stroll through a thrift store and pick out an item and wear it for this week’s fashion challenge!

Don’t know where to begin? Read on for ideas on how to turn thrift store trash into treasure!

Tips and Tricks on Rocking a Thrift Store Find

  • Quality still counts. This is a no-brainer, but don’t waste your money on clothes that are frayed, pilling, or stained. Most of these problems are not fixable.
  • Clean clothes before wearing them! This should be obvious too, but be sure to wash or dry clean anything you find before wearing it out.
  • Check out the dress section. Often, an old fashioned dress can be modernized by adding a belt, removing shoulder pads, or shortening a hem.
  • Get scissor happy. A pair of jeans can be transformed into a pair of boy-shorts, or try making a vest by cutting the sleeves off of a denim jacket.
  • Look for quirky shirts. Thrift shops are a great place to find old band t-shirts and graphic tees with funny phrases on them.
  • Pick up a blazer. We did a DIY article a few seasons back on how to make a thrift shop blazer into a unique work of art!
  • Use the “pre-owned” aspect to your advantage. Look for items like flannel shirts or leather belts that get better over time.
  • The great shoe debate. Wearing someone else’s shoes sort of creeps me out, but I could see where the thrift store could be a great place to look for cowboy boots, high top sneakers, or combat boots. Since socks are typically worn with these shoes, the “ick” factor is minimized.
  • Accessorize. The thrift shop is a good place to find brooches, cross-body bags, and silk scarves.
  • Look for novelty items. If you have a costume party of some sort coming up, the thrift store is a great place to begin looking. They have pieces perfect for any hippie, western, white trash, or decades themed party. I found a neon fanny pack at a Goodwill four or five years ago that I still love to wear when I can get away with it!

CF Reader Looks

Caitlin- Simon Fraser University


This blazer I got for $4 at a thrift store and it’s one of my favourite pieces in my wardrobe!  It’s super versatile and can be worn with just about anything.  I also got these Paris Blues capris at the same thrift store and wear them all the time.  My tip for shopping at thrift stores is to really take the time to go through everything on the rack, because if you just walk in everything can look like junk – you really have to dig and look at each item individually!  I shop thrift all the time and have saved oodles of money by doing so, not to mention you can find pieces that no one else will have.

For more of Caitlin’s fierce style, check out her blog here!

Rocked the Challenge? Want Some Extra Traffic On Your Blog? Tell Us Your Story!

You girls know the drill: If you took this week’s fashion challenge, take some snapshots and send us an email at fashionchallenge AT along with your name, school, the URL of your blog if you have one, and a description of what you’re wearing and how you styled it. We would also love to hear your tips on how to navigate your way through a thrift store!

We’ll then post your responses here for everyone to check out. We can’t wait to hear from you!


How do you feel about shopping at thrift stores? Do you do it often? What sort of items do you look for? Are you going to take this week’s challenge? Leave us a comment and let us know what you think!

Posted on on June 2, 2011 / Filed Under: Fashion Tips / Tags: ,

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35 Responses to “Fashion Challenge: Wear Something from a Thrift Store”

  1. 1
    June 2nd, 2011 at 9:34 am

    I stop in at goodwill regularly. some of my favorite finds? Cole Haan loafers, a Gucci wallet, a Givenchy purse, and an awesome DVF top. Just yesterday I came accross a Dior blazer, but it was huge and super ’80s.

  2. 2
    June 2nd, 2011 at 9:59 am

    Thrift shopping is one of my favorite things to do with my mom! Salvation Army has clothes half off every Wednesday, so we try to go as often as possible.
    My favorite finds are: a Fossil cross body bag and a pair of plaid Keds. I’ve also found lots of awesome sweaters. Just yesterday I bought two nearly new pairs of shorts.

    I know thrift stores can be daunting because the store is usually packed full of stuff so I would recommend having an idea of what you’re looking for and to pace yourself. Also, if you don’t want to go to a huge Goodwill or Salvation Army, lots of churches and Hospice’s have smaller thrift stores. But just as a warning, smaller ones can be pretty hit or miss.

    Sorry for writing so much, but thrifting is basically my favorite past time :)

  3. 3
    June 2nd, 2011 at 10:17 am

    Here’s a trick for removing the “ick” factor from ANY shoe. Wipe the shoe out with a paper towel. Add a dash of baby powder and knock it around the inside of the shoe well. Toss any left-over powder dust into a trash can. Then take a paper towel, wad it up, and go over the inside of the shoe powder puff style.

  4. 4
    June 2nd, 2011 at 10:35 am

    Except for things like basics, bras & panties, I don’t shop anywhere BUT thrift stores (I’m spoiled by amazing thrift stores). But it’s nice to see you guys encouraging more thrifting :)

  5. 5
    June 2nd, 2011 at 11:25 am

    I actually love thrifting! It makes me so happy and excited to find something so unique, in tact and ADORABLE. Nothing is better than getting a complement on a garment of clothing that cost you less than $8! I am going to try out this fashion challenge :)

  6. 6
    June 2nd, 2011 at 11:27 am

    Nice to see this topic!

    I was practically raised in Goodwills and Salvation Armies. Still today, I buy most of my clothes from thrift stores. I was just at one of my favourite Goodwills yesterday – picked up a like-new leather biker jacket, some awesome mules, a cute purse, some cool tops and some nice shorts. Not to mention I found some beautiful Japanese pottery that I collect. I seem to find different pottery pieces at every thrift store I visit…

    I hate paying high prices for shoes, but don’t like buy cheap new shoes, so I always look at the shoe racks – a *little* rubbing alcohol on a cloth used all over wherever your foot touches should kill any germs. I do the same for handbags.

    When it comes to shoes, make sure that the shoe really fits well and doesn’t have any subtle problems like heel imbalances or pinching. Treat used shoes like new shoes – you *must* try on any thrift shoes and ideally you should try to walk in them at least a little to make sure the pair will work. If you’re wary of germs, wear socks or something. Check the insides of handbags for any obvious wear, and always check the zippers!

    My one objection would be hats because some materials used for hats (straw, wool) can be difficult to clean and, like belts, hats don’t wear well and are better off bought new, usually.

    Some Goodwills that are located in richer areas, or are nearby big shopping malls, often get goods straight off the racks of the retail stores because they didn’t sell it, or donations from wealthier people who won’t dare wear a dress twice. It pays to seek out the “better sourced” thrift stores to make some real scores. I’ve seen lots of stuff that have department store tags, even Nordstrom’s.

    Different Goodwills specialize in different areas, I’ve noticed – some have tons of women’s clothes, others have furniture or technology. You should make a list or mental note of the best ones for your needs.

    I’ve never understood why some people think they’re too good to thrift – seriously, a few women I knew were horrified at the thought of visiting thrift stores and bought everything new, but they always *wanted* my clothes and were broke. Go figure.

    Nice finds, Stacy!

  7. 7
    June 2nd, 2011 at 11:30 am

    Adding to the others, I would never buy underwear used. Also, about small individual thrift stores – not only hit or misses, but also more expensive! Some “thrift stores” are just second-hand boutiques. It’s ridiculous.

    And definitely have a goal in mind or you’ll get swamped.

  8. 8
    June 2nd, 2011 at 11:34 am

    I really like shopping at thrift stores, Goodwill in particular. I have found many designer items for $2 – $5 that would have cost much more in retail stores. Another reason I like shopping at Goodwill, is that they employ people who would not be employable elsewhere. I always check the items that are in the front counter. There is always something there to really ‘catch” the eye.

  9. 9
    June 2nd, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    I don’t get the appeal of shopping at thrift stores. I like clothes that fit well and look good right off the rack. I feel that thrift store clothing is a compromised fit because items don’t come in multiple sizes, and the one or two good items sprinkled in with the bad are probably not going to be in your exact size. But if its some expensive designer brand you might buy it anyway even though it doesn’t look absolutely stellar on you.

  10. 10
    June 2nd, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    Many cities have a resale store called the Discovery Shop. All the workers are volunteers, all the merchandise is donated, and all proceeds go to support the American Cancer Society. Also check around if your town has more than one Goodwill. There’s usually one that stocks the more designer and high quality stuff like J. Crew, Izod, or Foxcroft. Most of my clothes come from thrift stores especially rings and brooches.

  11. 11
    June 2nd, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    Oh my goodness. I love thrift store shopping. There are at least ten thrift stores in the town I live in and it isn’t that big! I find good prices on vintage things all the time! I especially love altering a vintage dress to where it looks amazing!

  12. 12
    June 2nd, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    I /love/ shopping at a thrift store. We have one down the street that sells all clothes for 99 cents on Saturdays. I love looking through the clothes for things that can be reinvented. I even found the best stuff for costume days at school. Simply amazing, thrift stores are.

  13. 13
    June 2nd, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    I wish I could get into thrifting but I am one of those people who just can’t get past the idea of wearing someone elses clothes.

  14. 14
    June 2nd, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    I love thrifting. I’ve found some great things before–some of my favorite finds: vintage Dooney and Bourke bag, Diesel jeans, a multitude of Levi high waisted denim shorts, and various floral dresses. I find so many great things that I’m so reluctant to go to regular stores these days.

  15. 15
    June 2nd, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    I don’t have any really good thrift stores around (being plus sized doesn’t help at all) but I looove Savers. I’ve gotten Seychelles heels, oxford pumps, Calvin Kline and DKNY jeans, and a great strapless tiered floral dress from a UK designer. All were below $10.

  16. 16
    June 2nd, 2011 at 11:57 pm

    I LOVE thrifting! I’ve found it really depends on the area though, as far as how ‘good’ the thrift store actually is. Where I live in PA, there really aren’t many thrift stores and the only one closest to me is a Salvation Army that isn’t too great for finding stuff. When I go to a bigger city like Chicago though, its thrift store heaven! I’ve found amazing bags and sweaters & shoes, so I always go thrifting when I’m there but I wish I had more thrift stores where I live!!!

  17. 17
    June 3rd, 2011 at 9:28 am

    I shop at thrift stores all the time! On wednesday, I got 2 skirts for under $6 total!

  18. 18
    June 3rd, 2011 at 10:46 am

    I wanted to start going to thrift stores but I never knew where to go. So where are some places to go for thrifting, especially in New York.

  19. 19
    June 3rd, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    I LOVE THIFTING!! Something that is super useful is bringing a friend who can objectively say if something looks good on you and will work in your wardrobe. Having that extra opinion can prevent any spur of the moment purchases that you’d never actually wear.

    Some of the best compliments I’ve gotten have been on pieces I’ve picked up thifting, like a simple 1 dollar crossbody purse, a 10 dollar slinky mad-men esque dress and a 2 dollar gold button up long sleeve shirt. There’s something truly magical about amazing wardrobe pieces for dollars.

  20. 20
    June 3rd, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    I rarely shop anywhere else besides thrift stores. It’s like a huge treasure hunt; there’s so many gems just waiting to be found! It takes patience, but thrift store shopping is ridiculously fun. I’m fortunate to have three really good thrift stores in my area, and often they’re the only places I find things I like and that fit well!

    My advice would be to skim for colors you like, flattering styles, and comfortable textures. I always lightly run my fingers over shirts while walking in the aisles, so when I find something that feels nice to the touch I can pick it out and see if it’s my size and style.

  21. 21
    June 3rd, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    Here’s a tip: I found that the more affluent the neighborhood is, the better quality items you’ll find in their thrift stores.

    Also, don’t overlook the shoe section because there are occaisional gems there. A lot of women buy dress shoes and never wear them, or wear them just once or twice and donate. So you’re practically buying them new.

    Also, thrift stores are great places to find beautiful prom dresses, evening gowns, even wedding gowns in great condition that have only been worn once. All it takes is an alteration to make it fit perfectly.

  22. 22
    June 4th, 2011 at 1:26 am

    I love her owl necklace. It is so unique and I have never seen anything like it before in any other department store so I think I could shop at thrift stores but there are not many here. That is the problem.

  23. 23
    June 4th, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    In addition to Alissa’s tip, sometimes less busy areas can have things that the middle of cities don’t. Many inner city thrift stores are combed every day by people looking for bargains, whilst ones in quieter areas aren’t!

  24. 24
    June 5th, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    Maxine, I own the same necklace. I bought it at H&M for just under ten dollars.

  25. 25
    June 5th, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    I have also found some one of a kind pieces at thrift stores but it does take searching and work but in the end, it’s like finding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, it does pay off! Digging through thrift stores isn’t just for college students–everyone should do it and this article has some great tips. Good job!

  26. 26
    June 10th, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    2 words: PLATO’S CLOSET! Not only can you sell your gently used clothing and accessories, but you can also rummage through their selection. Since they only buy clothes that about a year or 2 old, most of the items are still pretty in style. I bought a dress and a purse for $12- TOTAL! I’m not sure if they have stores nation wide, but there are about 3 or 4 in Florida.

  27. 27
    June 13th, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    I love the idea of thrifting but have only as of yet bought accessories at thrift stores. I’ve been planning to devote a whole day to visiting all the thrift stores in the city (I’m actually from Dublin, Ireland but love this blog) as there’s loads in different areas. And now that Summer is here I have the free time! I love that feeling when you’ve gotten something fabulous for dirt cheap and someone compliments you! You also feel better having one great find after a day of shopping than lots of basics and far less money!

    I also check out outdoor local markets (flea markets here) on weekends from time to time and have picked up cute clutches for little to nothing!

  28. 28
    June 26th, 2011 at 11:18 pm

    I love the thrift stores in my small town, you can find amazing vintage items in good condition for really really cheap. I pick up amazing hats, cute handbags, and lots of dresses, pencil skirts, and cardigans there!

  29. 29
    July 31st, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    I usually don’t go to thrift stores since there aren’t any around where I live, but I’ve been in Chicago for the last few weeks and found a pair of combat boots, some tshirts and a few other things at the 3 thrift stores I’ve visited so far.

  30. 30
    December 7th, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    im actually starting to do thrifting again. when i did i was so happy with my purchase. i got a black blazer from h&m (which would usually be about 30-60 dollars) for $9, a good quality brown bag that i use for school for $10 and a cute cardigan for $2. i will admit, there are some days that you will not find a single thing at the thrift store and other days you find too many things.

  31. 31
    January 26th, 2013 at 8:17 am

    I love thrifting! I love the thrill of the hunt as they say, The only thing I don’t like about it is sometimes I find amazing pieces but they aren’t in my size! Buy if thats the case I usually buy it anyway and sell it or give it to a friend :) Some of my favorite finds were a vintage Dooney and Bourke bag, 4 Juicy Couture sweatshirts, a juicy COuture wallet for 99 cents, a Lily Pulitzer photo frame, an Abercrombie flannel shirt with studded detailing, a free Hollister sweatshirt that is sooooo comfortable, coach sneakers, steve madden pumps, numerous Hollister, American Eagle, and Abercrombie Jeans that I have made into shorts, a vintage Coach scarf, and a Vera Bradley coin purse in mocha rouge :)

  32. 32
    May 25th, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    From infancy to transforming into a teenager now being
    adults, our dads are still there to compliment us it doesn’t matter what. Nowadays, it is possible to get personalised sports books filled with newspaper articles about his favourite team’s sporting history.
    What may be said is a lot of the activity regarding presents comes
    mainly when youngsters are babies, or otherwise relatively young.

  33. 33
    March 13th, 2014 at 11:47 pm

    I’m obsessed with shopping at thrift stores! Last weekend I went to a quarter sale at a kids clothing store I shop at often, they sell maternity clothes too and I scored an adorable maternity dress for a quarter!
    Another time I went to a quarter sale there and found a dress that made me look totally frumpy but has a cute pattern and I wear it with a belt I already have.
    Also a huge fan of Goodwill :)

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