I used to get so jealous when friends would show me their in-perfect condition items they got at the thrift shops. I thought it was just pure luck they would stumble across such gems. The truth is, it's about 1/3 luck, 1/3 where you shop and 1/3 how you shop. I've compiled this list of must-knows for hitting the thrift shops (in the mindset you'd be shopping for yourself).
Colors and Patterns
Most thrift stores will display clothes by solid colors or colored patterns. If you know that yellow patterns look terrible on your skin, you can skip right over that section. You already know what looks good on you, and what you would Don't think that just because that yellow gingham shirt that you'd never pick up at the Express will look fabulous on you just because it's $2.29.
Proximity is KeyI've found that finding a cluster of thrift shops is the best plan. Have three really great stops within a mile of each other. That way, you're bound to find something when you head out instead of driving way out of the way to hit up one shop which may not be as rewarding.
Um, There's No Dressing Room?
I feel like since I've moved to Virginia almost none of the thrift stores have dressing rooms. Maybe we're just much more trusting in the Mid-West and on the East Coast the stores think everyone it out to steal those $4 jeans. Anyway, I've learned to dress in layers. Wear a cardigan with a tight t-shirt on underneath, definitely wear slip-on shoes and leave the coat in the car. This way you can easily slip on those Rockstar boots and that amazing (fake) fur coat.
Carry a Measuring Tape
So you've been looking for a piece of art to hang above the mantle. Maybe a three-tier shelve to put next to your window for plants. The key here is to take the measurements. Write down exactly how much space you have above the mantle, and also the ideal width and length for your new artwork. Keep these numbers in a notebook/scratch paper/receipt you always have with you. Then, when you're at the thrift store and you spot the most amazing velvet black cat painting (my sister seriously bought one of these once), you can measure it with your trusty measuring tape and buy that baby immediately.
Find Out the Magical Day
Most thrift store have days when certain colored tags are half off. Some have days when all sweaters (i.e. fill in the blank garmet) are 99 cents. Most stores reduce their merchandise only one time a week. You get the point, but find out when these days occur, especially when you're looking for something in particular.