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How to Clothes Shop at Thrift Stores

Have you ever felt intimidated about the idea of wanting to clothes shop at thrift stores – or do you have a large family that you’re dressing and need tips for not breaking the bank? Well you’re in the right place!

We’re a family of 6 (2 adults + 4 teenagers) and do our best to live on a budget, within our means – especially when it comes to clothes shopping.

Over the past 12 years I’ve learned some tips on keeping our clothing budget low, while still being dressed in clothes we like that also look nice!

For our family, we budget $5/per person, per month for a total of $30/month, or $360/year.

Find and clothes shop at thrift stores during their big sales!

There’s no simple answer or one single thing that makes that manageable.

My goal is to pay 90% off retail prices when it comes to clothes!

Sometimes we’ll find pieces while shopping at yard sales, but I have to say my most effective tip is to shop Value Village (or “Savers” or “Unique”, depending on your part of the country) during their three big annual 50% off sales! They’re held Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day! Mark your calendars, girls!!!

Another quick tip is to join their “Super Savers Club”. Being part of the program can earn you points that automatically turn into coupons for future savings.

They also send you a coupon around your birthday, and you also get early access to their 3 big annual sales! Lastly, some markets have Senior Days on Tuesdays where you can save 30% – the details of which have to be confirmed at your local store.

All this isn’t to say that Value Village is the best or only thrift store option out there. Many cities have other local or non-chain thrift stores where you could follow some of the same principals I’ll be sharing here!

Whenever you choose to clothes shop at thrift stores, remember to ask if they have any big sale days, and if they have any type of loyalty program/punch card.

Tips for when you clothes shop at thrift stores:

Here are some of my more general tips for shopping sales like these:

  • Keep a running list throughout the year as you recognize holes in your or your family’s wardrobe and bring that list with you when you go shopping as a reference to keep yourself mostly on track.
  • Wear slip on shoes (for ease of trying on new shoes and for ease of un-dressing/dressing when you’re trying on clothes).
  • Wear a fitted shirt (like a tank top) when you go shopping so you can easily try on outer layers – even if there’s a long line for the changing room.
  • During these sales, the shoes often go fast. Hit them first when you get to the store to avoid them being picked over.
  • Look for fun details in items that can be up-cycled. Such as a pretty scalloped edge on a dress in a size that doesn’t fit, or cute drapes that can be turned into a summer maxi dress (thank you Maria Von Trapp for the idea!)
  • I always look at my current clothing sizes, and 1 size above – but not typically at anything in the sizes below. There’s not a lot more frustrating when shopping than falling in love with something and then realize it doesn’t fit or isn’t flattering.
  • Once I’m in the correct size section, I look at every single item within that section to make sure I’m not missing any great steals.
  • I always suggest looking through the coats! Finding a good coat at a great price that can last you upwards of 15 years is always a good idea.
  • If you’re shopping for someone who can’t come along (like your husband, for instance), bring a measuring tape and confirm the sizes of the items for them before buying. Sometimes items are mislabeled from the manufacturer – and that’s why they’ve ended up there in the first place. Measuring the waist and inseam (for men’s pants, especially) can save you from learning this lesson the hard way. Don’t ask me how I know! HA!

Our president’s day haul this year

Earlier this month we hit the President’s Sale at our local Value Village. You can come along with us by watching the vlog over on YouTube.

My kids and I spent about 4 1/2 hours at the store and here’s what we found:

My Items:

  • White & Blue plaid button-up J-crew shirt for $3.90
Thrift Store Shopping by sheholdsdearly.com
  • Insulated flannel lined Lands’ End duck Boots for $13 – These retail for $100, and the pair I found are practically new! (I typically like to stay under $10 for shoes, but these have been on my Pinterest board for quite a while, and I felt they were worth the splurge!)
Clothes Budget by sheholdsdearly.com
  • White cowl neck Sweatshirt only $5
Save Money on Clothes by sheholdsdearly.com
  • Grey oversized sweatshirt for $6 – I couldn’t resist this one for cozy evenings at home!
Savers Haul by sheholdsdearly.com
  • Fitted jacket for running $5
Clothes Shopping Vlog by sheholdsdearly.com
  • Wonder Woman t-shirt (picked for me by my daughter who said it was “so me”! Sweet girl.) $2.25
Family of Six Clothes Budget by sheholdsdearly.com
  • Cute Navy button up shirt with rolled sleeves $3.50. I’m excited to wear this one with my white jeans this summer.
How to Clothes Shop at Thrift Stores by sheholdsdearly.com
Dave Ramsey Clothes Budget by sheholdsdearly.com
  • Chunky necklace $2.25 that goes really well with a coral skirt I already owned.
Frugal Clothes Shopping Tips by sheholdsdearly.com
  • Navy Sweater $2.75 that was brand new with tags. It retailed for $40!
Thrift Store Clothes Haul by sheholdsdearly.com
  • Black kitten heels only $8 – and really comfy!
Value Village Half Off Sales by sheholdsdearly.com
  • Navy dress for $6. I’m excited to wear this one for Easter.
Clothes Shopping by sheholdsdearly.com

All totaled, my 2 pairs of shoes, 1 dress, 6 tops, and 1 accessory rang up to $57.65. And these pieces when combined with my current wardrobe should get me through the rest of the year!

For my husband…

My husband couldn’t come along with us, but I did get 3 shirts for him at $6/each, for a total of $18.

The Kids…

Our kids (except for one, who didn’t need anything this go around) got $20 from us, and then had their own spending money to supplement for things above and beyond that.

They all piled their baskets high with $2 and $3 items! And a total of $60 from the family budget.

Final thoughts for how to clothes shop at thrift stores.

So for anyone keeping track, that was a total of $135.65 and everyone in the family got new items! We’ll continue to budget for the next few months and will hit the remaining two sales this year for any additional clothing items that we realize we’re lacking!

But I’d love to hear from you! What are some of your best tips for when you’ve done your clothes shopping at thrift stores?

I hope to see you out at one of these great 50% off sales in the future!

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How to Clothes Shop at Thrift Stores

Talk to you soon!

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