Thrifting 101: What I Thrift For

Allow me, for a moment, to share what I did last week.

On Monday I went thrifting. On Tuesday I went thrifting. On Wednesday and Thursday and Friday I went thrifting. Thrifting is magic, I think. There's something about the thrill of the hunt, buying things I wouldn't normally be able to afford, and coming home with a bag filled with vintage treasures for less than $20. I love perusing the racks, sifting and digging and excavating. And then, in the middle of polyester blazers and pleated pants and oversize sweaters, it happens. A gem is found.


Though my thrifting goals change with the seasons, there are some designers and items that remain perennial favorites. These are things I look for every single time I hit a thrift store.


red sequins

I am not a glamorous eighties soap star. Nor am I a socialite in need of evening wear for charity events hosted for obscure diseases such as amoebic dysentery. Nope, I'm a normal stay-at-home mom with an addiction to Shipping Wars and shameful habit of feeding my kids frozen chicken nuggets. And yet, somehow, I'm drawn to sequined clothing. I squeal when I come across a beaded top or sparkling blouse in a thrift store. They look so pretty hanging in my closet, and elevate an ordinary pair of jeans into something special and unique.

Victor Costa

Victor Costa

We all have our favorite designers. Some might lust for Chanel, while others are perfectly happy with Zara or the Gap. As for me? I prefer a scandalous 1970's and 80's designer who blatantly ripped off couture collections and created 1950's silhouettes in evening gowns and formal wear. I love Victor Costa so much that I devoted an entire post in my Thrifting 101 series to him. Victor Costa's clothes are highly collectable, but I have had great luck finding pieces in the Goodwill, Salvation Army, and antique malls.

The Unique and Unusual

acid wash

This is a 1980's blue denim acid wash cocoon jacket with intricate beading made on an Indian reservation. It is, quite possibly, the ugliest and the most fascinating thing in my closet. I might never wear it...but I'm glad I thrifted it. This sartorial mistake is a piece of fashion history, representing a decade of gaudy excess. I've never seen anything like it, and I might not again.

Classic Coach


There is absolutely no reason to plunk down $200 or more on a reissued classic Coach bag when there are plenty to be found at thrift stores. While it's more unusual to score one at a Goodwill or Salvation Army than a charity shop, it does happen. I found this beauty a week ago at a Goodwill, and it's as good as new.

(If you don't have the patience to thrift for Coach, no worries - I'm running a giveaway for a Coach Willis satchel! Enter here to win. Giveaway ends tomorrow!)

What are some things you always look for when you go thrifting? Do you have any favorite designers, silhouettes, or accessories that you're drawn to?


  1. love this post! I also go thrifting and have become more and more addicted to it over the last few months!

  2. Wow, I'm just not that specific! I usually have something specific in mind when I thrift, like a pleated skirt for example, but I also know to not go with any expectations. That being said, I always hunt the shoe racks and look for vintage bed spreads!

  3. great post! I love to thrift for mid century house wares and jewellery boxes the most. But I often find other treasures along the way.

  4. I don't have any favorite designers. I usually head straight to the dresses, then the skirts, next the blouses and ALWAYS the shoes! I usually have a color in mind so I can scan quickly and then after I make my rounds I go back through it slowly and more meticulously! :) I never leave without a treasure or two!

  5. I think I'm going to look for sequins. I love sequins so much. There has to be something out there for me without the bulky shoulder pads and excess fabric!

  6. I'm not brave enough for sequins.. wish I was!

  7. I haven't been thrifting in ages! Second-hand stores in Japan are everywhere but they only stock nearly new items and most are way over priced. Something that would be $2 in the U.S. is easily $15 here. So sad :(

    But I'll be moving home soon and then let you know what I find!

    motu viget

  8. I love thrifting so much. Unfortunately I live in a small town in a poor state, so not a lot of treasures to be found in our local thrift shops. Of course I still try! If I ever move to Dallas, I want to be your friend and go thrifting sometime! :)

  9. I too am guilty of being a stay-at-home mom who feeds my kids frozen chicken nuggets (lunch today!). The thing I look for is cashmere when I thrift, I especially love vintage! I have found so many cashmere sweaters for under $5! My all time favorite is an ivory cable-knit 4-ply Nordstrom poncho I scored for $2. It is sooooo soft! But living in Florida, I haven't been able to wear it as often as I'd like. :)

  10. I'm always on the hunt for the unique and unusual. I love the example you shared. Definitely a fascinating piece.


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