Friday, June 14, 2013

How To Thrift Like a Pro

Today I am going to share some tips on how to conduct a successful thrifting shopping trip. I am NO stranger to the world of thrifting and I used to frequent second-hand shops, garage sales, markets, and estate sales where I thought I might have a good chance to pick up a unique item. However, I was an amateur and it is only since moving to South Korea that I have blossomed into the thrifting beast that I am now. Oh, the hours and hours that I have spent sorting through piles and piles of clothing is enough to send most people running, but I have enjoyed EVERY second of it and I even opened my own Etsy vintage shop, Seoul Sold, to prove it!

I am excited to share what I have learned and I hope that maybe one of two of my tips will make your next thrifting adventure more enjoyable.

Here is what you NEED and this is non-negotiable. If you listen to me I can make sure that you have EXACTLY what you need to be happy and productive while out scouring the secondhand haunts.

A big 'ol bag and the bigger the better, but keep in mind that when I say big I don't mean something that is cumbersome for you to carry. Think about your preferences, do you like backpacks, messengers, or an over-sized purse? Whatever you choose make sure that it is light-weight, and doesn't have a lot of straps or zippers to get in the way because we want to be able to jam as much clothing as possible into it with the least effort. Also an easily identifiable bag is good for keeping track of it if you set it down in the mountains of clothing so choose a brightly colored bag. Plus, if you are able to quickly see what you have at a glance you will be able to reassess your shopping strategy easily. Because no one really NEEDS a bag full of polka dot dresses just because you found 5 in a row!

I have a favorite Aerie tote that is my go-to bag when I hit the vintage markets. My aerie bag hits all the right notes being light-weight, easily accessible, I love how easy it is to carry, and I  won't lose track of it with it's bright pink pattern.

All of this is in that Aerie bag! 6 tops and 7 dresses, plus a skirt that isn't pictured!
I know that a debit card is amazing and we get so used to using them on a daily basis that when we go shopping we  usually don't think to bring cash, but a thrifting trip is different from a regular shopping outing. You aren't going to the mall and your card is useless if whomever you are buying from doesn't have the means to process a card payment. Cash is king in the world of thrifting and you can usually get a discount if you are buying multiple items. ALSO, cash is critical for budgeting, if you take out a set amount of money for your trip then when all the cash is gone you are done! Only carrying cash to thrift with helps you pace yourself and makes you keep an eye out for those one-of-a-kind items. No buyer's remorse for you, hooray!   

Tape Measure
A tape measure is your best friend when you are on a serious thrifting mission! Stopping to try things on can only slow you down and it tires you out a lot faster than if you are able to just measure the garment and make a quick informed decision. Also, you may not be able to try it on if you are at a market or estate sale so make sure to ALWAYS have your tape measure on hand.

Snacks, you need them. I can't count the number of times that I have been finding amazing pieces only to have my stomach start to growl and yell at me making it pretty much impossible for me to focus until I ate. Pack a snack that is easily eaten without having to touch it directly because no one wants dirty hands on their food. I usually bring along a good granola or protein bar to tide me over until I'm shopped out.

Don't forget your water! Staying hydrated is another great way to stay focused AND refreshed. You will be able to shop for longer no matter the circumstances if you make sure that you have a water supply on hand so grab your favorite water bottle for your next trip.

Comfortable clothing/Walking shoes
You are going to be spending a lot of time on your feet so don't wear any footwear that you won't be able to comfortably walk, climb, and lug your vintage finds around in. Yes, I've climbed a mountain of clothing and lived to tell the tale! Also dress in layers if you aren't sure how the weather will be because you can always take off a layer and keep on trucking if you have to.

My last and MOST important tip: Don't get discouraged! You won't always find amazing things at great prices when you are thrifting because there really is no rhyme or reason to it. Some days you are lucky and others you strike out a lot, but can pat yourself on the back for all of the walking that you did! Yay for being active in any way possible. ;) You will encounter piles of clothing, walk till your feet fall off, and probably sneeze your head off thrifting, but it is so worth it when you find an amazing item!

My friend Seung-Wan's victory yell as she finds the perfect dress for summer.
Here are a few shots of what a normal trip the vintage markets looks like for me. I have no idea how I manage to FIND anything in all of this, but it is so much fun!
A look at what I climb, dig, and wander through in the quest for vintage items.
Staying positive as I dig through a massive bag of dresses.
I hope that your next thrifting adventure is full of awesome loot and if you haven't tried out second-hand shopping I hope you do! Finding a one-of-a-kind item is thrilling and you'll love knowing that you won't see ANYONE else with it.

Make sure to swing by my vintage shop for some great items and let me know what you think. 

Find my shop, here.

Happy thrifting!


  1. Never went vintage shopping, but sounds like one needs the preparation :)

    1. It is definitely one of those things that once you do it you realize that there's more to it than just showing up ready to shop! Or at least I think so. ;) Thanks for stopping by the blog and commenting!

  2. you are the QUEEN of thrift shopping! i hope i get to come shop with you before you leave!

    1. Haha, thanks!! We will definitely hit the markets when you visit Seoul! I cannot wait to show you around. :)