Let’s face it, many university students are running on a tight budget, or to be a little blunt, a lot of students are broke. This means that as much as the fancy clothes from Aritzia, Zara, BCBG and Scotch and Soda might entice us, our wallets may not always agree. An interesting and budget friendly alternative to stay trendy and look unique is shopping at thrift stores. Thrift stores are generally owned by charities such as The Salvation Army, which sells new and gently used items. These items can range from furniture and clothes to shoes, to even bags or jewelry. The price range in itself is also something unique. Since some items are gently used, the price can start from as low as 99 cents!
As Shane Goddard, a 21-year-old, 4th year Psychology Major at UTSC describes, “[It's] a treasure hunt of sorts, where you’re going to come up short sometimes, but when you find something you love it’s really worth it. Thrift stores are really a place where you can find pieces that you [would] really think were made just for you.”
Not many people may like the idea of ‘thrifting’. They might feel that they are better off without it, or that shopping from a well known store is the better option. Though there is nothing wrong with that, finding an alternative that keeps you looking good without hurting your wallet isn’t a bad idea either.
So if you’re prepared to take that dive into the world of thrifting, it’s important to note that it usually takes a bit of time to become successful at it. But the things that one can find while thrifting are definitely worth this orientation process. Vintage pieces and unique clothing are often hidden behind racks or on top of shelves. It only takes time and dedication for these gems to be found.
Danielle Roche, a 20-year-old, 3rd year student at York University and Sheridan College’s joint Design program, admits that thrifting is a lot of fun. “It might not be everyone’s idea of a good time, but sifting through racks of clothing just to come across the one piece you know you’ll ACTUALLY wear is really satisfying.” Her favourite piece that she has come across is an elephant belt adorned with gold cascading chains. She says, “It sounds kind of tacky, but I think it’s so cool. You can pretty much wear it with any boring outfit and automatically make it fun and quirky.”
For those who have never tried thrifting before, here are five basic tips to keep in mind!
- Be patient: This is key when going thrifting for the first time. Just because you come into a store does not always mean you’ll come out with exactly what you were looking for. Take your time to venture into different sections. For women, the women’s section is not the only place you may find a good clothing item, and the same is true for men. If you know how to style a certain piece and can imagine different ways it may be worn, it won’t matter which section it came from. Make sure you get a chance to sift through all the racks and shelves. You never know what you’ll find.
- Be creative: Do not be afraid to mix and match, or even alter some pieces you’ve found. If tailored and cut right, a jean jacket could easily be turned into a jean vest. Raina Resplandor, 20-year-old, 3rd year double major in Psychology and Music and Culture at UTSC, describes searching for high wasted shorts only to find high wasted jeans instead. Of course, she didn’t hesitate to tailor it as needed.
- Find classic and timeless pieces: Cardigans, sweaters and basic yet attractive blouses can go a long way. These simple pieces may look quite different from what you are used to at retail stores. They may feature vintage-like lining, subtle yet interesting patterns or be made of material that you know would normally have cost so much more. Grab these pieces and take pride in finding them!
- Have company: Though it may sound cliché, great company really is beneficial. You can get second opinions and the treasure hunting experience becomes even more amusing and worthwhile. You can even trade pieces or get a better idea of what you could match these items with when a friend is there with suggestions.
- Look for special discount days: Yes, it’s possible to grab a sweater for an even lower price than it’s marked at. Keep a look out for specific thrift stores that may have special days for further discounts or markdowns. The Salvation Army, for example, often has 99 cent sweater days. Looking through the stores’ websites is usually helpful. Some stores to check out include The Salvation Army, Goodwill, Value Village, Courage My Love and Black Market Vintage.
Thrift store shopping has definitely become more socially acceptable these days. It also gives people a chance to do a bit of charity work, as some non-profit thrift stores donate their funds to aid poverty or certain fund-raising institutions. Overall, it’s a great way to stay trendy by finding unique pieces while also saving money. Take a chance and try something new; as fashion recycles, you never know what you’ll come across.