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Navigate a Thrift Store Like A Pro and Become a More Conscious Consumer

Pick up essential thrifting hacks in this excerpt from The Devil Wears Vintage


Photo: Shutterstock

The Devil Wears Vintage: Thrifting Hacks by Lexy Silverstein isn’t just a free digital book—it’s a treasure trove of innovative strategies and inspiring stories that will revolutionize how you shop. Silverstein’s hacks highlight the importance of sustainability in fashion and share ways to engage in more conscious consumerism. With her keen eye for fashion and dedication to sustainability, Silverstein shares her insider secrets and practical tips to help readers navigate thrift stores like pros, all while making a positive environmental impact on the planet.

Here, in this excerpt from the book, Silverstein shares some essential thrifting hacks for beginners:

The Devil Wears Vintage Thrifting Hacks

Know your Intention

Before heading to a thrift store, it’s important to have a clear understanding of why you are going. Are you looking to build a unique and sustainable wardrobe? Or are you interested in finding vintage pieces with historical value? Maybe you’re trying to explore your creativity through upcycling or even trying your hand at flipping thrifted goods. Knowing your intention will help guide your shopping experience and make it more enjoyable.

See the Potential

One golden rule of thrifting is to see the potential in things. Many items may not catch your eye at first glance, but with a little creativity and imagination, they can be transformed into something amazing. Look beyond the current condition or style and envision how the item could fit into your life or be upcycled. A simple alteration or a fresh coat of paint can breathe new life into an otherwise overlooked piece.

Try Before You Buy

Thrift stores often lack dressing rooms, making it challenging to know if an item will fit you properly. However, don’t be discouraged by this. Instead, focus on finding items that you can easily try on over your clothing. Look for loose-fitting tops, stretchy bottoms, or items with adjustable waistbands. This hack allows you to get an approximate fit and determine if the style and silhouette work for you.

Bring Cash & Wear Few Clothes

I know these sound like weird tips, but just trust me on these. Some places either prefer cash or might offer you a better deal if you pay with it. Yes, it feels a bit like stepping back in time, and especially for us Gen Zers who are like, “Cash, who carries cash?” It’s especially important when you’re hitting up flea markets or large thrift shows. Having cash on hand can be a game-changer.

And about wearing minimal clothes? As just stated, not all thrift stores have dressing rooms. Actually, most don’t. So, you might find yourself needing to try clothes on over what you’re already wearing. Bulky outfits make this tricky and less accurate. My go-to? A tank top and either the thinnest workout leggings I own or a loose skirt that allows me to slip pants on underneath without hassle. It makes the try-on process smoother and ensures a better fit. Plus, it saves time and keeps the thrill of thrifting alive and well.

Leave the Purse at Home

Another quirky tip: You don’t want to carry a lot into any thrift store, as you’ll be going through so many items. Stash your phone, cash, and credit cards in your pocket. Seriously, when you’re diving into the thrifting game, lugging around a purse is the last thing you want to have to keep an eye on. I’ve learned this from experience… desperately trying to find my handbag on the store floor or under mounds of clothes in my cart.

Grab the Biggest Shopping Cart or Shopping Bag

Even bring your own if you’ve got one that’s up for the task. Throw in anything that even remotely catches your eye. Trust me, you don’t want to be the one with buyer’s remorse because you passed up something great in aisle three, only to find a fellow thrifter trying it on in aisle seven.

After you’ve combed through the store and your cart looks like a heaping mound of insanity, it’s decision time. If you’re lucky to find a dressing room, awesome. If not, no sweat. Find a quiet corner, and try stuff on right over those slim clothes you smartly wore. Now, be ruthless: Keep what you love, ditch what you don’t. This way, you only go home with stuff you’re actually excited about.

Know Your Neck Size

Here’s a fun thrifting tip that might sound a bit out there, but trust me, it works! Ever find yourself flipping through a pile of jeans at a thrift store, unsure if they’ll actually fit without trying them on? Here’s a quirky but effective way to check: Use your neck! Yep, you heard that right.

Wrap the waistband of the jeans around your neck. If the ends meet comfortably without overlapping too much, you’ve got a good chance those jeans will hug your waist just right. It sounds bizarre, but your neck circumference is roughly half your waist size.

So, next time you’re thrifting and come across a pair of jeans that catches your eye, give this neck trick a go. It’s a quick, easy way to sift through sizes and find your perfect match. Plus, you’ll have a fun story to tell about how you found those perfect-fit jeans

Don’t Get Discouraged

Thrifting is a unique treasure hunt, and sometimes you may leave a store empty-handed. It’s important not to get discouraged by this. Thrift stores have constantly changing inventory. You never know what gems you’ll find on your next visit. Embrace the process, and keep trying. The thrill of finding that perfect piece is worth the occasional disappointment.

Embrace Online Thrifting

In addition to brick-and-mortar thrift stores, online platforms like Depop, eBay, or ThredUp have become popular for thrifting. Online thrifting opens up a vast selection and allows you to search through thousands of listed items at your convenience. Keep in mind, however, that online thrifting requires careful attention to measurements and descriptions to ensure a proper fit.

Curated Thrift Stores

If you’re overwhelmed by the immense selection in traditional thrift stores, consider visiting curated thrift stores. These stores often have a more streamlined inventory, focusing on specific styles, eras, or high-quality items. This can make the thrifting experience less overwhelming, especially for beginners. Additionally, curated thrift stores may have knowledgeable staff who can provide guidance and information about specific items or styles.

About The Author

Julie is the co-founder of Well Defined and a longtime influencer and advocate in the wellness world. Along with her work at Well Defined, she is an executive recruiter and marketing specialist for Hutchinson Consulting. She is also a consultant and content strategist for numerous wellness brands. She is the former editor-in-chief and publisher of American Spa and was named a 2019 Folio Top Woman in Media in the Industry Trailblazers category and a 2018 winner of ISPA’s Innovate Award. She is also a seasoned journalist, specializing in spa, travel, health, fitness, wellness, sustainability, and beauty. She has been published in Departures,, E! Online,, Insider’s Guide to Spas, Luxury Travel Advisor, Marin Magazine, Ocean Home, Smart Meetings, Spa Asia, and Travel Agent.