Thrifting 101 – Revive Your Wardrobe with Second Hand Clothes

Welcome to the World of Thrifting!

If you’ve never thrifted before, then you’re in for a treat.

Created in the 19th century, thrifting is the practise of buying second hand clothes from charity shops. It was originally used when charities and religious communities sold second hand clothes to raise funds for social causes. Thrifting has emerged in the past few years as a slow and sustainable alternative to the fast fashion trends, and it’s a favourite amongst generation Z (aged 25 and under).

It’s no secret that fast fashion wreaks havoc on our planet. For example, studies show that 360,000 tonnes of clothes end up in UK landfills each year. Also, it takes a lot of water and energy consumption to manufacture, package and transport clothes in the fast fashion industry. Charity donations mean that clothes can be recycled instead of thrown away, and there is no need for manufacturing costs, as the public delivers them to the store themselves. If you’re interested, read our article which goes more in depth about the environmental benefits of thrifting.

Thrifted clothes have character

Not only are they eco-friendly, but thrifted clothes have character and charm that you just can’t find in high street stores. They may have been worn before, but thrifted clothes have got a lot of life left in them and are looking for their next wardrobe to settle into. The beauty of donating clothes is that charity stores end up with a very diverse selection of clothes to choose from. In their past lives, these clothes were owned by people with different tastes, lifestyles and backgrounds, so it’s unlikely you’ll find the same thing twice.

Thrifting is perfect if you’re looking to revive your wardrobe ethically. With lots of hidden gems and unique pieces, charity stores can help you build a wardrobe that will make you stand out and show more of your quirky side. Life’s too short for boring clothes, so if you’re looking to breathe some life back into your wardrobe, read on!

Image by Olivia Gonzalez from Pixabay

Before you start thrifting…

Before we dive in to the fun world of thrifting, here’s some tips to keep in mind.

1. Reflect on your wardrobe

Before you start shopping, it’s important to make some space in your closet for new arrivals and keep in mind the kind of pieces you want to add to your collection. This is because you might end up wasting money buying the same thing or something you won’t even wear. So, be sure to donate the clothes you don’t need to charity. Thrifting is less about retail therapy and more about sustainability, so it’s always good to make sure that you buy things with a purpose.

2. Know Your Measurements

When it comes to looking good, one of the golden rules is to wear things that fit you well. Since everyone’s body is unique, this requires some attention to detail. Thrift shops aren’t likely to have your exact size, so knowing the difference between an item that needs to be tailored and an item that’s just not the right fit, will save you time.

Use a measuring tape to measure yourself and write your measurements down before you head to the thrift store. When you see an item you like, check the label against your numbers to see if it’s worth buying. No need to get too technical , but it’s always good to know the following things about your body when looking for a good fit:

  • Hips Circumference
  • Width of Shoulders
  • Length of Legs
  • Chest Circumference
  • Arms Length
  • Height

3. Consider Your Personal Style

If you had to describe your style in a few words what would it be?

Would you say you’re practical and classic, with preference for clean simple cuts? Or maybe you prefer the boho-chic look with bold jewellery and earthy colours?

There are thousands of styles to choose from, and figuring out yours gives you a clear vision of what you’ll want your wardrobe to look like. It really is a great technique to help you dress your best. In fact, expertly trained image consultants conduct a “Style Analysis” on their clients so that they always look good. Many fashion icons from Audrey Hepburn, to Harry Styles, to Zendaya all work with stylists that have helped them develop a signature look.

When you’ve planned your wardrobe to a tee, you can look good everyday with little effort.

Be sure to try to think about why you want to create a certain style. Are you trying to look the part for work, or do you just want to express yourself? These questions will help you identify what you really need from the thrift store to make your wardrobe the best it can be.

Also, when it comes to style, there’s an interesting psychology behind why we gravitate towards certain clothes. For example, our social status and perception of what others will think plays a huge part in the way we dress. Research shows we are largely influenced by the strong desire to make a good first impression. So, think about what you want your clothes to say about you.

Consider this quote:

“dress is a systematic means of transmission of information about the wearer”

Mary Lynn Damhorst, In Search of a Common Thread: Classification of Information Communicated Through Dress

Heading to the thrift shop

Photo by Mike Petrucci on Unsplash

Now you’ve made it to the store, here are some key ways that thrifted clothes can take your wardrobe to the next level…

Vintage steals the show

In modern times, there’s no better way to stand out than with pieces from times gone by. Why? Because authentic items from the past have stood the test of time if they’re still around today. They’re a snapshot from a different decade, which immediately makes your outfit interesting to look at, if this fits in with your style.

Not only that, but fashion come in cycles, and trends from decades ago always return. In the 2020’s, we’re tapping into 80’s and 90’s nostalgia with clothes like cargo pants, oversized jumpers and chokers making a comeback. Your favourite fashion shops might be imitating this style, but you don’t get better than the real thing.

Since thrift stores have a lot of hand me downs, there the best places to find pieces from a particular time. This creates a unique and memorable look, especially when you mix and match with other items in your closet. Vintage items can be a refreshing twist, away from the uniformity that comes with shopping for what’s always on trend. Even though vintage itself has become a trend, the beauty of it is that there are so many era’s and pieces to choose from, it’s almost impossible to create the same look twice!

Play with patterns and prints

Image by DWilliam from Pixabay

Again, this depends on your style, but nothing grabs attention like a pattern does.

The wide range of clothes donated to charity shops means you’ll definitely have lots of patterns to choose from. Patterns are made to catch the eye and make your outfits feel fresh by accentuating what you’re wearing. They may be intimidating and they aren’t always the most versatile, but patterns are handy if you’re looking to spice things up.

Not only that, but adding different patterns and prints gives your outfits longevity. You can wear the same thing multiple times but, by wearing different patterns, it gives the look a different edge with each wear. Thrift shops and patterns go together like strawberries and cream – they’re a basically a melting pot of patterns. Have a look for a neck scarf with a fun pattern, or maybe a t-shirt with some cool prints.

If you’re still a bit unsure about patterns, here’s an excellent article from The Concept Wardrobe that will convince you to start wearing them in no time.

Find items to upcycle

Photo by Ruben. on Unsplash

Creating a one of kind wardrobe requires a personal touch.

So, another benefit of thrift stores is that you find items that you can make your own. The abundance of second hand clothes gives you room to create something new out of the material you have. You can get scissor happy knowing that what you’ve bought is cheap, and can easily be turned into something else. For example, you could look for a denim jacket and then add some embroidery on top. Or maybe you came across a dress that you can turn into a top and a skirt.

Refreshing old clothes, known as upcycling, will require some sewing techniques and skills, but you can easily learn this on Youtube and social media. And once you’ve learnt some basic techniques, it will be fun to make your mark on clothes with some creative touches. You can think of yourself as creating a designer wardrobe just for you!

When we go shopping, the clothes are mass produced for what’s trending. It’s all about what will sell based on what the market wants. Companies don’t have the time to think about your own individual needs, but you do. Upcycling allows you take back control of your appearance and make the clothes fit you, instead of you trying to fit into the clothes.

Photo by Becca McHaffie on Unsplash

Have you fallen in love with thrifting yet?

After all, how could you not? Thrifting is the perfect antidote to help you to stand out in a sea of mass produced fast fashion where the trends change every ten seconds. With thrifting, you can take your time, spend less and search for well loved items that simply need a new home, and will help revive your wardrobe.

You’re probably eager to get thrifting, but where should you go first? Oxfordshire has lot’s of great thrift stores full of clothes that are waiting for you.

Here’s a list of some of the best shops in Oxford to get started:

Happy thrifting!