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A Beginners Guide to Thrifting by Scout Snell

Scout Snell

By Scout Snell

In the past three years, I have become aware of the astronomical impact that the fashion industry has on the environment. Thus, shopping became a conflict of interest for me. Do I spend the money on sustainable brands? Do I continue to contribute to the unethical practices of fast fashion brands? Then I stumbled into the world of thrifting. 

Goodwill, Salvation Army, City Thrift, Community Hospice –  you name it, I’ve been to it. I would call myself a thrifting pro. I have spent countless hours perusing the aisles of thrift stores looking for the best deals and the best clothes.

Thrifting has become a way to destress but at the very beginning, thrifting can be very overwhelming. There’s aisle upon aisle of clothes that never seem to end. Plus, a lot of the clothes are – let’s face it – ugly. So here are my best tricks for thrifting in the Jacksonville/Ponte Vedra area. 

Go at the beginning of the day

Most thrift stores restock at the beginning of the day. So if you go at the beginning of the day you get the cream of the crop, the very best stuff, and everything won’t be so picked over. 

Look through everything – and I mean everything

While it may seem exhausting at first, the way to find the best stuff is to look at every single thing. I suggest going by section, so pick somewhere and start. I like to start at the T-shirt section. I look through every single t-shirt and I mean every single one. Usually, the gems are stuck in between the ugly Forever 21 t-shirt that says “Taco Tuesday” and the marathon t-shirt someone donated. 

Go by color

At some thrift stores, clothing is organized by color. I suggest going through only the colors you wear or are looking for. I don’t waste time going through the blue section because it’s not my color. I do, however, go through every single white, black, and grey t-shirt. This allows you to categorize and not waste time going through sections of clothes you won’t wear. 

Browse Pinterest for inspiration

Thrifting can be hard if you have no idea what you’re looking for. I have a Pinterest board with all my fashion inspirations and before I go thrifting I usually take a quick scroll through it to see what I’ve been liking. Usually, most trends can be found at the thrift store or can be upcycled. Looking at Pinterest helps you see what kind of style you want and what kind of clothes you’re searching for. 

Try everything on

Oftentimes, especially with jeans, I find that trying everything on helps me envision how I would wear that piece. I am a size 0-2 but sometimes I find jeans that say size 16 boys or size 29 mens and I’ll try them on and they fit! Just because it says a specific size doesn’t mean it won’t fit you. 

Re-envision the piece – aka UPCYCLE!

I have many thrifted items in my wardrobe that don’t look anything like they did when I first bought them. Some of the tops I’ve cropped. I cut a floor-length dress into a minidress. I’ve ripped holes and distressed most of the secondhand jeans I’ve bought. Some clothing may seem ugly but you just have to re-envision it. 

Go on a sale day

At Salvation Army on Wednesday it’s 50% off. EVERY Wednesday! And 50% off thrifted clothes means you will end up getting some pieces for less than three dollars. It can get pretty busy but most of the time, they restock everything so there’s usually a lot of stuff to look through. At Goodwill, there’s usually a certain 40% off tag for the week, too, so there’s always a way to get clothes for cheaper. 

Look at all the sections 

If you’re a woman, don’t just stick to the women’s section. If you’re a man, don’t just stick to the men’s section. Usually, most t-shirts and sweaters are unisex or can be seen as unisex. Looking through both sections gives you way more options. 

Look at the “Go Back” rack

The “Go Back” rack is like the gold of the thrift store. It’s usually near the changing room and holds the changing room rejects. The best part about the go-back rack is that it’s already stuff people have found and didn’t like or didn’t fit them. This means you didn’t have to go through the section to find it!

An upcycled look by Scout Snell

Go with a friend 

Going with a friend who knows your style is super helpful. You can split up the thrift store together and go through the racks in half the time. That can make it way less overwhelming and is more fun. 

Thrifting is a great way to find gems that nobody else has. It has become one of my passions and one of my favorite activities. I’ve included pics of some of my best finds. So hit your local thrift store, get your style on, and save the Earth! 

Where to Thrift Shop Online

Online thrifting is really great. ThredUp is probably the most popular.   I’ve purchased from them a bunch of times. The website allows you to filter by brand, your specific sizes, color, etc. which is helpful when you’re trying to find a specific item. They also have a lot of designer name brands and early 2000’s stuff.  You can save searches so if you’re trying to find something specific it can notify you when something is added.
Depop and Poshmark are also really good ways to shop second hand. They have the vintage stuff that people are looking for but with a more personal touch because customers sell and shop the items themselves. Poshmark definitely has more variety and is probably cheaper than a lot of the stuff on Depop but, Depop has trendier items.  There’s a really good community on those websites and some people even trade clothes.

About the Author: Scout Snell is a senior at Ponte Vedra High School. Her article was submitted for consideration for the Ponte Vedra Focus Scholarship. She plans to attend New College of Florida this fall. Since the quarantine, she has taken up sewing and launched a website with her upcycled fashion, Cut from The Cloth by Scout.  


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