Thrifting Guide for People Who Are Above Thrifting


I apologize if you have a certain Macklemore & Ryan Lewis song stuck in your head from reading that title.  Allow me to begin..

I’ll be the first to admit that the I was beyond shocked to learn that some of my friends who come from prestigious backgrounds take great pleasure in thrifting.  The idea of buying clothes that strangers once wore completely grossed me out at one point in my life.  I can remember reading a magazine article in American Girl when I was around 10 years old about a girl who only thrifts her clothes, and thinking that she must live a life of complete squalor.  Fast forward to a few years ago, when I learned that some of my friends thrift, I began to get a bit more accustomed to the idea.  Today, I am not a 100% thrifter, or even a 50% thrifter, but I do enjoy the steals I find when I’m willing to get over myself and explore the world of pre-loved (and sometimes even brand new) bargains.  Here I have compiled a list of must-do’s for thrifting for those of you who just might be a pinch above the idea of thrifting…  I get it.. But TRUST me when I say that you can save thousands of dollars, and come away with some fantastic steals.  From one snob to another, I’m happy to have made the conversion.

1. Research Rummage Sales in Affluent Areas.  The absolute best deals you’ll find are at rummage sales for charities.  I mentioned before that almost all Junior League chapters hold a rummage sale, and that is where gold may be struck.  Seriously.  JL girls tend to be of a higher SES, so their hand-me-downs are fabulous.  The Junior League of Washington held theirs (OK, ours.. I’m in JLW) the last weekend of March, and I got a ton of great pieces from J. Crew, Loft, Anthropologie, and Banana Republic.  Other good places to look are schools, churches and synagogues in affluent areas.  They typically only have the rummage sales once per year, so find out when theirs is and mark your calendar!  Most are in the spring time, after people have detoxed (or read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing– I’m telling you, life changingggg) for spring cleaning.  If you know of a church or synagogue in an affluent area, simply search, “(name of school) rummage sale.”  If they have one, it’ll pop up.  It’s unlikely that sales will pop up on search engines without you specifically looking for them.  In other words, don’t search things like “Washington, DC rummage sale.”  Outdated information will likely come up if you do.  I did a little clicking around and sent a few emails, and found the following.  These sales tend to have huge followings, so they often don’t have to advertise as much.  Another advantage of these sales is that people are more willing to donate nice items to them, that they might not want to send to a thrift shop because it’s to benefit a charity that they love.

  • St. Columba’s in Tenleytown, DC (May 11-13, 2017)
  • St. Patrick’s Episcopal, DC (April 22, 2017)

2. Go to “bag sale” day. These aren’t always advertised, so shoot an email to the sale organizer to see if there’s going to be one.  Bag sales are usually on the last day of the sale, and you pay a specified price for a bag and, if something fits, it’s yours!  This is one of those times that the high maintenance type just need to get over themselves.  Wear your yoga pants, throw your hair in a ponytail, and get ready to scour.  Put anything that looks even remotely interesting in your bag, knowing that you most likely will be re-donating a lot of it once you’re done.  The key to these sales is to move fast.  You won’t always find great steals in your first run-through, but you probably will once you start looking closer.

3. Get there early and be willing to dig. That’s right, ladies.  If you want to get the best steals, you need to get there before everyone else.  Frankly, I wouldn’t even bother going if you’re not going to get there right when it opens.

4.  Chat with the other ladies, and help each other out! If someone knows what you’re looking for, they were kind to share.  This tip was from my friend, Christie, who was also kind enough to share some photos below.  I most certainly agree with this tip!  The spirit at rummage sales is usually pretty light and fun, so chat away!  I was pulling stuff off the racks for my friends who are different sizes and styles from me, so we all won in the end.  I usually do one run-through solo and quickly, and then go back through more slowly a second time.  This is when the conversations are at a prime!

5. Know your size in major brands before you go.  This is from my friend, Elizabeth, who also shared some fantastic photos below.  If, for example, you know you’re a 4 in Gap, a 6 in Loft, and a 6 in J. Crew, you’re good to go.  At high-end rummage sales, these brands will be ALL over the place, so come prepared.

6. Be open-minded.  Yes, if you really get to think about it, thrifting can be misconstrued as kind of gross.  I get it.  But, just remember that you’re getting amazing name brands for sometimes 95% off, and all that’s standing between now and when you wear it is OxyClean.

7. Keep your smart phone on hand.  While I love stores like Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters, and department stores like Nordstrom, I don’t have all of their brand names memorized.  When I come across something I like and am wondering what quality it may be, I run a quick search of the brand name.  Occasionally it’ll be a Target brand, but more times than not, it’s from Anthro.

Still don’t believe me? My sweet friends, Christie and Elizabeth were generous enough to not only contribute to these tips, but also share their rummage sale finds.  Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING from the photos below are from the rummage sale (expect for their shoes).  Tell me they aren’t the cutest!

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