Thrift Shopping Tips from a Value Village Fashion Ambassador

Hi, I'm Jess, and I'm a thrift-a-holic!

Five years ago, you couldn't pay me to go thrift shopping alone. Even though some of those closest to me are lifelong fans, I got easily overwhelmed every time I set foot into a thrift store. Thanks to the rise of fashion blogging, I figured out a way to organize my thoughts and get my mind in the right place for my thrifting outings. Over time, I've mixed thrifted pieces into more and more of my wardrobe, and now, it's a mainstay in my "West Coast fresh" style.

Value Village reached out to me in the spring about becoming one of their Fashion Ambassadors. Even though I'd only been to one in the area, I was excited to see what I could find at other Value Villages around the region. I've made my way to almost all of them in the Puget Sound.

Value Village is great, because they partner with a non-profit close to each store and support that versus a big national one. So even though VV may not be Seattle-grown, they make sure to plant roots in each community they're part of. That means a lot to me.

So what are my tips for shopping smart at your favorite thrift store? 

Know what you want.

I made the choice to use this spring & summer trend reports as a guide to the things I wanted to buy at Value Village this season. I purposefully looked for lots of bright colors, prints and patterns, flowy shirts and denim that could be a DIY project for summer cutoffs.

Favor organic fibers.

I picked this tip up from Tina at GlamSpoon (check out her tips here.) Sticking to cotton, silk and wool will help you weed out the clothes without the staying power of natural fabrics. These are easier to clean and repair if needed.

Don't discriminate!

Not your size? Not a problem. The beauty of thrift shopping is the hunt for great finds. That means being as open-minded as possible. Look in size racks that aren't normally your sizes. You never know what might actually be a great fit - or a fun DIY project!

Try everything on.

This one's a no-brainer, but if you're going to be shopping for all kinds of sizes, it helps to try everything on before you decide what to buy. You'll get the best idea of how to style pieces, what needs to be cleaned, and if there are any stains, rips or other defects that are beyond repair. Oh yeah - make sure all of your zippers and buttons work properly, and repair them immediately if not.

Take risks.

When I'm thrift shopping, I love to try trends and pieces I'd never otherwise try. I even brought home a pair of sheer palazzo pants for the summer! It could be a sleeper hit for your wardrobe, and if it's not, at least you won't have the guilt of having spent cheese on it.

Know when to go.

Ask the store when they get their shipments and how often they restock. Check the website or sign up for their newsletter to get an idea of their sales schedules. What's better than a $4.99 Escada top? One that's half-off of that!

Take notes. 

Hopefully you will be thrift shopping more than once if you're reading these. Take notes of what your experience is like. Which stores do you like and why? What do you tend to gravitate towards when you're buying thrifted pieces? I know now that my favorite Value Village is the Ballard/Crown Hill location, and that I tend to buy more knitwear and button-downs when I'm thrift shopping. This way, you can be more conscious of how your style is evolving and incorporate thrifted pieces that much more easily.

Recognize this? It's my LuckyFABB outfit!

I recently took my girl & fellow thrifty fashion blogger, AlixRose with me to Value Village's Memorial Day sale. EVERYTHING you can wear was half-off! Needless to say, we went crazy at the Ballard store and came out with bags full of new pieces.

My Memorial Day Sale haul included: tons of knitwear and brand-names like: Pendleton, Escada, Calvin Klein, J.Crew, American Eagle Outfitters & its now-defunct brand Martin + Osa & more.

All for $56!

This particular cardigan has seen a lot of play lately. The striped cardi goes with everything and is light enough, but warm enough for Seattle grey days.

Thanks so much to Value Village for their generous offer to be a VV Fashion Ambassador! What an easy & simple way to update my wardrobe for such a great deal.