The Art Of Shopping Smart series continues with Patrice of Looking Fly on A Dime. I reached out to the certifiably fly expert (Nate Berkus calls her the “Thrifting Guru”) for advice on how to seriously score at thrifting.
What attracted you to the world of thrifting?
I was initially attracted to thrifting out of necessity. I moved to NYC and worked in a fashionable environment but my salary was next to nothing. I thrift shopped off and on before but this was the first time in my life that I really relied on thrifting as a solution to my fashion woes. I was able to find trendy, affordable pieces at a fraction of the original cost. I started receiving compliments on my outfits but no one ever knew my fly threads were originally someone else’s.
What are a few of your favorite recent thrifted finds?
A pair of zig zag flat boots from the Salvation Army for $10. They have a Missoni-like feel to them and they make a huge statement even when the rest of my look is pretty subdued.
Polka dots are a huge trend this season and I was happy to find high waisted, polka dot pants. And I was really happy when I looked at the tag and they were Betsey Johnson. They only set me back by $5. That’s what I call a thrift store score.
You challenged yourself to spend less and shop via thrifting only for a year +. What did you learn about shopping, saving for fashion etc from the challenge?
My Thrifty Threads 365 challenge has really taught me that thrifting can meet all of my (and anyone’s!) fashion needs. I always thought this but now I really know it for sure. Since I’m only thrift shopping for a full year (no new clothes, except underwear), I have to rely on my favorite thrift stores to find the best trends and pieces to update my wardrobe. Some people look at this as a “challenge” but so far it’s been pretty easy. I’ve also saved a ton of money, as I’m only spending a max of $50 each month. Once the challenge is up at the end of the year, I think I’ll treat myself to something nice.
What are your top 5 tips for successful thrift shopping?
1) Shop with friends: thrift shopping can be overwhelming and intimidating for newbies. Shop with friends to make it a bit easier. Tell your friend what you’re looking for and she can help you find those pieces. And vice versa. It’s like you have an extra set of eyes and hands.
2)Find a great store: It’s trial and error finding the right secondhand store. Whether you live in a small town or huge city, you’re bound to find a store that fits your needs and style. Walk or drive around your neighborhood to scope one out, check to see if a national chain like Goodwill or Salvation Army is near you and there’s always the site The Thrift Shopper. You just enter your zip code and it lists stores in your area.
3) Shop Online: If you’re too busy or don’t have the patience for a crowded store, you can shop online at some thrift stores. Beat the crowd and still score some serious deals. There’s Goodwill, Housing Works, Beacon’s Closet and others!
4) Rewards Cards: Thrift stores are already affordable, but you can save even more with rewards cards. Some locations and chains have customer appreciation and VIP cards that help you earn points towards futures discounts. I’ve used my Goodwill Rewards Card for several $10 off coupons. Check with your store to see if they offer one.
5) Be Patient: Being patient is the number one thrift shopping tip. It takes time to find great pieces and you have to be willing to dig. So just relax, take a deep breath and give yourself at least an hour to shop. Your wallet will thank you!
Thanks for sharing your budget friendly wisdom with us Patrice! Head over to Looking Fly on a Dime for more sage shopping advice.