What we wear is a reflection of who we are, as well as a way to express ourselves. Staying true to our style can get expensive quickly, however. A great way to keep to that strict budget is by checking out your local thrift store, a cheap and environmentally friendly option for fashion.
One of the go-to destinations where I like to thrift is at Goodwill on University Avenue. This spot is home to the thrown away threads of the residence of Berkeley’s boujie hills. The age-old tale is true — someone’s trash can be someone else’s treasure, and this thrift store has been the place of many of my current wardrobe treasures. I was able to find closet essentials such as a vintage Lake Tahoe fleece and Levi’s-style mom jeans. You may have to spend a bit of time digging, but I have yet to leave Goodwill empty-handed. This spot is especially helpful if you’re looking for grandpa sweaters, oversized flannels or 90’s-style tops.
Other great places to thrift for more eccentric finds can be found everywhere in the Haight-Ashbury district in San Francisco. Although it’s a bit of a trek, the Haight-Ashbury streets are lined with thrift and consignment stores packed with faux fur coats. Just don’t forget to be wary of the price tag, as some vintage stores in this area can break the bank.
A perk of joining the thrifting movement, aside from the one-of-a-kind clothes you may find, is the price. Typically at Goodwill, shirts will be priced from $3 to $7, pants $6 to $10, jackets $7 to $15, dresses $4 to $20 and shoes $10 to $25. At comparable consignment stores like Buffalo Exchange, add about $5 to $10 per item to what you would pay for something at a traditional thrift store. A consignment store will still have cheaper finds than conventional retail stores, plus they already sorted through the masses of fabric, so you will find hidden gems faster.
Prices aside, thrifting is hugely beneficial for the environment. The reuse of clothing brings down the amount of energy used in the manufacturing of new designs and textiles. It reduces the amount of landfill waste that comes from the packaging of newly made clothing, and it encourages recycling. Not to mention, most thrift stores donate a certain amount of proceeds to community development programs. Even consignments stores such as Crossroads Trading have programs that donate to local charities when you bring in your own shopping bag.
Now that you know all the benefits and logistics of thrifting, how do you successfully find what you’re looking for without getting overwhelmed by the piles? Start by going to smaller stores, and give yourself a set amount of time to be there so you don’t get overwhelmed with trying to see absolutely everything. The best way to approach thrifting is to look at clothes with the mindset of, “how can I alter this into what I want from what it is currently?” For example, I once went thrifting for a denim skirt and found a maxi-style fitted jean skirt with fabric roses tacked on. You may be thinking that it sounds hideous, and you’d be right. After cutting off the roses and half of the bottom to make it a mini skirt, however, I have received nothing but compliments. Let me tell you — it was $3 well spent.
These are just some of the many benefits of skipping your typical retail establishment and heading to a local thrift store … Your wallet and the environment will be very thankful!