How to Find Vintage Treasures Thrifting

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Article by: Sierra Kane

I love getting all gussied up to go out dancing. It’s fun! When I see a man in a suit, I melt. If it’s a vintage suit I turn into a marshmallow in a campfire! And who doesn’t love a finely clad female? Looking good comes at a price, and unfortunately for swing dancers, with popular shows and movies like Man Men, Boardwalk Empire, and The Great Gatsby, the prices are on the rise. These seven tips will help you find fabulous treasures at thrift shops so you can start fires in all your on-lookers’ hearts!


Look Where Others Aren’t:
The best vintage jewelry I own I bought at a consignment shop in Milwaukee. It consisted mostly of antique furniture, dishes, and knick-knacks, but I decided to check it out anyway. I had discovered quite the jewelry selection; many of the pieces were marked down because they had been overlooked so long. I got three great necklaces, each no more then $15 dollars. Down the street there was a vintage clothing store with a less exciting selection of overpriced jewelry. Since the demand was higher there the supplier charged more. Moral of the story, don’t be afraid to check out the small consignment stores, the church owned thrift shops, the Goodwills, and the antique shops. The less people looking means the more likely you’ll find what they missed.

Go Early:
Having worked at Goodwill in the past I learned some insider information. About an hour or two after the store opens is when the employees put out racks of new merchandise so that is the best time to go. At the Goodwill I worked at we were told to let interested customers check out the rack before putting the clothes away. So not only is more merchandise put out earlier in the day, it is also a lot less picked over. Going early in the week is also a good idea. The majority of donations are made during the weekend so early in the week those items get sorted and put out.

Go Often:
It may sound counter intuitive but you can actually save time if you frequent a specific store. Pick a thrift shop near you that constantly gets in new merchandise like a Goodwill or Salvation Army. Spend a good amount of time there the first time you go, anywhere from 1-3 hours. Get familiar with the layout of the store and specifically the sections of merchandise your interested in. Then find a convenient time to check back, I’d recommend about once a week, maybe on your way home from work. By having a good initial understanding of what they have and how it’s organized when you come back in following visits you can easily skim the racks for what’s new and what interests you. I often skim racks looking for a specific fabric, color, or pattern that stands out to me.

thrift How to Find Vintage Treasures Thrifting

Know What Works:
Knowing what works with your style and lifestyle can save you a lot of time and money. When deciding whether or not to get a piece ask yourself the three W’s: when, where, and what.

1) When can I wear this? I can wear this dancing, at work, or to a party? Can I wear this in the summer, or winter?

2) Where can I wear this? Is it somewhere I can get a lot of use out of or could I only maybe wear it once for that one thing?

3) What can I wear this with? Do I have enough items at home that work with this piece to warrant a purchase? Do not make the mistake of buying something and thinking, “I’ll buy something to go with this”, because then your not saving money—you are spending it, and if it doesn’t match clothes at home it’s a sign the item is not your style anyway.

Try it on:
Sometimes I’ll pick out a dress that looks absolutely perfect/amazing on the rack! Then I try it on and realize it doesn’t fit, the shape is unflattering, or the color doesn’t suit me. I have also picked out a piece and though this could be ugly/weird but I’ll try it on, and I fit perfect and looked great. You never know till you try it on! I’m a firm believer in try before you buy.

The Devil is in the Details:
Often people spend their time looking for the melt worthy suit, the jacket, the pants, or the dress, the skirt, and the blouse that they forget about the little things that can really make an outfit. Don’t forget to look for fun belts, hats, purses, ties, tie clips, scarfs, and jewelry. Nothing feels better then having a vintage outfit complete from head to toe. Also, these accessories can be great for giving a modern outfit a healthy dose of vintage flair.

Don’t get Discouraged:
Thrift shopping is a little like playing the lottery. You don’t always win, but when you do it makes it all worth it. About 4 out of 5 times I go shopping at a thrift store I leave empty handed. I know though that this is simply how it can be so I don’t let it stop me. Don’t allow the 20% to prevent you from finding something special the other 80% of the time.

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