Many people tell me that thrift stores are great when their kids are little, but once they hit the teen years they have to start shopping at the mall. I disagree. Shopping for teenagers at the thrift store is hard because… shopping for teenagers is hard in general. Don’t even get me started on the latest fashions, because I’ve got issues. I do not want to send my kids out looking like they belong on the corner somewhere.
Other people tell me their kids refuse to wear thrift store clothes. Amy Dacyczyn author of Tightwad Gazette has some great advice regarding teens and clothes. She gave her kids a clothing budget and them took them to the mall. It didn’t take long for her children to realize they could buy one outfit at the mall or ten outfits at the thrift store.
My kids don’t mind shopping at the thrift store. In fact my boys prefer shopping at the thrift store, my oldest once told me, “Mom, I like it when you buy us thrift store clothes because if we ruin them you don’t get mad at us.” Let’s just say my reaction is a bit different when they put a hole in the knee of a $30 pair of pants.
Here are a few thrift store shopping tips.
Plan your trips around the bargain days. Many thrift stores have one or two sale days a month where everything is 1/3 or 1/2 off. Or they have bag sales, you know the ones where you fill a bag and pay a set price.
Shop out of season. Just like the mall, thrift stores will mark down their winter clothes as summer approaches. This is a great time to stock up on gear for next year.
Know your prices and brands. I am not going to pay $3 or $4 for a Target T-shirt because I know I can buy a new one on clearance for a similar price. I will pay $4 for a shirt from LL Bean or Lands End. If an item is priced close to the “new” price I pass and look for something else.
Carefully examine your purchases. There is nothing more frustrating than coming home from the thrift store with a great find and then realizing it has a tear or a stain that cannot be removed. Since most thrift store sales are final it pays to be picky.
Don’t pass up a really great deal because of a small flaw. Sometimes the deal is so great it is worth it to buy something with a small flaw and hope you can fix it when you get home. Especially buttons! These are easy to replace.
Go with a list of items you want to purchase. Sometimes the deals are so good you can get carried away and overspend, even at the thrift store. Last fall my boys needed soccer shorts for practice. I went to the thrift store and found great shorts for under $2 a piece. Many of them looked new. I ended up buying a crazy amount of shorts. Fortunately I have a lot of boys who can hand them down to each other, but a kid doesn’t need 5 pairs of soccer shorts!
Think outside of the box. Do you see the girl in the purple dress?
She found the dress at the thrift store last fall. With help from her mom they turned the dress inside out, added straps and the tulle at the bottom and created a unique dress for the homeschool end of the year banquet.
This purse was made from a skirt I found at the thrift store. I really liked the colors in the skirt, but it was several sizes too big so I turned it into a purse, and a pillow (not pictured).
Now on to my thrift store finds. Actually I prefer yard sales because they are so much cheaper, but it is still a little slow for yard sales, and it has rained for the past one million days. (I am exaggerating, but only slightly!)
My husband is promoting in a week and since it is kind of a big deal my older kids needed something nice to wear to the promotion. Truth be told I plan on taking a lot of pictures on that day and I didn’t want my son wearing one of his usual “I do my own stunts” t-shirts!
I found this red polo shirt for $2.00, the shorts for $2.50. Total cost $4.50
His everyday clothes.
T-shirt $2, swim trunks $2. Total cost $4.
Tank top $3, goucho pants $2. Total cost $5.
Outfit for the promotion.
Pink tank $2, dark pink shirt $4 (big bucks, but we really liked it!) skirt $2. Total cost $8.
For more thrift store fashion visit Jen and her Frugal Fashionista Fashion Show Link Up Party.
This post is also linking to Frugal Fridays and Friday Show and Tell.
I got my daughter clothed for the entire summer for $26 with brand name, like new clothing! I love it!
Our Arc does 50% off on Saturdays – love it!
My dd is all over a new consignment store near our house; it has high-end brands at prices that she can afford with her (meager) allowance. Most of the clothes we buy at thrift and consignment stores are new or virtually new – I found her a great spring sweater for $4, obviously never worn. Her new beaded T-shirt ($6) is a name-brand item.
You can find some great housewares and baskets at thrift stores, too. I buy baskets for our troop gift basket auction at Goodwill every year.
Oh my…will you come and do my shopping for me? I am not fond of thrift stores or garage sales or stuff like that but I do love saving money. You have some incredible finds. Those kids look good!
We do nearly all our shopping at thrift stores and yard sales. We can dress our daughters in modest styles for such little money. Thanks for the tips!
I’d love to hear more about the end of year homeschool banquet – our group could use some ideas.
Great deals! I’m a huge thrift store girl as well and it is especially helpful that my best friend owns our local store. She always gives me the heads up on great finds including my daughters LouLou Lemon hoody which she adores and isn’t embarrassed to tell people where she got it from. I love that!
Oh to be back in the States again, although they do have flea markets here, I really miss the consignment shops!!!
michigan Kate says
I’m new to shopping at thrift stores ect. I’ll have to check and see if they have 1/2 off/bag sales. Thanks for the tip!
Jen@Balancing Beauty and Bedlam says
Yea – thanks for joining my Frugal Fashionista party. I was worried I’d be my own date. 🙂
This is so thorough with such great tips.
wow those really are some great clothes!
frantically heidi says
Great finds! I especially love your daughter in the pink. Sassy!
I’m not much of a commenter, but your purse made me laugh – I have that skirt that you used for it! I think I may also have gotten from a thrift store…or the clearance rack at target. Either way it cost three dollars and I wore it for my engagement photos three years ago. I still have it and wear it all the time!
I have commented a few times regarding Cora (Yes I admit I love her) but this post is perfect for me to introduce myself, as I your family has became very important to me :)))) Marina, 44, Irish, living in Italy. Former surgeon (I quit when I moved to Italy), my husband is on a wheelchair and I have 2 teens (dd 16, ds 13) After loosing three babies we have filed for adoption. Possibly 2, not babies (in Italy adoption is an issue). People only WANT new-borns, but this selfish way of acting is something not related to this post.
We are on a limited budget (only my husband is working) not tight, but limited. I found your blog when I switched to frugal in a definitive way. If the 2 new kids arrive, we will certainly be on a tight budget.
I have ALWAYS used the criteria you decribe when purchasing for my children. Remember I live in Italy, the kindom of vanity and fashion. A country where a pair of jeans can easily reach 250 € and a pair of Nike can cost 300 €.
This is absurd. My son is growing like lightning. I refuse to buy a pair of jeans that are the same price of 2 months of electric bill. So I have always used the budget trick. This is your money, go spend it.
At first they did spend it on very expensive items, but as they started growing out their outfits, they went to local markets and our equivalent of thrift stores. My daughter now has a wardrobe of very fancy clothes that cost less than 5 € per item. SHE is at a fashion school, therefore she works on some items to make them look better.
Children are what we make them. It’s hard, it requires a long and difficoult time but they learn from us. When my son says: my friends have this or that, I reply: your friends have divorced parents, no brothers or sisters and no family to back the up. Would you trade places?
It works miracles. Frugal for me means more time with family, more care for food and home, more support for my kids. They understand this.
Impressive! They look great!
My teen daughter actually finds more clothes at thrift stores than I do. I’m glad she’s willing to shop there!
Thank you so much for this wonderful post! My husband is a critical care nurse and his hospital has started laying off nurses. So, last night we started talking about how to scale back to prepare for possibly being jobless. We watched your TV segment on You Tube together and after hearing how you save 50% of your income DH got VERY excited and said “let’s do it!!!” I haven’t been to a thrift store in several years but seeing how beautifully your children are dressed inspires me to try again. Thank you for all your inspiration!!
Great post on thrift store clothing. I have a teen and I always bought her a little bit of new things for school and some used things. It streatched out my budget for the year. For a short time she did not want used clothes. But it is funny as she is entering 10th grade it is very cool to shop at the Good Will!!! Lots of her friends shop at thrift stores also. We find lots of brand name clothing. My kid is a t-shirt and jeans type of kid. Does not like to be flashy and does not like to look like a hooker off a street corner. There are times we attempt to shop at the mall or buy new. Nothing fits right, or the necks are cut too low, the clothes are just ugly. So it works for us.
What great finds!! I’ve always hated the process of looking through the racks and racks of clothes at the thrift stores, but you’ve inspired me!! It’s been awhile, so I may give it a shot.
I sure know what you mean about the styles and a street corner. My daughter is about to graduated to the Junior section, and I’m dreading it.
I will agree that Thrift store and yard sales are great for clothing for the family.My dh wears uniform everyday so his clothing does come from regular stores abd last a long time because he hardly wears them. But the rest having 3 teenage girls(16,14 twins) one son(10 and loves cloths) and another girl(9) thrift stores are a god send. I also shop for myself. I also love to sew and have started making alot of our cloths with sale fabric or redoing a great find at a thrift store. My kids love having one of a kind items and love to say MY MOM MADE IT FOR ME. One tip if you do know how to sew is…I have found our local thrift store will give stuff free if it has not been sold in awhile. I will get the item if fabric ias nice take it apart and use it to make a new item with it.Small items like tank tops,skirts,etc….has work out great so we have alot of free cloths that look nice.I also use all scraps of flannel or fleece to make warm socks in the winter they last longer and i get more for my bucks.I also do not shop off of the clearence rack at all stores including Walmart….my kids are learning this habit and has really started to work for them as well….
hope this helps with saving on clothing for a family.
I think it takes patience and talent to find nice things at thrift stores, but it can be done. You can also find some great books there too, but that’s another topic lol. When I was a teenager, we had to wear uniforms to school which I didn’t mind because I never had an extensive wardrobe. There were 7 kids at the time(blended family, chaotic). Now there is one kid left at my parents house that is almost 16. She has been spoiled all her life so she thinks she has to wear everything American Eagle. I am like you about the latest fashion issues. I am trying to start teaching modesty to my own young daughters and it’s hard when your extended family doesn’t understand what that means. Sorry, I am rambling. Well, my mommy brain is kicking in so I lost my train of thought lol
We love yard sales and thrift store finds. Free bags given by friends are even better. LOL! Your kids look great.
Thanks for the great post! I love the thrift stores too. I’ll be taking my youngest there this weekend, he needs an outfit for the talent show at school and I’m not paying full price for a 1 nite gig!(well, I don’t pay full price anytime, but you get what I mean)
Thrift stores are great for Halloween time too.
Thanks for sharing!
Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality says
Great bargains you found for your teens! I love that. I’m a thrifty hunter too & they are def. out there, just gotta look. Yardsales are my fave too, they are usually SO cheap.
Tia @ Tia Saving Cents says
My eldest son (15) discovered his love of thrift stores when we found “THE” brand of pants he has always wanted (but never got because the best sale price we ever found was $45) in his size and great condition for $6. It is amazing what you can find if you know what you are looking for! All great tips! Thanks for the break down!
too cute! I have been buying my kids aeropostale, abercrombie, j crew, old navy, all for the same as what I would have paid at wal mart for one outfit! love thrift stores!
Mary @Raising 4 Godly Men says
My two oldest boys have just discovered on their own that second hand shopping for jeans is a REAL good thing. [0; They bought some t-shirts on sale of some brand names they really wanted. So to afford their splurge they got 3 pairs of Sally Anne purchaced jeans. Maybe my years of frugalness has rubbed off on them. [0=
Blessings and ((HUGS)) my SSiC
You quite obviously photoshop-ed your oldest daughter’s pictures. She is growing into such a beautiful woman!! Wow! Wow! Did I say, WOW!
I never have much luck with consignment or thrift stores in my area, but I do get some great deals at The Children’s Place online. They always have a 15% off coupon and I end up getting things for around $2-$4 when they are having a sale. I only have 4 kids to clothe, but it all adds up!
Since we are nearing the end of our adoption process, I’m soaking up all this information like a sponge. I’m a little excited about shopping for little ones at the thrift store. 🙂
Jenna @ Newlyweds says
Wow what awesome finds. I wish we had some thrift stores closer. ugh.
This is a great post. Thanks for sharing all of this insight. I love your daughter’s outfit for the promotion. She looks so pretty. 🙂 I came over from Jen’s. Kelly
Good job! Lots of great finds!
I love thrifting!! It’s so fun when you find something great! 🙂 I wish thrift stores would organize by size instead of color, though… drives me crazy!
I love yard sales. And a bargain! 🙂 So much better than shopping at the mall…and I’m a teen too.
Oooh, I love thrift store shopping!
You did a great write-up on it. I hope you have encouraged others to give it a try for the first time…they’ll be hooked.
I love thrift stores! I buy a lot of second hand clothing for work. I’m a preschool teacher, but we’re not allowed to wear jeans to work. I don’t want to worry about my clothing if a child spills paint on me or has some kind of “accident” on me! I have found great things to wear to church as well. The church I work for has a clothing exchange once a year. I’ve gotten many items for FREE!
My oldest son (14) says he’ll be purchasing his future wife’s engagement ring at the Salvation Army. What a guy!
I got excited this week because I began seeing signs popping up for yard sales. ‘Tis the season!
Teens can be very tricky. Recently I have been hitting yard sales in upscale neighborhoods and finding pieces from Abercrombie + Fitch and Hollister for my lil sis.
If any of your readers live in the Fuquay-Varina area of NC, there is a great thrift store called Pass It On in downtown Fuquay. I was there just this morning and bought a beautiful white linen Talbots blouse (looks so new) for $3.50. They have lovely, name brand clothes and I’ve yet to see a stain or tear.
Thanks for the tips!! I have never really done the thrift store thing. I am planning on checking it out soon.
Kim from Canada says
Totally agreement! My little girl is still in the single digits (9yo), but she has already learned how much more is available through thrift stores and yard sales. Great models!
A timely post for such times as these. My kids have been wanting to go to the mall for a new pair of jeans, but, like you, I decided that the thrift store this time is where we will shop. I had already thought about the fact that I will give them an allotment, and they can see for themselves whether they want one nice t-shirt from Eagle, or more to pick from the thrift shop.
Rachel R. says
Where do you live that you can buy clothing at thrift stores with prices like that? Call me cheap, but I have a hard time even buying clothes at the thrift stores around here, because of the pricing. A shirt is more like $4-5, and that’s just for a plain old t-shirt, not even the nice stuff. (No half-price or $1 tag days on a regular basis, either. Well, they have 1/2 price tag days, but they exclude “starred” items and then star practically everything in the store.)
But your daughter’s outfit is beautiful! (Your son looks nice, too, but I love that skirt.) And, as one of eight girls, I can tell you that we all shopped at thrift stores growing up, none of us had a problem with it, and we all still do as adults. Modesty becomes more difficult once the children aren’t little anymore, but that’s true of the regular retail stores, too.
What cute finds! I love how you turned a skirt into a purse, too. 😀
That purple dress is very pretty. I love how she “personalized” it with the tulle and straps.
And your daughter’s outfit in that final picture is lovely. That skirt is so springy and fun, and her sandals are fantastic.
Do you shop at thrift stores for yourself too?
Cara Mirabella says
Love the thrift store!! Way back in the day, I got one of my prom dresses from the Salvation Army!