Retail Therapy (shopping) pinThrift shopping can be a great way to save money and expand your wardrobe, but walking into a thrift shop can be overwhelming.

Everywhere you look you see racks of clothes that are off season, out of style, and, quite frankly, old. And there’s just so much stuff jammed into the store!

So how do you find those gems that will score you a great deal and that you will wear often?

Here are GoGirl’s tips on how to thrift in style and what to buy at thrift stores.

Bring a List

Write down what items you need before you go to the thrift shop and try to make sure you browse those racks first.

Need classic black trousers for work? You will find those there. Same with blouses, jackets, and summer dresses. But be sure to manage your expectations. You may only find one item on your list that you like at the thrift shop. If you don’t find something, try another store or another day. The inventory at thrift shops turns over often.

Look for Prints That Are Always in Style

Polka dots, stripes, herringbone, chevron, plaid, tweed, brocade, paisley, animal prints, and geometric prints are always in style. Look for clothes in these classic prints and they won’t give away their age.

I recently snagged a herringbone jacket at a thrift shop that is many seasons old but the classic print makes it look like I just got it off the rack at the department store.

Fit Is Key

Try everything on.

Thrift shops will have clothes from this season, three seasons ago, and ten years ago. Sizes vary from brand to brand but also have changed much over the years.

I have seen sweaters that are listed as a large that actually are today’s small. Because of the size variety, I check the racks that are above and below my size and ignore the number on the tag. Then find the fitting room and scrutinize the fit. If a piece of clothing is cut wrong, lays weird, is too short, or just plain doesn’t fit, don’t get it.

It’s not a bargain if it doesn’t make you feel great and you never wear it.

Can You Fix It?

Often you may find a great piece that is missing a button, has a small stain, or has some threads loose. When you find something you like, give it a good once over to check for any defects. If you find anything, can you fix it?

Missing buttons can be easily procured at a fabric store and sewn on. Makeup stains from someone else trying it on will often wash right out. Loose threads may signal that the fabric is unravelling so check carefully.

My herringbone jacket find had a small stain on side of the jacket that was not set in deep and a little soap and water scrubbed it out right away. Just remember, buying an item with a stain is a gamble that it will come out unless you can tell what it is. Make sure you still like the item and can hide the stain if it doesn’t come out. And if the item is ripped, has a large stain, or is becoming worn out, pass on it.