Frugal Fashion Series | Thriftshopping 101: tips and tricks


So you're passing by a store and you see that bag you've been lusting after. You stop dead in your tracks then run into the store thinking "I must have that bag!"

 It's definitely your style.


 It certainly is top-quality, free of flaws.


Except... the price isn't quite within your range.

We all love quality clothing yes? Unfortunately, most quality clothing articles tend to be very expensive (unfairly so in my opinion). So do we then go for the cheap (probably trendy and not-so-quality) alternatives?

Aboslutely not.

In the long run, "cheap" clothes are actually more expensive. Think of it this way: How many times would cheap clothes need repairing or replacing? Far more times than your quality clothes would need replacing. So what's a frugalista (Frugal Fashionista) to do?

One word. Thriftshopping.

So you know how the world usually looks down on second hand clothing? Turns out thriftshopping (or Okrika to Nigerians) is the perfect solution for the frugalistas!  You get quality clothing at the price of cheap not-so-quality clothes.

Now that I've convinced you, (I'm quite confident in this argument) lets look at the four topics we'll be discussing:

1. Why no fashionista should look down on thriftshopping
2. Items you should and shouldn't buy while thriftshopping
3. Four useful thriftshopping tips

A knowledge of quality items and how to differentiate between fake and original clothing is crucial in thriftshopping.

 Let's get right to it!

Why no fashionista should look down on thriftshopping

Fashion 101: No truly fashionable person turns down a benficial fashion sale. Thriftshopping as far as I'm concerned is like an everyday sale.

Also, no truly fashionable person turns down an item he/she wants because it's not from a high fashion store. "Truly fashionable" being the key word on both accounts. A good find is a good find.

Any other reason for looking down on thriftshopping is acceptable I guess.

Items you should buy while thriftshopping
This depends on how durable the material of the clothing item is.

I recommend clothes made of stronger durable fabric, depending on the thread count and so on. Bags of a sturdier leather or fabric are suitable.

Items you really shouldn't buy while thriftshopping

-First on our hypothetical list is shoes. While there are some shoes that can indeed stand the test of time, I urge you not to take that risk.


Shoes are not like clothes. Clothes are worn everyday but hardly put under the pressure that shoes are.

This tip doesn't apply if the shoes look really new. The person probably wore it twice. But if you can, buying brand new shoes is highly recommended.

-Secondly, clothes made of lighter less durable material/fabric. I've found that second hand clothes made of satin (and similar materials)don't make good investments.

You can of course buy satin and other less durable materials but these have to be calculated risks.

Now, to the practical part. We have discussed knowing your personal style to help you buy exactly what you like and fits into your style. We have also discussed differentiating between original and fake clothing.

Now, we're on to tips that'll help you in thriftshopping or otherwise.

Three useful thriftshopping tips

Trust me, these work. Took me a while to learn, but once I started appyling them, they made all the difference.

-Not all items are quality.

Thriftshopping mostly involves quality clothes. If the clothes could survive that long, they are probably quality. But the thing is, there are different levels of poor quality.

Some clothes are just slightly higher in quality and might have been able to survive just as long.

So what's the problem then?

Well, the problem is those clothes might be reaching the end of the life span. So after getting excited about your new dress, you might only get to wear it twice. So scout wisely.

- Don't ignore flaws

Yes, it's a good deal. The Marc Jacobs dress for only 95%  (or more) of the original price? Heck yes!

But... it has a spoilt zipper, some holes here and there and many more imperfections. Drop it. Yes, it's MARC JACOBS. Yes, the flaws can probably be easily repaired. Or so you think.

The dress would probably occupy your "Fix-it list" for so long, you'd probably get tired and just get rid of it.

- Take your measurements and/or taperule with you.

This recommendation is general, thriftshopping or not. Standard sizes are cool and all but not always accurate. I'm a Uk size 8 and a US size 4.

My aunt got me a killer red dress sometime ago. Before wearing it, I looked at the label and was thoroughly confused. It said "US Size 0". I was just like how can it be size zero and the hips are this big?I tried it on and the hips were slightly bigger than mine." Size zero" indeed.

I particularly recommend this for thriftshoppers because sometimes, the label where the size is written might have gone off (with the rest of the dress intact hopefully).

 - Bargain like a pro.

It's quite easy. Just start at a really low price (stating you have little to no money but you'd really like to have the item) and work your way up. Based on their reaction know whether to take a desperate, playful or threatening route. Reluctantly give in when the price suits you.

For a more thorough post (from me) on improving your bargainging skills, check this post out I wrote for a fellow blogger.

I hope these tips help immensely.

Next in this series is a post on impulse shopping. We'll be discusssing this "bad habit".

What thriftshopping tips have you acquired over the years?

BONUS: There's a free checklist of flaws to help you discern the quality of your clothing items.

You're welcome.


Leave a link, let me know in the comments, I'd love to hear from you!

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  1. Hey Ije!

    I think you're right. Unfortunately for me, I was so terrible at thrift shopping. I'd end up buying the 'dead-est' items and when I got home - straight in the bin! Lol. Some of my friends were really good though. I haven't thrift shopped in years! I think it's time to re-discover those thrift shops around me. Plus I think the ones here in he UK are pretty sane shops. In Nigeria, gosh, the madness just totally put me off.
    11 Classes of Men Gifts That Work All The Time

    1. Hi Kachee!

      Hahahahahaha! Me too! I got better though.

      And you're right! The ones in UK are really very sane! I got some pretty epic stuff from thriftshops in Hertfordshire once *remembers dreamily*

      Hope the tips help you improve your skills.

  2. Yea thrift shopping is a way to get items at a cheap price. I wonder why a lot of Nigerians look down on it like if I wear a thrifted clothing, they'll know. It's just you have to have a good eye. Nice post Ijenna

    Beth fayemi's blog

  3. Lovely post. I suck at thrift shopping like I never get a good bargain and I always end up with dead clothing. Almost like I was jazzed while shopping, thanks for sharing these tips. I intend to try it out.

  4. I pick really good things when i go thrifting so yess I'm all for it.

    1. I know, right?!! Plus the thrill of the bargain! I quite enjoy thrusting.

  5. Am good with thrifting so I know all your points are legit!
    Yes, the world looks down on second hand clothing and most of them be wearing it on a low o especially university girls man.
    I don't normally take a tape but now I'll start.
    Great tips as usual

  6. I really, really want to try thrift shopping but there aren't any stores where I'm from unfortunately. Hopefully I can go one of these days, when I go study abroad <3

    xx Bash |   go say   H E Y   B A S H