November 10, 2021

Thrifted Wardrobe Tips

By Elayna Johnson
Thrifted Wardrobe Tips

Ok this is highly off topic for what I normally post to the internet. However it is very on brand for me personally. I pay my internet rent so I get to share. 

In 2017 I decided that my husband and I would only buy used clothing for the Fall/Winter of 17-18. I had been doing research on fast fashion and was very interested and upset about what I was reading. Ideally I could support higher end brands that were focusing their efforts on ethical pay and work standards, but I was 23 and that was not in the cards. 

I set out to only purchase what I wanted only through resale! 

These months are fabulous to begin research on buying clothes. Fall and Winter clothes can be timeless. The materials meant to keep you warm are usually high quality and not incredibly trendy. They might be trendy depending on your style, but luckily trends tend to be cyclical, therefore what is new at target also exists in the bin at a goodwill outlet. Nothing under the sun is new folks. 

Here are a few things I learned and loved (still currently love!) about buying thrifted during the colder months. 

Manifest what you are looking for. 

I have said this before manifesting became a thing. No shade on manifesting, I just used to say it kind of meaning something else. What I am talking about actually has a name, it’s called Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. Here is an excerpt from How Stuff Works,

“Welcome to the Baader-Meinhof (pronounced badder minehoff) phenomenon, otherwise known as the frequency illusion. This phenomenon occurs when the thing you've just noticed, experienced or been told about suddenly crops up constantly. It gives you the feeling that out of nowhere, pretty much everyone and their cousin are talking about the subject — or you're seeing it everywhere you turn. But the thing is, of course, it seems to be everywhere because you're noticing it more. The term "frequency illusion" was coined by Stanford linguistics professor Arnold Zwicky in 2005. He also took note of its cousin the recency illusion — "the belief that things YOU have noticed only recently are in fact recent," Zwicky wrote.

A couple of things happen when the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon kicks in. One, your brain seems to be excited by the fact that you've learned something new, and selective attention occurs. Your brain subconsciously thinks, "Hey, that's awesome! I'm going to look for that thing without actually thinking about it." So now that you're looking for it, you find it. To make it all the more powerful, confirmation bias occurs after seeing it even once or twice. In other words, you start agreeing with yourself that, yup, you're definitely seeing it more.” (

Why does this matter when clothes shopping? Well, if you go into this crowded store you might be overwhelmed. You might forget what you want and become numb or dumb about what your style is. 

Before you lay your eyes on the physical clothing you must make a list of dream items and include pictures. Be incredibly specific! When it comes to sweaters, think neckline, how long, how thick, details around the wrist, how you would like it to feel. It helps make quick decisions and leads your eyes to what you are looking for. Trust me this works like a gem. Make a long list on your phone and keep it going. 

This also works really well with home goods. I waited for a popover pan and a springform pan for months, but since I remembered and knew what I was looking for I could easily scan the busy pan section for specifically what I wanted. 

Know your fit.

I don’t mean outfit, I mean fit fit. I don’t mean size. Size is irrelevant. Don’t read the label and put something down because of the number. That is silly. 

Spend time looking at the clothes you wear most often. Look at them hanging up, laying down, folded. Understand spatially how they look. This will come in so handy when shopping. The clothes in these stores are from many many decades, brands, materials and qualities. These things all make the number and size vary. Don’t trust the number, trust the look. If you are brave you can slip on a sweater over your outfit, and if not just hold it up. 

Don’t be afraid of brand and size. My all time favorite and most complimented sweater is a Talbots XL. 

Learn about cloth care

Here are a few basic ways to clean and care for your “new” clothing. 

First, if you are weird about used clothes, I’m sorry. That is a bummer and I wish I could understand better. However there are a few ways of thinking about it. You borrow your friend’s clothes right? What if your aunt offered you a designer piece? Will you act freaked out and not even touch it? Try to address your fears and know why you are afraid. 

Next, things can be cleaned. They can be cleaned well! If my kid barfs in his carseat I don’t have the luxury of getting a whole new one. I clean that sucker like I am going to do surgery on it. I feel similarly to thrifted clothes, and I highly doubt that a previous owner has barfed on my thrifted duds. 

Love this trick with vinegar to remove smells

How to remove tough stains,Then%2C%20rinse%20and%20wash.

Take good care of your clothes!

Double check if something is wool, dry clean only, or cashmere. Some people find cashmere itchy or too warm. It sneaks into sweaters too! 

The Friend Closet Method

I invented this method because thrift stores are overwhelmingly full. I gained much practical knowledge through living with 6 roommates with impeccable closets. 

When you walk into a thrift store the racks are loaded. I am going to say 80% of the things you don’t want. It can take up lots of time to sift through every piece of clothing. When you become a professional you can eventually quickly sift and be able to tell which materials are high quality, letting your eyes relax and letting your hands do the work. That is too advanced for now, let’s stick with the basics. 

Using your imagination envision a closet that isn’t yours. Clothes hanging in a section of about 3 feet. That is all you can see on the rack. Tell yourself that that 3 feet of clothing belongs to your most stylish friend. You love their clothes, but their style isn’t 100% your style. Look at the 3 feet and try to pick out what if their clothing most appeals to you. This will be color, sleeve length, pattern, and neckline. In these 3 feet you might only see 2-3 things that you like. Look at those things and evaluate. You just saved yourself precious time looking through lots of items that you wouldn't like anyways. If you aren’t drawn to them hanging up, what makes you think you will take it out of your closet to wear one day? 

Ok students, that is all for today. I hope your lessons serve you well. I hope to see pictures of you wearing your delightful finds!