The average American throws away 81 pounds of clothing per year.

No, this is not clothing that is being donated. It is filling up landfills across the world, contributing to the already detrimental pollution that is having a horrible affect on Earth’s climate.

You may be wondering — do I contribute to that statistic? Ask yourself: when I grow tired of an article of clothing, grow out of my favorite pair of jeans, or simply never get around to wearing that dress I bought last year —what do I do with it?

Since I was a kid, my dad has made me go through my closet a few times a year and clean out everything I don’t wear. Once I pile it all together, we drive to our nearest Goodwill and donate it. This taught me from a young age how important it is to give back in any way I can.

A few years back, I happened to wander into my local Goodwill in search of a big sweatshirt. Not only did I walk out with an oversized sweatshirt that I wear day in and day out, I discovered a love for thrift shopping. What can I say — the concept of finding a unique piece of clothing, often at a cheaper price and something no one else has, is exciting. But to some, thrift shopping can be intimidating. Rummaging through racks of “used” clothing doesn’t sound like an ideal way to spend a Sunday afternoon to many. But not only can it be fun, more importantly: it’s good for the environment.

Reselling items in thrift stores often brings in revenue for charities, especially at places like Goodwill or Salvation Army. In addition, they are not being mass produced (they have already been made!) and instead of ending up in a landfill, they make a positive addition to anyone’s closet. This clean way of shopping is fun, you never know what you’re going to find! But it’s also easy. Check out my steps for being the best thrift shopper you can be below.

1. Patience is Key

When it comes to thrift shopping, you’re more likely to walk away with nothing than something. It can take a long time of sifting through racks of clothing to find that *coveted* piece, and going in with a lot of time and patience will help you in looking for cool, “new” clothes. Many thrift stores have more racks than you’ll have time to sift through, but it’s worth it to check out as many as you can.

2. Check Back Frequently

Thrift stores are constantly receiving new shipments of clothes and updating their racks. If you visit a store one day, they can have a completely different inventory the next. If you want to be sure you’re finding the best things, it’s important to check back whenever you’re able to. It’s fun to see the ways the stores will change around their offerings.

3. Don’t Be Afraid of a Tailor!

I found a pair of jeans that I knew I wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else, but the waist was a little bit too big on me. I decided to have them taken in by a local tailor and the cost came to under $20. Not only did I save money on an expensive pair of jeans, now they fit like a glove!

4. It’s Ok To Be Picky

It can be intimidating to see a bunch of clothes for a much cheaper price than you may expect. I’ve caved and purchased things from thrift stores just because I knew I was getting a good deal — not because I necessarily wanted or needed what I was buying. Shop at thrift stores like you shop at any store: with the mindset that you should only be buying the things you really love.

5. Be Hopeful

This is a huge piece of advice when it comes to thrifting. Whether you’re in a designer consignment shop or your local Goodwill, there’s something for everyone in the midst of all of the clothing. It can seem like a lot, and you may feel more comfortable with a pocket-sized hand sanitizer as you dive into the abyss of old clothing, but what you find might surprise you.

6. Know What You’re Looking For

Whenever I go into a thrift store, I have a general idea of what it is I’m going to look for. Whether I come across that specific item or something entirely different, it helps the experience feel a little less daunting. Some of my favorite things to thrift for are:

  • Graphic tees
  • Jeans
  • Worn-in sweatshirts
  • Sunglasses
  • Oversized jackets
  • Reworked pieces

If I’ve been able to convince you that thrift shopping is the most fun and sustainable way to shop, take a look at this guide to some of the best thrift shops in New Orleans.

Take a look at some of my favorite thrifted pieces below:

A Cream Diane Von Furstenberg Blazer.
One of these retails for around $300-$400 and I found it in a charity shop for $25. One thing to be careful about with lighter colored pieces are any stains. Luckily, this looks brand new, fits me perfectly, and was such a good deal!

A Baby Pink Leather Jacket.
Jackets are the perfect way to add some flare to a plain outfit — and what better than this baby pink color?! This was thrifted for $50.

A Cropped Vintage Lacoste Sweater.
Sometimes, thrift stores will revamp old pieces to make them appeal to newer styles. I got this vintage Lacoste sweater for $20I love that, because of how old it is, the signature green crocodile is now white in color. The added elastic band at the bottom makes it so cute to tuck in with high waisted jeans.

A White and Gold Belt.
I had never seen a belt like this, and was eager to add a white belt to my collection of black belts. The stars are such a unique touch! This was $15 from a thrift store.

An Oversized Denim Jacket.
Everyone needs a good denim jacket – and believe me when I say the BEST denim jackets are vintage! They’re already worn in, faded, and have a perfect oversized fit. I found this for only $10!

A Houndstooth Wrap Blouse.
This piece that I thrifted for $20 looks like it could have been sold in Bloomingdales! It’s one of my favorite blouses to wear out to dinner or to the Boot on a Wednesday night.

Vintage Joop! Boyfriend Jeans.
These jeans are butter soft and look so good with the bottoms cuffed. Always make sure you try on jeans before you buy them to get the best idea of the fit and style. These were only $20 and if I could wear them everyday, I would!

A Corduroy Zip-Up.
Any of my friends will tell you that I’ve been dying for anything corduroy. I most recently found this maroon corduroy zip up at a retro store and paid $30 for it.

Cover Photo: Rachel Wine

Hayley Meisel

About Hayley Meisel

Hayley Meisel is our Assistant Editor in Chief! As a Communications major and English minor, she loves to write and explore the city. In between that, you can find her eating white cheddar Cheetos or Vietnamese food.