Dress beyond your budget with a few thrift store tips and tricks.

My love affair with the thrift store began when my kids were small and our budget was tight.  Now that we’re putting two kids through college while planning for retirement, we’re always looking for ways to stretch our dollar. I’ve turned these limitations into a treasure hunt by finding designer brands at a fraction of the retail price at my favorite thrift stores.  Here are some of my secrets to dressing like a million bucks, while spending just a few dollars.

Know Your Brands

Chances are you’ve identified a few retail brands that fit your body type.  But you may have missed out on shopping for some of the higher end labels, thinking they’re out of your price range.  Take a field trip to a few of the stores on your “dream” list and identify your size for their brand.

Thrifting can be a bit overwhelming at first, so I suggest you keep notes on pieces you find especially flattering to help you focus. For example, blazers from Cato and White House Black Market are my favorites.  If I spot one at the thrift store in my size, I know I’ve struck gold.

Know the Thrift Store

Donations to thrift stores are populated by the demographic of the area.  I’ve learned which stores are worth my time and those I need to drive on by.

Most are organized by type and color of clothing, so limiting your search to colors that flatter you will save a lot of energy.  My daughter has forbidden me to buy any more black clothing, so I’ve been skipping that section lately.  Again, focus is key.  Ask when they restock the shelves and plan your trip at the beginning of the new cycle to snag the choice loot.

Be Extremely Choosy

Yes, you are looking for a bargain, but don’t be afraid to leave the store empty-handed.  Absolutely no stained, torn or damaged items should make it into your cart, no matter how much of a deal they are!  Check all zippers and buttons, and get out your bifocals.  We are looking for classic items here, not someone’s cast-offs.

Lastly, when you receive compliments on your new-found treasure, resist the urge to divulge all details about where you found it and how much you paid.  This is our little secret…

Don’t let your empty nest budget limit your style. Instead, use this guide to expand your wardrobe without breaking the bank. I can’t wait to see what you find!