You don't need a million to look like a million: Top 10 thrifting hacks you need in your life

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  • We're counting down the picks for the top ten thrifting hacks you need in your life.
  • For this list, we're looking at some of the best tips and tricks to use when buying used clothing or secondhand home goods. 
  • Remember, you don't need a million to look like a million.

10. Consider soiled or dirty items 

One of the first things to keep in mind while thrifting is that first impressions can be deceiving. It's easy to pass up a pair of sneakers or a piece of wood furniture because they're seemingly covered in a layer of grime. But, the good news is that almost anything can be cleaned and restored to its former glory.   

It's always a good idea to clean anything from a thrift store but accessories, kitchenware and furniture can all look brand new with the right supplies and a little elbow grease. Remember, the internet is your friend. Meanwhile, clothing can be thrown in the washer/dryer or sent to the dry cleaner for some professional cleaning. 

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9. Learn to haggle where appropriate

While some thrift store items are sold as is and prices are not negotiable, lots of large and small stores are willing to negotiate if an item is ripped, stained or damaged in any way. Consider this technique if you find something you really love that's a little out of your price range. Used items are typically imperfect in some way so it shouldn't be hard to find a scratch or tear.

While haggling may not get the price down every time, it definitely doesn't hurt to try. And who knows? Maybe you'll be able to come of with a real bargain. 

8. Follow stores on social media

One of the best ways to be one of the first to know about awesome new finds is by following your local thrift stores on Facebook, Instagram or any other social media platform where they keep active. While some stores may not have a significant social media presence, others really frequently post photos of newly stocked items.

While you won't be the only one seeing these posts, in some cases you could even set alerts for your favourite store to try to get a leg up on the competition. The, if and when you see something you really want, it can be worthwhile to call or message the store to see if they can put it on hold for you. 

READ MORE | Instagram and Facebook boutiques may be cute, but getting scammed isn't - how to avoid being duped 

7. Look for things to revamp

Sometimes you have a specific vision for an outfit or a home décor item but you can't seem to find the perfect used version of it. Luckily, with a little creativity almost anything you find at a thrift store can be completely revamped. Whether it's clothing or furniture, you can likely flip any item with some paint, needle and thread. 

When it comes to furniture, it's possible to swap out hardware, change the texture or change the colour with a little bit of DIY ingenuity, some paint and some hand tools. Look for items with good bones that are the right size and shape for your needs and the go from there. 

READ MORE | Reselling luxe packaging: How an online business found incentive to sell Louis Vuitton, Gucci boxes

6. Donate for coupons

If you are a regular thrifter, it's likely you have some things to donate after a while. Luckily, many stores offer incentives for giving donations, including coupons and discounts. By getting rid of items you no longer need you can get major discounts on your shopping spree. This tip works best for larger thrift store chains because the smaller shops may not have a policy in place. 

Always check in advance to inquire about discounts given for donations because policies vary by chain and sometimes by individual store. There's no harm in asking, and in the end, it may be even more than worth your while. 

5. Learn how to recognise high quality/valuable items

One of the biggest mistake that beginner thrifters make is focusing on finding brand name items from companies with lots of name recognition. Sure, finding a used Anthropologie couch or a Banana Republic wrap dress is a thrifters dream but it's important to go beyond the big brand and learn markers of quality. 

When you're still starting out, whether you're looking for clothing, home goods or furniture it's always a good idea to have your smartphone in hand that way you can look up brands to find out what the original price point was and whether it's worth your money. You can also find some tips and tricks to spot what makes certain things last longer or are of higher quality.  

4. Wear the right clothes 

When shopping for clothes its always important to dress carefully and consider what you might be trying on in the store. This is especially true if you're looking for something specific, for example, if you're hoping to find a dress to wear to an upcoming summer wedding, consider heading out in a strapless bra, seamless underwear as well as the eels you might wear with the outfit. 

If you're trying to find a blazer for an upcoming interview, wear the rest of the outfit that you will be paring it with. Keep in mind you might not be able to try on your future purchases in a dressing room because not all thrift stores have them. 

READ more | We are no longer borrowing our boyfriends’ sweaters and blazers, we’re shopping in the men’s section 

3. Learn vintage sizing

While many of the items you'll find at a thrift store were likely produced more recently, some vintage clothing stores stock plenty of items that are decades old. One of the key things to know when shopping for vintage clothing is that sizing standards have changed a lot over the years.

As a general rule, vintage sizes are at a minimum four sizes smaller than modern sizes. So, for example, a 1060s dress that's labelled as a size 12 is probably closer to a modern size six. 

Women's sizing is notoriously inconsistent so it's always a good idea to try something on before you buy it as well as to try on a few other sizes, whether it's bigger or smaller. 

2. Ask about restock days

One of the best ways to ensure you snag the highest quality vintage finds is by figuring out when your local store replenishes its stock. Every thrift store operates differently but most will have standard restock days when they'll put new items on the rack and shelves.

Ask an employee or manager when the restock takes place, that way you won't be constantly going in to see if anything new has come in or not. Hot tip, some larger stores may restock continuously, in which case it's always a good idea to scope out restock carts to see if there's anything awesome you can grab before it's ever placed on the shelf. 

1. Check the label

One of the best skills that expert thrifters possess is the ability to read and understand clothing labels. Material labels will tell you all about the fabric make up, which is a great way to find high-quality items. If that is indeed your goal, you should focus on natural materials like cotton, wool, leather and suede.

There are also some useful websites to help you out while you shop. Check out the label resource from Vintage Fashion Guild, which lets you match the actual labels you're trying to identify with photos of vintage labels from different brands and different eras. It also provides some basic information about the brands in question. 

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