First Person: My $100 Thrift Store Wardrobe

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In the summer of 2009, my husband and I browsed our local thrift stores every week. I had just lost a teaching job where I wore jeans every day and had started temping, but I couldn’t afford new office clothes. Most of the time we went together. It was fun, kind of like dating.

For less than $100, we restocked not only my work wardrobe, but also our supply of lounging and holiday clothes. Here are the most notable clothing items we bought that summer:

Two Silk Easter Dresses – $5 Each
They still had tags on them. I bought one for me and one for my sister. We both received lots of compliments on our Easter dresses last spring!

Ten Large Sweatshirts – $1.50 Each
My husband and I like to sleep in sweats in the winter. All the sweats seemed to always be in the laundry, so I splurged and bought all ten of these. They had the name “Bob” stitched on the front, along with a store logo. It seems Bob lost a job that year, too.

My Favorite Business Blouse – 99 Cents
I still wear this black blouse with red and tan dots on it over black slacks whenever I want my students to take me seriously. I have no idea why the previous owner sold it. It was barely worn.

Office Clothing Items – 99 Cents to $7 Each
Over that summer I bought five pair of business slacks, four other blouses and a blazer – for a total of less than $60. All of them were worn, but not noticeably.

Thrift Store Clothes Shopping Tips

They get new donations every day, but most thrift stores have a scheduled day when they stock the new arrivals. Figure out which day of the week that is, and shop then.

Sales are final. Check each item for stains, tears and irregularities.

Take your time and look at everything. I found two pairs of women’s dress slacks in the men’s section. I found a size ten blouse in with the size sixes.

Some of the best clothing deals are at stores that don’t have fitting rooms. I wore a full skirt so I could try on pants underneath. My husband runs true to size, so I could buy him stuff without him there to try it on. Maybe guys who have a difficult time finding pants that fit could shop in light shorts. In any case, wear something you can try on clothes over or under.

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