My Best Thrift Store Run Ever

I don’t usually post stuff like this, but I just have to bargain brag about my recent thrift store haul. Because who doesn’t like to hear the story of a good deal? #poppin’tags

As spring finally made its way to the Great Lakes, I realized I couldn’t get dressed. I had mix-matched thrift store stuff and hand-me-downs that just couldn’t be worn together. Sure, I had a few go-to basics, but I was sick of wearing the same beige fleece every day. And I’m pretty sure my husband was, too. (Though he never said it and he wears a beige fleece all the time too!)

Whenever I did try to “dress cute” I ended up looking like I was going to church. (And we don’t even “go to church” or dress up for our Bible studies.) I’m not into trendy looks and have declaimed the Futility of Fashion here. I’ve had some requests for writing about capsule wardrobes as a frugality approach, but I am not the person you want to be taking fashion advice from. But there comes a time when I want to look like I’m from this decade and 2019 seemed like a good year to catch up.

In fact, I spent my childhood purposely trying to dress a different decade or even century. There were the prairie dresses (which apparently made a couture comeback over the winter), the plaid skirts, and the saddle shoes. I was regularly asked if I was Amish or Catholic, despite being a public-school-going Protestant.

Fast forward twenty years and I just want to look normal. But the nerd is baked in so hard I always come up with “teacher” or “Easter church-goer” when getting dressed. So for inspiration I googled what grown ups, particularly soccer moms, are supposed to wear.

Of course there’s a lot of ridiculousness out there, but through a little perusing I came up with a shopping list of items I thought would allow me to make many more outfits with my existing wardrobe. My list was: denim jacket, zip-down hoodie (how did I not own one of these!?!), open front flowy cardigan, twill utility jacket, and cute tee (in order of priority). I also wanted a cap since I have sun-sensitive skin and eyes. While not looking like a freak wearing my beach hat all over my not-beach town.

I knew the thrift store was just the place for these items. I also know my tendency to obsess about getting a certain thing once I get it in my mind. And I didn’t want clothes of all things to consume me. So I did something I’d never done before. I prayed before I went in the thrift store. I earnestly prayed that I could find some of the things I was looking for quickly, but also that I wouldn’t be consumed with thinking about clothing.

In one hour, while shopping a large thrift with a baby, I found every single thing on my list for a grand total of $28. In addition to what I was looking for, as I walked past the shoes, I found a great pair of high quality “mom” sandals, and a nice pair of “dressy” nude flip flops. Both very useful additions to my shoe collection.

Here’s a pic of my haul:

Details: Gap cardigan $4; Gap hoodie $5; Old Navy utility jacket $3; J. Crew denim jacket $9; Merrell sandals $4; Bebe flip flops $3; neutral cap $1.50. Plus a cute baby hand! Not pictured: cute tee $2, which I somehow already lost while on a retreat. (These are the prices before using a $5 off coupon.)

I wore the denim jacket on a date last night and it was a hit with the hubby. Weird because I’ve never worn one! I guess anything is better than a beige fleece. Note: I bought his jacket as his Christmas gift 16 years ago!

Still nerdy, but I’ve come a long way from the prairie dresses.

My best advice for thrifting is to find a good thrift shop, learn how their discounts or coupons work, and go with a list. It’s too overwhelming to look for a lot of different categories, but when I’m looking for a particular item I can usually find it. Also, know what categories are good to find at the thrift store, and what is better to go retail. I don’t have good luck with jeans there, and I prefer to buy athletic shoes new or like-new so they’ll last longer. Tees can also be hard to sift through since you can’t tell from the side whether graphics are on the front.

I’ll never be fashionable, but I feel like I can now put together “normal” enough looking outfits without much thought. I’ve had some great thrift store finds over the years but the efficiency and success of snagging so many items I wanted in such a short time, and for such great prices, was unprecedented. The Lord provides.

Now I’m dying to hear about your best thrift store finds, clothes or otherwise. And do any ladies have some frugal fashion tips for the rest of us? Do tell!

14 Responses to “My Best Thrift Store Run Ever”

  1. Connie says :

    I came upon my best thrift store purchase quite by accident. As my husband waited for me in the car so that I could do some looking around in the store, I came across a new pair of leather cowboy boots for $4. I think they would have retailed for around $80. I thought they might be my husband’s size so I asked him to come and try them on. Sure enough, they were. The purchase was made about 8 years ago and he is still wearing them.

    • Kalie says :

      That’s great that they are still going strong. I know my favorite thrift finds have been high quality items that I then don’t have to think about shopping for/replacing for many years to come. But I would never pay the full price for new.

    • Anna says :

      $4 for cowboy boots! That’s awesome. You guys are seriously making me jealous of your thrift stores because I never find cool stuff like this at mine.

  2. Linda Sand says :

    I’m not much of a jewelry person but I have a 30″ gold chain necklace for which I buy various pins/brooches to hang from that chain to make different looks. I almost always get comments on my “necklace” when I wear one of those combinations.

    • Kalie says :

      Good hack, thanks for sharing! I’m not much for jewelry either but I like the idea of something versatile.

  3. Hannah says :

    You go girl!!! Thrift stores are one of my favorite things on the planet, and I’m always lowkey trying to convert my friends and fam to get more into them lol… Village Discount in the Falls is my local fav! I’ve recently gotten a lot more excited about thrifting home and kitchen appliances too: got 2 large coffee pots for $4 each, 2 large percolators for $5 each, and tons of mason jars for like 90 cents each. I also love that thrifting simultaneously checks off being financially and environmentally conscious. I could go on all day… lol. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • Kalie says :

      I’ve had some good kitchen finds, too. Definitely a great place for coffee makers, they always have them. Got a whole set of silverware there for $10 also.

      I agree about the environmental/social consciousness as well. I don’t have the bandwidth or budget to shop only eco-conscious brands right now but I love the idea of not adding to the demand for more flash fashion by buying secondhand as much as possible.

  4. David says :

    My best thrift store find was about 10 years ago. I bought an expensive brand Gore-Tex jacket for $12. The retail price was $325 at the time. I’ve been looking for another to replace it for a couple years with no luck. I guess it was too good to happen twice. Other thrift store finds include a drill press and several antique cast iron pans.

  5. Lee Ann says :

    Do you have a home church?

    I have a hard time finding a good thrift store.

  6. Lee Ann says :

    Nice haul. Do you attend a home church since you “don’t go to church? LOL

    • Kalie says :

      Yes, we have a home church. And we meet as a larger group, but it’s on a college campus and no one ever dresses up.

  7. Cindi Sikora says :

    You did well! It is not often you hear someone say they prayed about a shopping trip. I liked that and yes the Lord did provide. Was surprised when you said you don’t go to church and am wondering why. You wrote a great article.

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