My one true love: thrifting

Tips from an avid thrifter

Ella Freeman

More stories from Ella Freeman

Across the Pond
April 28, 2024

Photo by Ella Freeman

A fellow staff writer and I soaking up the joy of an empty Savers.

The only way to ethically get cheap and cute clothes is by thrifting and buying second hand. As an avid thrifter who barely has any other hobbies, I have my thrift trips down to a science. 

I was raised thrifting. While my mom never enjoyed shopping that much, it made thrifting days with my grandma all that more special. My grandma and I went hardcore. We knew exactly what local places would have the best sales.

My favorite was a Janesville local brown bag sale, where you could fill one paper grocery bag and pay a set price for everything you could fit in one bag. I’m pretty sure they have since gone out of business, but I will never forget the afternoons spent scouring the store. 

Since coming to college, I have missed my hometown routine of being able to get in my car and hit up the local Bargain Garden. It’s a real place, and it’s magical. 

I have discovered the coziest vintage shops and thrift stores in Eau Claire and I can’t wait to have a car here to take myself on these little solo thrifting dates. 

A good thrift trip always starts with the playlist — songs you can scream in the car, as well as songs you can play in your AirPods while wandering the aisles. 

I like to have a fun vibe going in — my thrifting playlist consists of a lot of Taylor Swift (as all my playlist do) and Tame Impala, along with a ton of COIN and Wallows

After I have my playlist intact I head over to Dunkin’ for a $2 medium iced coffee. I am a big fan of their hit-or-miss coffee. It brings me a certain nostalgia from when I hadn’t had good coffee yet. 

After drinking my coffee and bumping my head to my playlist of certified bangers, it’s time to enter the thrift store. 

I always start in the shoe section. I have found Doc Martens and Chacos among the stacks of well-loved shoes, and I would kick myself if a sweet pair got ripped out from under my nose because I waited a few minutes. 

The key to thrifting for me is really taking my time. I try to look at every shelf and rack in the store. I sift not only through women’s but also men’s and occasionally children’s. I have found some sweet baby tees, and while I mean literal baby tees whatever fits, fits.   

Another key part of thrifting is looking at clothes that aren’t in your usual size range. Every single brand has a different way of sizing, and clothes from different generations do too. The best thing to do is grab everything you think is cute regardless of size and try it on.  

Sizing is fake and just created to make people feel bad, grab what’s cute and forget the tag. 

One of my favorite things about thrifting is how much it forces you to cultivate a personal style. It’s not always possible to go on a thrift trip and find the exact color and style of whatever you see online or in the mall. 

Going in with a general idea of what I like and picking up things that spark joy help me focus on what I actually like rather than what I see other people wearing. This type of shopping has helped me build up confidence in the clothes I wear. I get so excited to put together an outfit every morning. 

Freeman can be reached at [email protected].