I distinctly remember my first time experiencing and truly appreciating a Salvation Army store. It was the summer before eighth grade and a few friends and I decided that we were going to decorate jeans together. Naturally, we wouldn't dare Sharpie up our favorite pairs from Hollister or Delia's, so we took to the thrift store. I also walked away with a pair of striped baseball pants that I probably never would have rocked then, but I would certainly love to get my hands on now.
Since then, I've always hit the bargain stores for everything from of the moment trends to classics. I'm still on a quest to find the perfect Equipment-esque silk blouse among the racks; but until that day, here are a few trends that I've found at several thrift stores.
Graphic tees: I used to think that a tee shirt and jeans was the epitome of "blah" style, but that's only because I was so used to seeing logo tees from Abercrombie with boot cut jeans while I was growing up. But with the right tee and some jeans I actually like, this outfit can give off the perfect model off duty/casual rock star vibe. One of my favorites lately has been my quirky Chevrolet Youth Baseball shirt. It's probably a medium in youth sizes, but it has the perfect shrunken fit. You can find these all over a thrift store, whether it is in sections for kids, women, or men. My suggestion is not to be too picky here: the quirkier the better! And over sized tees are great to cut into bro tanks or crop tops.
Vintage denim: PSA- If you find the perfect pair of vintage Levi's straight leg jeans, don't make them into cut offs like I did. However, weirdly flared or boot cut jeans with a high waist are absolutely perfect for turning into little shorts. Denim jackets are also plentiful at most larger thrift stores. You can try to find some great mom jeans, but honestly this is best left to the high street brands if you are going for the more modern fit.
Menswear pieces: Loafers and oxfords are both staples in my wardrobe when it comes to fall and winter. I knew I wanted a pale pink oxford from Ralph Lauren, but instead of trying to find one at full retail and with a more tailored, women's cut, I went straight to the boys department at Goodwill. I also scour the shoe department to find old school loafers that nine times out of ten are like new and better quality than what is on retail shelves today. Going through sections for guys (men or boys!) means that you can find great oversized sweater, button ups, or boyfriend jeans. These items are typically a lot less dated than most of the items donated by women because the male trend cycle is so much longer.
Unique scarves: I pretty much flat out refuse to pay retail for a scarf these days. Whether I find silk scarves at higher end vintage stores or my favorite square, fringed shape at thrift stores, I'm always way happier with the results. Smaller scarves can be used as headbands or tied around bags and the larger ones are great for playing around with different tying methods. Scarves at thrift stores are usually decently clean, but I still recommend hand washing or dry cleaning before wear. They are typically close to the register or the front of the store, either in bins or on a spinning rack.
Tropical prints: We haven't quite hit Labor Day yet, so there is still plenty of time to rock some tourist gear! Tropical prints are having a huge moment this summer and will probably stick around for a few more trend cycles. There's absolutely no reason to spend upwards of $60 on a shirt that I guarantee you someone's grandma has already donated. Today's prints are usually featured on a more modern, cropped silhouette; but the old lady shirts can be perfectly slouchy tucked into some high waisted denim or be tied up into a cute crop.
Sporty chic: I'm not sure who is to blame for the rise of jerseys and other, more minimal versions of sports gear coming into vogue in a big way, but the perfect storm of Miley Cyrus, Phoebe Philo, and Jenna Lyons is certainly a factor. Whatever the case, this is another trend that you don't have to fork over a lot of cash on: just browse the kids sections of thrift stores. I snatched up this sheer jersey for about a dollar, but it looks like something that could easily be sold at Forever 21 or another hyper-trendy retailer.
Always look for: There are some items that are commonly found at thrift stores that transcend all trends or these specific categories. When I'm thrifting, I always search for silk blouses, classic Dooney & Bourke or Coach purses (some will be in a case or behind the counter), woven leather belts, wool sweaters, and vintage dresses. My main thrifting success comes when I'm willing to go alone and take a couple hours trying things on and going to various stores.