Embracing the Joy of Thrifting

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Not every trend of Gen Z has been terrific, but I have noticed something pretty cool about both my daughters and their friends. This generation loves thrift stores.

When my youngest makes plans with her friends, most of the time it’s “to go thrifting.” Likewise, when my oldest wants to do something with me or her little sister, they hit a thrift store as part of the agenda.

With Halloween costume shopping coming up, this is the best time to get out there and embrace the thrifting spirit. Here are four things I’ve come to love about them.

They Are Filled With Surprises

I’ll go in a shop looking for one coat or shirt, and run across something really cool. I have found a walking stick from Mount Fuji and an issue of an obscure book series I couldn’t find anywhere else—not to mention cool clothing items I didn’t even know I wanted. Still, I will come out of these places having spent very little money, even with the extras. You can also make newer items look better with unique touches.

Yes, There Are Designer Brands

Normally, I don’t care about the “big designers,” but it is kind of a nice thing to run across something like a Louis Vuitton or Yves Saint Laurent that somehow ended up in the mix. My daughter found a London Fog overcoat for $15 (one of the more expensive items we’ve bought) that would easily cost $200 plus in a retail store. Now, there are high-end second-hand shops that specialize in designer clothes, and, frankly, those are still pretty expensive for my purposes. Unless you really want a certain label, I would avoid those if you want to save money.

I went in for a big black suit coat for a costume and found a nifty skull pattern shirt and denim jacket I had been looking for. My daughter also got her homecoming dress and a cool baseball-style shirt, just because.

It Goes Beyond Cosplay and Costumes

We hit the thrift shops regularly when Halloween, spirit weeks at school, or convention opportunities pop up, but more often than not, the items we buy we end up keeping to wear on other occasions. A few years ago, when I did my Saul Goodman cosplay, I wanted a pair of “cheap lawyer-looking heels.” I found a brand new pair of cool brown retro heels for $5 (that I later found out were $90 shoes), and I still wear them. They are super comfy and actually look really nice with the right clothes. There are so many fun pieces you can turn into something nifty. My youngest has mastered this and comes out looking like a mix-and-match rock star. She’ll go in with $10 worth of chores earnings, and come out with an outfit worthy of a music awards show (honestly, better).

You Can Return the Favor

One of the thrift shops we frequent raises money for local children’s cancer charities, and many of the items my rapidly stretching teen outgrows go into the donation bin before we even enter the store. As many people’s cast-offs become our new finds, we can do the same for others. Even when we are not in the market for something, we do regular closet dives to go donate items. Of course, sometimes we will go with the intention of just dropping something off and come out with three new shirts. It happens.

Cast-off souvenirs from trips we hope to take one day needed to be appreciated. Also, I had been looking for this book for ages… and there is was on a second-hand shelf for a buck.

When the novelty hit “Thrift Shop” was released in 2012, it made some great points (between the profanity). You can pay $50 for a designer t-shirt several others will own, or you can spend next to nothing on a look that’s totally your own.

Many more teens are embracing that philosophy, and I’m here for it.

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