4 Things to Search for When Thrifting for Clothing

By Liam Wirsansky on September 8, 2020

As of late, thrifting for clothing has become the newest trend in fashion lately, as people continue to seek out the most economical ways to dress and still stand out with your own unique style. One of the great things about thrift stores is that they usually have a wide range of different types of clothes that you will ultimately be able to fit within your own vision of what feels and looks most right to you, all from a variety of time periods of the past. Whether you are shopping for your own closet or looking to resell on an online platform, such as Depop, I have compiled a list of popular trends and wardrobe items to look out for the next time you go thrift shopping.



Denim has been a staple of American fashion for decades and does not appear to be going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, people continue to revolutionize the capacity for what is possible with denim, seemingly adding it to all sorts of articles of clothing. Good vintage denim holds its value and many times thrift stores will not recognize a good brand, like Levi’s, and bunch it together with the rest of their denim collection. A good pair of jeans and a denim jacket will be essential pieces of clothing for your closet for years to come, and do well to match with most other colors and clothing. Anything else that is denim lined in any way, such as pockets or collars, are also worthwhile and stand out as valued and trendy vintage pieces.

Vintage Sports Attire

We have all seen how successful the throwback merchandise always is in the sports arena, and it is no different with actual vintage pieces of clothing from different sports teams across all of the professional sports leagues, including the NBA, NFL, MLB, and NHL. Hats, t-shirts, sweatpants, track jackets, and especially jerseys, are all good pieces to target, especially if you have a favorite team or city that you like. The same can also be said in terms of vintage pieces that feature popular colleges and universities. Mascots, logos, big games, and interesting patterns are all something to keep an eye out when scanning for these pieces of clothing, as well as their brand. Some vintage sports brands to keep eye out for are Nike, Adidas, Champion, and Umbro, with their logos and design being one of the more important features to keep your eyes peeled for. General pieces of clothing from athletic brands like these are just as valuable, if not more to your own closet, especially if you do not have a particular affinity to a certain team.


Patterned Short and Long Sleeved Button Down Shirts

The button down shirt has been a long time primary piece in the formal line of apparel, but has become a well rounded article of clothing that can be worn and utilized in a multitude of ways. Whether it is around your waist, open and worn over another t shirt, or even just buttoned closed, the button down shirt adds variety to your outfit. Add patterns into the mix and this outerwear can take your outfits to new levels that follow in the footsteps of the latest trend of wearing dad like clothing, sometimes baggy and a few decades old. While many different patterns exist, you want to pay attention to color and what schemes, as well as patterns speak to you. I can almost guarantee that there are going to be countless Hawaiian flower shirts, but the ones with the best colors and designs will be easy to separate from the bland, more country and fisherman styled ones that tend exude less fashion and style. Other patterns to search for include aztec print, pastel painted, paisley, dimension illusions, and abstract geometric shapes, as well as shirts with interesting material like spandex, flannel, challis, or cashmere. Shirts that have replaced their buttons with zippers, are also rare and in trend making them highly desirable items to keep an eye out for when thrifting.

Elbow Pads, Collars, and Elastic Waistbands

Following suit with the last point, certain unusual and additional features make certain pieces of clothing stand out and more valuable. As mentioned earlier in reference with denim, collars are a prime example of something to keep an eye out for, with collars that differ in material from the body of the shirt. Denim, corduroy, suede, and even just a different color or pattern can drastically shift the uniqueness of the piece and a little accentual flare to your outfit. Elbow pads exist similarly for both long sleeve button down shirts and blazers, as they add an extra dimension of character with their contrasting fabric material and color. Finally, elastic waistbands on casual attire such as polo or button down shirts, add a vintage styled feature to your outfit that also helps keep the shirts position in place and securely tight around your body, as it gently hugs your waist. These elastic bands can also sometimes be found on the hem line of long sleeves, adding the same effect as the waistband of keeping your sleeves securely in place, and both being fashionable and profitable features of vintage clothing.


Thrifting can sometimes be overwhelming with many stores boasting a cluttered environment with endless amounts of stock to comb through. Having pieces and things in mind to look for when you’re searching allows you to have a target and standard to select from, and motivates you to search in specific sections rather than wasting hours looking through an entire store. Hopefully this guide becomes useful in your next upcoming thrift store trip, and helps yield some stylish new outfits and clothing pieces.

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