Looking good on the job is essential to personal and professional growth. There’s a saying that you should “dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” This can be challenging, however, if you’re not equipped to drop hundreds or in some cases thousands of dollars on high end suiting and accessories.

Enter the thrift store. While some think of a thrift store as a basement smelling place where tired clothing from the 90’s go to finally die, let us provide some new perspective through a guide to navigating your neighborhood GoodWill or Salvation Army.

  1. Plan Ahead: Before you start shopping, make a list of the specific workwear items you need. This will help you stay focused and not get overwhelmed by the vast selection.
  2. Inspect Clothing Carefully: Thoroughly examine each item for any stains, tears, or signs of wear. Don’t buy anything that is heavily damaged, as it can be difficult and costly to repair.
  3. Check for Quality: Look for well-made, durable pieces. It is not uncommon to find items that still have original store tags on them! Pay attention to the fabric, seams, and overall craftsmanship. Quality materials and construction can make even thrifted items last longer.
  4. Know Your Sizes: Be aware of your measurements and try on items to ensure they fit well. Sizes can vary between brands and eras, so don’t rely solely on the label.
  5. Be Open-Minded: Thrift stores offer a wide variety of styles and eras. Don’t be afraid to mix vintage pieces with contemporary ones for a unique and stylish look. Consider that thrifted clothes can be as recent as this year’s style- people donate items that they purchased that simply don’t fit or that they purchased and later discovered didn’t match their style.
  6. Seek Classic Staples: This one is KEY. Focus on timeless pieces like blazers, dress shirts, trousers, and pencil skirts. These items are versatile and can be mixed and matched easily and, if properly cared for, can last for years.
  7. Check for Sales and Discounts: Thrift stores often have sales and discount days, so inquire about these. You can save even more on your workwear purchases.
  8. Don’t Rush: Thrift store shopping can take time. Be patient and visit multiple stores if necessary. You might not find everything you need in one trip.
  9. Clean and Alter: After your thrift store haul, wash or dry clean your items before wearing them. If necessary, invest in tailoring to ensure a perfect fit.
  10. Accessories: Don’t forget to browse for accessories like belts, scarves, and jewelry. These can add a polished touch to your work outfits.

Shopping for workwear at thrift stores requires patience and a keen eye, but it can be rewarding in terms of both savings and unique finds. With some effort, you can build a professional wardrobe that suits your style and budget. Happy Shopping!

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