How to Start a Thrift List

No doubt that it can be overwhelming when you walk into a thrift store.

You’re faced with a colorful sea of clothing and items, (hopefully) sorted by category and color, but sometimes not. The thrill of the hunt can be vanquished before it even begins if you don’t prepare beforehand. 

Enter, the Thrift List!

What is a Thrift List?

A "thrift list" is a living document of clothing items and styles that I'm attracted to, and serves as a source of truth for my style aspirations — helping me decipher impulse purchase from long term investment.


#1 Create an Inspiration Board

I like to start by searching on Pinterest for a few looks or styles that I’m feeling and start pinning looks to a board called “Thrift List”. You can do this all in one sitting, but I like to keep it a running list that I’m constantly adding to. Whatever works for you!

Take a peek at my current Thrift List board on Pinterest! I’ve been adding to this board for a while now, and it always serves as both a great source of thirft list ideas, as well as outfit inspiration. I look at this board before bed each night while I’m planning my outfits, and even copy looks when I’m totally uninspired. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, am I right?  

#2 Look for Similarities

Once you start to collect 10-20 looks, you might begin to notice similarities between the images. Do you see a lot of one color or style dress, for example? I always see army green and graphic tees on my thrift list board which tells me that’s something I’m definitely drawn to, not just an impulse!

One really great thing about discovering your personal style is how it can help you decide if an item is a good purchase or not while thrifting. If you’ve already gotten a list of items that you know you’re drawn to, you can decide if this new find measures up.

How to Start a Thrift List Pinterest Board


#3 Spot Color Trends

Jot this list of colors down as well and try to pull together a palette from them. I really like using Adobe Color for this! You can create and save palettes on your phone, and even from images that you upload!

This tip is extra helpful if your thrift store sorts its finds by color or not. Hopefully they do, because this is a great way to save time while thrifting. For example, I just avoid the pink sections altogether because I know that isn’t a color I’ll ever wear. You can also train your eye to focus only for those colors on your list, so even when you’re faced with a rack of red items, you can more easily zero in on that perfect rusty color you’ve been searching for.


#4 Check Your Closet

Before you ever hit the thrift shop, first shop your own closet. You might be surprised by what items you already have and can wear in a new way once you get inspired.

This is such an important point! Although I love thrift shopping (duh), the sad reality is that it’s not a good long term solution for clothing disposal.

An impulse purchase made at a thrift store is just as bad as one made inside a mall, and it’s important that we eliminate both if we have any hope of saving textiles from the landfills. So before you ever leave your house, shop your closetand see if you don’t already own something that could be reimagined or repurposed for your current needs. Or, host a swap meet with your friends and shop their closets instead!

#5 Plan Your Attack

Instead of just jumping in full-force, instead make a plan of which sections you’ll approach first and try not to let yourself leave until you’ve fully exhausted that area. It’s important to keep your stamina up so you don’t get tired too quickly and miss out on a great find.


I hope you’ve found these tips helpful! The next time you’re out thrifting, don’t get overwhelmed. There’s plenty of amazing finds out there waiting for you 🖤  

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