Thrifting Q&A: Lucy the Thrift Goddess

Thrift shopping has gotten more popular lately, but for some people, it’s not just a buzzword or a way to get the most trendy clothes, but a hobby. Hardcore thrifters are dedicated and they thrift often - because truly successful thrift shopping is about patience and strategy. The hunt of a thrift trip is exciting, especially if you’re passionate about fashion and style, like my friend Lucy.

The super-stylish Lucy!

The super-stylish Lucy!

Lucy’s approach to thrifting inspires me because she is a very smart thrifter and plays with fashion in a creative way, mixing thrifted designer pieces with graphic tees from Target. I asked Lucy, who works in biotech by day and documents her outfits on her thrifting Instagram account (@nitrochique), to tell me about her experience with thrifting and why she loves it.

First of all, what got you into thrifting?

I got into thrifting when I was going through a tough time in my life. I looked into finding a hobby that was distracting but fun at the same time. It lucked out that I lived very close to a Goodwill store and decided to check it out one day. The rest is history.

How often do you thrift?

I used to go once a week. Occasionally twice a week, when I need to relax or get some space I go to Goodwill and sift through clothes.

How do you approach a thrifting trip?

By dragging my best friend with me. Just kidding. I have a style inspiration board that helps me narrow down clothing that I really want to have in my closet and I’ll go into Goodwill with those items in mind. When I don’t, I usually always start at the dresses because those are my favorite things to thrift.

How do you decide what items to get and which ones to put back?

I decide by seeing if the thrifted item fits into my style aesthetic. Sometimes it is fun to try something new but if I know I won’t wear it often, I probably will not spend the money to purchase it because it’ll end up being donated back to Goodwill.

What are some deal breakers in a thrifted item for you?

Anything that has major holes, rips, or stains. Though some stains like foundation, lipstick, dust can be quickly cleaned away with detergent. But stains on silk shirts are very, very hard.

How much of your wardrobe is thrifted clothing?

I would say currently 30% thrifted and 70% retail. Ideally I want to work towards 50% of each.

What is your favorite thing about thrifting?

I love finding something and then googling the retail price and seeing how much I saved. It’s really tacky but recently I found an $8.25 Lululemon pullover only to find it retails for $98 online, that was awesome!

What are some of your best thrift scores?

By far my favorite high end designer scores are my $5 Manolo Blahniks, a pair of blue Prada flats, Marc by Marc Jacobs camo Q Hillier bag, and the two pairs of Rag and Bone Walker booties. Clothing wise, my favorites are my Peptol Bismol-colored Stylenanda coat, Madewell boyfriend jeans, a $3 Celine Paris bejeweled shirt (authenticity questionable) and a 3.1 Phillip Lim for Target floral color block dress. [All thrift scores pictured below]

Do you thrift homewares, or mostly just clothing and shoes?

Yes! I have thrifted many mugs because I collect them, I even thrifted a Legoland cup that had my name on it. I think that was meant to be.

What do you feel you thrift the most often? The least often?

Dresses and t-shirts are just really easy to thrift because I know I will always wear them. I rarely thrift exercising clothes unless it’s Lululemon.

What do you like about thrifting that isn’t part of shopping in a regular retail store?

I think you’re not limited to only what is “in season” at the moment. You can really take style risks when thrifting and you never really have to worry about paying a “retail” price for things you thrift. Bonus: Goodwill doesn’t actually charge tax.

And now, here are some of Lucy’s tips to thrift like a pro:  

What are your tips for thrifting beginners?

Have tons and tons of patience. Not every trip to the thrift store will yield an amazing find; you might need a couple of trips. Sometimes you will see resellers find four pairs of Tory Burch flats. While it is their job to seek great deals, you shouldn’t set those kinds of expectations because that defeats the fun aspect of thrifting. I guarantee if you go to a thrift store, you will eventually find something of value to you.

Any tips for people who know the basics and might consider themselves intermediate thrifters?

Quality over quantity. For example, I have thrifted the brand Splendid twice, and twice both clothing items shrank in the wash. Now, I know to never thrift Splendid no matter how cute the item is.

What are your tips for thrifting designer/high-quality items?

Do your research, go to the mall and look at designer’s signature style so you know what how to quickly spot them in the thrifting racks. Feel the leather on the shoes, or the silk material of a blouse to know the difference.  I have a weird knack for memorizing tag labels so that makes it easier for me to spot designer clothing. Madewell, Free People, Anthropologie have very distinctive clothing labels. Again, patience is key in thrifting designer items; they won’t always appear, but when they do, you’ll know it’s a thrift score!

Follow Lucy for great thrifting and style tips in general! She just started doing some great Instagram story breakdowns of thrift trips and her captions go into detail about how she puts her outfits together, how she scored a great piece and more.