Cultivated Wardrobe

Closet 101 | How to Thrift Quality Pieces for Your Closet, Part III: How to Look

Waaaay way way back I started a series on how to thrift quality pieces for your closet.  As I began to seek out new and new-to-me pieces for my lean closet approach I learned some lessons that were worth sharing. Navigating the thrift-ing waters can be tricky business for even the long term thrift-er, so my hope is that my take on what successful thrifting looks like for me will help you in your own endeavors.

How to thrift quality pieces for your closet, part III: how to look via


I began this series by discussing what type of pieces I look for when thrifting and then moved on to examine what places I look, or where to find those pieces.  Today I plan to review and embellish on both of those steps as well as hash over the final step: how to look.


a. Identify target sections (dresses + size large).  I still think it’s easy to get sucked into whatever items their pushing when you walk into a storefront.  Scarves, maxi dresses, you name it.  You may not be deviating from items you have on your “master list” but you are likely deviating from the items you have on your specific list for this trip. Look up, there are likely signs that will direct you. Find the section you need first (i.e., dresses!) and then immediately zero in on the appropriate sizing. No need to waste time sifting through the larges if you really need a small — and vice versa.   (Note: once you make your way through your most common sizing available selection then fan out to other sizes that sometimes work for you depending upon the brand.)

b. Scan by color and/or pattern. I often don’t flip through or physically touch every. single. piece. when perusing specific a section. I have my list (whether in my hand or in my head, ahem Google doc…) and I know I’m only looking for an ivory blouse and a black dress this time. So in the dresses my eyes are scanning for black, etc. Pretty straight forward, but being purposeful in this type of focus really does save time and mind processing power. It’s too easy to get distracted by that pretty floral maxi that you just might need for Easter or the cruise you’re going on in June…


a. Use brand names in your search terms (i.e., madewell sweater, oh my love dress, jcrew heel, etc.). Once I finally figured this tidbit out it was like Ebay became less of a sea of crap (haha!) and more of an ocean of treasures for me.  And somehow, it makes the step below that much easier…

b.  Choose items from individual sellers vs. stores that sell multiples of the same item. I’m sure there are plenty of  Ebay store owners that sell all sorts of clothing items that they came across in honest ways and therefore would have reason to sell multiples of NWT (new with tag) items, but plainly? I prefer to avoid such scenarios.  I have found that you have much more bargaining power when you seek out individual sellers who are simply clearing out their closets of new or gently used items OR trying to find someone to take their newly-purchased-final sale-item-that-didn’t-fit off of their hands. In my opinion there is less personal risk with the latter scenario and you are likely contributing to less waste (i.e., recycling clothing or reducing production) rather than taking the chance at purchasing (and fueling the production) of cheap knock offs.

c. “Follow” previously used search terms. This feature is a total game changer when it comes to thrift-ing on Ebay. No matter what anybody says, thrifting always involves more time spent than money spent — but this feature might just wreak havoc on that ratio. The same way you can set up Google alerts or save searches on Craigslist you can also save search terms on Ebay (i.e., madewell flats, madewell leather jacket, etc. ) so you save time by simply being notified of new listings instead of having to remember and manually re-search those terms.


a. Filter by clothing type (i.e., outwear > jackets) and then by size.  Online thrift stores like thredUP offer countless ways to filter searches and make sifting through the abyss of items more approachable, but I have found that I am most successful in weeding out enough — but not too much — simply by filtering by clothing type (i.e., outwear > jackets) and then by size.  I might still be left with 576 items to sift through, but my scrolling thumb can make pretty quick work of that — because, again,  I’m scanning for specific pieces and not things I just think are ‘cute’.

b. Filter by brand name and then by size. Similar to my explanation above, another way I have found to be good for successful filtering is to first filter by brand name and then by size.

Below are some shots sharing how I’ve styled a few thrifted pieces I added to my own closet this [capsule] season. I will be sharing my entire spring capsule with you next week — so consider this a sneak peek!

Closet 101 / How to Thrift Quality Pieces for Your Closet, Part III: How to Look

HOW TO [THIS] LOOK: (you see what I did there..?)

Casual lightweight button down + swingy lightweight jacket

paired with

super dark skinnies + a no fuss sneaker

Closet 101 / How to Thrift Quality Pieces for Your Closet, Part III: How to Look Closet 101 / How to Thrift Quality Pieces for Your Closet, Part III: How to Look Closet 101 / How to Thrift Quality Pieces for Your Closet, Part III: How to Look

Jacket: Max Jeans

Top: Gap, c/o thredUP

Bottoms: American Eagle

Shoes: Converse

Bag: c/o Lily Jade


Closet 101 / How to Thrift Quality Pieces for Your Closet, Part III: How to Look


Edgy statement jacket + textured basic tee

paired with

black ripped denim + a chunky *less* fussy heel

Closet 101 / How to Thrift Quality Pieces for Your Closet, Part III: How to Look Closet 101 / How to Thrift Quality Pieces for Your Closet, Part III: How to Look Closet 101 / How to Thrift Quality Pieces for Your Closet, Part III: How to Look

Okay… I just HAD to share this photo with you! #babybombforthewin

Jacket: Fate, c/o thredUP

Top: Urban Outfitters

Bottoms: American Eagle, distressed by me

Shoes: similar heel

Bag: Nordstrom

P.S. I surprised myself by adding a ‘trendy’ piece to my closet via thrifting means this season (a suedette fringe jacket? whaaaat?!).  In my first post of this series I detailed that I really only look for classics or staple pieces when thrifting.  However, it occurred to me recently that buying trendy items secondhand is perhaps the least wasteful way to try out a trend that you’re not sure will jive with you long term. Recycling a piece that’s already been produced and creating less demand for new production of a similar item. #winwin What are your thoughts on this?


A big thank you to thredUP for teaming up with me on this post! It’s no secret they’ve been my favorite online thrifting shop for awhile now. :)  ThredUP offers a refer a friend program where you give and get $10 to spend when you use a friend’s referral link, so if you think you’re interested click here to use my referral link and get yourself $10 to spend!

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  • Reply
    March 30, 2016 at 4:21 pm

    There’s also a really great sub-Reddit for online thrifting!:

    • Reply
      April 4, 2016 at 3:46 pm

      Nice! Will definitely be circling back to take a closer look at this!

  • Reply
    March 30, 2016 at 4:51 pm

    Love your date night look! Well, the whole post really! Re: trying out a trend — I think you’re spot on! Why spend big bucks when something might not be a workhorse for your closet? I just thrifted an awesome pair of culottes as a stand-in for some v.v. expensive ones I’ll probably never get. I wrote about it on my blog if you’re interested.

    Looking forward to your spring capsule reveal! I just love seeing how people mix and match their capsules…I wish I could do it myself but I don’t have the willpower, haha. Maybe I should just challenge myself to do it, though, as an experiment.

  • Reply
    March 30, 2016 at 5:14 pm

    This post, so much yes. I recently gave thrifting another go. I had avoided it due to not wanting to drag two young boys in to every goodwill in my area for a random comb over. But then I started doing capsules and got uber specific on my list. While that’s good, I needed the money to back up my wish list! Enter a recent trip to ThredUp. Game. Changer. Thanks for this post!!

    • Reply
      April 4, 2016 at 3:47 pm

      Couldn’t agree more!

  • Reply
    My Capsule Wardrobe / Spring 2015 | The Lovely Laura Life
    April 22, 2016 at 1:35 am

    […] weeks ago I shared with you a piece on thrifting and you got a little sneak peak at what my spring capsule looks like. Today [FINALLY!] I’m […]

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