Get the hottest looks for less with these pro tips on how to thrift shop

Shoes

To thrift is to conquer: your wardrobe wins, your wallet wins and your selfie game wins. Whether you're motivated by your budget or the thrill of the hunt, thrifting makes sense for anyone looking to update their wardrobe. It's an easy way to play with cyclical trends (crop tops and flares, anyone?) and even easier to indulge in fashion's never-ending love affair with all things vintage and distressed. And for the truly committed, a few creative, easy tweaks can upcycle your purchases into truly extraordinary creations.

Here are 10 pro thrift tips for your biggest score, ever…

  1. Jeans. All the jeans. Thrift stores are a gold mine for second-hand denim, and if you find that unicorn—perfectly worn-in Levis501—by all means, keep them as is. But for the other 99 per cent of jeans out there, don't overlook their potential. A sanding block (or sandpaper wrapped around a box) scrubbed over the knees, pockets and anywhere else you want to distress will nicely age the denim.
  1. Not your usual department. Step out from the women's department to discover other worlds of fashion opportunities. The men's section is full of covetable soft, vintage graphic Ts, oversized blazers and elegant dusters. Why shop for menswear-inspired women's clothing when you can go for the original? Be sure to look in kids' departments for shrunken Ts and sweaters to get on board with the cropped trend.
  1. Repurpose necklaces. If you're handy with a glue gun, turn necklaces into hair accessories. Find a dainty chain, slip a bobby pin into a loop at either end (adjust according to how low you want this to hang in your hair) and secure it in place with a drop of glue. Once it's dry, push the bobby pins into the sides of your hairdo so the chain drapes prettily, either front or back. If you find a pendant you love, take it off the chain and glue that onto a sturdy hair pin and you've instantly got some new hair jewellery. You’ll be festival-ready in minutes!
  1. Use your time wisely. Thrifting is best done patiently, so make the most of your time by finding a store that not only carries a wide variety of merchandise (think housewares, furniture, accessories, etc.), but that also has a high turnover. After scoring a Max Mara coat, you want to take that cheap-thrill high and direct it towards finding a Le Creuset Dutch oven, mid-century lamp or vintage Coach leather backpack. Stores like Value Village receive more than 6,000 fresh items daily and bring them out regularly throughout the day. Chances are very high you'll find something you'll love.
  1. Best foot forward. Booties are still on trend so make your own by finding tall, pull-on boots (this tip won't work with zippered boots) and cutting them about two inches above where you want them to end. Simply fold them over on the inside. Instant booties!
  1. Sales goggles on. If you're a thrifter, you know the value of money, so make a point of finding out when the sales are. Even if stores don't advertise upcoming sales, you can pretty much guarantee to find deals around the holidays: Labour Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas and, of course.
  1. Classic shirts. If you're feeling overwhelmed by the racks in front of you, it never hurts to go back to basics. Focus on the trifecta of classic shirts: men's white button-down, chambray and Hawaiian. All of these are endlessly versatile (half-tucked, unbuttoned as a quasi-jacket, worn as a layering piece under sweaters for the fall). A wardrobe full of these shirts will get you through nearly any occasion.
  1. Hemming. Embrace this season's love for distressed, frayed hems and wield those scissors with confidence. Turn jeans into shorts, trousers into capris, maxis into midis, midis into minis, etc.
  1. Fringe appeal. Completely transform a conservative maxi or midi skirt into something edgier by cutting vertical strips all along the circumference, from hem to mid-thigh.
  1. Add length. If you find an incredible designer item that's just a little bit too short or needs a little makeover, you can very quickly add length and interest by sewing in a swath of lace to the hem. You can easily find wide lace at any fabric store, or even at stores like Value Village. This is a great way to completely transform a skirt, dress or shirt.