Back-to-School Thrifting

by Catherine Sweeney, Creative Circle
August 27, 2015

Thrifting is one of the smartest ways to assemble a back-to-school wardrobe. With this year’s fall fashions channeling the ‘90s and ‘70s, thrift stores offer vintage items from both eras, plus good-condition contemporary clothing.

Whether you’re a parent, a teen or a college student, check out the tips below to assemble a stylish and practical fall wardrobe.

Fall shopping survival
First, inventory your closet (or your child’s closet). You’ll find clothes that can transition to fall with some layering, and you may find items to donate. The next step is making a list of what you need to buy and creating a budget. This is an ideal way for parents and kids to talk through clothing costs and choices.

For parents of younger children, check out the Written Reality mom-blog for a common-sense and budget-friendly list of kids’ wardrobe essentials by quantity.

Fashionable thrifting
Thrifting is the solution for a college or high-school wardrobe that’s budget-friendly and as unique as you are.

For tween and teen girls seeking fashion inspiration, Teen Vogue’s back-to-school gallery—featuring tween fashion bloggers—shows real people wearing very thriftable outfits.

Avid thrifter, YouTuber and UCLA student Amy Lee (Vagabond Youth) has realistic advice about college closet essentials, combining fashion with comfortable choices for crunch times. For thrift-specific tips, take a look at YouTuber Tiffany’s Thrifting Through College Show 2, Thrift Store Haul, which also includes a guy’s perspective.

In-fashion basics
These fall basics are fashionable for everyone, and easy and fun to thrift.

  • Layering. Flannel shirts never really went out of style in the Northwest. This ideal layering fabric is in style everywhere this fall. Denim jackets are also great layering pieces for all ages, along with oversized cardigan sweaters for women and girls.
  • Graphic T-shirts, alone or layered under flannel or hoodies. Visit Goodwill to find your own unique and vintage graphic tee. Why buy an imitation when you can have the real thing?
  • Athletic wear with a ‘70’s twist. Athletic attire continues to be popular for guys and girls, including sweatpants, hoodies and yoga pants. There’s also a revival of sports-oriented labels beloved in the ‘70’s, along with polo shirts of all kinds—often found at thrift shops.
  • Jeanspick your favorite style(s). For women and girls, boyfriend (high-waisted, straight-leg) jeans and the perpetual skinny jeans predominate, but you’ll see a return to flares too, in line with the 70’s revival. For men and boys, straight-leg, skinny and boot-cut jeans all continue to be popular. 

Accessories and more
Beyond the basics, floral-print scarves and metallic necklaces are stylish accessories for girls and women. The bohemian 70’s chic look continues, so keep your eye out for anything fringed or flowing.

This fall’s fashion variety gives you ample opportunity for fantastic thrifting! Happy shopping!


Catherine Sweeney, APR is a professional writer and communicator affiliated with Creative Circle. She dedicates her Goodwill blog-writing in memory of her mom, an avid thrift-shopper and advocate for social change. 

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