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November 26, 2014

I Don’t Have Time to Thrift

I Don’t Have Time to Thrift!

(Um…yeah you do!)
Hello new friends!  Allow me to introduce myself.  I’m Jillian Owens, aka The ReFashionista.  I’ve been changing the way folks all over the world think about fashion over at my blog,  I love taking dated, old, ugly, damaged, and unwanted frocks and turning them into cute couture!





As you can imagine, I’m a pretty frequent thrift store shopper.  I love the thrill of the hunt and those awesome moments when I find something amazing totally unexpectedly (Best find to date: a vintage Coach “Willis” bag for $3)!

While my sweet thrifty finds inspire envy in my non-thrift store shopping friends, they always seem to have the same thing to say about my thrift scores:

“I wish I had time to thrift, but it takes forever!”

Oh realllllly?

I’m a busy gal.  I work full-time at my normal day-job, am an active freelance writer, AND my personal blog definitely qualifies as a part-time job.  If I can find the time, so can you!

Here’s the trick:  You just have to know how much time you have available/are willing to spend at it.  The way you’ll shop with an hour to spare is totally different from your 15 minute strategy.  And you can still leave the Goodwill with some pretty swell stuff either way!

Let me break it down for you.


Alright.  You have a few minutes to kill before yoga class/picking up the kids/meeting friends for lunch/whathaveyou.  You don’t have time to pore over every single rack looking for those hidden gems.  No worries!

Think statement pieces.  You’re going to gravitate to anything that truly jumps out at you that can really add a POP to your wardrobe.


This bright red bag would be just as perfect for a little black dress as it would be a T-shirt and jeans.


Well hello there, vintage Aigner!

The two main areas you won’t want to miss are shoes and handbags.  The way thrift stores lay these items out makes it easy to see the most product in the least amount of time.  It’s way easier to take in a rack of footwear and see what you like than it is to flip through a long rack of clothing.


These sassy pumps are just waiting to be snatched up by a lucky Clemson lady!

This doesn’t mean you don’t have time to also check out the clothing.  But you have to prioritize.  Do you mainly wear dresses?  Then start in that section.  Flip through quickly.  Anything that is instantly appealing or has a print that strikes your fancy should go over your arm right away with no further thought.  These items are your “finalists”.  Once you’ve looked through a section, quickly glance over your “finalists” and choose your faves.


Caption:  This blue silk frock would be perfect for this season’s galas!

Done.  BAM.


When you have more time to spend on your thrifty adventure (which I recommend), you still have a chance to find those awesome statement pieces, but you might also find some practical wardrobe staples that usually all blend in together on a rack, like black dress pants, or button-down shirts.  You’ll have time to really inspect labels to find those not-so-obvious designer steals and evaluate the quality of the garments you’re looking at.  You’ll even have a chance to check out areas of the store that might have things you didn’t realize you desperately needed that would have been missed in a more haphazard trip.


Caption:  Okay…who’s gonna play this with me????

Either way, you’re going to find some terrific new-to-you duds that will make your friends jealously exclaim, “If only I had time for that!”.

Little do they know…;)
Jillian Owens is a writer, designer, and eco-fashion revolutionary. A Columbia SC transplant, she graduated from the University of South Carolina with a BFA in Theatre and English. When she’s not gallivanting about, she’s busy refashioning ugly thrift store duds into fashionable frocks at or helping the underserved through her work in Community Impact at United Way of the Midlands. She writes a weekly column for MidlandsLife, is a contributor for The Free Times, and she reviews local theater productions for Jasper Magazine and Onstage Columbia. Any comments, questions, or crude remarks can be directed to


  1. If only I could… get in and out in 15 mins, even when I try I am like what happen to that hour. We went looking for furniture and ended up spending 2 hours in there.

  2. Great article Jillian, my 21 year old daughter taught me the art of thrift shopping and I have been addicted ever since. It’s the thrill of the hunt and finally finding that hidden treasure that makes it so addicting. My advice to keep it short and productive is to set a time limit and stick to it, otherwise you could spend hours. I love, love, love your blog.

  3. Thanks for the article! I never had a real strategy before, never even thought about it!

  4. Here’s my speed-booster for tops and slacks–because you often find racks and racks of both.

    1) Pick one color to “see.” (Sometimes thrift shops help by sorting clothes by color–but not always.)

    2) Every time you “see” that color, reach out and feel the fabric.

    3) If–and only if–you like the feel as well as the color of the fabric, take a look at the garment. The hanger doesn’t leave the rack unless the garment goes into your cart as a “finalist.”

    Note: When I’m open to more than one color, I still find it quicker to walk a rack several times, once for each color, than to move slowly along, glancing at every item.

    There are plenty of garments that I won’t bother to examine, because no matter their beauty or quality, the color won’t make me look my best.

    Thanks for the post. Refashionista is one of my favorite blogs.

  5. Great post, and love your blog. I tend to wear a narrow colour pallet, so that’s what I focus on, generally shirts first. Hold it up to estimate size and stretch, confirm you like the fabric, check for stains/holes/missing fastenings, and decide if it’s worth fixing. I try to avoid purses but do get caught up sometimes, and shoes are a definite search but with my difficult feet it’s rare that I find a pair to take home. I also confirm I’m willing to work X hours to pay for something; even if it’s a bargain at a thrift store, it’s not worth it if it’ll never see the light of day again.

    Also, know your store’s return policy; some accept exchanges and others don’t. If they do, you can grab and go and try on at home, especially if it’s a large store with large inventory that changes quickly.

  6. i go thrifting 3 times a week, my problem is I haven’t started sewing ’em up. My craft room looks lik a hoarder lives here.

    • Me too!

  7. Great article! Jillian is an inspiration!