At vintage stores, the overflowing racks of clothing and the smell of mothballs can be overwhelming. Luckily, Mochi’s here to help you with the hunt for the hidden deals and vintage styles. It’s worth it, we promise!

Getting started

 Photo: Shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock

If you’ve never been shopping at a secondhand, consignment, or thrift store, the best place to start is online. Search for stores around your area using Web sites such as and If you’re looking for higher-end pieces, check out the consignment stores in upscale areas.

Be sure to check the stores’ hours. Look out for any announcements of sales or a schedule of when they stock new merchandise.

Once you get there

Take a deep breath. The overflowing racks may seem a little different from your favorite boutique, but with a little planning, you can find the hidden gems.

Because of the sheer volume of merchandise, it helps to go in with a game plan. Knowing what types of pieces you’re looking for makes it easier to find them. Start by narrowing down the section (women’s, petites, etc.) and the type of item (dresses, shirts, etc.). From there, start looking through your size. Grab any pieces that catch your eye, but keep the following tips in mind during your treasure hunt:

Be discriminating.

Without standardized sizing, styles, or cuts, it can be difficult to figure out will actually fit. Many stores have fitting rooms, which you should definitely take advantage of. Still, don’t grab every piece off the rack to try on. If you don’t like it enough to buy it, don’t try it.

Love it or leave it.

Even the best deal isn’t worthwhile if it’s destined for the back of your closet. Don’t be distracted by the price tag—buy it only if you’ll actually wear it.

Buyer beware.

Most consignment shops and secondhand stores have strict return policies. Check for stains or holes and make sure everything fits before you check out.

Think differently.

It’s all about how you wear it—don’t be afraid to venture into different sections. Try an oversize cardigan or men’s button-down with a belt, à la the current menswear trend.

Take chances.

Thrift stores are a great place to get trendy or risky pieces without breaking the bank. One-of-a-kind pieces can help you define your signature style, or just help you stand out from the crowd. These stores are also perfect sources for costumes.

It’s all in the details.

Spice up your existing wardrobe with stylish (and cheap!) accessories. Secondhand stores often have treasure troves of costume jewelry. Also, look out for scarves and handbags.

Quality and quantity.

Especially at upscale consignment stores, you can find quality fabrics and brands for a bargain. Keep your eyes out for materials like cashmere and wool, and your favorite designers. Often, pieces are in mint condition.

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