Formal wear seems to be something most people can’t go without. Whether it be a military spouse searching for ball attire, a teenager looking for the perfect prom dress, brides-to-be on the hunt for the one, or even someone just looking for something spiffy for job interviews, the office, or church on Sunday, thrifting for formal wear will save you tons of money with no loss in quality!
Formal dresses on a thrift store rack are typically ones that have only been worn once or twice. You can find brand new, brand name dresses for less than $50! In most cases, that can be up to 90% off retail price. Look for dresses with imperceptible damage that can easily be repaired like snags at the hemline or missing closures—even a broken zipper can easily be replaced at home if your local seamstress is too busy.
PRO TIP: Consider removing the zipper and installing a lace up back to get the most wear out of your dress! This is stylish and lets you continue to wear your dress even if you lose or gain a few pounds.
Just like dresses, suits can be found in thrift stores for amazing prices and in great quality. Likely to have been worn a few more times than a formal dress, these are made from high quality and durable fabrics more often than not. Again, look for imperceptible damages that can easily be fixed like missing buttons or snags. Find the perfect suit that just doesn’t fit right? Suit jackets and pants are easily tailored in length and girth as the seams generally have a generous allowance to be let out, and taking them in is even easier.
Bridal gowns are typically some of the best thrifts out there. These are pretty much guaranteed to be brand new and only worn once. Look out for the usual snags and missing closures, but also stains because white at a party is basically asking for a stain or two. If you see stains, don’t fret! The dress can be saved numerous ways (YouTube will be your best friend here). If you don’t feel like you can get the stain out, consider dying the dress as a fun DIY project to give new life to it.
PRO TIP: Consider deconstructing the wedding dresses you find for fabric for other projects. Already found your perfect dress? A thrifted dress could be deconstructed to make unique fabric accents in your decor, a matching lingerie set for the day of, or even soft headbands for your flower girls!
Decorating a home can be costly. If you catch yourself debating between living in a sterile home or breaking the bank on decor, take a trip to your local thrift store for unique pieces at affordable prices!
Lamps can be used all over your home—at your bedside, in the living room, in your home office—and they come in so many different styles! Buying lamps from thrift stores means you’ll have more options to mix and match lamp bases and shades to fit your unique style while also saving money. If nothing quite works, remember that lamps are one of the easiest thrifts to paint and even add texture to!
Mirrors can do so much to elevate your decor. The right placement can make a room look bigger, bring in more light, or create a beautiful and functional statement piece. Mirrors are also typically framed in either wood or metal, making them easy to paint or stain for a new look.
3. Glass containers
Glass containers like these come in different shapes, sizes, and colors, which makes them perfect to incorporate into your decor as they are. Use tall bottles for florals, short and wide ones to hold small necessities or trinkets, etc. If you find big enough containers with lids, you can also use these in your pantry to hold dry goods and keep things fresh.
4. Tablecloths and curtains
Because thrift stores sell items that are not trend based or largely seasonal, you can find a variety of styles, textures, and materials for these often overlooked decor items. Tablecloths and curtains both help add color and texture to your home in subtle but powerful ways. Purchasing these from thrift stores is far cheaper than purchasing them new, which means you can buy more for less!
5. Wooden furniture
This almost goes without saying, but wooden furniture is a jackpot of a find at any thrift store! Whether it be a coffee table, dresser, or a headboard, wooden furniture is not only sturdy and long lasting, but also easy to refinish—if it even needs refinishing. You can also easily update anything with drawers by replacing the knobs or pulls.
Sierra currently serves as the Publicity Chairman on the Fort Drum Thrift Shop's Board of Directors. She is a member of our Fort Drum community and an avid thrift shopper herself!