College students are always jumping at the opportunity for a great bargain, especially when it’s a new wardrobe addition. As college students, we all know how tight money can be sometimes. However, we still want to look fly and stay up to date with the latest fashions.

The perfect way to stretch your dollar and still be a trendsetter is to shop at thrift stores. Don’t shy away from them just because the clothes aren’t new. Thrift stores are unique because they offer you a chance to find bargains and have a one of a kind style. Just like history, fashion repeats itself.

A lot of the clothes in the stores were donated because they were out of style. But luckily they are back in fashion and for less than half the price. Before you start your bargain hunt, here are a few things you should know:

Plan ahead. Make sure you pick the right time to go. Weekends tend to be a bit busier, so try to go on a weekday when you can shop for bargains in peace. When you do decide to go, give yourself about an hour or two and make sure you have the energy to shop and rummage through a lot of clothes.

It is a good idea to bring a friend to have someone who can give their opinion on items you are thinking about buying. Make it a girls’ (or guys’) day out. It is always a plus to have a shopping buddy.

Once you are in the store, there are a few ways you can shop. If you have a particular item in mind, you can go straight to that section and spend most of your time finding it. If you are not looking for anything specific, simply work your way through the store until you find something that catches your attention.

Keep an eye out for texture, color and style. Although there are a lot of fashionable clothes in thrift stores, keep in mind not everything is in style.
Depending on the store, some of the clothes will actually be color-coded, making it easy if you are looking for something specific. This will allow you to avoid colors you don’t like and spend more time on colors and styles you are interested in.

Once you have found something you absolutely love, take a close look for tears, holes, stains or other damages.

Don’t forget to take a look at the accessories before you leave. There are shoes, bags, belts and most stores have a wide selection of jewelry.

Now it’s time to check out! Make sure you bring cash; a lot of thrift stores do not accept credit cards. You don’t want to find something gorgeous and not be able to buy it.

Once you have taken home your exciting new additions to your closet, make sure you wash them! You don’t know where the clothes came from or who tried them on before it ended up in your hands.

The last piece of advice I leave you with is to be creative! Take a long skirt and turn it into a dress, transform a jean jacket into a jean vest or cut jeans to make them your own. The possibilities are endless.