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To All the Clothes Someone Loved Before: TOP 5 Thrift Store OOTDs for Less than $20

Finding treasures in thrift stores is like finding a soulmate - magic in a heap of (mostly) rubbish!

By Karina ThyraPublished 3 years ago 5 min read
Photo by: MurPho Photography (2019)

Fashion is a huge part of self-expression. We build our own personal styles sometimes by experimenting with passing trends or through investing in statement pieces.

I grew up inheriting hand-me-downs primarily from stylish grandmothers/aunts and a lot of those clothing have shaped my personal style. They weren’t huge fans of thrift stores since they largely preferred bespoke pieces (it helped that my great-grandmother was an amazing tailor). However, when they do occasionally see good RTW even if it were at a thrift store, they’d buy it. Though it’s rare for them to buy from thrift stores as I do, they don’t mind buying pre-loved clothes from their friends because they’re certain it would be good quality and clean - even if it’s pricier than what I’m willing to pay for.

See, most of the clothes in my wardrobe now I got for free. They’re either hand-me-downs, gifts, or clothes that I’ve had for a long time but still fit me (e.g. trousers, denim jeans).

I’ve never been a fan of fast fashion because I don’t really like matching with everyone else. And when I do buy new clothes, I buy them based on how I feel about them. Yes, I have to feel a bond with the item before I buy it because that would ensure it is actually going to be an essential piece in my wardrobe. I also keep my price range below Php 60 ($1.25) UNLESS I couldn’t bear the thought of it going to a less deserving shopper (jk,jk). Sometimes, I even wait until the shop actually lowers the price and hope that no one buys the item I really want in the meantime. Often, the wait is worth it. Just take a look at my thrift store treasures over the years, most of which I got for less than one dollar:


  • TOP: PHP 10 ($0.21)
  • When I bought this item back in 2017, I thought it would be a very warm fabric (I don’t know exactly) and it would be weather impractical in my home country. However, the colors were just bright and beautiful, it was art. Originally, it had a weaved chord-like belt inside to cinch just slightly below the waist (I removed it because it was already peeling off). When I bought it, I know I wasn’t going to wear it anytime soon. But, I always buy clothes with a hypothetical destination in mind. Two years later, I wore this piece to several museums while in Amsterdam. I even matched with Van Gogh’s sunflowers!


    • DRESS: PHP 30 ($0.62)
    • TOP: THB 10 ($0.32)

    I’ve worn this combo several times now. The dress is from my hometown and still had a price tag when I stumbled upon it in a messy pile. The white long-sleeved blouse is from NBK which is sort of like a marketplace for everything in Thailand, including secondhand clothing. They’re go-to pieces because I didn't need to choose between comfort and style, they provided both!


    • COAT: THB 25 ($0.79)
    • TROUSERS: THB 25 ($0.79)

    When I attended a MUN a few years ago, of course, I had to dress up fashionably but I had to tone down on the wacky color scheme. It wasn’t difficult putting together this outfit because I already have them before the event happened. The turtleneck was my base piece, but I won’t count its cost here since it belonged to my great-grandmother. I also borrowed the shoes from my mother. A few friends told me I looked like I was channeling K-Drama stars with that outfit.


  • DRESS: PHP 20 ($0.41)
  • I remember seeing this dress and absolutely loving it. It still had a tag when I fished it out of the clothes pile, just like the insta-staple dress. While technically, this wasn’t the first dress I had with real good pockets (I bought a RTW Calvin Klein dress for PHP 60 or $1.23) this one was such a good find for the price! It has two deep pockets, and look at those *details*.

    Special mention: Before I reveal my absolute fave thrift treasure, here’s a special mention to the piece I was willing to buy above my price range:

    A-gent P!

    Once when we were passing through a thrift shop, I asked the family driver to stop the van because I saw a Phineas and Ferb shirt and I just had to buy it. It was Php 50 ($1.03), too expensive for a shirt no longer in mint condition. It’s hard to be a geek where I live, mainly because a lot of the stuff I want are hard to find. I only have three PnF shirts, and this one is my favorite because it’s still in the best condition. This was relatively the most expensive thrift store find at Php 65 and I negotiated a Php 5 off making it Php 60 ($1.23), but it was worth it!


    • DRESS: PHP 20 ($0.41)
    • TOP: PHP 25 ($0.51)

    The dress caught my eye and I immediately wanted to buy it the moment I saw it. However, it was missing a few buttons and initially too expensive at Php 60. I had a feeling it was from a major fashion brand judging on the quality. When i got home, i looked it up and found that it was from D&G! I waited for about 4 days before I bought it. The shop near my house usually goes on sale every Sunday and I snagged it for just Php 20! My grandaunt replaced the black buttons with the green ones you see on the picture.

    A coupe of months later, I found the white silk top from a different shop. It was the perfect complement for the dress!


    These TOP 5 OOTDs should be a handy guide for all fashionable thrifters. I bought all these for less than $20. Sure, prices depend on which country you shop, but remember that you'll always have options. First, you have to wait for bargains. It's part of the fun. We call them 'treasures' because we often literally have to dig for them. Our bodies act like metal detectors, but we are driven purely by instinct - we're bound to find something good beneath the rubbish.

    Second, buy the clothes you like and feel attached to! I still have a few more thrift store treasures, like the wacky lemon yellow dress with huge eyes in the front (and pockets!) but I am yet to attend an event where I could rock it.

    Lastly, think of your future destination! If you like an item and it's within your set budget, buy it. No matter how inappropriate for the weather the clothes seem at the moment. I shop for countries I want to visit (cold places) or events I plan to attend (cosplay events, mostly). And while some family members scratch their heads at my fashion philosophy…

    Just remember the clothes we buy aren't just for the "now". It's also meant for great fashionable days ahead of us.

    Happy mindful shopping!


    About the Creator

    Karina Thyra

    Fangirl of sorts.

    Twitter: @ArianaGsparks

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