How To Find Jeans at a Thrift Store
There’s nothing like the thrill of shopping for the perfect pair of vintage jeans, right? It’s so satisfying to find that rare, sublime thrifted jean jacket, or the perfect flared jeans in the vintage shop after hours of searching. It’s like finding a buried treasure.
Scouting for thrift store jeans does have its challenges—many people get intimidated before they even try. But the fact remains that thrift store shopping can be a rewarding experience if you know the right way to do it.
So let’s help you get started on how to find the thrift store jeans of your dreams.
Know What You Want
Buying jeans at thrift stores can be a time-consuming affair. There’s usually no shortage of styles and price points you can browse through. It’s like going to the grocery store without a shopping list: you’ll end up taking forever to scan the racks.
That’s why it’s crucial to know what you want before you even step foot inside the thrift store. Are you looking for light or dark wash thrifted jeans? What particular fit are you aiming for? Do you want bellbottoms, mom jeans, skinny, or straight leg thrift shop jeans? We could go on.
You should also have a set budget in mind before you head out, and then have the discipline to stick to it. If the price tag of those faded vintage jeans doesn't fit your budget, put them down. It will help lessen those “should I buy this or not?” debates you have with yourself.
Get Ready for a Fit Session
Fitting is an unavoidable part of shopping for the perfect thrift store pants. No matter how well you know your measurements or how fabulously your usual jeans brand fit you, thrifted jeans are a whole different matter.
That’s because thrift store jeans vary wildly in size. Part of this is because of when they were made: vintage sizing conventions are incredibly different than modern US sizes. You may find small items that look like a modern 2 or 4 labeled as size 14 or 16—people weren't generally smaller in the 1980s, they just used a different number system for labeling their clothes.
Another important factor is simply what brand you're looking at. Have you ever noticed that jeans in one size from a specific store fit great, while the same size at another store just doesn't sit right? Unfortunately for us shoppers, there's no such thing as a standard size. The way pants are made to fit bodies will change brand to brand and style to style—and thrift stores carry all sorts.
Take time to have a fitting session to make sure your jeans fit you to a tee. You wouldn't want to spend good money on a pair of jeans only to regret an uncomfortable fit after a full day trying to wear them. Jeans are meant to be a comfortable and versatile wardrobe choice: they should fit that way.
Your hunt for the perfect pair will take you to one of two places: either a vintage shop or a thrift store.
Thrift stores offer a wide range of choices, and the prices are usually less expensive, even compared to retail. If you're a bargain hunter who wants great quality jeans for less, this is the best place to be. You may even find a pair of vintage jeans in the mix if you're lucky! It might take you a while, though, so be prepared to slog at it for hours.
Vintage shops, on the other hand, offer a more curated selection. The jeans you’ll find are generally more limited, but more select in quality than most thrift stores. It’s a great time saver if you don’t like the crowds, although it can be more expensive.
If you're at either a thrift or a vintage store, keep your eyes peeled for Unionbay jeans! We've been around since 1981, so we've definitely got our fair share of vintage jeans to be found out there. Plus, you know you can count on Unionbay jeans to be a true thrift store treasure: our high quality and timeless cuts mean you'll be able to rock your new thrifted pair for years.
Make Them Your Own
Your jeans are probably a staple that you'll be wearing day in and day out. So it's important that your jeans really suit you, that they're comfortable, and that you feel like yourself in them.
But what if your jeans aren't quite right? It can be tricky to find jeans that are the right length, and fit you perfectly in all the right places. The key thing to remember is that as long as your jeans fit the largest areas of your body (as in, your hips and thighs) everything else can be adjusted.
Jeans too long? Try cutting off the bottoms and letting the raw edges develop a distressed, grunge look. Or take them to your nearest tailor; hemming should be a breeze. A tailor can also easily take in the waist on a pair of pants, so don't stress if the jeans bag out a bit at the waist but are perfect everywhere else.
Nothing Like a Classic
Sometimes, though, the hours spent at the thrift store just doesn't yield any gold. Even a good hunt can leave you empty-handed. You can't always find the perfect vintage or thrifted pair—or you might not be able to find any contenders at all. With thrift stores, nothing is set in stone, and everything is left to chance.
But you know what’s the best way of getting the perfect vintage inspired jeans 100% of the time? Shopping the prime selection of womens jeans at Unionbay! With proper care and attention, watch your new favorite jeans evolve into a vintage pair that will fit you as nothing else would.
Ready to grow into the perfect pair of vintage style jeans? Browse through dozens of jean styles and colors at Unionbay today like our throwback version of the Madonna High-Waisted Mom Jean.