Thrift store tips for petites

I know some people are iffy about shopping in thrift stores (but some love it!) and I completely understand both sides. On one hand, there could be good & cheap finds to be had, but on the other hand...I know not everyone wants to be spotted rummaging around at the local Goodwill. 
Based on my last thrifting trip, here are my recommended areas for petites:

1. Vintage Belts
According to the CDC, the avg. weight for an American woman is 25 lbs more today than it was in 1960. That means older belts should fit considerably smaller than current day ones. Evidence:

- 2 vintage belts I found at thrift store, sz Small: 25.5 inches at the smallest hole, 32 inches total length.

VERSUS "current"belts I bought this year:

- J.Crew sz Small: 27 inches around the waist at the smallest hole, 36 total length.
- Banana Republic sz XS: 28 inches around the waist at the smallest hole, 36 total length.

Although leather punchers can add an extra hole, my pet peeve is the leftover length that flops around. My current-day belts have an extra four inches in length.

2. Lightweight Scarves
Silk, lightweight cotton, etc, are all good options to jazz up a plain outfit. Lightweight scarves are also usually one-size-appropriate-for-all (bulky winter scarves - not so much). Just make sure to wash purchases vigorously after you get home!

3. Vintage Jewelry
I always check out the bold vintage earrings, neckalces, and brooches, but so far no finds.

5 minutes is all it takes to make these three pit stops. A lot of thrift stores also have "sales" ... for example, I went to my local one when they were having a 50% off day, lol!

Readers - do you guys love or hate thrift store shopping? Those who love - share your favorite finds!


  1. I love the idea of "thrifting" but I don't think I've done it but once or twice in my life. This post is a great reminder for me to look for vintage and thrift shops when I get settled in D.C. I'm always so excited when others make great thrift finds (e.g. the blogger at Shen Dove Style does a lot of thrifting), so I will have to be sure to go on a shopping adventure of my own soon! Well, after I take the Bar Exam... ::sigh::

  2. Hi, I am a frequent lurker and love your site. I love to thrift shop! I have recently found belts & pencil skirts that fit nicely on my xs body. Clothing items did run smaller in the past so when I find a classic item that fits then I buy it. I also recently found a Theory sweater in very good shape for $2. It is funny because they mark Gap items higher.

  3. I love hunting for nice things at a thrift shop! I've found a ton of cute things.. I guess I'll share them on my blog next month. haha Summer school's killing me :( My favourite find would probably be a pair of Oxfords :D

  4. now that vintage stuff is instyle, it's great to go thrift shop hopping... it's also great for people who sell stuff on eBay... I don't knock thrift stores, anyway "one man's garbage is another man's treasure"..

  5. i agree that they there are many great items to be found at thrift stores. i seen friends/co-workers with really nice pieces and they got it for a few dollars. it's such a deal if you're willing to dig.

    as for myself, i can't handle the smell. i'm a big smell person and the moth ball smell totally grosses me out.

  6. i've gone thrifting only twice i think .. once at goodwill and another time at some random shop. i would love to hit up a vintage thrift store sometime too but just don't know where to find them.

    that was a great video! the belts were fantastic finds and fit nicely! my problem in petite sizing is mostly in shoes and belts. it's good to know there are some belts out there that will fit on the waist properly!

  7. Thanks for sharing with us all your neat little finds! :) The two belts that you got for $1 each is awesome. Nothing says quality like a vintage leather belt. Plus, the belts run in your size which is probably a big deal considering the CDC's review of the national average :/ Oh my, highly processed foods and genetic engineering come to mind, but I won't dwell on that today :p

    I occasionally go thrift store hunting, when I am absolutely bored and have no other plans. I don't stay long either. I've looked at vintage purses, and little household knick knacks. Next time I will look in the belt section to see if I can find something similar to yours :D The muskiness of a thrift store drives me insane. I hate anything mildly wet or humid-y. But I would go again just to make pit stops :D

  8. Great video!

    Totally agree about looking for tiny belts and cool accessories at thrift stores. I never have much luck thrifting, but my mom found stuff back in the day that she's passed down to me, like belts and vintage shoes.

  9. i <3 thrifting and always try to check out flea markets when i travel. the main thrift shops in singapore are manned by the 'salvation army' (which is pretty similar to 'goodwill') and this place called 'cash converters' (a place where ppl exchange their stuff for cash). there was a thrift shop which i frequented very much as an undergrad but it's since closed down = \ that's where i found 2 pairs of well-maintained vintage ferragamo pumps. i also thrifted a neat vintage typewriter in working condition lately!

    u're spot-on about the belts = )

  10. I go thrift shopping occasionally and I tend to leave empty handed more than I've come with things in tow. Accessories are definitely easier to sort through, but there are gems in the clothing section when you're willing to dig.

    I got a great GAP wrap dress for cheap, but it took me a while to find it. There are so many thrift stores in LA, I hardly have time to sift through them all to find the really good ones.

  11. Wow great finds!. I have never thought of going shopping at thrift stores. I have to look and see if there is any store close to where I live. Thanks for sharing.

  12. There are a quite a few good thrift stores on Newbury Street in Boston. Unfortunately, I never have any luck in thrift stores. Though, I've seen people come out with amazing finds. Maybe my timing is just wrong and I go in after people have raided the store already. Personally, I'm not really a "digger". Occasionally I'll be in the mood to dig around for some good stuff in stores, but I'm mostly an "in-and-out" shopper. If something doesn't catch my eye right away, in my mind, it's not worth looking at.

  13. I wish to go thriftshopping, but sadly my hubby is against the idea...bummers...

    <33 Rena

  14. I love going there, I never find clothing or accessories, just handbags from $1-$9 but none I personally love b/c I'm super picky for handbags. I think I need to go back with a creative eye, if I don't find something in my size I give up, which is totally wrong of me!

    I love the belts and scarf you picked up! I hope to see future thrifted items :)

    *wool in thrift shops make me cringe*

  15. @ch3r - I never went to the thrift stores on Newbury. There's a store called "Secondtime Around" that has two or three Newbury locations and a number of others around the area. Years ago, I used to go to the Beacon Hill location. I find that the clothes there were generally pretty nice and the store was clean, bright, and organized.

    Many years before that, I used to go to Poor Little Rich Girl in Davis Square (before it moved to a location on the other side of the block). It's very hit or miss, but I think their vintage selection is better.

    Too bad I didn't think to visit these classes before leaving Boston last month.

  16. When I go to thrift stores I look for the better labels in any size and then resell on ebay. I use that money to buy me the more expensive things that do fit me :).

  17. Great tips! I love vintage jewelries :D
    ryc: It took much longer time to heal without the acne patch, and leave the scar deeper too, so I definitely will recommend to try out the patches :D

  18. Oooh thrift store shopping can be good, if you know the right stores! There's a jewelry shop I went to in Beacon Hill that had like estate jewelry... so I saw vintage Dior, Chanel, etc... do you know the place? I was drawn in b/c they had tons of pearl necklaces :)

    I think most people think of Goodwill, but that's totally NOT the way to go! It's best to go to high end consignment shops, where they authenticate, etc. Like that Versace scarf you saw :) That same store had Gucci dresses too! In fact, these type of shops are unaffordable for me b/c they're just too expensive and high end!

    My mom browses some consignment shops and she sees Hermes scarves, and some designer brands like DKNY or Shelli Segal, brand new with tags! Soooo, like anything else, you just gotta be smart about it, and it looks like you know those things and went in looking for specific items!

    With the belts, YES! YES they are smaller!!! I have a few where I have to notch the first hole!!! That's NEVER happened with the belts they make these days.

  19. Oooh just watched the video, love how you show the belts side by side! Man breaking the bank aren't ya..... $5!!! Hehehe.

  20. I hate the hunting part of it! I get so frustrated if I find something I like and it doesn't fit right because in a normal store there's usually other sizes to try. Plus I'm just not patient enough to sift through stuff, which is why I also don't go to TJ Maxx or Marshall's or Ross to shop! :P

  21. to hell with what other people think: I LOVE thrifting.

    I get to find truly vintage, unique clothing different from everyone else AND I get to save money!

    I love the hunting - the anticipation makes the awesome find all that much more fulfilling.

    I've found some high-brand stuff for under $10 bucks, in near-mint condition, so I wholeheartedly love thrift stores.

    My favorite finds are:
    1. shoes - nine west, some older brands, gianni bini
    2. purses - kate spade, liz claiborne and some nine west
    3. dresses - a few calvin klein ones

    Baby, I'm a veteran at this!

  22. I've never gone thrift store shopping, but I really like your ideas of looking for belts, scarves and jewelry... since my accessories drawer is painfully sparse... and for such great bargains you really can't go wrong even if you end up changing your mind (I'm assuming there's no returns? :P)

    Great job on the video btw, I think you're getting more and more natural in front of the camera! :)

  23. I used to go back in the day but never had any luck. I get creeped out- hopefully that doesn't sound snobbish...LOL

    Your video is awesome! Good job!!!

  24. Nice Vblog here. I really appreciate the sharing. I have not gone thrift store shopping before. Definitely will check them out next time.

  25. I LOVE thrifting! I feel that after a good wash clothing is just as if you've had it for a while anyway. And I have no shame when it comes tho thrifting. The deals are too amazing :) Some of my fav finds (mostly from last year)

    - Express tan plaid trench coat in XS
    - Express wool houndstooth coat in XS
    - Burberry button down (and it was real! woo!)
    - 2 leather vintage belts that fit around my waist (could be kids size maybe)
    - Faconnable dress shirt in XS
    - J Crew button down in XS
    - Juicy Couture cream tunic in P
    - Banana Republic silk top, white in XS

    I haven't been so lucky this year but then again I don't go thrifting as much as I used to.

  26. I have never been to one but it seems like good place for bargain shopping based on these reviews. I have to check it out some time. Your belts look good and appear to be in good condition too. I love your video!!

  27. i must admit that i'm also iffy about thrift shopping. although, after seeing so many bloggers with awesome thrift finds, i think i'm starting to change my mind lol:) i'm looking for a vintage belt, but like u, i always have that extra area flopping around lol thanks for the tips on thrifting. perhaps, i'll venture out sometime:) have a great weekend!

  28. I love thrift store shopping!

  29. Thrift store is so fun!! If you're in the mood for it lol. I actually DO find tiny things in thrift stores once in a while.

    I agree, they're best for accessories.

  30. More than half of my clothes are second hand. I like high-end fabrics and cuts but also want to retire someday so don't like buying it all new. And honestly find it easier to find petite sizes second hand. it's not just about truly vintage- I have tons of stuff from Banana, AT, Marc Jacobs, Rebecca Taylor, etc. I have gotten second hand for next to nothing. Beautiful Italian silk skirts (more them this week!), lots of designer shoes. You can wash it or have it dry cleaned obviously. Not all thrift stores are the same, as the posts above seem to assume. There are LOTS of higher end ladies thrifts in big cities, and good wills vary by neighborhood, I promise. When I first started working 10 yrs ago I had to wear all suits and couldn't afford them- got them all second hand at Housing Works in New York. South Beach Miami has a few great ones. I live in Seattle now where there are a big handful of second-hand stores that cater to trendy and professional women. I have a lovely bag collection, silk scarves, tons of 'fun' going out dresses and tops, ALL of my jeans are second hand (shrinkage on the bigger ladies very common). You are really missing out and doing yourself a disservice budget-wise if you never give this a shot. I have it down to a science in my favorite places and no where to check quickly. Also it's more environmentally friendly (less demand for more new product in this world) though I realize not everyone cares about that. In New York, try Beacon's Closet in Park Slope for fun stuff, and you can sell/trade too.

  31. Meant "know" where not no where above...

    Also good at second-hand- sunglasses. Got a pair of perfect Enzo's last week for $40, with case/cloth etc. Love them. THis was in a store that has a glass case up front with nicest stuff.

  32. Meant to add- some of the higher end shops are called consignment shops, meaning they sell on behalf of others. Some of these can be overpriced but generally you get a good value. If any of you are in Seattle, here are my favorite spots: Cap Hill- crossroads, take-two. Udub- goodwill, buffalo trading. Ballard- goodwill (all others too overpriced but this goodwill is best in city). Madison Park- Fury. For super pricey/designer- Kirkland-Ragamoffyn's.

    Okay, time to go enjoy the sunny day.

  33. you are definitely tiny! YOu're right - I can't stand the smells in those places, but if you're patient u might find something...

  34. OMG that's soo true, I still have a couple pairs of jeans from 10 years ago and they're a 25 waist and I still fit into them perfectly. Today, I'm considered a 23 waist and it's so difficult to find XXS clothing!! America is getting "bigger" and they've adjusted the sizing label to help this "growing" population feel better about themselves...


  35. Great job on the video. Everything you said about thrift shopping is true.

  36. I like to find skirts in thrift stores (the ones I've went to usually organize a section just for skirts, so not too much rummaging around). Skirt waists back then also seem to be smaller than nowadays. I love your eye-makeup in your video! What kind of eye-liner or eye products do you use?

  37. A lot of my basics come from high-end thrift/consignment shops located in the nicer areas of my town. Dresses, skirts, cardigans, and tops (in that order) are normally the easiest things to find. While my height is about average (5’4), I’m about a 00 or XS so my frame is not as petite, but I still struggle.

    On Friday evenings or early Saturday mornings, I like to go to a specific Goodwill and a local Junior League thrift store because the donations are more petite-friendly. I also browse through high-end consignment shops because the quality of clothes can be better and it’s less work to search for potential thrift finds. Although consignment store prices can be as “expensive” as a new shirt from Old Navy or Target, it’s worth having something unique that no one else possesses.

    My latest thrift finds in the past 1-2 months: A pair of Paige denim jeans in size 24 ($7 + $15 to replace the broken zipper), an Ann Taylor LOFT XS short sleeve cardigan ($2.50), a Gap sweater tee shirt ($2.50), a suit and skirt combo ($25), and a sleeveless sweater top from Sisley ($5-7). After a good find at the thrift store, I normally wash it immediately or head to the tailor if alterations need to be made. I also have to admit that sometimes, some things can look awkward by itself. But if it’s a unique print, I try to work around it – layer it differently, wear a cardigan, etc.

    PS: After a morning of thrifting, always make sure that you at least wash your hands (and shower…). Best of luck thrifting!

  38. Thank you everyone for the comments! I loved reading about your bargain finds and shopping tips.

    Looks like there are some pretty mixed opinions about thrifting. I stumbled upon a "Savers" yesterday and was surprised everything was ordered by size...finally got me some vintage jewelry and a pair of cognac high heeled sandals!

    Ms.Shopportunity - aw, so not more Boston for you! Well enjoy D.C. : )

    Littlemama29 - hi there! I remember you from AN's forum : ) You know, I love it when employees have no idea what items are worth. Theory isn't too mainstream of a name, so I can totally see how it could be marked lower than Gap at the hands of an oblivious employee.

    Anon @ 10:41 - goodwills def. vary by the neighborhoods. Although the brands and labels may be better in major cities, I find them to be too picked over by the trendy "hipster" kids. Consignment stores here are located in prime real estate locations and are quite overpriced in my opinion! I go a little outside of the city to do my true "digging."

    Leona - Wow, so many great finds! It's funny how you have a routine for specific stores you hit up. What a good deal on the paige jeans that just needed a zipper fix. And I'm surprised you found a skirt suit that fit!

  39. V.D. - Skirt waists definitely seem smaller back then! My mom has some skirts that are size 2 or 4 and I can't even ooze into them if I tried.

    I'm just wearing my cheapie eye products: N.Y.C. liquid liner (1.99 at the drugstore) and E.L.F "natural looking false lashes" ($1 on

  40. I just went thrift store shopping and found a ton of great stuff! I know whatever I find I am capable of altering if I need to, making shopping a lot less difficult. I'll post all my finds on my blog tomorrow. You should check it out!:

  41. thrift shopping is definitely hit and miss. sometimes i'll go out and find absolutely nothing that catches my eye, other times, there's too many things to choose from. for the most part, i think it's all about timing. great finds on those belts! and how true about the sizes in women from 40-50 years ago until now, but at least it works out well for you and all those other petites out there! i definitely like finding vintage accessories like scarves and jewelry. another thing for me is blouses, but that can be tough because most are really big or too wide, but with a belt or tucked into high waisted pants/skirts, you can make it work sometimes. vintage bags are another one!

  42. Totally loving that scarf, very Hermes-eques!

  43. I love the idea of thrifting, though I don't go out of my way to do it. Housing Works (multiple locations throughout NYC) is great, I've found higher end clothing in practically new condition there, like a brown satin Theory shirt for $12 and a cute Shoshanna red floral strapless sundress for like $22 or something ridiculous. Also this gorgeous Chloe cocktail dress for like $150 - unfortunately, I didn't see this yellow highlighter stain on the back until months after, but it's not noticeable. Hmm I guess I don't usually thrift for no-name stuff! Ebay is also great, I've found cute vintage clutches for around $10.

  44. Nice Blog.. I love it.. Keep up the good work..

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