Thrifting: A Student’s Perspective, Part 2

One major appeal of thrift stores is that you can get the most out of your money. Katherine Bogle, a Photography student who currently resides in PEI, says that she prefers to shop at thrift stores because “it’s cheap and you can get incredible finds.” Maggie Millican, a student who attends Memorial University, has a similar opinion. The first-year student says that she shops at thrift stores because, “The clothes are affordable, and you can you can get a taste of fashions from different decades if you know where to look. You can use the unique clothing to express yourself and convey your individuality.” Kara Boucher, a U of A student who is finishing up an after-degree in Classics, agrees that “the initial appeal of thrift shopping was its relative affordably.” However, she also points out that due to the growing demand, some chain thrift stores have raised prices and new clothing stores offer increasingly lower prices. She says, ” my interest in thrifting has shifted to the attractiveness of finding distinctive pieces.”

calgary thrifting for students 2

Maggie and Kara’s comments draw attention to the second reason why thrifting is great for students: there is so much variety. While many retail stores market a certain “look” or target a specific demographic, thrift stores have something for everyone. Maggie’s inspiration is Audrey Hepburn, while Katherine cites Taylor Momsen of the Pretty Reckless as a style influence, but is quick to add that she likes a little bit of everything: “one day I’m a classy [professional] woman, the next I’m a grunge punk. And everything in between.” Kara also describes her style as diverse, saying that the way that she portrays herself through apparel comes from the fact that she is “an academic who listens to heavy metal, loves the 1980’s, and is a true bohemian at heart.”

And what are some of these “incredible finds” or unique items? I asked Katherine, Maggie, and Kara what their favourite thrifted piece was. Katherine says she has a navy blue scoop neck top with a vintage flower print that she loves. Maggie says her favourite find was a grey a-line skirt with black trim. Kara’s favourite find shows that you can get more than just clothes at a thrift store: “Most of my prized home decorations are thrift finds, from classic records to velvet paintings and oriental rugs.”

If you’re a student, and the idea of thrifting appeals to you, there are a few tips to keep in mind. Clothing in thrift stores are usually sorted by type, colour, and size. However, it’s a good idea to try things on. This is because there are many different brands with sizes that vary slightly, as well as the fact that some items such as dresses may have been altered or taken in. This may take a little more time than shopping elsewhere, but searching and trying things on is just part of what Kara calls “the thrill of the hunt.” She says if you come into a thrift store with a very narrow or overly detailed idea of what you are searching for, you may leave disappointed. Maggie says, “I usually just wander around until something catches my eye.” Because of this, thrifting is a great way to spend the afternoon with friends, browsing around and trying things on. (However, if you are the kind of person who is stuck for inspiration or feel you’re too disorganized, be sure to check out our upcoming blog post on how to plan and budget for redoing your wardrobe.)

Although these girls have different styles, study in different fields, and live in different parts of the country, the reasons why they enjoy thrifting are quite similar: all of them cited the diversity and affordability of clothes as reasons why they enjoy thrift and vintage shopping.

Photo: Katherine Bogle,

Katherine Bogle Photography


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