Dress for the life you want, right? But what if you can’t always afford to?
You can. How? Thrift shops.
“Thrift shops? Grossssss,” you might be thinking. “They’re just old cat sweaters and clock radios from the 1980s.”
Not always. Thrift shops are responsible for some of the most expensive, most well-constructed, and best pieces of my wardrobe.
Depending on your neighborhood, step into a thrift shop and you might come out with a cute, cheap purse, the best dress to wear to a wedding, a festival outfit, or a new internship blazer – in short, affordable designer clothes.
I’m based in Los Angeles, in between the neighborhoods of Hollywood, Los Feliz, and Silver Lake. As these neighborhoods are full of well-heeled, low-key Hollywood types, actors, film and TV writers, artists, and executives of various sorts… well, they tend to have great wardrobes. Which makes for great neighborhood thrift shopping..
Cue: thread detecting. When I’m not browsing Ebay or Amazon for clothing and sales, when I’m not checking out the Melrose Trading Post or my local, neighborhood swap meet**, I’m browsing my favorite second-hand stores for things to wear to movie premieres, things to wear to auditions, Coachella outfits, workout clothing, brunch dresses, and threads for all manner of occasions.
And I’ve found some good stuff. Where? Crossroads, Goodwill, and Campus Thrift, three of my favorite thrift shops in Hollywood.
Here are my reviews. I’ve noted key features such as price, effort required, where they get their clothes, and listed any additional notes. From most-to-least expensive (and, consequently, the least-to-most effort required), I give you…
- Location: in LA, across the US
- Thrift Price: $$$
- Effort Required: Minimal
- Clothes Source: They buy them from people
- Bonus: Need to earn money from your wardrobe? Clean out your closet, and sell your old clothing to Crossroads.
Crossroads is the bread and butter of all LA thrift shops. (I don’t even know if Crossroads can be classified as a thrift shop; technically, it’s buy/sell/trade.) At least half of my clothing that I’ve gotten from thrift shops, I’ve gotten from Crossroads. While Crossroads is, by far, the most expensive of the three, it’s the most expensive for a reason: it’s worth it. They’ve got a good selection of great-quality items, many from designer brands. Crossroads has both men’s and women’s fashion; they’ve got shirts, pants, jeans, skirts, hats, shoes, and many other accessories. Additionally, each store is well-lit, and has ample changing room (for a thrift shop).
Because they get their clothes by buying it from people (and they’re very selective), most of their selection is pretty much good, on-trend, in-season fashion.
WARNING: if you’re selling your clothing, Crossroads don’t buy everything. In fact, they don’t buy most things. But that’s what makes this such a great place for thread detecting.
While I have only been to three of their LA stores (plot spoiler: I love all of them), they also have locations in New York City, Houston, Chicago, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington DC. I suspect that one of the best thrift shops in Los Angeles is one of the best thrift shops in the United States.
A few of my favorite things I’ve bought at Crossroads:
- An Elizabeth and James “Luna” Holiday black dress
- A backless white mini dress by Backstage Australia
- A black, wide-brim Brixton Tiller hat
- Clarks brown leather heeled booties
Next, we move on to…
Goodwill – in LA, across the US
- Location: across the US (link to your local store)
- Thrift Price: $$
- Effort Required: Medium
- Clothes Source: Donations
- Bonus: Clean out your closet! At Goodwill, you can donate old, unwanted clothes while, at the same time, helping people. According to Wikipedia, “Goodwill Industries International Inc. is an American nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that provides job training, employment placement services, and other community-based programs for people who have disabilities. In addition, Goodwill Industries may hire veterans and individuals who lack education or job experience or face employment challenges. Goodwill is funded by a massive network of retail thrift stores which operate as nonprofits as well. Goodwill’s answer to its profit status is “As a unique hybrid called a social enterprise, we defy traditional distinctions. Instead of a single bottom line of profit, we hold ourselves accountable to a triple bottom line of people, planet, and performance.”” Clean out your closet, create jobs, buy some new (used) clothes, and save the planet? We’re on it.
Goodwill is like a downmarket Crossroads. How good (or not) is Goodwill? Well, the quality varies by neighborhood, and varies widely. As we mentioned, Goodwill sources its clothing from donations. Hence, the quality of clothing at a particular Goodwill is the quality of clothing people in that particular neighborhood are looking to get rid of. It’s not a perfect correlation, but generally, the more expensive the neighborhood, the better the Goodwill. Side note: take caution with Goodwills in “hipster” neighborhoods. They tend to be some of the most picked-over. As long as you know how to shop at a thrift store, you’ll find some hidden gems.
A few of my favorite things that I’ve found at LA Goodwills:
- a Navy blue Everly mini dress
- an American Apparel chiffon skirt (I have a number of these skirts. They’re perfect for everything.)
Last (and least)…
- Location: 856 N Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90029
- Thrift Price: $
- Effort Required: Maximum (lots of digging)
- Clothes Source: ???? …the world may never know.
- Bonus: It’s cheap. Sometimes.
I have a love/hate relationship with Campus Thrift. I occasionally score here (and I score big time – see below), but I usually find a lot of junk. They used to have this girl Kristen who worked there; she was the best. I haven’t seen her in a while, and things have gotten worse since she’s left; the prices are more expensive, and the racks are too packed. While it’s most certainly the worst of the three, I’ve found a few great things here, so I come by here every once in awhile.
A few of the things I’ve found:
- A blue men’s button-down shirt. Essential.
- And… the holy grail of all $2 thrift shop finds… a good-condition black Theory blazer.
Do you have a favorite thrift shop in your city? If you’re in LA, do you know one I missed? Share your favorites with fellow Thread Detectives in the comments section below 🙂
**Swap meet – LA’s version of a flea market (except it seems like old, immigrant ladies do this as a business, because they’ve got more hustle than any of us)