How To Thrift Like A Pro: 5 Genius Shopping Secrets

Racks upon stacks upon piles of unsized, unlabeled, unsorted clothing and accessories: For some of us, this visual evokes feelings of excitement, bliss, and actual, non-drug-induced euphoria. For others, it sounds more like an Elm Street-meets-Twilight Zone nightmare.
For those of us who fall into that latter category and maybe even a couple from the former (get it together, people!), we've enlisted owner of (seriously amazing) online vintage boutique Maeven, Amy Yee, to introduce a little method to the madness that is thrift-store shopping. (If you want to check out her vintage cred, just hop on over to her exclusive boutique — we're telling you, she's got an eye.)
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According to Amy, there are certain kinds of items that lend themselves to vintage and thrift stores — like great jeans or a unique printed blouse — so if you know what to look for, you can save a little time and a lot of anxiety, especially if you're a newbie.
Ahead, the top 5 vintage finds any shopper can master, along with Amy's own words of wisdom.
Photographed by Sean Santiago
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Leather
"Leather is such a beautiful, timeless material, and vintage options are incredibly affordable compared to their new off-the-rack counterparts. Black jackets and vests like these are obviously staples, but don't be afraid of different colors and shapes — there are some really great statement pieces out there!"

From left: Studded Bomber, $128, available at R29 Shops; Vintage Schott Leather Vest, $225, available at R29 Shops.
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Denim
"Denim is one of those magical materials that just get better with age...and it's the ultimate neutral, so it goes with everything. Look for some perfectly worn-in jeans or cutoffs (the originals are better, trust me!), or even a stand-out piece like this insane zippered cape. I always say, 'If you can find a vintage denim piece that fits you, snap it up!'"

From left: Vintage Levi's Cutoffs, $75, available at R29 Shops; Vintage Denim Cape, $125, available at R29 Shops.
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Costume Jewelry
"My rule on costume jewelry (and buying any vintage for that matter) is to buy what you really love. And while there are certainly collectible brand names, just as there are for anything fashion-related, there are plenty of beautiful, high-quality, unsigned pieces that are great buys. Plus, jewelry always fits! It's an easy way to incorporate vintage into an outfit without taking a big risk." 

Clockwise from top right: Vintage Art Deco Earrings, $65, available at R29 Shops; Vintage Blue Rhinestone Earrings, $58, available at R29 Shops; Vintage Collar Necklace, $75, available at R29 Shops.
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Unique Prints
"Prints are so huge right now, and vintage is such a great source for them. When I shop for my store, I'm always on the lookout for either classic prints like stripes and polka dots or pieces that really stand out from all the rest, which could mean anything from a unique color combination to something unexpected and exaggerated like an extra-large flower print.

"Mixing and matching is really in right now, but if you're still a little print-shy, pair your vintage find with something neutral that you're comfortable with...like one of these stunning blouses with your favorite skinny jeans — so easy and chic!"

From left: Vintage Animal Patchwork Print Top, $38, available at R29 Shops; Vintage Sunrise Print Top, $65, available at R29 Shops.
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Statement Bags
"I love the idea of easing yourself into the vintage world with a great, super-interesting statement bag. Look for standout colors, shapes, and materials — vintage stores are filled with all kinds of detailed, unique finds from all different decades...especially when it comes to accessories. Go with what speaks to you!"

From left: Vintage Copper Purse, $75, available at R29 Shops; Vintage Saddle Bag, $98, available at R29 Shops.
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