IMG_1121A phrase that often stops me in my tracks and makes me reconsider my shopping tendencies as I think, “But, how?”

As fall comes upon us and inspires us with thoughts of flannels, boots and sweaters, it also reminds us of our dwindled bank accounts. Considering the shortage of funds among college students, Goodwill should be our go-to. However, many times we may leave empty-handed and disappointed rather than being able to brag about our style and purchases. Goodwill is an art form, and not for the faint of heart.

“Goodwill is full of different styles, memories and stories,” explained sophomore and avid thrift shopper Madeline Mullenbach, “[but] making something your own from that can be tricky at times.”

But despite the challenge, thrift shopping can be successful and rewarding, if you go with the right mindset.

IMG_1580“Since thrift stores have so many random clothes without much organization, it’s easier to find something you’ll like if you narrow down your search to a certain material, brand or style,” said sophomore Jeanine Campbell, who is also a Goodwill fashionista. “For example, instead of looking through every coat on the rack, I’ll just look at the sweatshirts and denim jackets to see if I can find a good one. Or I’ll just scan…until I see a color or pattern that stands out.”


“I like to pick clothes that most people wouldn’t wear as they are and alter them so that they become one-of-a-kind pieces,” Campbell echoed Mullenbach’s perspective, and described how she makes Goodwill clothing look nothing like Goodwill style. “Lately, I’ve been shortening long grandma dresses into sundresses and tops and cutting high-waisted mom jeans into shorts.”

Junior Seth Ury, another Goodwill frequenter, also emphasized the importance of personal style in thrift shopping. “[Go] without the concern of what other people think. If you’ve got that…trailing on your coattails as you walk through the sliding doors of that mothball-smelling place, you’ll never succeed in finding your style.”


For fall style in particular, all of our thrifting experts recommended one thing: flannels. 

Sophomore Laney Race commented, “We go to Asbury, so obviously flannels,” and also gave the tip that, “the selection at [Nicholasville] Goodwill is always decent and the quality is great.” In addition, Campbell said, “You can’t go wrong with over-sized sweaters and flannels,” and Mullenbach agreed, noting, “Fall at Goodwill means flannels galore— my favorite.” Ury offered a different perspective with humor, encouraging shoppers to “find the craziest, most pocketed, technicolored windbreaker as fast as humanly possible…you’ll be prepared for whatever random weather Wilmore throws at you.”

IMG_1111Sometimes, Goodwill success is just about good luck—Race brags a repertoire of thrift store gold including a brand new J. Crew vest and $2.00 duck boots. Mullenbach once found an Ale8 sweatshirt as well as an Eddie Bauer quarter zip. Campbell once bought a pair of jeans with her mom and later discovered a Tiffany & Company ring in the pocket. Ury boasts, “A brown and black, llama fur interior, houndstooth trench coat. I never wear it, but…it’s mine forever.”

Clearly, Goodwill shopping is truly nothing short of an adventure. So as we enter fall with high hopes and all things pumpkin-flavored, don’t shy away from thrift shopping—with a good concept of personal style and an open mind, it can be more rewarding than it is daunting.

“If you think of thrift shopping as treasure hunting, it can be way more fun than shopping at a normal store,” Jeanine encouraged the experience Goodwill has to offer over a typical shopping trip. “And if you can’t find anything that fits your style, you can always have fun trying on the weirdest fur coats, velvet jumpsuits, leather pants, or shoulder-padded 80s clothes.”