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High-End Looks for the Low: How to “Ball On A Budget” and Save at Second-Hand Stores

Chime Team • July 10, 2024

Chime taking WNBA All-Stars shopping at a vintage thrift store to find a stylish, new outfit for less than $300.

You don’t need a bunch of cash to catch a WNBA All-Star worthy fit. We’re here to show you how to Ball On A Budget without breaking the bank.

We tagged-along with WNBA legends Chelsea Gray, Lexie Brown, Arike Ogunbowale, and one of this year’s most anticipated rookies, Kamilla Cardoso, to learn their top thrifting tips as they put together fire fits for $300 or less, while teaching us an important lesson:

When your money’s good, you feel good.™

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Tips for successful thrifting

When thrifting, you can discover iconic pieces or entire fits at bargain prices. Here’s how to get the most value from your time and find showstoppers that you’ll actually wear long-term.

Lexie Brown's thrift tips: 1. Make a Plan. 2. Try something different. 3. Don't forget accessories.

Make a plan

Our ballers can’t win championships without a game plan, and you can’t walk away from your thrifting trip feeling successful if you don’t set clear goals before you walk into the store.

Prepare a list of what you’re hoping to find and tackle the store section by section. Combing through the clutter to find hidden gems may require effort. Don’t rush, and take your time.

Check the label

Clothing labels can reveal a lot about their origins, materials, and potential value. If you’re lucky enough to come across a vintage piece with the original tag, consider using the Label Resource at the Vintage Fashion Guild to determine what brand it is and whether it’s an authentic piece.

Some vintage thrift stores may mark up the price of certain items or brands, so if you plan on reselling the piece for a higher price, check its resale value to determine whether the purchase is worth the investment.

Size up

The best size is your size, whether that means tailoring clothing you get on a bargain or adjusting it yourself after buying it. “I pick things oversized because you can always make things smaller. I get a little scissor-happy,” admits WNBA Champion Lexie Brown of the LA Sparks.

Go for oversized fits for more style flexibility, or get one size larger than you normally do so you can get more mileage out of your finds.

Choose reliable brands

While popular fast-fashion brands offer affordable pieces that can spice up your wardrobe, they may not hold up in your closet for long. If you’re looking for clothes that can last you years to come, choose reliable brands known for their excellent quality.

While name brands may be expensive right off the rack, you won’t have to pay full price if you’re thrifting, making it an even better deal.

Step outside of your comfort zone

To uplevel your wardrobe, embrace a bit of play when thrifting. Don’t stick to the same outfits you normally wear.

“Don’t be afraid to try something different,” shares Brown. “I like to layer with mismatched fabrics and textures.”

WNBA Champion & All-Star Chelsea Gray of the Las Vegas Aces suggests building from a “staple piece” you find in the wild. For Chelsea, it all starts with a graphic tee. When you’re thrifting, throwback looks are an asset. “I think the graphic tee brings out the ‘vintage,’” Gray says with confidence.

Instead of a tee, 2x NCAA Champion Kamilla Cardoso of the Chicago Sky likes to start an outfit “with the bottoms. Then I’ll try to match my shirt with the bottoms. And then the shoes last.” When thrifting, Kamilla embraces her inner-self, sharing that you should “try to find the stuff that matches your energy. Follow your heart.”

How to save money when thrifting

While thrifting can help you find some head-turning fashion staples without the hefty price tag, you could still blow your budget if you’re not prepared. Here’s how to score amazing finds without breaking the bank.

Shop off-season

It’s not just retail stores that follow seasonal trends. Thrift stores also have a surplus of clothing in lower demand during the off-season.

If you’re looking for that perfect pair of boots or warm coat for the winter months, try shopping in the summer. And if you need a breezy sundress or sandals, check out the thrift store during the winter.

Accessorize

The devil’s in the details: sometimes, all you need to elevate your look is a choice accessory or two. “Don’t forget about accessories,” notes Brown. Gray agrees: “Accessories! The glasses pull it all together. I love watches and stuff like that.”

Before you splurge on a new jacket or pair of boots, see if a necklace, watch, or pair of shades can be the ticket to your new look.

Trade in your own clothes

Another money-saving hack when thrifting is to clean out your closet and sell your old clothes to the thrift store. Some shops will offer you store credit in exchange for the items you bring in. You can then use the store credit to purchase new items.

Just be sure to contact the thrift shop beforehand to see what types of items they’ll accept and if there are any limitations.

Buy pieces you don’t already own

Every purchase should add a new dimension to your wardrobe, not double down on what you already have. “If you can’t buy it twice, don’t buy it. Try to think of what you have at the house,” and avoid getting the same types of shoes or sweaters you already own, recommends WNBA All-Star Arike Ogunbowale of the Dallas Wings.

Get cash from an ATM

One way to stick to your budget is to take a cash-only approach. For example, limit yourself to taking $300 in cash on your next thrifting trip.

Chime members can easily find fee-free ATMs* to withdraw cash at over 50,000 locations, including at retailers like CVS®, Target®, and Walgreens®.

However, if you don’t like carrying cash and prefer to pay with plastic, another solution is paying for your purchases with your secured Chime® Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card. This way, you can build credit with on-time payments† after a successful thrift store treasure hunt.

Ball on a Budget™ with confidence

The price tag doesn’t make the fit: you do. The key to pulling off any style is to rock it with confidence. As Ogunbowale shares: “Wear what you wear, no matter what anybody thinks. If you like it, then go with it.”

When you’re sticking to a budget, find out how to set and reach your savings goals to make your money go further.

#1 most-loved banking app™~

  • Over 1,000,000+ five-star reviews on Google Play & Apple Store
  • Send and receive money fee-free
  • Deposit checks from anywhere
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