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Hidden Treasures: 5 Thrifting Veterans Share Their Secrets

Ready to thrift like a pro?

Want to be sustainable, stick to a budget, and have fun shopping? If so, then thrifting is your calling. If you’re new to the concept of pre-loved fashion, it can be a bit daunting as thrift stores don’t always come with the assurances of regular clothing stores. Here, we tap five Dubai residents who love to thrift for their tips on how to thrift like a pro.

Aprilyn Velasco 

How did you get started with thrifting? And how long have you been doing it for?

A few years back, I started thrifting whenever I would travel to the Philippines for vacation, but I was only doing so casually at that point. I started to get seriously into it shortly before the pandemic, and my drive to thrift got stronger as I researched more about the impact of fast fashion. Altogether, I’ve roughly been thrifting for two to three years now.

What tip do you use to thrift efficiently? How did the idea come about

When I go thrifting at a physical store, I always bring a measuring tape with me. My mom likes to sew, so she once advised me to take a measuring tape while thrifting – and it’s been a life-changer. Some thrift shops, such as pop-ups, don’t let you try on certain clothes due to hygiene reasons or simply because they may lack changing facilities. Bringing a measuring tape makes it easier to estimate whether the clothes will fit you, especially since clothing in thrift shops have different sizing as they come from different countries.  

Which thrift stores do you recommend we check out?

For online stores, I recommend @rewyndapparel because not only does it offer really good clothing for a great deal, but the quality of its products is also incredible. I would also recommend Thrift For Good as 100% of its profit is used to help children. 

Learn more about Aprilyn Velasco at @apziiiss

Pari Bhave 

How did you get started with thrifting? And how long have you been doing it for?

Initially, I got started because of my brother, who would go thrifting with his friends to buy denim jackets and jeans. I also used to watch a lot of YouTubers who thrift, such as Emma Chamberlain and Bestdressed. They’re what really inspired me and, now, I’ve been thrifting for three years.

What tip do you use to thrift efficiently? How did the idea come about?

I never walk into a thrift store without a plan of attack. I got the idea from watching Youtubers like Haley’s Corner – who posts videos on themed thrift hauls – and by observing their approach to thrifting. Even though these clothes are cheap, I don’t want to just hoard stuff as it’s not sustainable. That’s why you need to decide beforehand if there’s anything specific that you’re looking for, say a white shirt, and stick to it. If not a specific item, at least a rough theme such as formal wear or party wear works, too. This tip also prevents me from overspending.

Which thrift stores do you recommend we check out?

I like to go to Satwa where there are a lot of small, underrated thrift stores lined by the streets. I also recommend Instagram stores like @bearly.used and @apple.bottomjeans.thrift.

Learn more about Pari Bhave at @pari_bhave

Anne Libranda 

How did you get started thrifting with thrifting? And how long have you been doing it for?

I started last year when I saw a friend of mine post her haul from an Instagram thrift store and, out of curiosity, decided to check it out. Ever since then, I’ve been hooked on thrifting. I mainly bought jewellery from online stores in the beginning as they were easier to trust, and I didn’t have to worry about sizing. As I got more comfortable, I started trying out different tops, jackets, button-ups etc. I also started buying most of the clothes I wear to work from thrift stores. Nobody can tell the difference! 

What tip do you use to thrift efficiently? How did the idea come about?

Not all thrift stores will have an item in your size or one that perfectly matches your requirements, so I started to either DIY or upcycle the clothes that I bought in a way that would fit me. For instance, if I liked a pair of pants but it was too long, I’d just put hair ties or rubber bands on the bottom and then fold up the pants in a way that covers the tie, giving it a more jogger/cuffed look that won’t unfold later during the day. My mom and I have been doing this since forever! Sometimes, I used to get clothes that didn’t fit me as gifts from relatives and friends, but my mom and I would always adjust it later instead of tossing it away.

If you want a more permanent fix, I recommend getting your clothes tailored to fit your size. There are several places in Karama, for instance, that have decent prices. But of course, in terms of affordability, it’s much easier – not to mention all the creative opportunities it opens up – if you can alter it by yourself. For upcycling clothes, the sky is the limit. You can cut them, redecorate them, bleach them, paint them, or even print them with your own designs. There are so many ways of upcycling clothing, and you can easily find inspiration on TikTok, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Which thrift stores do you recommend we check out?

I mostly buy from online thrift stores, and some of my favourites include @prinsell.styd, @th.ri.ft, and @erishcloset.

Learn more about Anne Libranda at @renboyepicklebottom

Dianne Francisco

How did you get started thrifting with thrifting? And how long have you been doing it for?

As a Filipino, my native language has a term called ukay-ukay, which is equivalent to ‘thrift’. Us Filipinos have always found ways to live a sustainable life and, as a kid, I was taught to make the most of what we have. I was trained to be mindful about purchases and even the carbon footprint that I leave. Because of such an upbringing, I learned about thrifting at a young age. I started thrifting by myself when I was 17, and it has been two years now. Thrifting has allowed me to budget well as a college student – clothes from regular stores would cost a lot more.

What tip do you use to thrift efficiently? How did the idea come about?

I always ask myself two questions before buying something: Do I see myself pairing this with most of what’s in my wardrobe? Do I see myself still wearing this three years from now? It’s important to buy according to our needs more than wants in my opinion, and asking these questions helps in self-control. As someone who is approaching adult life, I set rules for myself while shopping. It’s important to consider where your money goes and be sure that what you’re getting is worth it. It’s easy to find pretty garments or accessories that are trendy, but I believe that buying items that fit your own style and make you happy is much more satisfying. 

Which thrift stores do you recommend we check out?

The best brick-and-mortar thrift shop I can recommend is D&J as it has everything you need in every style for a reasonable price. For online stores, I always buy at @timeless_wardrobe_et and @bywesaved.

Learn more about Dianne Francisco at @frncs.co

Lily Loulijia 

How did you get started with thrifting? And how long have you been doing it for?

I was recommended thrifting by a friend back in Bahrain. I was talking to her about how I wish there were thrift stores in the country and my friend, being from the Philippines, was well-versed with the ukay-ukay community within the country. An ukay-ukay is a Filipino store where secondhand items such as clothes, bags, shoes, and other accessories are sold at a lower price.She opened my eyes to a whole new world of shopping, and I’ve been thrifting since March 2020.

What tip do you use to thrift efficiently?

Look. Through. The. Pile. Thoroughly. I cannot stress this enough. I’ve often found cute pieces that are hidden in a corner, have fallen off the rack, or are wrapped within another shirt. I was originally inspired to do this by a YouTube video on thrifting. If you look through everything thoroughly, you’re bound to find a hidden gem. 

Which thrift stores do you recommend we check out?

As mentioned earlier, ukay-ukays are a must-visit. Simply look up “ukay-ukays near me” and you’ll realise that they’re scattered around almost every part of Dubai, leaving you with a fashion treasure map across the city. The Urban Market also features great pop-up thrift stores. It usually hosts an event every Friday with vendors, fitness classes, food, and drinks in addition to displaying beautiful pre-loved pieces.

Learn more about Lily Loulijia at @lillyloulijia

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