Ashley's guide to shopping her 5 favorite thrift stores in the DMV

The satisfaction I get when I receive compliments on a thrifted outfit is pure bliss. I've come a long way. Funny story: when I tell my mom I'm out thrifting, she always laughs because I cried big alligator tears anytime she would take me with her to a thrift store as a child. I kept that same energy well into adulthood until 2017 when I started consigning my gently used items. Consignment changed the game for me. I would take pieces I wore once to local consignment shops and end up buying a bag full of cute inexpensive clothes. I love seeing what I can put together. As a result, I have consigned and visited many thrift stores in the area. Most are great, but not all of them.

How do you find the best thrift store?

Look in an upscale area. I've had plenty of Saturdays where I wake up at 9:00 am, enjoy a cup of coffee, and venture out into the DMV to be the first one at the door when the thrift stores open. Thrifting is an art. You have to be creative and have a vision. Some of the best thrift stores are in the neighborhoods with the most expensive rent. You know, the big houses with the lovely estates. I've seen designer brands like Jimmy Choo, Chanel, and Burberry. The next time you're hunting for designer items, try visiting thrift stores in Mclean, VA, Potomac, MD, Bethesda, MD, Columbia, MD, and Capitol Hill, DC. I've had the most luck finding designer items in those cities specifically.

What is the best day to go thrifting?

I go thrifting on the weekends and usually drop off items on the weekends as well. When I'm off of work, I like to go thrifting at the beginning of the week. That gives the store time to inspect and price the donations that come in from the weekend rush.

Are there things you shouldn't buy at the thrift store?

Yes. I avoid electronics, cooking appliances, bedding, bathing suits, and makeup. I bought electronics and appliances before, and they did not work when I brought them home. If it works when you take it home, you don't know how long it will last. I suggest buying them new because you'll have a warranty. I also stay away from bedding because of bed bugs and dust mites. Bathing suits and makeup are off-limits for me as well, as they can spread bacteria.

What do you look for when you go thrifting?

Think outside the box. I shop for items that stand out to me. I'm always on the hunt for clothing and accessories that inspire me. I'm so bored with influencers and celebrities looking the same all the time. The same hair, the same makeup, the same bags, jewelry, and style! I suggest incorporating trends with thrifted items and brand-new jewelry and accessories. The combination will create a unique look with flavor and depth.

How much do you spend at thrift stores?

I always shop with a budget and a strategy. When you're shopping for items that are two, five, and eight dollars, you can run it up quickly. I always create a mood board to help me stay on track. Mood boards keep you focused and help prevent impulse purchases. I use Pinterest or screenshot looks that inspire me. Study it before you shop, so you clearly understand the pieces you need to set the mood for your wardrobe.

How do I know the difference between treasure and trash?

Inspect your items. As you shop, examine each piece. Your selections should be free of holes, stains, and smells. Ensure all of the hardware works, check the zippers, and ensure it has all the buttons. Anything that hooks or snaps should all be in good condition. Check the inside of your garments and ensure the stitching is strong and not coming undone at the seams. I prefer the tags to be on to see the size and instructions on how to care for it.

Top 5 favorite thrift stores in the DMV

Now you're ready to shop! Here's a list of my favorite thrift stores and consignment shops in DC, Maryland, and Virginia.

1. New To You, Modern Luxury Resale, 108 West Broad St., Falls Church, VA 22046

2. Current Boutique, 1318 14th St., NW, Washington, DC 20005

3. The Chic Shack, 1230 H St NE, Washington, DC 20002

4. The Goodwill Greater Washington, 9001 Woody Terrace, Clinton, MD 20735

5. The Goodwill Retail Store, 9097 Snowden River Pkwy, Columbia, MD 21046

If you'd like to shop with me one day or want me to shop for your next special event. Please email me for a quote. I'd love to shop with you!