If you’re low on cash but still want to wear beautiful clothes and jewelry, where should you look? The answer isn’t eBay. Although the online auction site was once known for its bargains, today there are too many computer algorithms watching it and bidding on any items that are going below the market price.

The good news, though, is that thrift stores still exist and they’re going strong. What’s more, you never quite know what you’re going to find. It’s always amazing the sort of things that people throw away. With that said, thrift stores can be chaotic places, especially if you’re looking for a brand new outfit.

What you need is a strategy – a way to marshall your plan of attack. Here are some tips for navigating charity stores and building a great wardrobe that’ll make all your friends jealous on the cheap.

Always Scout The Least Popular Sections

Charity shops have popular sections, as well as back-of-the-store aisles where they dump all the stuff they don’t think they’re going to be able to shift. But it’s here, among the least cherished items where the real gems can be found.

You can find all sorts back here, be it Courtney Love dresses, vintage attire and incredible antique jewelry that’s found its way to a thrift store after being passed on in somebody’s will.

Try On Everything For Size

Over the years, sizes have changed. A size 6 today is similar to a size 8 in 1980 because of a phenomenon called size deflation., It turns out that clothes manufacturers want you to feel good when you put on their clothes. And you’re much more likely to feel good about an item if you think that it’s a size smaller than it actually is. As a result, if you’re looking for bargains in charity shops, it’s a good idea to try on all items first, just in case size deflation means that they don’t fit. If in doubt, choose a size above your normal size.

It’s also worth noting that cuts have changed a lot too. Vintage cuts might cover too much flesh, and shoulder pads could give you a look that you don’t actually want.

Pay Attention To Cabinets

If a thrift store has displays like a jewelry store uses, then there’s a good chance that there’s where you’ll find the highest quality items. The great thing about thrift stores, however, is that they don’t charge jewelry store prices. If you’re looking for a genuine diamond ring or pearl necklace, these are usually a lot cheaper in thrift stores, even though they contain the same raw materials as regular, newly minted jewelry.

Comb Every Section

Going to a charity shop is all about unearthing incredible items. But because they’re quite rare, you’ll have to do a bit of digging, Make sure that you comb through every section of the store, leaving no stone unturned. Also, most thrift stores don’t have the space to display all their wares, and so ask a member of staff whether you can look through their inventory.