Treating the Thrift Store Like Rent the Runway

One of the best parts about shopping at the thrift store is finding things you’d love to try out – new styles or colors you want to play with but that may not be permanent closet additions.

Like this houndstooth wool J. Crew sweater with bedazzled Peter Pan collar:

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Fun to wear! Festive! A great fall color. But not really a hue I love or a level of flash I want to regularly sport. For $6, though, I was able to wear it through autumn and the holidays and not feel bad about donating it back to Goodwill after Christmas.

Paying thrift prices means you can essentially Rent the Runway for your regular wardrobe. (For those not familiar, Rent the Runway lets you rent designer clothes for a black tie or special event, then return them, all for a fraction of the retail price. They take care of cleaning the clothes for the next person.)

As someone who believes in an edited wardrobe, I advocate against willy-nilly thrifting things you won’t really wear just because the price is cheap. But if I know something will make me smile every time I put it on, even if I only wear it a half dozen times (or for one special event) – and if I know I’ll be happy to donate it afterwards – it’s worth the thrift.


If you don’t have trouble saying goodbye to a piece after a handful of wears, this approach will let you have fun with your wardrobe and keep you from holding on to any self-imposed wardrobe rules too tightly. If you tend towards a capsule wardrobe ethos, “renting” or “borrowing” select items from the thrift store can also spice up an otherwise static collection of clothes.

It’s a closet catch and release without the environmental impact of fast fashion shopping – or the impact of dry cleaning that Rent the Runway stuff!

What’s your approach to short-term adds to your closet? Is it a fun way to add variety, or does it encourage you to buy stuff you don’t need and won’t wear?