6 prints you can always thrift

By Guest Blogger Sally McGraw
A mere 10 years ago, no stylish woman would've DREAMED of wearing polka dots and plaid within the same outfit. But …

6 prints you can always thrift

2015-07-14 08:15:40

A mere 10 years ago, no stylish woman would’ve DREAMED of wearing polka dots and plaid within the same outfit. But with the recent advent of print mixing, you’ll see fashionable femmes wearing florals with stripes, houndstooth with paisley, and chevrons with leopard. This means that prints and patterns are having a moment in the sun, and every season we’re told that a new set have become trendy. But very few of these trendy prints are actually new, which means that you can find them in abundance at your local Goodwill. Win!

Here are six prints – many of which are extremely hot right now – that you can always find at thrift stores. The proof is in these outfit photos, which show printed items that have all been thrifted.


Stripes will never really go out of style, and since they’ve been IN style for decades you’ll have no trouble finding them secondhand. Striped tees and tops are among the most common items, but you’ll find striped button-fronts, skirts, sweaters, and even pinstriped pants on occasion. Why buy new stripes when you can get gently loved ones for pennies on the dollar?

Polka dots

Dots of varying sizes fall in and out of favor, and this print isn’t currently in the spotlight. But polka dots are an absolute classic, so if you love them, by all means indulge. This print has been an American standard since the late 20s when Minnie Mouse came on the scene, and that means that polka-dotted clothing has been worn and donated countless times over the decades. If you’re craving dots, by all means thrift them.


This family of prints always surges in popularity when the weather turns warm and the real, live flowers start to bloom, but designers have done moody dark florals for winter several years running. Another print with a multi-decade history and incalculable rounds of donation to thrift stores, florals will show up as dresses, blouses, cardigans, skirts, scarves, and jackets on the Goodwill racks.


You may see more argyle in the fall, but this pattern makes the rounds just about every year. Derived from the Campbell clan tartan, this mixture of diamonds and lines emerged into modern fashion after the first world war and has stuck around ever since. You’re most likely to find secondhand argyle in pullover sweaters and cardigans, but it will show up on the occasional skirt or jacket, too.


Argyle is a type of plaid, but many other styles of this pattern can be thrifted up throughout the year. Heavy dark plaids will come around in fall and winter, but you’ll find some pretty pastel versions during the warm seasons. Plaids are preppy staples, but also mix into punk-influenced looks quite well. No reason to buy your tartans new when you’ll have a better selection at lower prices in the thrift stores.


This classic check pattern is fantastic in mixes – especially with irregular organics like florals and paisleys. Black and white prints are eternally chic, and houndstooth is no exception. Find it on scarves, blouses, skirts, pants, and blazers at your local Goodwill and wear it year-round.

Other prints to consider thrifting include animal prints (from cheetah to zebra), paisley, gingham, and geometrics of all kinds. Bottom line: If you’re looking for a printed item to incorporate into your wardrobe, consider hitting the thrift shops before heading to the mall.