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Shopping for clothes at a thrift store can save you a lot of money. Clothes can be bought for pennies on the dollar and make you wonder why you ever bought any clothes new.

If your thrift-store finds start falling apart quickly, then you’ve found the answer.

To avoid that problem, it can pay to know what to look for in secondhand clothing — and what to avoid. Here are some ways to find the best pieces of clothing, and some can carry over to shopping for new clothes too:

Quality Materials
This may go without saying, but quality materials often make clothes last longer. Metal zippers, for example, are better than plastic zippers that are more likely to fall apart and become more difficult to zip over time. When washing and drying, zip clothes up so that the metal zippers don’t damage the fabric.

Synthetic fibers such as polyester, acrylic, spandex and nylon are more prone to pilling and are easily damaged by heat from drying and ironing. Pilling is when small balls of fluff appear on a garment’s surface, such as on sweaters.

Instead, look for clothes made of natural fibers such as cotton, linen and wool.

Quality Stitching
Look for stitches that are uniform, straight and reinforced at all stress points. These include the crotch and seat of pants, shoulder area, armholes, edges and corners of pockets, and waistband and belt loops. Tug lig

Try it On
Thrift stores should have changing rooms and you should use them if you’re buying clothes. If a piece of clothing is altered, you may not notice it by holding it up and looking at it from all angles. 

Try it on and see if it fits properly. An altered pair of pants may not have the legs tapered or the seams may have been taken in. 

Avoid Offensive Odors
This is another obvious thing to do, but one you may forget while shopping. Give what you’re considering buying a quick sniff test. If it doesn’t smell good, or even if it’s a pleasant smell from a perfume, don’t buy it. 

If you’re sense of smell isn’t so good, bring a friend who has a good one. Odors and stains can be removed from clothes, but is that something you really want to do, even after spending only a few dollars on a garment?

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