TikTok's Best Tips For Upcycling Your Thrifting Finds

Thrift stores may not immediately have the latest trends in stock ... but shopping secondhand may be a trend all on its own. For years, YouTubers like Emma Chamberlain have helped to popularize and destigmatize shopping at thrift stores, highlighting their unique stock and affordable prices.


With the emergence of TikTok, showcasing thrift finds and flips has become even easier. The "thrifting" tag on the platform has garnered over six billion views, featuring everything from couples' challenges to vlogs.

Jumping on this bandwagon won't just make you on-trend; it can save you money. CNBC reports that regular thrifters can save around $1,760 per year. Thrifting is also widely praised for its environmental benefits, as shopping for used clothing saves the resources and energy that would go into producing and shipping new items. If you're new to this lifestyle or looking to shape up your typical hauls, here are TikTok's top tips for upcycling (that is, turning your used item into something brand new). 


Play with length and cut

Lots of thrift hacks require you to whip out your sewing machine or install some new hardware. However, one of the most popular flips you'll find online simply involves scissors. Cotton t-shirts or hoodies can easily have their hems trimmed off to create a shorter look. While some thrift flippers choose to re-sew the hem to create a finished look, MasterClass outlines alternatives that don't require any sewing know-how. For example, you can make cuts vertically into the bottom of a shirt to create DIY fringes or add side slits to an otherwise basic item. 


If you love the gym — or at least love its fashion — you can also use this hack to chop the sleeves off of a t-shirt and create a "bro tank." With endless supplies of t-shirts available at thrift stores, this is a basic piece you'll never have to buy new again. 

In a more extreme version of cropping, one TikTok creator used her scissors to transform one dress into a stylish top, skirt, and pair of matching gloves. Her technique leads right into our next top tip. 

Size up to create sets

One downside to thrift stores is that you won't always find your favorite styles in your preferred size. As there is often only one of each piece, you have to get lucky ... or crafty. TikTok creators have shown their innovative abilities by turning oversized pieces into two-piece sets. One person chopped a Nike sweatshirt into a two-piece sweatsuit for a toddler. While that tiny model is perhaps the most adorable example of the trend, it's also been adapted for full-size humans. 


In one TikTok, a large men's blazer was transformed into a stunning set — complete with a long-sleeve crop top and a skirt. Of course, unless you get very lucky, these hacks will require a bit more effort than just chopping your original piece in half. However, with a little cinching and sewing, you could have a whole new look. You may even have some leftover fabric to put toward your next project ...

Combine pieces for patchwork creations

Thrift stores have seemingly endless supplies of clothing. According to HuffPost, the Salvation Army once collected over 80 million pounds of clothes in a single year. Unfortunately for thrifters on the search for trends, few of these pieces end up being the gems we're hunting for. Fortunately, basic items can be transformed and combined into something extremely original that's all the rage. 


A stack of solid-colored sweatpants might strike you as nothing more than your ideal work-from-home bottoms. For TikToker Paige Sechrist, however, they inspired a patchwork style so trendy that it fueled an entire business. She's applied her style to vintage jeans as well as creating viral sweatpants. In the latter video, Paige chopped up the legs of different pieces to create brand-new, multi-colored sweats. In doing so, she preserved the Nike logo — creating an original creation with a branded flair. And she isn't the only one who knows the value of a logo ...

Turn branded items into custom, luxury looks

Although you can absolutely get lucky at your local thrift store, the odds of finding a luxury piece within your price range are slim. Luxury logos, however, are much easier to come by. Dust bags or smaller pieces adorned with luxury brands can be upcycled into wearable, one-of-a-kind looks. 


Knock-off luxury can get a bad rep, with discerning fashion fans able to spot fraudulent styles. With this thrift hack, however, there are no discrepancies to spot. The real-life branding of your dream companies can be incorporated into your own style. In these instances, you're basically an at-home Gucci designer! 

User @shaleseatlante has mastered this style — and gained 42,000 fans of her work. In one video, she got a hold of Gucci and Louis Vuitton dust bags and turned them into a corset top and jacket, respectively. Even when bought through retail sites like Etsy, these dust bags are available for just $25, making thrift store finds extremely affordable. 

Level up with dyes

Our last few tips have involved some more complex sewing techniques, but we'll round out with one that can be done by thrifters of all levels. If you find a used piece that you love but you're not quite sold on the color, simple dyes can be your best friend. Cait, a TikTok thrifter with a million fans, showed off the power of a little color best. After thrifting a lace white dress, she dyed it baby blue and achieved perfect "Cinderella vibes." 


Dyeing has the added benefit of obscuring any stains or imperfections that a garment may have collected over years of wear. For darker-colored pieces, other users prefer bleach. If you're looking for exact results when it comes to color, you may want to try out your formula on a smaller sample of the fabric first. 

No matter how you choose to thrift, we're confident you'll achieve styles that are to dye for (sorry — that's a bit of a recycled joke).