If you haven’t read Thrifting 101 yet I would highly recommend that you do so before reading this post. In that post I have outlines specific tips and tricks to help you make the most of your thrift shopping experience.

This is the first time I have ever done an experiment like this. I decided to take on this challenge for a number of reasons:

  • As I stated in Thrifting 101, I grew up in the ’80s when thrift shopping was for people who were seen as poor and unfortunate. Life at that time revolved around designer labels and high ticket clothing.
  • Thrift store clothing had, and continues to have, a reputation of being gross and unfashionable.
  • Thrift shopping has a reputation for being difficult because of the variety in items and quality of items.
  • I have since learned that all of these assumptions are completely incorrect. Thrift shopping is fun, easy, and a great way to get really nice clothing at excellent prices.

So here is the $20 I started with…

The challenge was to find a complete outfit for $20 or under. I had an unexpected issue of only 30 minutes to do this challenge, which pushed the stress of this challenge up a notch. Usually when I thrift shop I like to take my time and browse. Not today, but I am always up for a challenge.

So… was I able to find a complete outfit in $20 or under? Let’s find out.



I went to our local Goodwill store.

As stated in Thrifting 101, it is located in a suburban neighborhood. This increases the chances of finding high quality items. However, great deals can be found anywhere.

Since I know my style and tastes in colors, fabrics, and types of clothing, I started with sweaters. Wisconsin winters call for sweaters.




I found this pretty grey and wine-colored Loft sweater within the first 10 minutes. I especially liked the boat/cowl neck of it and its soft, fuzzy texture. Price- $4.99. Score!

I then went in search of a layering top. Initially I picked some grey long sleeve t-shirts but decided against them because I already own a few. Not sure of myself, I had to keep moving.

Since I was stumped in tops, I moved on to bottoms. Since I didn’t want to do jeans (I own these and it would be too obvious a choice), I attempted to find some colored denim or alternative pants (i.e., corduroys, grey trousers, etc.). I found some grey dress pants, but, once again, put them back because I already own more than one pair of these.

A brief sweep through skirts got me nowhere, either. Sigh. Back to jeans.

This picture shows the damask pattern

Aha!  Hiding in the jeans was this cute navy damask pair of pixie pants. Brand name, too! Cynthia Rowley! Price $4.99. Another score!


Then the ideas started flowing. A collared blouse and scarf should top this outfit off well.  Back to long sleeve tops.


This wine-colored blouse from Apt. 9 (a Kohl’s brand) was a perfect match at $4.99. Happy, smiley, dance! I could tell that it was also one of the items that was new rather than used. Kohl’s and Target frequently send their unsold clearance items to Goodwill. So far I have spent $15 out of $20.



Time to accessorize.

I struggled with this but eventually landed on this multicolored scarf at $2.99. That is around $18 spent after taxes. My outfit is complete.




But… to be honest, I blew the budget.

Across from the scarves was the wine-colored crossbody purse that is shown in the main picture for $6.99. Perfect match. Necessary? No. But I justified the cost that I would wear it with more than one outfit and I received $5 in Goodwill cash back when I checked out, making up the price difference of $4. So, even though I spent just over $26, I technically had a complete outfit without the purse, for under $20. Extra bonus- every piece that I bought can be easily paired with multiple items that I already own. So, for $20 and a little shopping in my own closet, I have at least 3-4 outfits that I love!


Here I am wearing the outfit. Sorry for the poor quality selfie. I’m still learning. The jewelry and shoes are my own. These are items that I struggle to find in thrift stores. Besides, they would have blown my budget too much.

All in all, I completed the challenge within my 30 minute time limit. Overall, I would rate the $20 thrift store outfit challenge a success.

If any of you are inspired to try this challenge I would love to hear how you did. Send me a message or a photo and let me see your $20 outfits. Happy thrifting, and have a prettyjoyful day!