Need Uniforms? Check The Thrift Stores

One of the largest job-related expenses for military service members is the forever purchasing of uniforms.  Some of those uniform parts, especially for the dressier uniforms, can get pretty darn expensive.  Thankfully, there is a great resource to get those uniforms at a huge discount – the base thrift shops!

Even though enlisted folks get a clothing allowance each year, there is no rule that you must spend that money on uniforms.  As long as you have the right uniform for every situation, and it is in good condition, the military doesn’t care where you get it.

Before you head to the uniform shop for any purchases, check out your base thrift shop to see what they have to offer.  Some thrift shops keep their uniforms in a separate area and require that you show ID before making a purchase, so it always pays to ask if your thrift shop carries uniforms.  If you’re in an area with multiple military bases, it will probably worth your time to check with each location.

Just to give you an example of prices, I once purchased my husband a new dress uniform jacket for $5 at the thrift store at Little Creek AB, now Joint Base Little Creek-Fort Story.  It isn’t uncommon to pick up an entire uniform for less than $20.

Even though enlisted folks get a clothing allowance each year, there is no rule that you must spend that money on uniforms.  As long as you have the right uniform for every situation, and it is in good condition, the military doesn’t care where you get it.

Once you are searching at the thrift shop, be sure to check all the racks that might have the right uniform.  For example, some shops price Navy Chief khakis at a lower price than Navy officer khakis – go figure.

Thrift store uniforms are especially great for events where you think that you might get dirty, including more exuberant balls and duty in locations where it is more icky.

Even if you have to have them slightly altered or have new insignia added, thrift store uniforms can be a huge savings over the cost of purchasing new items at the uniform shop.  And saving money is always good!

 

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.
  • Charles

    One of my pals is an army major, who specializes in logistics, who’s been to Pakistan and Afghanistan (and Iraq), over his past 10 deployments (+/-).

    He says if you want to buy American uniforms, weapons, ammo, etc., all you have to do is visit the local bazaar, and you’ll find them everywhere.

    He also says that the Afghans are the most clever thieves on the face of the planet: shipping containers have been showing up with the seals intact, weighing in to the ounce on the shipping manifest: yet when they’re opened, they contain ricks, dirt, garbage, etc., instead of whatever supplies they were supposed to contain.

    • guest

      Due to plain ole lack of security.

  • Mary

    I volunteer at the Navy Marine Corp Relief Society thrift shop at NBVC-Port Hueneme. Not only is the NMCRS thrift shop stocked with a large amount of uniform pants, shirts, jackets and shoes for dirt cheap prices, but it is also great for civilian adult and kids clothes, coats, books, toys and housing items extremely reasonably priced as well. Support your local base thrift shop by shopping there as well as donating new or gently used clothing or small household items for them to resell. The proceeds help a great organization!

  • retNavySWO

    NMCRS Thrift shop — great place. Recently moved and took some clothes down. Going thru my uniforms next to take down (they’ve been in storage for years). Hope they still use the same material.