Anchie, that sounds horrendous and I have to say that your current love of clothing and beautiful colours feels like the perfect antidote to that awful time.

Anchie - my heart goes out to you. That truly sounds challenging and stressful in so many ways.

I think the thrift shops in general are getting savvier about merchandise and I rarely notice the musty smell of the past. My second hand shopping is often at slightly curated stores which means paying $20-$50 rather than $4 to $15. But the effort is less.

I have been selling clothes on eBay for the last month or so and many of them I get at the Goodwill - I look for classic knitwear, denim and quality brands.
My top tips are to really spend time looking at the item to check for stains and faults, and to take hand sanitizer with you! Oh, and look out for the sales - Memorial Day was 50% off and on Sundays Goodwill stores near me do deals on items with certain colored tags. There's also senior discounts etc.
I've found some great things.
I also wrote a post for my blog a little while back about the best things to buy at thrift stores if you're interested....