TO THRIFT OR NOT TO THRIFT, THAT IS THE QUESTION!
The answer is to THRIFT, of course duh!
Did you know that “thrift” is actually a noun that means “using money and other resources carefully and not wastefully” not just a verb or an adjective. Am I the only one who doesn’t know this? Maybe it’s because I’m a more into fashion than English but I just always assumed “thrifting” was a verb that meant shopping at second hand stores or an adjective as in a “thrift” store.
Aren’t you glad I shared a useless and probably, not-so-smart observation? You’re welcome!
If you love to thrift, that means you love to hunt. You can’t imagine the rush you get when you find a Louis Vuitton scarf buried in a rack. Of course, that’s harder to do these days because second hand stores have gotten wise and they’ll find the primo designer goods and sell them online or they’ll feature them in a glass case. You can still get a killer deal but their savviness has made it harder on us. But when you find a one-of-a-kind vintage leather jacket that no one else will be wearing because you just can’t find them anymore – oh my god, it’s orgasmic. Personally, I think thrifting should be an Olympic sport because the good thrifters have to practice – it’s nearly a full time job. But don’t worry I’ve done all the practice for you so I can help you cut to the chase and find those amazing goods fast.
Have a plan (sort of)
I do plan but there is nothing like spontaneity. So this is how I plan. I go through my closet, find the things that I want to give away (hey if I’m going to a thrift store might as well kill two birds with one stone). Then I look at my fits. What am I missing? Maybe there’s a new trend that I think fits my brand. For example, chunky loafers are back. I’m dying for a pair of Prada loafers but since my bank account is not Prada proof at the moment I may have to settle for some used loafers. Scan your clothes, are you low on tops, bottoms, accessories? Pattern clashing is in so maybe you have stripped black and white pants but you’d love a floral blouse to pair it with. So take a little inventory and if there is something very specific you are trying to match, take a picture of it first.
So why did I say, plan, sort of? Maybe it’s just weird luck, but I seem to find the biggest treasures when I wasn’t really trying.
Go to every section of the store: WOMENS, MENS, KIDS, LINGERIE, HOME GOODS, ETC.
Seriously, I’m not kidding. Commit to the entire store. I have my favorite parts of any store but you won’t believe the discoveries you’ll find when you go outside your normal go-to sections. For example, I’ll go to the kid’s section of the store. Some children’s larger sizes fit me perfectly. Sometimes I want a tighter fitting t-shirt so a kid’s shirt is perfect. Right now, oversized everything is in so if you are skipping the men’s section of the store, you are missing out. Think of the sweaters, blazers, even belts that you might understand is the latest trend that some of the guys are passing up. Also, the best way to spice up your apartment is to find things in the home goods area for some cool upcycling projects.
DON’T ignore THE UGLY THINGS ON THE HANGER
This rule holds true if you are shopping at a second hand store or any store really, things can look really ugly on hangers. The best example I have of this is when I recently went thrifting at a Goodwill in Maryland. I really wanted a trench coat so I was curious when I saw a brown fur trench-like coat but it was really ugly on the rack. It was behind the counter where I had to get assistance to look at it. I nearly blew it off but then I decided to wait for one of their staff to help me . Once I tried it on, I was in love. So honestly don’t judge clothing by how it’s hung just like how you’re not supposed to judge a book by it’s cover.
DON’T BRING A PURSE AND WEAR THE LEAST AMOUNT OF CLOThing POSSIBLE when thrifting:
This sounds like a few odd tips but let me explain. Like I said, thrifting is hunting and when you are hunting, you don’t want to lose track of your purse. Just bring your credit card or money and put it in a zipped up pocket on your body or bring a small crossover bag if you must. The reason why you don’t want to wear much is because you’ll be trying things on. A tank is perfect, you can fit most things over top, even another tank top. If you can wear leggings and shoes that easily slide on and off you can literally try things on as you are shopping. Especially during COVID, a lot of the dressing rooms are closed and it’s always better to try things on before you buy them. The other reason you want to try things on quickly is because there is likely just one of those pants, one of that particular sweater. So you want to know if you like it enough to keep it in your cart or if you want to leave it and move on.
Some people will tell you to go to wealthy neighborhoods to find the best second hand stores but I don’t always agree. Some of my favorite second hand stores where I find the most incredible finds are not in the wealthy neighborhoods. I think you really need to go to multiple stores and frequent them pretty often to find out where you end up having the best luck. But you may find different styles of clothing in different neighborhoods. For example, if a thrift store is near a college, you might find more clothing for 20-something.
Some second hand stores are surprisingly organized and look more like your regular retail stores but most thrift stores can look overwhelming, overcrowded and a little messy with clothing not even placed by the right size on the rack. You have to like the hunt, and while I’m not a hunter, I know if you are a hunter, you need to be patient. So take your time, don’t get frustrated. Some days, you’ll find 4 head-to-toe outfits for $30 and other days you’ll walk out empty handed.
LEARN TO SPOT QUALITy:
I don’t just mean know your designers brands. I mean know quality, like how it’s made, the type of fabric, etc. Is it leather? Silk? Check the tag and look for natural fibers at preferably a 75-100% of a fabric blend. Avoid rayon and polyester. Also, look at the seams, do they lay flay, look irregular or pucker? Look for loose threads, if there are loose threads that means there was no quality control in the factory in which the garment was made. Check for lining in blazers and jackets. There are some reason designers don’t “line” them because they want them to stretch but most nicely made blazers are lined. Look for higher quality zippers and buttons.
OTHER IMPORTANT TIPS:
- Find out when the store restocks their inventory and try to go shopping on those days
- Become friendly with the people who work there. If you get a good tip when something comes in before it gets to the floor, that’s not a bad thing.
- Also, connect with fellow thrifters. There has been plenty of times when I find something amazing but it’s just not really my style but I know it’s perfect for my friend.
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