Like my tutorial on How to Cut Your Own Bangs, this is an article I wrote several years ago for my previous blog. I have had lots of questions recently about where I get a lot of my vintage, so I thought I would post this and share it all over again.
To me thrifting is not just a hobby but a sport rather. I have gotten it down to a science, and there have been several instances when I have raced down an isle to beat another thrifter to an item. Like any other sport, to become a truly good thrifter it takes time, dedication, and lots of practice.
I have been going to thrift stores my entire life. When I was in high school I had a friend who admitted to me that he had never been in a thrift store. I was in shock, partly because he had missed out on so many wonderful things, but mostly because I thought everyone went to thrift stores. Well I took him to one of my favorite thrift stores, and he found a bunch of clothes, and he was instantly in love with the idea of spending so little money for things he could have paid much, much more for. Later he told me that when he got home and told his mom about it she was grossed out by the idea of wearing someone else’s clothes.
I know there are many people out there that feel the exact same way. Besides my undergarments, my entire wardrobe is thrifted, and almost every item in my apartment (that wasn’t gifted) was purchased secondhand. With a good washing (or dry cleaning) beforehand, thrifted clothes not only guarantees an original wardrobe, but also ensures that you do so for a fraction of the price that department stores charge. Besides being stylish, original, and hip, buying second hand is like recycling. Why fill our landfills with clothes just because it had a previous owner?
That being said, here are some tips that will guarantee a more successful thrift store trip.
♥ Never, ever, ever go into a thrift store looking for something specifically. Unless you go in looking for a white top, it is highly likely that you will be disappointed. If you want something specific go to a vintage shop.
♥ If you are a girl wear a loose fitting skirt, and sleeveless top when shopping. The majority of thrift shops do not have dressing rooms. With a loose skirt, you can still try on bottoms, while with a tight fitting sleeveless top, you can get a real idea of how a top will fit.
♥ Everyone says it, but really, look at everything. Books, dresses, jewelry, housewares, everything! You don’t always know what you need until you see it!
♥ Study the clothing you have. Look at common styles in your clothes, and find the shapes that best suit your body. This will help save you a lot of time while browsing the racks.
♥ Find out when new items are put out, and start shopping on those days. Get to know the employees, they can give you a heads up when good things come in.
♥ Carry a tape measure. There are some things that are just too hard to try on in a store. Sizes have changed over the years, and it isn’t really safe to assume something will fit by the number on the tag. I also carry around a paper with my husband’s measurements written on it, so if I see anything that he would like, I can make sure it will fit!
♥ Look through one section at a time. It is hard to decide where to start, and very easy to jump from one section to another without looking thoroughly.
♥ Make sure you will actually use the item, and that you aren’t just buying it because it is cheap. I can’t tell you how many times I have bought things that never got used, only to be re-donated.
♥ Carefully check each clothing item for stains, holes, or tears. Know which ones are easy to fix, and which ones are hopeless.
♥ Look for lengths. If you are tall and looking for pants, take a peek towards the bottom of the rack to see which pants hang lower.
♥ Look for thrift shops in wealthy neighborhoods. The locals are likely to donate, and even less likely to shop at these stores.
♥ Shop the night before a sale. If you know there will be a big sale the next day, go in the evening before. The store will be almost empty (people are waiting for the next day to get their bargains), and the shelves will be packed. You are already getting a good deal shopping second hand, why stress yourself out to save a few bucks?
♥ Certain thrift shops sell by the pound, or by the bag. Definitely check and see if there are any of these in your area, they are generally the cheapest.
♥ Always go to the bathroom before hand. Thrifting takes time, and most places don’t have public restrooms. I can’t tell you how many times I have had to cut a thrifting trip short in order to find a lady’s room.
♥ ….AND…..most importantly, be patient. There are some days when I leave empty handed, and some days that I am lugging three bags of things behind me. Do not give up hope if your first trip is unsuccessful.
Check out The Thrift Shopper for more tips, a great forum, and to find thrift stores in your area.