Posts Categorized: thrifting

Thrifting for Trends: Fall/Winter 2014 Edition

It’s time, once again, to examine the hot “new” trends for the season, and remind ourselves that fashion recycles EVERYTHING! Here are just a few of the garments, colors, and styles that are trending for fall and winter that you can easily track down at your local thrift and consignment shops. (Note that all of the on-trend items I’m wearing below have been thrifted. Already.)



Can a classic like plaid really be considered trendy? When it shows up in on dozens upon dozens of runway shows and subsequently FLOODS the mall stores, I’m answering with a resounding, “Yes.” But! Since plaid never really goes out of style, that means it’ll be plentiful on the thrift store racks, too. Classic tartans featuring red, black, green, and blue are always a safe bet, but feel free to spring for more modern iterations. Just be sure to pick a plaid that is dark-color dominant: White-backed plaids can work for fall and winter, but sometimes seem a bit to light for truly cold weather.

Dark Florals


This trend took hold a few winters ago, and has swung back around once more. As with plaid. what you want here is a print that has a dark color as the background. Floral prints in which the blooms themselves are done in dark prints will look lovely, but a black, eggplant, burgundy, or navy background with botanicals of all kinds will capture the somber mood you want here. Dark florals will be mixed in among the brighter and lighter ones at your local Goodwill. When you can, opt for large-scale florals over ditsy styles.



Pantone’s color report for fall is all about the jewel tones, but sangria – a rich magenta – is a standout. This color is incredibly versatile and can pair with neutrals, bold brights, and other jewel tones. It also works well with a wide variety of complexions and skin tones. Choose a version that has warm or cool undertones to complement your own coloring. As is the case with all color trends, these ones will be among the easiest to thrift! This cardigan is a secondhand find from last year. (More of a neutrals person? Gray is the big one for the season.)

Leather Everything


Another Autumn/Winter standby, but also a trend that showed up in virtually every ready-to-wear show. Leather jackets are always a great bet – I scored this pre-loved cropped cognac jacket last year – but feel free to splash out on leather skirts, pants, even dresses. All of which will turn up in most thrift stores.

Rich Embellishments


Another great thriftable trend since it’s incredibly broad and can be interpreted in a million ways. On the runways we saw sequins, embroidery, velvet burnouts, textures, applique, and lace insets. When shopping the thrift racks look for anything that goes beyond a basic print: Texture, sparkle, detailed necklines, metallics, anything that makes a garment or accessory look vaguely royal. When examining secondhand items with sewn-on embellishments like beads or sequins, look closely for any missing elements. Some can be easily replaced with a quick trip to the craft store, but others may be trickier and require mending work-arounds.

What trendy items will YOU thrift for this season?

Runway images courtesy Marc by Marc Jacobs | Erin Fetherston | Chanel | Louis Vuitton | Dolce & Gabbana

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Thrifting for Trends: Spring/Summer 2014 Edition

It’s time, once again, to examine the hot “new” trends for the season, and remind ourselves that fashion recycles EVERYTHING! Here are just a few of the garments, colors, and styles that are trending for spring and summer that you can easily track down at your local thrift and consignment shops. (Note that all of the on-trend items I’m wearing below have been thrifted. Already.)



About as groundbreaking for spring as florals, I know. It merits mentioning that just about every fashion magazine highlighted actual florals as a trend for this season. Will there ever be a time when florals aren’t appropriate for spring and summer wear? Probably not. And although pastels are a classic palette for warm weather, especially around Easter time, they fell out of favor for a good long time. They’re back now, though, and extremely hot for the coming season. If pastels don’t suit your complexion, wear them away from your face in pants, skirts, shoes, belts, or bags. As is the case with all color trends, this one will be incredibly easy to thrift! Pastels have been around for many decades, which means they’ll be readily available at your local thrift shop.

Tea-length skirts

tea length skirt

So you’ve got your mini, your knee-length, your midi, and your maxi … where exactly does “tea length” fall? By most definitions, it hits near the bottom of the calf. A little nitpicky since most midi skirts hit mid-calf, but this longer-than-midi, shorter-than-maxi length does give a distinctly different feel and look than its skirty counterparts. Tea-length skirts are quite common in thrift stores, though many will be in very 90s prints. Mix your thrifted skirt with some edgy items for an updated look. (Mine is leather, so it’s plenty edgy on its own.)

Geometric prints

geometric prints

Most broad print categories are readily thriftable, and geometrics are no exception. Anything graphic and regular will qualify, and stripes and polka dots will be plentiful, searching for windowpane, tiled prints, basketweave, chevron, or other less common prints will up your style ante. Even a pin dot print like the one on my thrifted shirt here may feel more trendy than simple spots or stripes.



Pleats took many forms on the runways, but were most prominently featured in skirts and dresses (as you might expect). Although smaller knife pleats were common, you can cash in on the trend with pleats of just about any shape, size, and configuration. Pleats are far from new, so they will be wonderfully thrift-able. As with tea-length skirts, they can read a bit stodgy at times, so be sure to pair with updated color schemes, shapes, and layers.

Romantic rocker

romantic rocker

More of an overall aesthetic than a single trend, this look showed up at the Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Moschino, Alexander McQueen, Alexander Wang, and Saint Laurent shows in various incarnations. Lots of black and loads of leather, but paired with drapey, flirty, and feminine fabrics and silhouettes. For this look, thrift up leather pencil skirts, silky blouses, tuxedo pants and jackets, metallic fabrics, and moto style jackets – all of which can be found at most well-stocked secondhand stores.

What trendy items will YOU thrift for this season?

Runway images all courtesy Style.comPrabal Gurung, Proenza Schouler, Fendi, Michael Kors, Saint Laurent.

(This post first appeared on the Goodwill-Easter Seals Minnesota blog.)

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How to Donate Your Clothes Like a Champ


Although we generally focus on the shopping part of the thrift chain, I want to take a moment to talk about donation. If you want to rack up some good thrift karma, learning to be a great clothing donor is a fantastic place to start. Most of these tips are pretty self-explanatory, but since thrift stores can end up as dumping grounds for closet castoffs it’s worth discussing the basics.

Don’t donate ruined stuff

A snag here or small stain there isn’t the end of the world, but clothing that is truly and completely ruined? The thrift store can’t re-sell that any more than you can wear it. Large rips or tears, obvious stains, overwhelming smells, holes, broken and hard to replace closures can be deal-breakers. If you’re donating a high-end or designer item with flaws, shoppers may be more willing to overlook them. But that sweater from H&M with the giant snag across the chest? Use it as a rag, make it into a cat bed, cut off the sleeves and use them as fake socks, or find another way to repurpose it.

Don’t donate dirty stuff

Launder before donating. Please and thank you.

Try to donate before or during the current season

If you purge your entire wardrobe all at once, you’ll have some summer sundresses to jettison alongside your cozy cardigans and old boots. If you have any storage available to you – a basement, crawlspace, or roomy closet – try to focus on giving over your seasonally appropriate stuff. Thrift stores are generally inundated with clothing donations year-round, and if you give them flip-flops in February they will have to store them until someone in your climate will want to buy them. If you’re moving, have no real storage, or really need to clear out your space you can certainly donate at will. But you’ll do your local stores a major favor if you can hang onto the stuff until the right season, or a month or two before.

Consign, too … but consider your choices

Better quality stuff can make you back a bit of money, and that can be essential if you’re strapped for cash or plagued by guilt over an item that was purchased and never worn. But you’ll never make back your full amount, and a never-worn item can be a huge boon to your local charity shop. Don’t feel guilty if you’d rather consign! They’re your clothes and your choices. But if you can afford to throw a gorgeous new goodie into the donation pile on occasion, you’ll be helping others.

Research your causes

Virtually all thrift stores support charity organizations. Do you want to help disabled people find jobs? Support veterans? Give to the church, temple, or mosque? Support research for specific health causes? Most American cities have Goodwill and the Salvation Army, but there might be other charities that can use your donations and fit with your own values and priorities.

What other tips would you share for being a helpful clothing donor?

Image courtesy William Ward

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