You’ve probably noticed that nearly all of my outfits include at least one thrifted item. I’ve written a whole bunch of posts about various aspects of thrifting, but thought it might be helpful to cull some highlights. Especially since spring and autumn are high shopping times for most of us, and present fabulous opportunities to hit the charity shops and score some fabulous, affordable, environmentally-friendly new duds!
Make time to thrift: Very few people can duck in and out of a thrift store in 15 minutes. Since you’ll be sifting through rack upon rack of poorly organized goods, allot yourself a chunk of time so that you can truly explore the bounty.
Try stuff on: Eyeballing it can be incredibly risky at a thrift store, so try everything on. My method is to wear leggings and a tunic or dress whenever I thrift. That way, even if the store doesn’t offer fitting rooms, I can throw things on in the aisles and make sure they aren’t horrifying on me. Try it all on, friends, including belts and scarves.
Keep an open mind: Take a wish list of items to keep yourself on track, but always allow the Thrift Muses to throw a surprise your way.
Experiment: Does something grab your eye because of color or texture, but scare you off because of how it’s cut? Try it on anyway. Are you drawn to that zebra print skirt, but have no idea if it’ll work in your wardrobe? Try it on anyway. Don’t buy stuff that makes you feel uncomfortable or is wildly impractical, of course, but thrifting is the best possible place to encourage your style to expand. Clothing is affordable, relatively sustainable, and the variety of offerings is VAST. Branch out a little. I mean, why not?
Don’t buy it just because it’s designer and a bargain: Oh man, have I ever been tempted to snap up undervalued duds simply because I knew their true worth. But here’s the thing: Unless you’re going to resell on eBay, you should only thrift items that you love and that work for your figure. A $5 Max Mara dress is a waste of $5 if it makes you feel like 15 hot dogs shoved into a tube sock. Use your common sense, and don’t be tempted by something just because it’s designer.
Originally posted 2010-05-21 05:56:00.
A few weeks ago, Gladys asked me this:
Have you or do you embellish your own thrift store or items in your closet to change them or make them more “current”? Would you mind showing us some of your tips?
When Husband Mike and I bought our house, we were SO EXCITED because it didn’t need any major repairs or cosmetic alterations. It was just what we wanted, as-is. When I shop, I generally buy an item if it’s just what I want, as-is, too. But thrifting does offer a wealth of almost-perfect options and, if you have an eye for embellishment and the right skill set, you can transform trash to treasure quickly and easily.
Originally posted 2009-02-04 07:15:00.
Lovely reader N. sent me this question a while back:
I love the idea of thrift store shopping … But I need to know how to do it successfully. I like the stuff I see at thrift stores, but most of them don’t have a place to try things on and I have been burned on fit with no refunds/exchanges. Can you suggest ways to analyze an item without trying it on to see if it’s going to work? Are there ways to tell what items would be easier to alter (and therefore less costly to alter)?
I’ve shopped thrift since … well, since forever. I’ve never been squeamish about buying used garments, and the bargain hunter in me loves pulling treasure from other people’s trash. Here are some tips to address N’s concerns, and hopefully, yours, too!
Originally posted 2008-11-13 07:16:00.