A friend of mine asked me to take her thrift store shopping, using words like pro, guru, and genius after my name. I however, believe these are silly terms to describe my life-long habit of thrifty shopping and insider knowledge from having worked at Goodwill for a couple years. However, once I stopped to really think about it, I do have a method to my thrift shopping. So after much debate, I decided to share these (sometimes ridiculous) methods with you.
1. Have a plan. Plan how long, what stores, what time of day, and what items you need/want. It is so easy to become overwhelmed in large thrift stores and if you are hungry, tired, thirsty, towing a tired child, or in the midst of the thrift store rush hour (around dinner time), you will have the most unpleasant time. Set a budget and bring cash. Some thrift stores do not accept plastic. Bring a friend for an even better time. Two sets of eyes are better than one and you have someone to be realistic with you while trying on outfits. That dress is so last season.
2. Know what you need/want. Check your closet before leaving home. Make a list, if need be. If you have at least an idea of what you are looking for, you will better be able to hunt through the vast amount of items available.
3. Quality. Look for quality brands and quality pieces. For example, something from a big box store (Target, Walmart, K-mart) is not worth buying used when you can spend a couple bucks more on a new item. Quality pieces are also important – avoid stains, wear, and tear. It is not worth your time or energy to try and revive worn out pieces.
Ask yourself, the following questions:
- Will I wear this more than once?
- Where will I wear this?
- Will this be something I still love in 1 season…1 year…5 years?
4. Never underestimate the power of tailoring. If you find the perfect quality pair of pants but they are on the long side, by all means hem those babies. This is relatively inexpensive to have done. The same goes for jackets, skirts, and dresses. Taking in the bodice of a dress or dress shirt can be done, however, be realistic.
5. Avoid pressure to buy. It’s ok to walk out empty-handed. The last thing you want to do is crowd your closet with unnecessary items.
6. Frequency. If you don‘t find what you are looking for the first time, don’t be discouraged. Donations come in all the time, so it pays to keep looking.
7. Try on the clothing! This seems obvious, but trying on is a must. Even if you normally wear that size, put it on. Someone before you may have altered it. It helps to bring along items you may normally wear under outfits: slips, camisoles, leggings, pantyhose. It also may be helpful to already be wearing something slim fitting just in case a fitting room isn’t available, that way you can try your items on over your clothing.
8. Always inspect before buying. Look over items carefully before purchasing. Many thrift shops do not allow returns.
9. Post shopping. Wash everything. Check again for spots, tears, rips, etc. Bring items to dry cleaners and tailors immediately. If you wait too long, your items may end up back where they came from. Do a closet clean-out. Post thrift shopping is a great time to clear out some of the older, unworn items filling your closet.
Some of the finds from this week:
J. Crew cotton dress…
Banana republic capris.
New York & Company tank.
Jones New York tank.
Ann Taylor blouse.
All of these, and more, were under $50!