I follow one sport. One that requires concentration, stamina, speed, focus, flexibility and intense organization. The one sport all starving writers consider themselves familiar with; and it is characterized by incredible fashion finds and incredible amounts of wasted time. The sport of thrifting is unlike regular shopping because you won’t be catered to by sales associates or be able to find anything in exactly your size. You’ll need to take it upon yourself to come prepared, and be willing to suffer the loss of an entire day if all you find is a stained silk handbag from the eighties (god bless) and a troll doll with the jewel missing. You’ll have to crawl under locked dressing rooms and cough up dust balls while paying and endure a melancholy nostalgia like no other. Luckily, I have thoroughly explored the exciting world of thrifting on your behalf – and am willing to share my secrets to ensure you’ll come home with an original new wardrobe. The amazing thing about thrift shopping is the freedom to manifest a wardrobe unlike any of your friends’. One that cannot be duplicated or even categorized because it is solely your own creation.
They sell your granddad’s clothes, you’ll look incredible (not negotiable)
Find local stores - Before you leave your home for an escapade of thrifting, you should scope out the local stores in the area. Are there any obscure vintage stores in addition to the local Goodwill and Salvation Army? Check out reviews on Yelp to find out what thrift stores have the types of items you’re looking for. Use the Thrift Store Directory online to find specific styles and items in whatever area you seek.
Pick a theme – Once you have figured out which road you’re taking and what stores you’re likely to visit – it’s time to pick a theme. Each time you visit a thrift store, you should have a specific theme, era of time, or particular style you’ll be focusing on. Some examples of possible themes are: soft grunge, heroin chic, bohemian, flapper, pin-up, street folk, or greaser. Stick to this theme in order to make sure your pieces go together, so they don’t end up sitting in your closet without anything to match. It is very common to find a special, must-have piece and end up never wearing it because there is just no occasion or accessories for it.
Research modern trends – If you are unsure about your theme, you should research what is “in” right now. Researching the modern trends will give you an idea of what you’ll likely build upon with older, more worn pieces. You can achieve trendy looks by researching on Pinterest, Tumblr, fashion magazines, or your local mall. Once you have the exact idea of what your day will be planned around, get ready to have fun with it! Dress accordingly but comfortably, pick a music playlist to match your theme, and call up a few friends who are as bored as you.
Donate your old clothes – For every piece you thrift, you should donate something that doesn’t quite fit anymore or just doesn’t suit your new style. It is healthy to detach yourself from clothes that hoard old energy, and to be aware that your belongings don’t define you. There are also places like Buffalo Exchange, where it is encouraged to trade in your old items for new, as long as they’re in good condition and still in style.
Use logic, not gut - Usually I’m the first to trust my inner voice and flow with my intuition. However, when it comes to shopping – my inner voice is overpowered by my inner child. It is much like a candy store metaphor to me, except the candy is sequin and lace. So, please examine your pieces before you decide on buying them. Ask yourself the following questions:
1. Will I ever truly wear this?
2. Are there any stains or holes?
3. Are the stains removable or visible?
4. How faded is this item?
5. How high or low is the quality of this brand?
6. Will I ever truly wear this? (Yes, again on purpose)
7. How does this item fit with my theme?
8. Can this item match with anything else in my closet?
9. How can I make this item more fabulous?
10. Does this item comply with my personal ethics? (i.e made in China, etc.)
Bring cash – After you’ve asked yourself these questions with every wonderfully eye-catching item you’ve browsed through, you’ll likely come across things you’re happy with! You should make sure you bring cash because some smaller thrift stores do not take credit or debit cards. Cash will also make it easier to keep track of how much you’re spending and whether the amount you paid is over the original budget. Plus, you never know when a sweet vendor will roll up on the thrift store’s block with mouthwatering cash-only treats.
Know what to avoid – I could not write an entry about thrifting without mentioning what not to buy. Underwear is not something usually sold at mainstream thrift stores, and unless it once belonged to Betty Page – I wouldn’t recommend buying it from one. Instead, last minute lingerie can be bought at the local Dollar Tree. Other items that should be off limits are kitchen appliances (which may be out of date), makeup, and mattresses. Used mattresses have a high possibility of hosting bed bug parties, and beg bugs are more trouble than the mattress is worth. Please save up the extra money to buy the aforementioned items brand new. Thrift for records or books instead!
Use apps and sales – A lot of the time, bigger thrift stores will have in-store sales. These sales are absolutely marvelous and I’ll reveal why. The sales are usually 20 – 70% off the original price, which means you’re getting a (pardon my French) hell of a deal. Basically, when something that was 4$ turns into 2$, you’re able to double the items you take home. If there is no sale on your planned thrifting day, ask an employee to give you information on the next sale. If an employee can’t help you - thrifting apps can keep you connected to garage sales and stores near you.
Remember to arrive prepared, get creative with your new pieces, and maximize your thrifting journey to the thrifty-fullest.
Clothing in landfills was diminished by 89% due to thrifting, since the year 1980