THRIFTING it’s the cool, not so new, hip thing to do! Why whole generations have adapted its look, from 1990’s grunge to the all-new 2010’s hipster wave.
Those hipsters just love a good thrift store! But no matter who you are, there is usually always something to be had for next to nothing. Here are a few things to remember while sifting and thrifting from a former thrift store manager, extroidinaire~
WHAT TO LOOK FOR:
Besides normal apparel such as shirts and pants here are a few things to keep in mind that are handy and good to find on the cheap.
- Lingerie: Don’t walk away so fast! While no one would want to have to wear used lingerie, there are still some good things to be had here! Sometimes the store will get a good deal on a brand new ‘lot’ of last season’s fashion. This includes bras and underwear! And too, people are always getting some kind of gown or pajama set as a gift that they never use, and so, get tossed into the donation pile. This equals BIG savings for you! And also, gently used slips or tummy shapers can be found for next to nothing.
- Coats and Jackets: It’s always good to look for that perfect pea coat, or even light jackets. You would be surprised at what people throw out. Designer labels are not hard to come by at thrift stores.
- Boots and Shoes: Thrift stores seem to be in abundance with really nice dress boots while decent athletic shoes are hard to come by. Athletic shoes get worn out the first go around and are hardly fit for a second go-around with a new owner. Dress shoes and boots on the other hand get replaced often with fashion changes and tastes. These type of shoes are also not worn hard. They usually sit under a desk at work or out on the town on occasion. That being said, you need to wash your new kicks thoroughly!!! You can do this with a light soapy wash cloth and a good coating of Lysol. Good as new!
- Books and Media: You can find children’s books out the wazoo at thrift stores. Have you ever priced new books for children, to draw in or otherwise destroy? Here is the solution. Some kid’s just don’t play with books, so all those well intended gifts eventually find their way to the thrift store shelves. It is always fun too, to see what your local store has in the way of music and movies. Rare DVD’s and albums are not too hard to come by if you keep your eye open. Another tip is, if you still have a VHS player, you can find countless children’s movies here. From Walt Disney to Barney, I almost guarantee you can find something new for the little one’s to watch. If you don’t have a VHS player, you can probably pic up one of those too.
- Old Furniture: Antiques galore, usually not in the best shape though. There are so many ways you can salvage pieces of furniture you find at thrift stores.
Ottomans can be recovered, dressers can be painted and distressed, old kitchen chairs can become planters. The list goes on. With a bit of imagination you can turn trash into repurposed heaven.
- Odds and Ends: Look for things like flower pots, coat hangers, cooking utensils, coffee cups, and plastic storage containers. The little things you find yourself needing around the house are all good things to keep an eye out for. Don’t pass up the half-used bottles of car care products and other cleaning agents, lamp oil, etc… You can get them for pennies! And last but not least don’t forget that quirky thing called you! Remember to look for things that catch your eye, just for the sheer beauty of it! Everyone’s eye is different. With the variety you find at a thrift store, it’s quiet possible to find just the thing that will tickle your fancy. Have fun hunting!
HOW TO BUY FOR:
- Yourself: Know thyself! In other words, know what you need and what you don’t need. Ask yourself, “do I really need another pair of white jeans? Keep a mental note of things you may need around the house like storage containers, curtains, etc. Maybe the family is in need of some entertainment like a movie, or board games (check pieces before buying!), or outdoor fun like horse shoe or croquet. Are you in the mood for some new music?
Size Matters: Some thrift stores have changing rooms, some don’t. If you are buying from one that does not, here are a few good rules of “fit” to go by:
- Petite Sizes: Thrift stores are full of petite sizes in amazing designer labels. If you are a medium to tall person I don’t suggest buying shirts unless you are sure they are long enough to hide what you need it to hide. In general petite sizes are sized the same except in length. Petite people are, in fact, of a shorter nature. BUT, keep in mind that a medium to tall person can use petite jeans to cuff and get a cute cropped effect.
Too Long: Here is a handy diy guide to hemming without losing the original hem. Very informative!
- Waistbands: On pants, shorts, or anything not a skirt, you can place the center crotch to your own center crotch to see where the waistband will fall. The most recent low-rise jeans phase put the waistband falling well below the actual waistline and onto the hip. But never the less, find out where the waist band will fall and then measure side to side. It must reach from the middle of one side to the other. If it doesn’t, don’t buy it, unless you are planning on losing weight. It just will simply not fit. Remember side to side!
- Bust Size: Just as in pants. The side seams of a shirt (just under the arm pit) should fall in the middle of your sides under your arm pit, without pulling or gaping buttons. Just go ahead and hold it up there and measure. Trying to eyeball a fit will have you looking at size 5’s thinking you could do that. No shame in being cautious!
- Tops and T-shirts: Just know thy length. One generally wants a top to not ride up when you move around. Also, be honest with yourself and remember you girth. Large breasts or extra pounds take up room in a shirt and tend to make them shorter. Sometimes it is just a bad cut.
- Men: T-shirts and dress suits are in abundance at thrift stores. Gently used, or ‘lots’ of new t-shirts are perfect for work shirts.
Do your pocketbook a favor and check out the suits in both thrift and consignment stores before purchasing that rarely worn special occasion suit for the jeans and t-shirt guy on your list. There are truly some great pieces to be had here.
- Kids: Always look for gently used toys. Especially electronic toys for babies. These are hardly played with before the baby out-grows their use. Again, books are in abundance as well, but so are the clothes! There is no denying kids grow, fast!
They hardly have time to put any wear on certain clothes before they out-grow them as well. You can quite often find pieces that still have the tags on them. While this is true for clothing items, shoes are another story. Even babies, crawling around, dragging their toes, wear out shoes. They are generally not worth looking for.
- Special Occasions: Thrift stores should be the first place you check before any special occasion event you must dress for.
You can easily shop for themed parties (80’s night, 60’s flower-child throwback parties, etc.) and Halloween. You can also find anything from wedding dresses to prom and evening gowns. If you think about it, these things are usually worn only once or twice then discarded and resold at a much cheaper price. What a great deal for you! Here is a picture of a (probably vintage) $10 wedding dress dyed black for Halloween. It matches the fangs perfectly!
- Gifts: Instead of re-gifting those unwanted items of good intent, they end up at the thrift store. You can find anything from wedding props (cake knives, toasting glasses) to glass wear, what-nots, ash-trays, and photo albums. All great, well intended gifts to give to that special someone 😉
WRAP UP: Remember these points and you will have no problem finding that hidden treasure at your local thrift store:
- Negotiation is acceptable on certain items. You don’t want to take up the manager’s time with haggling on a $2 shirt, but a large piece of furniture might be up for negotiation.
- Know yours, and your loved ones needs.
- Know sizes and realize you can’t wish that size 6 to a size 10!
- Know the return policy of the store.
- Know the form of currency accepted at each store. Also ask about senior citizen discount days.
- Clean you newly acquired purchases thoroughly!
Don’t go in without keeping these things in mind or you will end up on Hoarders, the reality show! I’m kidding, but these are some quick tips on thrift store shopping I hope will serve you well. You can check out a little thrift store shopping music brought to you especially by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis in their recent hit
Have fun and feel free to share your thrift store experiences here. I would love to see what you’ve found!