“The whole thing of clothes is insane. You can spend a dollar on a jacket in a thrift store, and you can spend a thousand dollars on a jacket in a shop. And if you saw those two jackets walking down the street, you probably wouldn’t know which one was which”
The uber funky Helen Mirren had spoken no truer words. The number of times I received the jaw-dropped reaction of non-believers often accompanied with a “no way!” in response to my latest thrift-shop find has reached the triple digits. Literally.
There are many reasons why I prefer to thrift shop. One, I’m a girl on a budget. Two, it is often that thrifted brooch, skirt, or jacket that adds a classic touch to any contemporary outfit. And three, the thrill of finding those unique vintage gems simply can not be recreated in the everyday retail store.
However, walking into a thrift store can often elicit feelings of anxiety and fear, as friends have continually conveyed to me after being overwhelmed by the sheer mass of vintage goodness.
SO… here I present to you my 8 tips for thrifting, created and refined by personal experience.
#1 Know your stores
Often you will have a St Vinnie’s, Salvos or Anglicare just around the corner, or a short drive away. City thrift stores tend to be a bit more expensive than those further out in the suburbs, so I recommend you start local. You’ll also tend to find specialty retail stores that sell second-hand clothes at normal retail price. Out of principle, I stick to the charity stores, as I know what I spend is going to someone in need.
#2 Set yourself a limit… and stick to it!
It is incredibly easy to go crazy when you see tops and dresses for $5 each, but remember that this can easily accumulate and begin to break your bank. Keep a level head and ask yourself “Do I really want this, or do I only want it because it cost peanuts?”
#3 Know your colours
Most thrift stores separate items by colour. Start with the colours you wear the most and look for cuts and shapes that suit your figure.
#4 Make good use of the fitting room
One of the difficulties often encountered when thrifting is the irregular sizing of some of the garments. Try on the item to make sure it fits well. Because even if the item is gorgeous, if it isn’t a right fit, it won’t look as fantastic as it could.
#5 Be patient and dig!
Nothing worth having was ever easy to get. The same goes for thrifting gold! You will have to sift through each hanger to find that gem, but it will be worth the effort.
#6 See the potential and keep an open mind
When you find something, don’t take it at face value. Imagine what it could look like with other items in your closet. Often, the clothes you find may need some form of altering, whether it be some thing simple as adding a belt to cinch the waist, or something a bit more complex as tailoring. And don’t be afraid to layer – vests, dresses, jackets and sweaters, it’s all good.
#7 Go with friends
Make a day of it! Thrifting is a great bonding experience. It’s fun, and the advice of your friends and the sharing of ideas are invaluable.
#8 Give back
Don’t horde. Have you ever seen the show Hoarders? Enough said. Give your closet a good clean out at least once a year. Maybe some of your pre-loved clothes that you don’t wear anymore may find a loving home elsewhere. And the circle of thrift shopping begins anew!
Gravitate towards the pieces you know you will wear often and inspire you to be daring and unique. And with the wise words of Macklemore…
“That shirt’s hella dough and having the same one as six other people in this club is a hella don’t”