Honestly, I have no clue how to shop thrift stores like a pro. If you’re looking for designer finds, most of the time the aren’t out there. Personally, I find more at consignment stores than thrift stores that take any and every thing. Consignment stores are pickier. Therefore the quality is usually better and the items are in better shape.
Buy what you love. At Village Merchants down in Portland last month, I found this cute Original by Milly of New York dress. You can find this brand on Poshmark for $30 to over $100. Brand new, it could have been $200 or higher. No, not super high end fashion, but not cheap either. I bought it because it looked cute on and fit like a glove. The other dress I really loved was a Dana Buchman. Probably worth less than this, but it was a size too big and I probably would never get around to taking it in to get it altered. Paying to get it altered defeats the purpose of getting a good deal, but if it’s something you can fix easily yourself and you know it, go for it. If you want to pay to get a super cute dress altered, go for it as well. It’s all up to you. If you really love it, it may be worth the price to get it altered.
Try things on. Just because it looks good on the rack doesn’t mean it will look good on. I tried several items on. My niece had an even bigger pile of things to try on. Trying things on help weed out the ones that just don’t fit right.
If it has a stain the thrift store couldn’t get out of it, you probably won’t be able to either. Walk away. Unless you have plans to re-dye the item or cover it up in embroidery. If you’re a whiz at getting out stains, go for it, but know that even Goodwill has teams of people cleaning up donated items, so an attempt has probably already been made to get the stains out.
Have a vision of what you already own that you can wear the new item with. Will you be able to work it into your wardrobe or will you have to go out and buy other stuff to turn it into the perfect outfit? Nothing wrong with buying other stuff to go with an outfit, but when thrifting, it’s always good to imagine wearing the item with things you already own. The whole purpose of thrifting is being thrifty.
On the other hand, once you’ve purchased an item from a thrift store, it’s fun to be on the look out for other items that would complete the look. I purchased a dress from Goodwill recently that I keep finding things in Marshall’s that would look good with it. I haven’t bought any of them yet, but I’m keeping an eye out.
Next, imagine where you can wear the item. I wasn’t sure where I’d be able to wear this particular dress, but my sister told me to wear it to work. Well, why not? Lose the satin pumps and it would look like a cute every day dress. In my head I was just seeing it as a cocktail dress and trying to imagine a party or evening event I would be going to.
Know when to walk away. I walked away from a cute white denim jacket with a pink stain recently. I thought about what I could do to fix it, but knew it probably wasn’t going to come out any more than they got it out, so I walked away. Or the dress that didn’t fit right. I knew I wasn’t going to go pay to get it altered so I walked away. Clothing that doesn’t fit right will probably never fit right unless you’re a sewing whiz. Walk away.
Always go into a thrift stop with an open mind. Trying to find something specific probably won’t happen, but if you have a general idea of what you’re looking for, i.e. party dress, costume ideas, comfy jeans, that can still be helpful. Wanting a slinky black evening gown may be a little too specific for a thrift store. Great luck if you find it, though.
It’s funner to go with friends or family. Not necessary, but I really enjoyed my trip with my nieces and sister and son. They encouraged me to buy this dress. I may not have otherwise, because I was too hung up on the one that was just a little too big. This one was an awesome find and I’m glad I bought it. When I went to wear it I was surprised I bought it for $10 with no additional discounts. I thought that was a little steep for a thrift store find, but am really happy with the dress now that I have it. Had they not been there when I popped out of the dressing room in it, I may not even have bought it.
Which brings me to my next topic: Look for additional discounts. At Goodwill they have certain colors on half off each week and it rotates through them. I wrote about that here. Other thrift stores do the same. I also go on the e-mail list for a local consignment shop because she will announce in the e-mails when 50% off days are.
Go when you have plenty of time. Thrift store shopping is pretty discouraging, which is why I don’t do it more often. Most of the time you leave empty handed, and hitting up the same place too frequently isn’t going to make the merchandise change any quicker. Be patient. And if you’re not in the mood for it, don’t do it.
When the mood strikes, we thrift!
Ta-ta for now. Thank you for stopping by!
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