How to thrift store shop like a pro

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!

*This post contains affiliate links. If you click through on them, I may receive a small drop of money, at no extra cost to you. Enough to keep a light bulb burning in my home. Thank you in advance for helping keep a light on in my home!

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~ All photos were taken by Calvin Hodgson.  You can find his work on Flickr and on his blog.

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What to wear to a holiday get together

What do you wear to these holiday gatherings where family or friends come together for a holiday feast or party? The weather is getting colder so you want to keep warm but look festive at the same time.

Tweed jacket, shiny blue pants, Betsey Johnson handbag, small tortoiseshell sunglasses, black ruffled top + metallic flats

I got these slacks a couple of years ago and have only worn them once or twice because they are a bit much for normal day time wear. But when I stumbled across this tweed jacket for half off at Shop Girl Consignment shop in Gresham, I thought they would be perfect paired with the tweed jacket.

Tweed jacket, shiny blue pants, Betsey Johnson handbag, small tortoiseshell sunglasses, black ruffled top + metallic flats

I am so into the tweed trend going on right now! Tweed? Yes please! Plus throw on a solid black colored ruffled blouse and metallic flats. So cute and trendy. If you don’t like tweed, we can’t be friends. Just kidding. Really. I am capable of living and letting others live. This is the only tweed item I own right now, so if you don’t like tweed, it can all come my way instead.

Tweed jacket, shiny blue pants, Betsey Johnson handbag, small tortoiseshell sunglasses, black ruffled top + metallic flats

More on Shop Girl Consignment. I just happened to stumble in there a couple of weeks ago when she was having a tape cutting ceremony from the Gresham City Council. The owner had just taken over the shop in August and the city of Gresham was welcoming her as a new business in the Gresham area. How cool is that?

Tweed jacket, shiny blue pants, Betsey Johnson handbag, small tortoiseshell sunglasses, black ruffled top + metallic flats

There were cute little sugar cookies with her logo on them made by Sugar Cubed Cakes – so delish! – and everything in the store was half off just for that day. I may have gone a little crazy. By the time I had even a few things I wanted to buy gathered up, I knew I needed to get out of the store before I bought out the store in my size. The owner only takes really nice clothes, shoes and accessories that are only a few years old, so the items are currently in trend. She also only takes good quality items, so everything was in nice shape. Seriously, this was one of the best consignment shops I’ve ever walked into!

Tweed jacket, shiny blue pants, Betsey Johnson handbag, small tortoiseshell sunglasses, black ruffled top + metallic flats

Tweed jacket, shiny blue pants, Betsey Johnson handbag, small tortoiseshell sunglasses, black ruffled top + metallic flats

If you are looking for some cute small businesses to hit up for Small Business Saturday this weekend, I would highly recommend her shop if you are anywhere near the Gresham area. Sugar Cubed Cakes is also right nearby and doing a free decorate your own cupcake event from 3-5pm, while Gresham icandy is doing a free cookie decorating event from 3-5pm on Saturday November 24th as well. There are a whole bunch of things going on this Saturday. You can get more info here.

Tweed jacket, shiny blue pants, Betsey Johnson handbag, small tortoiseshell sunglasses, black ruffled top + metallic flats

Tweed jacket, shiny blue pants, Betsey Johnson handbag, small tortoiseshell sunglasses, black ruffled top + metallic flats

Tweed jacket, shiny blue pants, Betsey Johnson handbag, small tortoiseshell sunglasses, black ruffled top + metallic flats

For anyone who doesn’t live nearby, check out the small businesses in your town this weekend. Shop locally and support small businesses! For those of you in other countries who don’t do Small Business Saturday, at some point during the holiday season, try to stop by a small shop and buy presents there. Help our small businesses out this year. And no, I do not get paid any commission from any of them to say that. And I only get a free cookie or cupcake if I go participate in the events on Saturday leading up to the tree lighting at 6pm.

*This post contains affiliate links. If you click through on them, I may receive a small drop of money, at no extra cost to you. Enough to keep a light bulb burning in my home. Thank you in advance for helping keep a light on in my home!

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~ All photos were taken by Calvin Hodgson.  You can find his work on Flickr and on his blog.

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