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.

What’s black and white and red all over?

What’s black and white and red all over? Remember that riddle from childhood? I totally remember that one going around elementary school. I like the off-the-wall-kid answer to that one best: An embarrassed zebra. Not necessarily the ‘correct’ answer, but a pretty good one if you ask me.

In this post, I’m the one that’s black and white and red all over. Minus the white until I changed into my flat zebra print shoes to walk back over the uneven grass lawn back to the car. (And you thought fashion bloggers just traipsed all over in their high heels all day. Ha.)

And speaking of zebra print, let’s bring it back. Out with the snake print, in with the zebra print, I say. I read an article dated last fall stating they thought tiger print was going to be big for fall and winter. They got that wrong. Snake print, off all things, was the big animal print trend this past season. Now, I think it’s time for zebra print to make a come back! Who’s with me?

I was loving these moss and lichen covered stairs on this abandoned building so much. Way more character than on a nice new building. Oh, the random places we find while attempting to avoid the crowds…

I think I was looking for superman to rescue me at this point because something was rustling around in the greenery behind me. I was sure it was a snake. We moved locations quickly after that.

And that’s all she wrote for this week. I’m fighting off a bit of a cold. I’ve been using my diffuser with my Young Living Essential Oils all weekend (get the starter kit here), adding a drop of Thieves essential oil to my water or tea with lemon (both essential oils come in the YL starter kit), and using the Emergen-C thrown and given to me by co-workers. (Literally thrown at me by one when I mentioned I had a sore throat on Friday. Ha.) Also, I swear by Cold Eeze. Trying to get better over the weekend. What works best for you when you have a cold you want to get over quick?

Also, I needed a better ‘serious’ shot for my portfolio of photos for acting. What do you all think? If you want to tell me to smile, you can shove it up your a**. Just letting you know right now. Before you say it. As an artist you need a variety of looks and serious is one of them. So if you’re an a-hole guy thinking women should smile in all photos, please move on. (And this is why I shouldn’t write blog posts when I’m sick. No apologies, though.)

Many thanks 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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