As I browsed the racks of Savers this weekend, my mind started to wander and I started thinking- If I could start my thrifting knowing what I know now, what would be the most important things? There’s lots. However, for the sake of not writing a novel, I came up with 5. Now, (drumroll please) I’m very excited to share those 5 tips with you!
My 5 Top Tips for Shopping Thrift
1)Make sure you reaaaalllyyy love it/it’s something you can actually wear.
When it comes to clothes, sometimes it doesn’t matter how cool it is, it just isn’t wearable. Make sure it fits, make sure it’s something you can actually put an outfit together with. This should apply to any article of clothing you buy, but especially vintage. That green suede marching-band inspired vest might be just so cool you feel like you need it, but it might just be something that sits in the bottom of your drawer mocking you with the tags still attached.
Trust me on this.
Those sleeves? The pleated lace? The fact it was a super sweet 1970’s wedding dress? All awesome! But factor in the fact that I have no occasion to wear a super sweet 1970’s wedding dress? Less awesome. It’s wise to leave it there and let someone else appreciate the awesome.
2)Try it on
Once again, DUH… But as someone who hates trying on clothes period, I have gone by inaccurate tag sizes, bought altered clothing, and bought items that just looked weird on. Save yourself the heartbreak, take the 5 minutes, and try stuff on. Otherwise, into your donation pile it goes, money down the drain. Trying it on is also a great way to spot imperfections as well, but more on that later.
“Size Medium”. Yeah, right. Avoid taking home the “fat guy in a little coat” blazer and save yourself the sadness and $$.
3)Sniff those pits
Ahh, another downfall of secondhand clothing shopping. Yes, most things you buy from a thrift store will have that weird smell. Some smells just don’t go away. Some of the best vintage advice I have ever received has come from my mother, who as I stood in line at the local Goodwill, 1970’s polyester blend dress in hand, told me “you should probably sniff the pits and make sure it doesn’t smell weird”. Unfortunately, smells like cigarette smoke and body odor don’t come out too easy. Unless that’s something you can live with, move on.
4)A skeptical eye is a good eye
Before you take home any new items, make sure they aren’t damaged, or the damage is repairable. As I said before, try everything on. This will make it easier to see damage most of the time. Recently, I was browsing the local Deseret Industries and I stumbled across something I got really excited about. A V-neck, cap sleeve, black lace cocktail dress. Alas, when I pulled the dress on, the massive rip in the lace across my butt became apparent, as did the poking out torn lining, and mysterious stains along the inside. Ew. Needless to say, it went in the “definitely not” pile, and I kept my $12. However, sometimes little tears or snags can be repaired. This is also an awesome time to ask for a discount. Don’t be afraid to haggle a little (respectfully). I once got 50% off on an already repaired dress I was prepared to pay full price for, just because I asked.
5) This isn’t always cheap
Generally, thrifting will be less expensive than going into Nordstrom. However, if you’re really interested in getting something older than 1970, its going to be a little pricer. It just depends where you look. If it’s a consignment or a curated vintage store, you’re going to be forking over a little more cash than you would at Salvation Army. In my opinion, if it’s something you love, why not pay a little more? It’s going to be something unique and with a story, not just something you found at the mall, so don’t get too hung up on the price tag.
Well lovely people, all my wisdom complied into bullet points. Hope this helps! And happy thrifting!