Monday, November 26, 2012

Shoe String Chic: Thrifting and the Frugal Girl

If you are a regular reader of this blog, then you know that just as the name implies, I don't think that vast sums of cash are needed to live a good life. Many things offer us priceless intrinsic value and fill life with its true richness and meaning. If there is a less expensive way for me to get what I want then that is what I'll do. You can live your best life possible even with limited resources. That thinking applies to my wardrobe. Clothing along with furniture is one of the places where an "investment" depreciates almost completely and immediately. It is my favorite place to be clever with money. The trick is to do it so well, that no one can believe your wardrobe is a second hand one.

I've been shopping at thrift stores since the mid 80s when it was just me and a bunch of homeless people. In those days you could still find treasures of the 50s and 60s, authentic Hawaiian shirts, vintage classics, and hippie garb that faintly smelled like pot. Today the scene is a bit different. Thrifting has become socially acceptable. And thrift stores have become big business.

Here are my rules for wardrobe slumming in high style:

All thrift stores are not alike. Digging through piles of dirty clothing is unappealing to me, even if the clothing is free. Generally, the Goodwill and Salvation Army stores have things sorted and organized neatly. It isn't all that unusual to find things with the store tags still attached, like this silk dress I scored last week. I was much happier to pay $4.99 than the original price.

Love this exotic silk tunic!
Dry cleaning is a myth for most things. I suspect a lot of quality items end up being donated due to the expense and extra time of cleaning. Most things will come out nicely with a hand wash in the sink or by using that setting on your washing machine. Even if you ruin a piece of clothing (which has never happened to me btw) you are only out your $3 or $4 dollar investment. The person who originally paid seventy to eighty dollars for the garment was less likely to take a chance with it.

Try everything on. Taking home a dozen "bargains" only to find out that ten of them don't fit, is disappointing.  Go prepared to use the dressing rooms.

Shop for fabrics that might be cost prohibitive if purchased new. All of the silk and cashmere in my wardrobe comes from thrift stores or antique shops. I'm defenseless against vintage silk scarves and cashmere sweaters or gloves.

Look for one-of-a-kind items. I like to look for the funky and unusual. Vintage handbags, souvenir scarves, or things that have delicate workmanship. You can buy a polyester top any day. Step up your game for thrifting.

Check things carefully. I am distressed by the amount of things discarded because their owners didn't know how to care for them. You won't be able to save a wool sweater with moth holes, but I've come across many garments that were worth replacing a button or stitching up a ripped seam. 

 A full 80 -90%  of my wardrobe is from thrifting and swapping. Clothing is one of those areas where you can spend next to nothing without sacrificing quality if you do it right.

       Being well dressed is a beautiful form of politeness.


  1. You have a good outlook on life. I don't think we need excess money to live well either. Pretty clothes. You did so well thrift-ing.
    Girlie Blog Seattle | Cheap Makeup Reviews

  2. Thanks, Girlieblogger! I like a challenge. And it leaves extra money for things like hair and skin care!