Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Dos and Don'ts of Thrift Shopping

thrift shopping

One of the things I enjoy most about shopping at thrift stores is that you just never know what you will find. I love it when I come across a prize like this wool herringbone blazer. A blazer is an item where I prefer a man's to a woman's. There just seems to be more of an abundance of them and the quality is usually superior. Plus you get that cool inside pocket that they never add to the feminine version.

I have large shoulders for a woman (remember the "man shoulders" quote from Mean Girls?) so it can be hard for me to get a proper fit in anything tailored. This sport coat was perfect except that the arms were about 3 inches too short. (I got the long arms to go with my brawny shoulders)

I looked online to find a few articles about how to deconstruct them, lengthen, and put them back together. In a well made garment that includes a lining this is fairly complicated, but not impossible with a bit of patience. Finding a quality garment means that it is going to have enough fabric for you to let it out if you need to.

Did I mention that I paid five dollars for this gem? So it would have been worth the cost of taking to a tailor for alterations if I needed something more complicated like taking in the waist. A wool blazer of this quality from a department store would have run me upwards of a hundred dollars.

Here are the rules I have come up with for second hand shopping:


Shop for luxurious fabrics. Keep your eye out for silk, wool, and linen.

Look for quality. Is the stitching carefully done? Is it lined? Is it well constructed? 

Look for labels you know you like. If your favorite store's prices are daunting, look for them when thrifting.

Stick to your style. If you get it home and it doesn't work in your wardrobe you've still wasted money even if it's only five bucks.

Try everything on. It may not fit well for some reason and you want to know that before you leave, many places don't take returns.

Try out resale shops like Plato's Closet and The Clothes Mentor if you want a more orderly experience and cleaner atmosphere but expect to pay more.

Inspect garments carefully for stains that may not come out or other things like moth holes in wool. 

Imagine what it will look like when it's been washed and pressed.

Buy something you love that is stained if you think you can get it out.

Go with a list so you don't get overwhelmed.

Do Not: 

Buy disposable clothing. This isn't the place to waste your time or money on a trendy polyester shirt. 

Bother with anything that looks cheaply made. 

Be put off by a ripped seam or missing buttons. These are easily mended.  

Get carried away and buy more than you need. 

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