23 February 2013

thrifting 101

Ralph Lauren L'il Black Dress
Hitting the local thrift store or consignment shop is a great way to shop and save. In recent trips I've found great Banana Republic pieces that are now wardrobe staples, a gorgeous Ralph Lauren LBD, and my wedding dress for this summer's pending nuptials.

Two decades of religious thrift shopping has given me some insight into the hobby and I'd like to share a few tips. To help save you time and money, here are a few of my  thrifting dos:

  1. Know before you go - think about what you want to buy before you hit the familiar aisles of the neighborhood Goodwill. Be specific. Have in mind the colors, prints, and style of what you want before you get to the shop. If the goal of my shopping trip is a cocktail frock, that's what I look for--and that's it. This saves a lot of time (and cash).
  2. If it's broke, you won't fix it -  Unless you have superhuman, anti-procrastination skills, leave damaged garments on the rack. I once grabbed a gorgeous pair of fire engine red parachute pants, with a broken zipper. My goal was to replace the zipper, and rock those pants with the tallest, blackest, most patent leather pumps I owned. Needless to say that was over 2 years ago, the zipper is still broken and the pants are on their way back to the thrift store.

    This goes for over-sized items too; I won't get into a description of the multitudes of items that I vowed to "take in" when I purchased them.
  3. Skip the shoes - It pains me to say this but your feet will thank you in the long run. Thrift store shoes are there for a reason. Someone found them: too uncomfortable, too old, or too poorly constructed to keep.

    That said, this is a general rule and there may be exceptions. Use your best judgement, try on shoes in the store, and buyer beware.
  4. Check out the jewelry case - Don't bypass the jewelry case on your way out of the store. There are literal and figurative gems to be found there. I once found a beautiful pair of silver/copper/gold vintage earrings for under 5 quid! While that was my favorite jewelry find, it was not my most valuable; that's the 30" strand of pearls with 18 ct gold clasp that I got for a tenner--a few years back.
  5. Found nothing, don't fret - if you didn't find what you were looking for on a trip to the thrift store, don't  give up and buy something that you really don't want. Just leave. Thrift shops in most communities get new items daily. So you can come back in a few days to an almost entirely new stock of items to choose from.