I wear your granddad's clothes, I look incredible: Avoiding undergarments and 6 other advanced thrifting methods

February 6 2013 |

A version of this post originally appeared on Offbeat Families.

One of my very favorite Ebay finds -- this amazing dress was only $9. And yes, that's my not-so-subtle camera remote you see there.
I'll go ahead and admit it: I love a good bargain.

I think most people do, but I take it a step further. I scour the internet for Ebay stores and vintage shops that have great clothing at decent (we're talking $12.99 or less, minus shipping) prices. I love Internet window shopping, but there's no way I'm going to pay anything over $15 for a piece of clothing unless it's really fucking awesome and unique, or I have somewhere fancy to be.

Enter: thrift stores, otherwise known as my home away from home.

If you're not sure where your local shops are, ThriftShopper might be your new best friend. Since I'm something of a seasoned pro (I'd say at this point, around 85% of my clothing was thrifted), here are a few tricks of the trade that I've picked up:

1. Be mindful of your body

It's never a good idea to go into thrifty shopping without knowing your size and measurements — this is especially important if you're shopping vintage or online. I would be mortified if I admitted to you how many items of clothing I spent money on assuming they'd fit because they all were sized "S", only to discover that not all smalls are created equal. I found that it's quite helpful to take a friend/partner/spouse along — someone who has known you for a while, and can help you figure out what might and might not work.

2. Have a developed sense of personal style

This doesn't mean you have to be a thrifty fashionista, but going into a thrift store without any idea what kind of clothing you like or what is flattering on your figure is a major mistake. If you're not into bold prints and crazy patterns, don't buy them on a whim — stick with what you like. However, if you are trying to change up your style a little and have extra cash to spend, thrift stores could be a great and inexpensive way to test new looks before committing to higher dollar items.

3. Be thorough in your searching

Pay attention to what you're buying! It sucks to snag a dress that's super cute and perfect for summer, only to discover that there's a huge stain on the back that you didn't notice the first time. For every one awesome person who donates his or her clothing while it's still in good shape, there are ten that toss every item that has a hole or some kind of damage in the "to donate" pile. Most of these can be fixed, if you're inclined to do so. If not, make sure you review each item before buying, as many thrift stores have a zero return policy.

Another great find: these sweaters and skirt were $7 combined, and now I have two different outfits -- not to mention the various items the sweaters can be worn with besides this skirt. WIN!

4. Don't buy stuff just because it's cheap

It is SO incredibly tempting to waltz into a thrift store and drop $30 because it gets you 20 items — and yes, you can totally get 20 items for $30 at just about any thrift store. Whether or not these are GOOD items is an entirely different question. Sure, that faded green shirt with vague armpit stains was cute back in the day, but now? There's no way you're ever going to put that on your body, so don't buy it in the first place. Just remember: it's ok if you spend forty minutes in a store and leave with nothing — there's always new stuff coming next week.

5. Either have a plan, or don't have one at all

Within the group of people I know who love thrifting, there are two camps: those who plan what kind of items they're looking for ahead of time and will leave if they don't find them, and those who go in without any clue what they're going to leave with. I almost always fall into the latter camp — I've found I feel a lot better about my thrifting adventures if I don't have pressure to find the perfect black shirt, or pick up a pair of teal shoes from the '80s. Since you can't predict what will and won't be there ahead of time, if you're not the type of person who typically plans shopping excursions out, definitely don't turn into one while at a thrift store.

6. What not to get: professional and personal attire

There are two types of clothing that I wouldn't recommend getting from a thrift store unless it's a really nice one: any type of undergarment, and anything you'd need to wear to a professional meeting — if your job is more traditional. When not editing Offbeat Mama, I photograph weddings for a living, so luckily I can wear pretty much whatever I damn well please.

I've never seen quality professional attire at any thrift shop — occasionally there's a nice jacket or pair of pants, but those are few and far between. If you can get by with regular nice clothing for the most part, I'd save up and spend a few dollars on the occasional fancy item elsewhere. And while I've never done it, just the idea of buying someone's used underwear or bras from a thrift shop totally gives me the hibbie jibbies — I think some items are worth the extra $5 or $10 you'd have to spend at Target or something like that.

7. If you don't try it on, be prepared for it to look weird

I have a thing about thrift store clothing — I very rarely try it on before I take it home and wash it (I also struggle with buying denim at thrift shops for this reason — how can you NOT try on jeans before you buy them?). At this point, I can usually look at an item and gauge whether or not it will work for me. I know what colors I like, what fits work best on my frame, and the general style and image I'm going for. However, I have totally had a few instances in which I thought something might look ok, bought it, tried it on after washing, and hated it. In these instances, I usually give the item to someone who it works for or re-donate it. If you have a small budget and can't afford to give away your recently thrifted items, I suggest sucking it up and trying on the clothing before you leave the store.

Alright, advanced thrifters: SHARE YOUR TIPS.

  1. You could try wearing leggings when you go thrifting. Then you can try on most pants over top! I am a big fan of thrift store shopping. Most of my favorite outfits were bought second hand!

    • I have a standard thrift-store "outfit" that I usually go in (my wardrobe is probably 85% thrifted, too!). I do try almost everything on, because I'm curvy and you just never know! I usually wear a black spaghetti-strap tank top that you can try shirts and dresses over, and a skirt (or leggings or bike shorts) that you can shimmy pants on under (or over). People are not at thrift stores to judge you for your awkward does-this-fit dance, they are there for awesome deals!

  2. I love thrift shops! I always try on clothes I'm hoping to wear, though. There's just too much room for error otherwise. And if you don't work somewhere where you have to look fancy, but instead at a place where you wear them out like crazy, thrift shops are your best friend. I also buy books, shoes (bring socks and some approximation of stockings to try them on), dishes, and the occasional piece of solid wood furniture. And if you sew or craft, the raw material possibilities are pretty much endless. Yay thrift shops!

  3. Set a dollar or item limit. Because of the sheer volume and price it's easy to get carried away. I carry clothes that I'm exchanging with me. These are always in good condition (bad condition clothes are made into rags) and I have a list so I know what I'm replacing.

    This always works for me: If you find a pair of pants that fit you really well, check out each and every other pant of a similar brand and/or size. Maybe it's just me, but I always luck out on finding what is likely another person's previous wardrobe. They tend to buy the same brands, same fit, and same size.

    You can buy business casual items at thirft stores, but head into more economically prosperous neighborhoods to make it easier on yourself. My sister and I shop thrift exclusively at the ritzy Salvo near us and we've found Express, Limited, Ann Taylor, and Banana Republic brands there.

    • I second the idea of heading to a store in or near a ritzier area. You can also usually find nicer furniture there. I tend to avoid the goodwill closest to my house and head out to the 'burbs when looking for nice clothes.

    • Giant YES to the last part! I used to work at a Salvation Army thrift store, and we were the store a lot of high-end brand names would ship their unwanted clearance to. I would get $300 Nine West dresses, original tags attached, for less than $15 because there was a tiny pull under the zipper. So it's not just what people donate, but sometimes stores donate too!

    • There really can be a huge disparity between shops in different areas. The shops in my hometown, I consistently got high-end clothing for less than $5 because the town was fairly well-to-do and many households donated instead of trashed/junked/hand-me-down.
      Where I'm living currently has a dearth of thrift shops, and a much lower median-income. I have only ever bought 1 piece of thrifted clothing where I currently live. I save all of my clothing thrifting for my hometown stores.

    • LOVE this article! I work as a prop master for the theatre by trade, so I pretty much have to be a professional shopper. I utilize thrift stores for my personal AND professional needs, and like many of you have 85% of my wardrobe thrifted.

      Like Claire said, know your area! Once I moved to the area I'm in now (DC metro region) I started collecting info on all the stores as I would go to them. This included info about what I found most often there (housewares, furniture, clothes), specifics such as hours and special sale days (Mon & Thurs 25% off at our local Value Village), odd things like if they didn't have a dressing room, and what the parking situation was like. I compiled all that into a google map, and often share it to my other thrifty friends. (If you're in DC/MD, click my name to see the map!)

      Another tip would be to know who to go with, and who not too. I mostly thrift alone, because if I get a good groove going I'm going to be there for 2 hours. Other friends I'll go with will just give everything a glance, but since I like to root through all the aisles, I can find that frustrating and not so fun. So make sure to know who your shopping buddies are!

      One last tip: The local chains will mark up those fast fashion and popular brands. They seem to have no idea that the skirt suit I just scored from Ann Taylor for $7.99 is over $100 in stores. So, like others have pointed out, know your brands! This goes for non-clothes too. I use my smartphone to pull up prices on Amazon for good bakeware brands I find. I want to make sure that they haven't overpriced it, or if they have, that it's an item no longer available.

  4. Good tips ^^ I've never done shopping online for vintage because I'm always scared they are not so honest about the product, and if they photoshopped the pic or something. Perhaps I should go it a go.
    I'm starting to miss Goodwill being here in Berlin, for some reason, it seems like America had the good thrift shops. >.<

    • Where are you living? A few years ago there were a number of decent thrift shops in Kreuzberg 61 (I can't remember what street it was, sorry), although nothing like a Goodwill. Clothes is trickier – all the good stuff ends up in vintage shops and gets sold for high prices.

      I also had fabulous luck with dishes and things at flea markets, though my favorite one has closed down πŸ™

  5. I love thrift shops! A lot of my clothes come from thrift shops, and my husband and I have also found a lot of housewares at thrift shops near us (our couch, our everyday dishes, our china set, the glass jars we keep food in, our kitchen chairs, our microwave…).

    There's a thrift store pretty close to where I live (The Green Door, in downtown Kitchener, ON), that has a ton of professional clothes. Yeah, it's not that common for thrift stores, but this one is really nice, and my mom totally scored a really nice wool suit there the other day. So, pretty much every type of thrift shop does exist. Most of the ones I've been to sort clothes pretty thoroughly and don't sell anything damaged, which is nice.

    When buying clothes, I always try them on β€” for some reason that doesn't really sketch me out. I mean, I'm wearing underwear. I try on clothes in other stores, too, and people have tried those clothes on before me β€” I guess I just don't see it as that different. Maybe I just shop at nicer thrift stores than most!

  6. I'll totally argue with you on half of #6 — the professional part, of course (the other, squicky! tho' vintage slips aren't so bad…). I've found plenty of professional wardrobe pieces at thrift & second-hand shops. Things that cost $50 retail & were a quarter of the price used. Pencil skirts, blouses, lined blazers, & classic leather pumps all show up at my local thrifts.

    Two reasons why professional clothes are easy & worth finding at thrift stores. 1) Conservative clothes are appropriate to all offices &, so something that dates from a few years ago will still look right at work, esp. when jazzed up w/current accessories. 2) Professional attire from expensive brands tends to be higher quality, so by the time it gets to the thrift store, it's still in good condition. Unlike the fast-fashion stuff at thrifts, which is about to fall apart.

    There's a world of fashion bloggers who rock massive thrift scores of designer clothes for mere dollars, things that are perfect for any office (http://www.alreadypretty.com/ & http://sheilaephemera.blogspot.com/ are two stellar examples). My finds are but the tip of the iceberg. Check out their thrifting (& their blogrolls) for more ideas.

    • Agreed – professional wear can be found in some secondhand shops. It really depends on the neighborhood. My partner works at one, and she says they get a lot of men's suits. Once discounted, they sell quickly — and some younger men usually buy just the jackets (makes sense to me, in our business-casual local industry).

      I buy nearly all my clothes second-hand, and I appreciate being able to try something new without paying $20-30 (usually more like $2-3, sometimes as much as $5 per piece). My tip: wear comfortable clothes you can slip on and off easily to try things on, and wear undergarments similar to what you'd be wearing under the clothes you want to buy.

    • I used to buy slips at thrift stores all the time.. the vintage ones were so lacey and pretty, i used to wear one as a straight up dress πŸ™‚

      • i love to buy slips on ebay, they can be as cheap as 2.00 plus postage, nice ones like vanity fair or vaan ralte, great deals

    • Totally agree!! On our recent trip to the big smoke, I doubled my entire teaching-appropriate wardroe on op-shops alone. 9 tops, 6 skirts and 3 dresses. Booyeah!

    • I think another thing to consider is consignment shops. They are the ritzier and slightly more expensive version of thrift stores and almost always have nice name brand clothes including business pieces.

    • Also agree, most of my work wardrobe came from thrift stores. You just have to know where to look. I HAVE noticed that the thrift stores that have great clothes for work are less likely to carry the funkier, more whimsical stuff I prefer on my days off. It just depends on the area and the store.

  7. Know your area! I had a co-worker who let me in on the tip that 20 minutes east of my thrift-shop is one that she frequents because there are a lot of rich people who donate their old (or sometimes even NEW) stuff. Like 7 or Silver jeans for super cheap! Score!

  8. I'm jumping on the "you can definitely find professional attire at thrift stores" boat. All of my professional attire is from thrift stores, because there is no way I'm paying $60 for a skirt when I can get one like it for $4.

    If you're looking for a matched suit set you might want to try a consignment rather than thrift shop, but for mix and match trousers, skirts and blouses, thrift stores can be great. It depends on the store, and what brands you can find.

  9. Professional clothes – I've found this is really specific to your area. If you can find a Goodwill near a really wealthy neighborhood (they exist!) you might have some luck.

    If you need a suit and can't find anything at a thrift shop – I've occasionally found good deals at Overstock.com .

  10. It really helps to have some basic sewing skills. You can fix little problems (hems, small tears, strap length). You can also make some easy style enhancements, like new buttons. Basic alterations aren't hard and usually don't require a sewing machine, so learning them gives you a lot more shopping options and helps clothes last longer.

  11. I wear a lot of men's clothes, particularly long-sleeved button-down shirts and remodelled t-shirts, and I find it is possible to use a measuring tape to compare them to a list of required minimum measurements so that I don't have to try them on. I wear women's jeans, and I find that it's not such a gamble to buy without trying if I measure across the hips at the point where the legs intersect; because it's at a uniform point I don't have to guess where my hips' widest point would go.

    If I could bring myself to wear leggings I would totally go for that idea (I'm no fashion-bigot, they just look awful on me!).

    • If you wanted, you could wear leggings (or long underwear, which is basically leggings) under jeans/whatever you usually wear, and then just keep the leggings on when trying stuff on.

    • I usually wear leggings under a skirt so that I don't have the Leggings Are Not Pants issue, am protected from the grody thrifting clothes, and also can skip the trip through the fitting rooms (if they even have one) for most things.

  12. Have an idea of what things cost retail. Something that seems like a lot of money for a thrift store might in fact be the deal of a lifetime. I nearly passed up a pair of almost new Doc Martins because, $30 at Goodwill? Who pays $30 for shoes at Goodwill? Until reality kicked in and I remembered that I was looking at $125 boots. And I didn't even have to break them in.

    • Definitely! And know the brands so you can tell the Walmart/Target stuff apart from, say, department-store house brands (in addition to designers & such). The former may not have much life left in them when they originally cost $5 new, but the later might have cost $40 new & can last longer second-hand.

    • THIS. I've googled brands several times to find out those near-new $40 boots were about $250 new, or those jeans I was iffy on b/c they were $12.99 were $100 new.

    • I am likely to shy away from thrifted shoes, because I tend to get blisters super easily, and if they're broken in for someone else's foot, it's a no-go. I also worry that the previous occupant might have had some funky foot fungus!

      That said, I love thrifting. πŸ™‚ I have gotten some great clothes, furniture, and dishes!

    • THIS. When I saw a pair of $10 shoes at my favorite thrift store I balked (shoes are almost always 4 bucks or less). Then I check the brand. $100 normally and the ones I was buying were brand new in box. 90% off is a pretty good deal.

  13. Number 6 is bull. I see incredible business attire at thrift stores all of the time. I also agree with those who mentioned stores like Target selling their clearance items to places like Goodwill for a couple bucks a pound. You can get brand new bras and even underwear if you're so inclined. I have seen a pretty decent mix of old/worn and new w/tags. I just don't think these are advanced methods, just personal tactics/preferences.

  14. I have a question: is there a better place to donate very-worn clothing, rather than Goodwill and Salvation Army? I tend to wear clothes until the fabric is pilled, worn thin, or faded. I can't bring myself to toss them out, and they're well-constructed enough that I don't want to cut them up for rags, but I can't see anybody paying money for them.

    • The Goodwill Branch I work at takes clothes that are a little worse for the wear and either sells them at a by-the-pound outlet or sells them for industrial rags at market prices, so either way the donation still funds a good cause!

    • You could always donate them to a place that gives out clothing to people for free. Check your local homeless shelter or food bank. I've taken clients (who can't afford to shop at thrift stores)to these types of places. They were SO happy to get new clothes, it didn't matter to them that the clothes may have been faded/out of style/well worn/stained.

      • I have to adamantly disagree. Please don't dump at shelters! When I worked at a shelter, we got several trash bags full of donations everyday, and most of the clothes were unwearable. We didn't have room to keep all of them anyway. It creates a lot of work–sorting and finding a way to dispose of the excess. Our clients naturally chose the better quality clothes anyway, and the rest had to be thrown out. If it's not even good enough for Goodwill, just bite the bullet and use it for rags, or as clothes to work/paint in around the house, or yes, throw it away. It is really is okay to let it go! πŸ™‚ Only donate stuff that is at least good enough for Goodwill!!

        • Agreed–I work at a shelter, and we struggle with this. If it's too worn or stained for you to wear yourself, donate it to a place that will recycle it for rags.

          We get so many clothing donations that are worn, stained, out of season, out of style, or just impractical (like fancy dresses). I have to haul most of it to Goodwill, which is extra work and mileage for us.

        • And actually bring the rest TO Goodwill, as @funkyfairy mentioned. I volunteered at goodwill for a while and they do make money off the sales of rags, which helps put people to work. Dont just throw those things away!!

  15. I get most of my clothing and shoes from thrift stores, and have most of my adult life.

    I'm a size 8 in most clothes, and have learned that I need to look through the smalls and larges in addition to the mediums in order to have the best selection! I wear a large in pretty much anything from F21 or Modcloth, and a small in Ann Taylor. So I just look through it all!

    I've had excellent luck with professional clothing… just be mindful about looking for stains and stuff.

    And like I mentioned in a reply, don't be afraid to google brands if you have a smartphone. No sense paying $30+ for shoes from your local teenybopper outlet, but they also might be some obscure small brand that originally cost $100+ and will last you a while. You can usually tell by the quality, but when in doubt, whip your smartphone out!

    • Also something I have learned while volunteering at Goodwill… the people putting clothes out often have no idea about who clothes are for. So not only do I look through other sizes, I also look through other sections. Some amazing womens clothing ends up in the kids section because a volunteer didn't bother to look at the tags and probably wouldn't have known the difference in sizes anyway. Ialso look in the men's section, because cute womens stuff is there too! And vice versa, tons of men's shirts and pants in the wrong sections .

      • My brother once accidentally bought a pair of women's dress pants at a thrift shop β€” he didn't try them on, since they were his size (which, with waist & inseam, is pretty reliable…). They'd accidentally been put in the men's section (probably whoever hung them up assumed that anything with a 36" inseam was men's), and of course they just didn't feel quite right when my brother put them on!

        • I recall a trip to Goodwill in my teens (I hated shopping, was sensitive about my body, and couldn't get along with my mother, who was the impetus behind the trip — so it started out badly) where I tried on 3 pairs of jeans in a row that didn't fit at all. One just wouldn't get past my hips, although it looked like it might zip at the waist; if they fit my hips, then the waist gapped horribly when I bent or sat. I was starting to feel even more awful about being fat and never finding clothes when my mother suddenly realized that the jeans she'd been handing over the fitting room door were from the men's section! Hilarious/tragic.

      • My partner bought some size 38 swim shorts didn't try them on but they looked about right… Yeah, they were a UK Women's size 38, they did NOT fit properly at all. Though it was funny watching him worry about the zipper fitting so tightly in toward his pelvic area…

  16. Also, it wouldn't hurt to ask an employee when they normally get the most donations. I live in a small college town that hosts a high dollar law school and every year around the beginning of may most of the college kids get a new wardrobe and donate the "old" one…Ive gotten a like new michael kors top for 2 bucks because of this πŸ˜€

  17. 5555 i love that song!

    herre are my thrifting tips:

    1. find a GOOD tailor. $5 can make your find look like $500. people think tailors are too expensive, but really there are many alterations that are easily under $10.

    2. on top of knowing your measurements, i really suggest knowing brands. i usually get my clothes on ebay. i make it a point to go into nicer stores (my fav is anthropologie) in person & try on things i like. if it fits, i don't buy the item, i log the brand to memory. for instance, some designers at anthro fit me in a 0, but jcrew's 0 fits me like a designer 6/8. some brands (target, i'm looking at you) seem to be designed for women w/ much longer torsos than i have. so, next time you see that i-could-never-afford-that-dress in the window, try it on & get thee to ebay. get familiar w/ designers that last. my husbands wedding shoes were like $2, but they are $400 shoes. why? apparently the person selling them didn't know brands. be aware of the brands that are known to be so well made that they last a lifetime.

    3. do pay attention to trends … but not to be trendy. b/c in several months, you're gonna see those trends being sold 2nd hand or overstocked. for example, pantone's color of the year for 2013 happens to be my fav color (emerald). so, i know that i should save up for some serious stocking up of green stuff that will be flooding ebay once the new color comes around. if you like neons, now is your time to thrift. fashion comes in waves, so USE that to your advantage.

    4. know what can be fixed. i used to think a torn sweater was tragic, but you can fix most of them. i bought a $200 sweater coat for like $7, had it mended at the dry cleaner for $2. can't tell a thing. HOWEVER, there ARE structural elements are are so difficult to repair that it's just not worth it.

  18. Huh, I've definitely bought professional-ish clothing at thrift stores. I don't work in a very fancy office, but Value Village is always good for a few button-up shirts at the least.

    And I disagree with the undergarments thing for one reason: nursing bras/camisoles. They can be really expensive, so finding them nearly new can be great!

  19. I agree with the sentiment about knowing your brands. I know which brand's blazers fit my busty, short-waisted frame, and which companies have quality dress pants that fit, too. My nicest blazers come from the thrift store (I'm another mostly-thrift-store closet owner). Another tip I'd add–check out thrift stores when you go on vacation or work trips! I discovered that there are some awesome thrift stores in the nicer towns within 4 hours of my home–towns where I either attend conferences for work or go to for day trips with the Hubs.
    Also, befriend your sewing machine or make friends with someone who has one. My favorite pair of pants were two sizes too big when I bought them (for $3.50 y'all) but after taking them in and adding some darts to the back they are now tailored to fit me and look great. It took me maybe an hour.

  20. I miss living in the USA for this reason (and basically only this reason – I'm happy I left generally). Taipei has very few thrift stores, and the few they do have are for secondhand designer bags. There are only two I know of that sell clothes. One is pretty uniformly terrible, and the other, well, nothing fits me because this is Asia and nothing *ever* fits me here! Even the stuff in 'plus sizes' (I'm not plus-size in the USA) is cut for body types more common in Asia so I still can't wear it.

    Next time I visit home I'll have to take a day to really scout the thrift stores near my hometown. It's been too long.

  21. I have found that looking for designers or upscale brands is also helpful. Often it can indicate an item's longevity and value. I am definitely not a brand snob and I prefer clothes that aren't identifiable that way, but I found a nice leather wallet for $10 and new it was a great deal because it was Coach and in excellent condition. This isn't always true, but if you're on the fence about something and you know vintage or foreign brands it can help you determine if it's worth it.
    Also, think of tailoring! If you can DIY, that's even better. My husband has a suit that he bought for $10 at Goodwill. It was a little too big and kind of weirdly cut, we took it in to have it tailored and it was $109 (sleeve and jacket shortening, pants hemmed and tapered, waist taken in and a button replaced!). I found two shirts and two silk ties for $40. So, for less than a cost of a new suit he has a custom tailored suit.
    The two are kind of intertwined. If you're going to spend the money on a tailor, it should be clear that the item is in great shape and will last a long time.

    I also have to disagree on the professional clothes bit. I think it depends on where you are/where you shop. We live in a broke college town, so the thrifting isn't that great. My husband is from an affluent town in South Florida and we always strike GOLD there. I find very nice professional clothing there all the time.

  22. I would argue about finding professional work clothing at a thrift store. It definitely requires a bit of luck and persistant searching but it can be done.

    My SO started working as a manager of a high-end men's clothing shop. At the time, he had only 1 suit. He kept an eye on the local Salvation army and found a set of Linen/Wool suit combos for under $30 each.

    He brought them to a tailor with his company that agreed to do the work for free. THe tailor loved the suit and asked where he found it –

    He was surprised that a suit worth several hundred in good shape minus a missing button was bought or $25.

    • When I was at Uni (here in australia) our campus was about 20 minutes from an amazingly kickarse Salvo's Op Shop. One of the boys turned up at out Residence Ball in a suit he bought there and we were shocked when he asked us just who "Armani" was. Dude had bought a freaking Armani suit for $15!

  23. I grew up wearing all-thrifted clothes, and I still thrift a sizeable proportion of my clothes, though I've gotten a lot more picky (after a few too many purchases that I ended up not wearing… $6 on a skirt you never wear is $6 you could have spent on something else).

    I will thrift occasional wear, I've regularly find wicked steals on coats (name-brand ones that cost $200 for $20), dress shoes, fancy dresses/tops for salsa dancing. I do often find jeans and sweaters as well (I look for wool content, and avoid anything acrylic… one of my fave buys was a sapphire blue cashmere turtleneck that I wore until it disintegrated).

    I won't thrift high-use, close-to-the-body stuff like leggings, tank tops, and whatnot, unless they're in pristine condition. I'd rather go to H&M or something and buy those staples new (and they don't cost much more than at the Value Village, and have more life left). And I don't thrift sneakers or other non-dress shoes… they tend to be highly worn, and plus other people's foot-germs kind of grosses me out. That said, a beautiful pair of leather boots that fits perfectly? Scored a few of those.

    And I've learned to be really, really, really picky in terms of style, fit and quality. I try everything on, and don't buy it unless I love it. I figure if I avoid making a whole bunch of misguided $5 purchases, I'll save enough to go buy a blouse or dress that I really LOVE new.

    I totally have a thrifting outfit too: leggings, a skirt, and a tank top. That way I can try pretty much everything on without needing a fitting room! Huzzah!!

  24. Thrifting plus-sized clothes is very, very hit or miss, I have occasionally found amazing things (the exact sweater I had pined for in the jjill catalog at 120$ for 7$) but mostly the plus size section (if there even is one) is full of very worn and dated stuff with a dash of very style specific funkiness.

    My friend and I decided this happens because if you're plus sized and actually find clothes you like that fit you wear them til they're rags because it's so hard to find nice things in your size/style (and it's very likely that you'll never find a similar item again).

    I still thrift but my focus has shifted more to household items , in fact I've made an effort to look at the thrift store first for a lot of things as it's a fun (to me) way to help reduce environmental impact.

    • Agreed. I gave up on thrift store clothes years ago when I noticed everything in my closet fit me like a bag. I'm a petite XS on top, so you can probably imagine. Maybe it works for people who wear Mediums (?)

      But, like you, I love the household items. I have a really cute collection of mugs. Vases, artificial flowers, anything for the kitchen. My tea kettle is from the goodwill. Sheets, blankets, curtains, artwork, etc. It's always shocking to me to go into a regular store and see the prices. "People are willing to spent $30 on a tea kettle?!" I think mine was under $5. Anything you need for your house – go to the Goodwill first.

  25. I'm not seeing my number one rule here. PUT CLOTHES IN DRYER as soon as you get home. You don't want this to happen http://www.wikihow.com/Prevent-Bed-Bugs
    If I were renting out a room, I would put this in the contract. All clothes from second-hand stores must go in the dryer on high heat for 15 minutes ASAP. No pillows or upolstered anything. For wood furniture I would hit every square inch with a blow dryer for 5 or 10 seconds.

  26. Almost my entire wardrobe is from one of our local thrift stores and the clothes are a thousand times nicer than anything I could afford otherwise. The thrift store is run by the local women's safe house as their main source of income and they always have the best stuff. I've bought linen Armani pants ($2), a black silk J Crew dress ($1.50), an $89 pair of Banana Republic jeans ($4 with the tags on), and countless other items including a ton of shirts from Banana Republic, Express, New York and CO. and similar stores…

  27. While I *LOVE* thrift stores, I feel the need to give my own 2-cents about one of my former favorite stores.
    I used to go to a Salvation Army thrift store in an affluent area for the reasons listed above. I even got my amazingly perfect huge coffee table there for about $50. I don't shop there anymore, though, or any Salvation Army because of what I found out about the organization. Salvation Army is one of the worst offenders when it comes to denying the rights of the LGBT community and paying lobbyists to actively work against LGBT rights. If an LGBT individual seeks help at a Salvation Army, they are often either forced to take certain reeducation classes, break up with their same-sex partner, and/or renounce their sexuality in order to receive the help of the SA. In some cases, they are just turned away. There are a lot more offenses to the LGBT community, but those are the main ones. Feel free to look up more.
    So go out and thrift away. But avoid Salvation Army, at least without knowing what your money supports. :/

    • Thanks for bringing this up about the Salvation Army. I don't shop there for exactly that reason. Goodwill does good work, though–and they're everywhere. Also, it goes without saying that there are small, independent thrift/consignment shops that have varying "missions," including none at all–at worst, you're supporting a local business.

  28. When looking through the pants section and I see something I'm keen to try on, I wrap the waistband around my neck – if the ends meet at the back, it will likely fit. This scored me a pair of pants on my last visit to the local Salvo's. It won't always work, but it's a good quick check if you're like me who floats between two sizes..

  29. I always look at everything twice (just to make sure). I never ever go in with a plan; cause you never know what amazing treasures they will have. I grab a cart and start my adventure; anything that I like goes into the cart. When I am done with the entire store I find a spot and go through the cart again. This is when the real decision making happens as you WILL notice that that awesome dress you picked up has a huge ass stain on the back. So…………always look twice!!

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