Since my thrifting post seemed to be rather popular last week, I decided to do a post on the top tips for going thrifting. I know a lot of you either have done so already, or there are those of you who have been wanting to go, but just need an impetus. Well, that’s what I’m here for! 😉
1. Know your measurements – One of the best things you can do is to invest in a tape measure (only a couple of dollars at your local drug store or craft supply). Be sure to measure your bust, waist, and hips, as well as the length from one shoulder to another. This way, when you go thrifting, you can bring your tape measure with you to see if a garment will fit you or not. Please allow an inch or two for movement when you are looking at a fabric that doesn’t stretch. If it has stretch, then no worries 🙂 Some thrift stores do not have fitting rooms, so this is a practice that will save you a lot of strain!
2. Put the item under scrutiny – Make sure you take an extra good look at what you have in your hands. Make sure there are no stains, holes, chips, parts missing, discolourations, and the like. Sometimes it can be hard to tell with a quick glance, then when you get it home you notice something that may deem it unwearable. What’s the point in that? It’s not worth it to shell out money for something you probably won’t wear, so just leave it where it is. But if it is something you think you can fix or just deal with, show the cashier the issue and see if maybe you can get an extra dollar or two off. Haggling never hurt anyone! 😉
3. Know what you are looking for – When I go thrifting, I have a certain look in mind for what I want. I know I already want clothing that has a distinctly ’30s, ’40s, or ’50s feel to it. I sift though the racks, looking for something that just screams out to me. And even when I do, I still play a mental movie in my head of what I have or what I may need to go with it to give it an authentic vintage or rockabilly feel. You may initially not see that top as a very great vintage addition to your wardrobe, but surely if you just add the right skirt, shoes, and accessories, you will have an amazing old school feel that you can’t get enough of! I have done that a few times, and I have never missed yet. Also, this practice prevents you from buying things you otherwise wouldn’t wear. And what’s the point of buying clothes if you’re not going to wear them? You might as well just throw your money in the garbage.
4. Study elements of vintage style – I cannot stress this enough! If you are going after a true vintage look while you are thrifting, be sure of what elements of style were around in the era that you are trying to achieve. I believe this to be of upmost importance, so much so that I may do a series on this ranging from the 1920s through the 1960s. You just cannot get a true vintage look without having the necessary elements there. For instance, one of my tops that I bought during my last trip had what is called a Peter Pan collar, and that is a typical style from the 1930s. Any time I see something with that collar, I immediately snatch it up, because it is one of my favourite shirt elements from that period, and it will instantly help you achieve vintage appeal.
5. Match! – The look you are going for is vintage, not modern. Therefore, mixing colours that do not go together is a no-no. We are not doing colour blocking here, sorry. The more you match things, the better. This is a good idea to keep in mind as you shop. Did you just pick up a red and white gingham dress, but have nothing to go with it? Well, then you should find yourself a white belt and a white pair of shoes at least. Also, a white purse is a good investment as well. I am still working on being totally matchy-matchy with everything, but for the most part make sure the accessories match at the very least. For instance, I wore a black circle skirt dress from Bettie Page clothing the other day, but I wore a red belt, red shoes, and red hair flower. I only had a black vintage bag to use, but I know I need a red one, which I hope to get soon. But always make sure that you have things that would match with whatever you are buying. If not, then you get to go on another shopping trip! LOL. Basic black accessories are always a good base to start off at, then white, and so on and so forth.
6. Don’t limit yourself – Try to go to more than one thrift store in a trip. That way you have way more variety, and you have more chances of getting some real scores. This is especially true if you have something in particular that you want/need. Also, along this same vein, go back to thrift stores every two to four weeks, as they always have new clothes rolling in. There might be that perfect item there, just waiting for you, but you decided to stop going there after last time and them not having much of what you like. These stores are not retailers! They get what they get, and sometimes it can be to your benefit or to your dismay. But don’t limit yourself just because of one unfruitful time. Also, be sure to ask the staff when their restocking days are. That way, you can go that day and get first dibs on the good stuff!
7. Cash is king – Try and bring cash with you to most of these stores that you go to. Some places don’t have ATM/credit card machines to pay, and other places require a higher minimum to use it. To avoid all of that unnecessary effort, just bring cash and that will be that!
8. Wash your finds – Be sure to throw whatever you may have bought into the laundry to make sure it is nice and clean, ready for you to wear. Some people just give their clothes without washing, and I am not entirely sure if the stores themselves wash them or not. To be safe and secure, I would wash them just after your purchase so that you can add them to your closet knowing full well that they are ready to wear.
That’s about it for my thrifting tips. This is all a culmination of what I have learned along the way so far, but I am sure I will have more to add at some point in the future. I hope these help you to have the best thrifting experiences you can!