Thrifting helped me define my personal style much better, especially because I personally struggle with the regular shopping experience. It's also a big money saver!
If you are going to a second-hand store or flea market, it can be easy to get lost in so many bargains and vintage finds, especially after the "buying used" recent surge in popularity. Being dellusional about your ability to fix or alter things can make for bad purchases. Paying a bargain for stuff you won't wear is a waste of money and of a clothing item someone else could make better use of. Especially if you are just starting out, keep in mind these tips:
- If you have the time, purge your closet beforehand to better identify what's lacking
- It can be easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of merchandise. Have a clear idea of what you want before stepping in.
- Make a list of the things you want/need in your closet but without being very specific. You never know what you'll find and "solid dress" is much easier to find than "purple dress". Still, stay true to what you want, just know that the more specific it is, the harder it will be to find
- Wear comfy shoes (flats or sneakers) and try to come up with an outfit that allows you to try things on over your clothes. Snug fitting tees and pants are best
- Don't forget to bring cash in small bills and water (maybe a snack) and make sure your purse has room for a couple of purchases, as sometimes bags are not available.
- Set priorities and standarts beforehand. What can/can't you fix? What are your dealbreakers? To me it's materials, if something isn't 95% or more cotton or wool or other natural fibers it stays behind.
- Touch the racks and only take out pieces that feel good to the touch, no matter how cute they are. If the fabric is low quality and has a "bad feel" you don't want it.
- Try on everything. If the fit is off, put it back unless you love it so much you're willing to get it altered. Even so, caution. Things cannot be made bigger and some alterations aren't worth the hassle and are best left for more experienced shoppers.
- Only after finding a great fitting piece can you decide wether you want it. Does it fit your personal style? If not, it will just sit in your closet, no matter how cute it is.
- Will it "play well" with your existing wardrobe? Do you have anywhere to go in it? Do you already have a similar item? Refer to your list and keep your priorities straight. Try to come up with a minimum of two/three outfits for it at the top of your head. If you have absolutely no shoes to go with it, it's not a good purchase
- Check the tag. Where was it first purchased? What is it made of? Is it dry-clean only? If it is, think about the extra cost and hassle associated before making a decision
- Last but very important: inspect the piece. Look out for stains, ripped seams, tiny holes or flaws with the piece. Leave it behind if doesn't meet your standarts and be realistic about what you can fix. A missing button or falling hem sure, but stains and holes are most often than not unfixable
- Keep a watchful eye on prices and consider looking up haggling techniques if you're just starting. More often than not, you can haggle for a lower price, especially if you are taking more than one item
- Do not haggle at charity shops. If the proceeds are going to the less fortunate and you think the piece is worth the price just buy it
- Immediately throw in the wash anything with tags saying it's okay and make plans to dry clean the rest
- Decide where these things will go in your closet. If you purged well, you should have plenty of space
- Spend a little while coming up with outfits for your new pieces. A good number to start is between three and five. Make a consious effort to wear the new piece in your new outfits. After a little while, it will become second nature
- Make sure to make plans to care well for your new purchases and stick to them. Thrifted items sometimes require some TLC to return to their former glory. Take shoes to a cobbler for new soles or buy leather paste to care for a new purse.
What about you? Do you buy second-hand? Why/Why not?
Share your thifting tips in the comments! And remember, if you have any questions (about thrifting or otherwise), I'm here for you!