The world of thrift: or why I go thrifting

Let me state the obvious here, my blog is called Thrift Eye. I used to thrift all the time, and I’ve refined it to about once a week if I can afford to and have time. I hope I’m not giving the impression to you guys that I’m one of those bloggers that’s shopping all the time. I window shop a lot, and then I use that as inspiration for when I thrift. (I also want to say that I don’t only thrift, but it does make up about 75% of the clothing I ever buy).

I will give you an example from today- I spent months drooling over this Madewell dress, but could never justify spending that much on a dress. If you can, that’s perfectly fine. But she sure is a pretty dress.

And while thrifting today at a Goodwill, I came upon this dress, and it’s by J.Crew.

So you guys know that Madewell is owned by J.Crew right? Not only did I save retail price from the Madewell dress, I saved it from the J.Crew one too –  my dress was $8. I waited, waited, waited and in the end found a dress that was pretty similar. I’m very  happy with it. Now I can’t wait to wash it and wear it.

I’m constantly reminded why I thrift, why I named this whole thing Thrift Eye six years ago. I dug through my archives to find a very old post about my “thrifting rules.” I made several bullet points about the whole world of thrifting. I re-read the rules and altered them to fit how I shop and dress now-

Set yourself a kind of routine to check out. I typically start by looking at the shoes, work my way to purses and accessories, furniture/home accessories, and then women’s clothing (some days I even look at men’s clothing). Remember that things can often get mixed up and you may find that their markers for sizing or types of clothes may not necessarily match what you find on the racks. Depending on how great or little time you have, know where to start, divide and conquer so you don’t get overwhelmed.

There are some people in life who just wear their clothes no more than a few times. Luckily for some of us, “those” people like to donate their lightly worn, almost new, designer clothing as tax-deductible donations to thrift stores. So do NOT be surprised if you see Christian Dior, Oscar de la Renta, etc… next to the scrubs and muumuu’s.

Some days you cannot help but to just walk into a thrift store and find something perfectly great, I think it’s an art. Finding something that is currently fashionable, not damaged, affordable, fits your body, and not to mention unique from the things everyone else is wearing is not an easy task – I’ve often walked away empty handed.

Probably one of the worst things you can feel at the thrift store is finding those items that you love but not your size. And not just a little bit, because we can sometimes get by with not having something fit perfectly – but it just doesn’t fit at all. Like the zipper that won’t close or those pants that won’t go over your hips, or maybe they don’t stay on at all. It’s almost heart breaking to leave something behind on these circumstances. But don’t worry, if you find it once at a thrift store, you may find it again at another one in your size, just be patient.

The more you thrift, the more you see the Thrift store hierarchy – some are more organized than others, others have better prices than others, some may have really great clothing merchandise, some may have really great furniture pieces.

I remember seeing one thing I liked once – a colorful plaid sundress by Isaac Mizrahi for Target. If I wanted something from Target, I’d gladly go to Target. But I found the dress, and it was about $16, which for a thrift store, I believe is way too much. And on top of that, it was too small for me. Then while digging around some more, I found the same dress in a bigger size, my size. Except the price rose to $22! I could have probably paid that at Target. I try to stick to thrift stores that have consistent and regular, sensible prices.

Sometimes to find your jewel, you’ll have to dig through a lot of trash. And after hanging out with record collectors, I am find similarities in the trade. So you’re telling me that I’m going to have to look through ALL those racks to possibly find something good? Most likely yes. I think it is more of a mood thing. Some days I feel like looking through every single rack, some days I just browse on top, looking for standout items, certain colors, patterns, or labels.

There is first come first serve factor. While this still applies to a regular store…at least there you have the slim hopes that there is more than one of the item or that there is more in stock at the back. At thrift stores, if you don’t get at it first, then it’s most likely gone to someone else’s home. And yes, I have followed someone around a store before, hoping that they would leave something I really wanted . And sometimes it has happened, others, sadly not.

Be ready for imperfections, especially if you’re looking for vintage clothes. After about 20 or 30 years in someone else’s closet, some of this stuff may be near to or falling apart. If you don’t have basic sewing skills, or access to someone who does, I would most likely suggest not buying the item.

So all that being said…..set yourself some limits. Mostly being that, if I am not completely WOWed by an item when I first lay my eyes on it, then I am almost definitely going to leave it behind (this should also go for regular shopping). Know when to leave something behind because it’s kind of smelly (no matter how cute), is damaged beyond any repairs you can’t do (unless you can fix them yourself), or the price seems too high for you. Yes, sometimes thrift stores price items competitively, and it’s perfectly fine to walk away because I usually find those items at half-price a few weeks later anyway. Don’t feel afraid to try something new – take advantage of the grab bag thrift stores can be, to try a new trend or color that you don’t wear much. But most importantly, don’t feel that because it’s so cheap, you’ve failed if you don’t buy anything. You don’t have to buy something every single time you shop. Don’t ever feel pressured that because you blog, or you read lots of blogs, or whatever reason, that you have to keep up with others.

To thrift or not to  thrift? Do you?