The Thrill of the Hunt - Part 1
Boost your wardrobe with some top-quality clothing at a fraction of the original cost with these seven tips for efficient - and fun - thrift store shopping.
- story by Greg Matusoff
Now I look at things differently. Very differently. That same $1,200 could be a brick walkway or any number of house projects that I have drawn up in my head. Today, my life is filled with priorities, projects, and interests that all cost money, and there is only so much of it to go around.
I still love to shop for clothes, and I always have, but now I do it a bit differently - I live for the hunt of sales and bargains. I love the idea of getting more for less, and ultimately spending less leaves more for other interests.
Please don't misunderstand me, clothes shopping is not my first priority. But I have always been a bit of a clothes horse and a label snob. I am a sucker when it comes to certain labels and I always will be. But while living in New York, thrifting opened my eyes to a whole new way of shopping.
Unfortunately resale shops sometimes get a bad rap. Some people are uncomfortable with purchasing used clothes or even walking in the door - other than to donate. But trust me, you'll see all kinds of folks at the thrift store and will likely bump into a few of your friends there, too.
After some great scores (think $17 Gucci hi-tops, a vintage Oleg Cassini pin stripe suit for $25, and Ralph Lauren Purple Label wool trench coat for $34), I've found some tried and true methods for setting yourself up for a great day thrifting.
If you're ready to take the plunge, follow these seven steps to become a thrifting aficionado.
1. Location, location, location
Just like in real estate, location makes all the difference. When looking for somewhere to thrift, think 'upscale' neighborhoods and towns. Peach Tree if you're heading to Atlanta, Fairhope, Ocean Springs, some parts of Baton Rouge and New Orleans have great thrift shops. And don't forget to check out the local shops when on vacation!
2. Look up
As soon as you walk into a thrift store - look up. You'll often see a board with a color chart detailing what's on sale. It might be that white tags are 30% off, red tags 45% and green tags 70%, and if you go back the next day it could be completely different. Other stores will discount based on the day. Each store does it a little differently, so don't be afraid to ask for help.
3. Change in seasons
The first of the year, spring cleaning, and putting away the winter clothes... we're all doing the big closet cleaning around the same time. And if that's the case, it means that the thrift shops are likely overflowing. So if your closet is feeling a little empty after last month's article on reorganization, now's a great time to look for a few new items to fill it back up.
4. Read the fine print
Again, each store is different, but some allow returns, some do not so make sure and ask first. One of my favorite stores does not allow returns nor has dressing rooms (wear clothes that you can slip a pair of jeans over).
If you see a beautifully made jacket that's missing a button, some wool pants that are too long, or shoes that have a loose heel, fret not. As long as the item is well made, you can always bring it to a tailor or cobbler to have it repaired. A $5 item with $15 at the tailor is a small price to pay for what looks like custom made!
6. Manage expectations
If you're trying to find size 8 gold stilletos that'll match your Mardi Gras ball gown, thrifting may not be your best choice. While there are amazing things to be found, there's no rhyme or reason, so please manage your expectations.
7. Have fun
Thrifting can be great entertainment. It's best to go with a friend or two - just make sure you're both not going to want the same pair of jeans!
Thrift shopping for me has become as much about the hunt as it is the spoils. While some days I walk away with nothing, I had fun and spent nothing. But this doesn't happen often. Most the time, I have a cart full of scores all for less than I would have spent on a pair of designer jeans bought retail.
So don't just think of thrift stores when it comes to Halloween. You might be surprised to find them a new staple in your fashion toolbox. By following these simple steps you can increase your wardrobe for a fraction of the cost get some incredible finds in the process.
And in the end, we should all feel good about our own personal expression and live an inspired life.