How to Thrift (on and offline)

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I love a good bargain. I love a bargain so much that I’m always on the hunt for one (but only when I am in want or need of an item). And, you know what? As much as I love fashion (and fashion is the kind of bargain that I’m talking about here today), keeping up with all the trends (especially if you’re into shopping fast-fashion stores), can get pretty expensive. So, for form and function, I like to thrift.

If you know anything about fashion, you know that it recycles: thrifting is not only good for your wallet (as you can get the original look for less) it’s also known to be good for the environment. You get to test drive styles that are “in” without feeling the crunch in your wallet. You get to see what you like (if you’re someone who is trying to discover their personal style) and you can do it for cheap. I’ve bought a corduroy skirt online on Etsy that cost me $6. I have also bought a pair of burgundy jeans for $5 in person. I have bought a denim skirt online (also on Etsy) for $16. Whether you like thrifting on or offline, you have to know that there are deals to be had. However, the difference between thrifting on and offline is obvious: to thrift online you have to know your body and its dimensions very well, and you have to study the items you’re interested in to see if you can figure out whether the shape of them will flatter you. And, obviously, in person, you can go into thrift shops that have dressing rooms (so you can have the benefit of trying things on before you make the commitment).

So, by the title of this blog post, you know exactly why I’m sharing all of this with you: I want to share my personal thrifting tips – which I think will be useful to you on and offline. On my last thrifting trip, I dragged myself away from my computer and headed to a Value Village. Yes, I said Value Village. That place can be a straight up gold mine if you know what you’re looking for.

My budget was $30-35 and here was my shopping list:

– Some graphic tees/band tees

– 1 colourful longline blazer

– 1 pair of colourful denim jeans or a simple denim skirt (black or blue)

Bonus item (that I am not bothered if I don’t find): A long cardigan (for buttoning up and tucking into denim jeans or skirts).

As you might be able to tell, I am slightly adding to/preparing for my spring wardrobe. Since I already have a lot of dresses, I have only a few bookmarked on my Etsy for purchasing. Basically, I thought I might get lucky with the items I was looking for (listed above) if I bought them in person.

And as it turns out I was right:

A grand total of $30.46!

After browsing the racks (and I mean really, I picked the place apart)…

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I made out quite nicely with five items…

1 blue denim skirt $8.99

1 purple denim skirt $3.99

1 tee $1.99

1 sleeveless peplum top $3.99

1 more sleeveless peplum top $7.99

The green peplum top and the purple denim skirt are my favourite finds!

So, now that I’ve shared all of that with you, here are my tips (which I was armed with as I stepped into Value Village):

#1. Have a Budget

This is so important because it sets the tone for your visit (on and offline). I believe in budgeting for everything, but for thrifting, it’s important to know how much you want to spend because it helps you narrow down what you are likely going to walk out with, and it also allows you to really surprise yourself with the deals you can make.

#2. Know what you’re looking for

Whether you’re shopping online or in-store, it makes things so much easier to know exactly what you’re looking for. Do you want graphic tees, blazers, jeans (cropped flares, frayed edges, the classic skinny jeans, etc), a sundress, a mini-dress or a maxi-dress for spring, a leather skirt or what? Be a woman or a man with a plan.

#3. Look to the runway for inspiration

Sometimes, especially if you’re stuck in a style rut, you might need to look at what’s “in” to see if there is anything that sparks the creative juices in you. There is nothing wrong with looking to the runways for inspiration (where do you think the fast-fashion stores get their inspiration from?) It gives you a definite game plan too (as to whether you want a certain print that’s “in,” certain colours, certain cuts of dress, or a particular style of jeans). It’s funny how to look “current” you can shop entirely for “old” garments that have been made new again thanks to the runway.

#4. Have a personal style

Ok, I know I just said to look to the runway for inspiration, but you can’t borrow/use every single trend that goes down the runway! That’s why I say study the trends, see what you like, and use it to figure out your own personal style.

#5. Step out of your comfort zone

When things are so cheap, you have the luxury of putting your arms and legs in everything. This is the time to try new things and hey, if you don’t like what you bought (because you feel that the look is not a look that’s for you) then you can donate the fashion flop to a thrift/op/charity shop and pick up something else instead. You live and you learn.

#6. Ignore the number/size letter

Of course, if you’re shopping online, you have to trust that your size will come up if you enter that number online or search the racks in store but it’s often not the case. Vintage sizing is known to be 4-6 sizes smaller than it is today so search with that in mind when looking online (and follow that up with measuring yourself and checking the measurements listed – I love Etsy because the inches or centimetres are almost always listed) and in store. Don’t freak out if “size 16” fits when you’re a size 10/12 or if “size 20/22” fits when you’re a size 16. The fit is the number one thing to consider, not the number. You know your body (and this is how you can dress it to the best effect).

#7. Take your time/ don’t rush

Thrifting (on and offline) is like high-end dumpster diving: be prepared to spend at least two hours picking through the selection on and offline. It’s also known as “slow-fashion” for a reason! If you’re shopping by yourself, bring your headphones and listen to some classic tunes as you browse the racks or search Etsy or eBay. While it’s often not much of a financial commitment, it is a time commitment that will pay you back massively when you ~find the find ~ that nobody else has, and you absolutely love it.

So, those are my thrifting tips!

My question for you is this: do you enjoy thrifting? Is it something that you do on a regular basis? Would you recommend any of your favourite spots to thrift (wherever in the world you are)?

Adaora

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