I am by no means, any means, a “fashionista”. I am however, most definitely a thrifter. I love the hunt and I can go hanger-by-hanger through miles of racks searching for that one piece of clothing that looks like it just might work for me. (And then I try it on. I try everything on. Everything.) Sometimes you have to dig . . .
So this is not a post about what is in fashion (whatever that means) but more a post about how I go about acquiring my “fashion” in a thrifty way.
1. Donate. It seems counter-intuitive to give away clothes when you feel like you have nothing to wear but it’s good to clean out some closet space and edit out the things you’re not wearing. I keep two bags in my closet (our new oversize walk-in closet, so the lap of luxury!) for quickly sorting items. Bag #1 are clothing items that need to be recycled – things that are stained or torn beyond repair. Bag #2 is a donate bag for things that don’t fit right and/or I just looked at 500 times and realized I will never wear it. Probably because it doesn’t fit right. And for me, that’s why the bags have to be IN the closet – I have a tendency to just drop something into the hamper that I wore and pulled at all day and/or felt uncomfortable in. Who wants to feel self-conscious or uncomfortable in their clothes? Not this girl. (Then when the bag is full I give it a quick launder for good measure.) Donate it and get something you LOVE to wear.
Also, on my last trip to Saver’s, I got a 30% off coupon in exchange for my donation. Another plus in the donation column.
2) Shop on discount days for higher savings. In Phoenix, Goodwill has 50% off days two Saturdays a month and Saver’s has them for major holidays (like MLK Day.) Get on the email lists of thrift stores near you and find out when the savings days are. I received a 20% coupon to Goodwill for joining their email list. But be prepared for the discount days to be hectic in there. If you can’t deal with crowds, you’ll have to pay full (thrift store) price. Not sure what thrift store are near you? Check out The Thrift Shopper for a search by zip code directory. You’re welcome.
(Note: I am not crazy about how I look in this picture but it’s the only one we took and I’m trying to get over my camera phobia so here it is.) This dress I found at the half off day at Goodwill and was only $2. It’s the Inc. brand from Macy’s and I’m totally a blue girl so I knew I could accessorize it up. I wore it out with JT when we went out for a belated 9-year wedding anniversary dinner a few weekends ago.
3) Know what you’re looking for. Thrift stores can be overwhelming so go in with an idea (albeit loose) of what you are looking for. I’ve targeted different ideas: cute layering sweater, loose hang-out-around-the-house-but-still-look-cute Tees, work-appropriate skirts or a new pair of sandals. You get the drift. And sometimes having multiple targets can help make your mission a success. My favorite thing right now to buy at the thrifts is belts – they make a huge impact to an outfit for usually around $1.
Not sure how long navy blue and brass will be in style? A $1 belt means you can be in on the trend and not be sad when it goes out again. These are all belts I have found at the thrifts. The black and natural one was at the Goodwill on Watson near Crestwood Mall (is it still Crestwood Mall?) Goodwill actually gets a lot of Target items that have never been worn – this is one of those and it was more than $1 (I think I paid $4) but still way less than it would have been at Target.
4) Shop ahead. The thrifts require digging and a little persistence. If you have an event that evening, you’re probably not going to find what you need at the thrifts. I’m anticipating that now that we live in Phoenix, I might want to add a few more sandals to the mix. It doesn’t hurt to start looking in January! I found these cute little Old Navy numbers at the Goodwill nearest our new house. For $2 and looking brand new, I think they’ll do. (I also tried them on to be sure. Try everything on. It’s a pain in the ass but it’s worth it.)
5) Get creative. I had on my “to hunt” list a maxi dress – I’m anticipating hot weather in my future (duh it’s the desert) and so it seemed like something I might get some use out of. On my trip to Saver’s during the 50% off MLK bonanza, I found something with potential but it wasn’t quite right . . . So I took a $4 chance and brought it home . . .
Sorry for the weird, in-the-mirror selfies. Fashion blogger I am not. At any rate, I had checked it out in the store and it looked like the two small slinkies were removable so when I got it home, I pulled them off, recycled them (sorry slinkies) and accessorized the dress with my thrifted belt. I have a feeling I will be wearing this a lot come June.
6) Check it over & try it on. There’s a lot of sub-components to this one but here’s the gist – make sure it fits well everywhere. Make sure there’s no stains, rips, missing buttons, etc. Someone donated it for a reason, sometimes the reason is a stain or a weird stretched out part. Thrift stores don’t have laundry facilities so be sure to fully launder and air out any purchases when you get home – don’t put it near the rest of your wardrobe until it’s been washed.
7) Know when to say no. I’m still learning this one but sometimes you have to put the thrifted clothes back on the rack and call it a day. And if you make it home with something that ends up not being the right fit, put it into the donate bag and start again with Step One.
So that’s been my life lately, digging in at the thrifts and coming home with a few gems. Do you have an all-time favorite thrifted piece of clothing? Mine was a full-length immaculate red wool coat that fit me like a glove but considering the high today could be in the low 80s, I might need to add it to the donate bag …. Happy (feisty) Friday! Cheers – CT
There was a little consignment shop I frequented many years ago because the selection was so amazing. Two of my best scores: a Neiman Marcus after-five black dress with the tags still on it and a full-length black leather coat from Neiman Marcus that looked brand new. I got both for pennies on the dollar. You just never know what rich people are going to toss. 🙂
I love your anniversary photo and your selfie in the black dress. You’re finding some great things at the thrifts!
Thanks Dana! I left out consignment shops (accidentally, I love them and frequent them often) and what a great resource for designer brands for a fraction of the cost. Rich people donate the best stuff! I will usually scout out the Goodwills in the swankier neighborhoods too, just for that reason. Cheers – CT
Some of my favorite dresses came from Goodwill and thrift shops. I’ve had them for years and still wear them. You look so great in the pictures. Love how you styled the black dress! Great finds.
Thanks Stacey, that’s so sweet. I agree – Goodwill is a great place to look for dresses. I think you can find good donations in that category because it’s not something we wear a lot – so someone will get a nice dress for a special occasion or wedding and maybe wear it a few times and then donate it. Sometimes I have to stop myself from only looking at the dresses – I always gravitate towards them first but don’t have as much practical use for them in my daily life. Cheers – CT
Super cute – and yay for getting in front of the camera. I’m the worst, so I totally appreciate this.
Thanks K! The camera thing is kind of a grin-and-bear it but actually I remember really being moved by the post you did about family pictures and needing to be in them if just for your girls’ sake. Plus I figure at this point, I am who I am and short of plastic surgery or an all lemon water diet, not much is changing. And I’m okay with that. 🙂