I love shopping. I mean, doesn’t every personal style blogger love shopping? The only thing I don’t love is the price tag. I’m pretty opinionated about what I wear and love adding new pieces to my wardrobe, but on a teacher’s salary, this can be challenging. When each new season comes up, I’d love to run out to all the stores and pick up a few updates, but even that can put me over budget. Lucky for me, I have been honing my thirft shopping skills since middle school, when I regularly shopped my local St. Vincent de Paul, combing the aisles for something unique to give my look a little… je ne sais quoi on a dime. Although I’ve grown up a lot since then, I still turn to thrift stores when (a) my budget is tight, (b) I’m longing for something new, or (c) it’s Tuesday. The thrill of the hunt gets me every time. You may have seen that I recently had the score of a lifetime, and promised to share my entire thrift haul from that epic shopping trip. I took my sister M. out to a couple of my favorite thirft shops in our area on a Monday on a mutual day off, and we both came up big winners that day, both spending under $150 and bringing home new spring wardrobes. Read all for the full details of what might very well be the most epic thrift shopping trip of my life.
I’m still in a little shock going over this list completely. I found a ton of fantastic stuff, everything fits like a glove, and several of these items are already on repeat. Here’s the whole breakdown:
My Epic Thrift Haul – April 2016
Aztec print skater dress, (no tag), Mercer Island Thrift Store, $10
Suede Juicy Couture clogs, Bellevue Goodwill, $12.97
Hanna G. Kimono blouse, Mercer Island Thrift Store, $10
H&M glasses print tee, Bellevue Goodwill, $5.97
Mossimo black and white romper, Mercer Island Thrift Store, $10
LOFT Floral Shorts, Mercer Island Thrift Store, $10
Gertrude Frank wool overcoat, Mercer Island Thrift Store, $25.00
Proenza Schouler PS1 brown suede handbag, Bellevue Goodwill, $19.97
Nine West heeled loafers, Bellevue Goodwill, $6.99
Deborah Butterfield framed print (1996), Mercer Island Thrift Store, $8.00
Sales Tax: $12.24
Total Spent: $141.14
A Few Thrift Tips From Me to You
- Statements, Not Staples You can’t go into the thrift shop hoping to find the perfect white button down shirt, perfect-for-you wide leg pants, or the exact shoe you want in perfect condition in your size. True, you may find a couple of those things (I was totally looking for suede clogs and there they were!) but it’s more than likely that if you’re looking for a certain thing it’s like a needle in a haystack. Instead, adopt an attitude of “What will be will be” when thrifting. Be open to the possibility that anything might work, including a ball gown that you don’t need. All the best things I’ve found completely by surprise. You have to go in with little to no expectation, just an open mind. Case in point, kimono top and black and white romper.
- Yes, You Must Try it On I wasn’t sure about those floral shorts until… I tried them on. I truly don’t understand people who hate trying on clothes. And believe me, I used to be overweight and uncomfortable in clothing most of the time. That’s probably why I believe in trying on clothes so much. Fit is everything to me. Since I’m not a skilled seamstress, if I want something altered I have to pay my tailor to do the work and it ain’t cheap. The main reason to thrift is to save, so unless the item is truly special I won’t even consider altering it. Instead, I try everything on, sometimes twice before deciding what to take it home. Plus I walk out with a bag full of new (to me) garments that once washed I can wear and enjoy immediately.
- This is Where to Follow Trends On the note of saving money, following trends each season can seriously set you back. Since so many trends have their roots in previous eras, most silhouettes can be found at your local thrift shop. Pay attention to the colors and shapes of the moment, and then keep your eyes peeled for them while combing the racks. If you thrift regularly you can nab things up before they get too popular. It’s kind of a fun game that way, Beat the Trends. I usually play while listening to podcasts.
- What’s Old is New Again Beyond simply following the current trends, start your own by buying pieces that fit you well and that you’re drawn to. Prints, cuts, shapes, colors, etc. should follow in your trend. Did you know Hush Puppies came back in the early nineties because the fashion media began photographing thrifted pairs on street style kids in Brooklyn? Designers began putting them on the runway and Hush Puppies became a viable brand again overnight. Think in the mindset of those street style aficionados. Try on something you love, take it home, shift it into your life, and inspire others.
- Be a Brand Brat You might get lucky. Case in point, the PS1. Flipping through the racks becomes much more efficient when you begin shuffling quickly with an eye out for your brands of choice. It’s like tunnel vision. Keep in mind how many items are in the shop at one time. Even just looking through the rack of blouses can be all kinds of overwhelming. From what I hear from friends, this is the biggest deterrent to thrift shopping. Here’s how I simplify it: I go to the section I’m interested in (i.e. skirts), start on the left like I’m reading a book, and quickly flip through the racks one by one keeping an eye out for brands I like, size labels (although the label isn’t everything, see #2), and colors/prints that catch my eye. I usually limit myself to just a couple of sections per visit, unless I’m in all day mode. I pull out everything that catches my eye, which honestly is between 5-10 things before I get sick of carrying stuff and go try things on. If your store has baskets, seriously partake. You should be thoughtful about this purchase no matter how small it is, and it’s hard to do that when you’ve lost all feeling in your arm.
- Think Outside the Current Season Because thrift shopping is so cost-effective, it’s great to always keep an eye out for out of season items. I fell hard for this darling Anthropologie-esque overcoat and although I tried it on over shorts, it had to be mine. I’m not sure I could have worked a new coat like this into my budget, and this will make a big impact on my fall and winter outfits later this year. Although I can’t wear it for months, I’ll get it dry-cleaned and I’ll be all set for cold weather once it arrives. Same with these heeled loafers. And if I don’t like them as much come September, they were only $6.99, so I can just donate them back if I so choose. Either way it’s much better to buy thrift than spend them money to buy these items brand new.