second-hand shopping: a beginner's guide

by - 9:53 AM

Those who know me are well-aware of my obsession with thrift stores. On any given day I'm wearing at least 2 pieces that are second-hand. Nine times out of ten, I get compliments on those exact pieces. It's a tough decision to make when people often ask me, "oh where'd you get that?!" I tend to judge my response on my audience: while more and more people are opening up to the economic and environmental benefits of second-hand shopping, many people I've met are still skeptical.

If you've seen the light and are itching to try your hand at a new kind of shopping, you're in luck. I've finally compiled a short list of my favorite local spots to thrift. I never leave without buying something, and even my friends who are newbies to the trend agree: you will not be disappointed! 

1. Know what you want.

You're going to have to go through racks  and racks of clothes ordered by size (often times) so make sure you have an idea of what you're looking for. Clothes are often ordered by style: suits and blazers, tops and polos, pants, dresses, but walking into a warehouse of seemingly-unorganized clothes can intimidate anyone. Start with a section and dig it! 

2. When in doubt--grab it!

Thrift stores usually only have one of anything so if you think you like it, and it is within your range of size, take it. When you've exhausted yourself, that's when you (and a friend) can weed out the bad from the excellent! (This is also a great time to snoop on what other people  have grabbed and decided against!) But take a second to check the labeled size--while styles and measurements change over time, especially with vintage clothes, be reasonable about what will fit you. You'll have to put your rejects back somewhere--avoid having a huge pile of them. 

3. Have fun! 

Taking  time to go hanger-by-hanger will inevitably lead you to that perfect brown Zara  blazer a vintage lace shift dress or Marc Jacobs trench (yes I own those all) but on the way you will sort through an endless supply of Chico's mumus, Talbotts capris and strange velvet and glitter creations. If you can't joke about the size xxxl lace bike shorts you've just seen, well then you're missing out on the best part of thrifting: it's where ugly clothes go to die!

4. Practice!

My friends are shocked at how many things I can find within just a few minutes.  I've been doing this (and getting taunted about it) for longer than I can remember. It takes practice to be able to discern the silhouette of a blazer of skirt from afar. Even more, it takes practice to know what looks good on  your body, and to be able to know what will fit you from only looking at it on a hanger. Accept the fact that you will buy something that doesn't work out--if you can't try it on, you'll have to gamble. Odds are, you can take a risk for $4-5. Don't be too disappointed if you end up with too-short pants, or a dress that hugs you a little tight: you're getting the best idea of what will and won't work for you. Plus, if you're creative, you might be able to refashion it into something else. If not, donate it back!

happy thrifting!


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