Sunday, June 28, 2009

Thrifting 101

Here are two skirts I've thrifted for myself recently ^_^. The floral one on the left only just fits, and I happen to be eating a piece of coconut/pistachio/pineapple cake (my mom's specialty!) and I know I'm not helping matters! The one on the right was actually difficult to photograph (do excuse the wrinkles :P) but I love the color/pattern. I'll probably end up wearing both of these with boring white tshirts, but... we'll see.

So I was thinking about thrifting and all the little things I've learned through my adventures and I decided to write them down for you! Whether you're a novice or a thrift-spert or somewhere in between, I hope they help!

1. Learn to be selective. Only buy it if it’s amazing. Don’t just go around buying things willy-nilly because it’s vintage. A lot of vintage things are just plain ugly, and don’t get any more attractive just because they’re vintage!

2. Check carefully for damages. I learned this the hard way! There were a few times I brought home what I thought was the perfect find, only to discover it had stains, a botched hem, or some sort of tear (usually in the armpit!). There are things that can be mended, but if it’s in terrible shape, unfortunately it may just be best left behind, pennies saved for something else.

3. If you DO buy something that needs fixing up, make sure that you know how to do it, or at the very least, that you will find some way to do it. If you can’t stand sewing (like me!) the chances are that these projects are just going to pile up and be a waste of money in the end. But if you enjoy sewing and can make the time, by all means have at it!

4. Have a routine. I try to go the same thrift store at least once or twice a week. I’ve tried to go more frequently, but it’s easy to get frustrated when there’s barely anything new. Unless your store has a “new items” section, I think it’s better when there’s a little time between visits, because a week or so gives them enough time to put out new items. A good thing to do is ask when new things are put up, too!

5. Don’t always disregard sections that seem unappealing. We have a “Sportswear” section at my store that I tend to avoid, but occasionally I’ve found a vintage cardigan or blouse in there. Also check out the sleepwear section, since some of those housedresses can make really great cotton-y summer frocks!

6. Keep finding more stores. If you have the means - travel! I’ve often made it a day trip to visit several towns within an hour or two away. It’s nice to get away and refreshing to see new people and places. Here’s what I do when planning a thrift trip:

a. Use to find stores around your area. You can also go to the official goodwill and salvation army sites for locations.

b. Use mapquest or a map to determine what the best route is - what makes the most sense driving-wise.

c. CALL BEFOREHAND. There is usually a telephone number in the listing, I highly recommend calling in advance to find out their hours, or if they are even still operating.

d. Don’t be afraid to ask for directions, and bring tools to help you navigate. Personally I have a little swiss army knife with a compass on it that’s helped immensely!

7. Haggle. I wouldn’t be my father’s daughter if I didn’t try to bargain with someone! If something has a hole, missing buttons, or any other damage, at least try to get a small discount. Or if you’re buying a lot of things. Most times, people are willing to take 10-50% off if you point these things out. This ain’t Macy’s, ladies!

8. Find out when they have sales going on. The Salvation Army stores in my area have their biggest sale on Wednesdays. A lot of times stores will have flyers that tell you what colors/items are discounted on what days - just ask if they have one!

9. Be friendly with the staff. Employees who recognize you might be willing to show you some of the more interesting items or even share their discount with you. Now, don't try to make friends just to get a discount! But it always helps to be nice and show appreciation, no matter where you are or what you're doing.

I also thrifted this amazing vintage coral wallet and a lavender Stanley thermos. The wallet is in pristine condition, it even still has the original pen inside. It also has the owner's original last check in there! Apparently its come all the way from St. Louis, Missouri to be with me. The thermos will be nice in the winter time, and oh how I love feminine housewares!

Anyway, if you're determined to be a smart thrifter, you should also check out:

1. Rhiannon of Liebemarlene's 10 thrifting tips via Mademoiselle Robot
2. Rachael of The Life Aesthetic's second hand shopping guide
3. Diana of Painfully Hips' thrifting pointers
4. and Aya of Strawberry Koi's thrifting video!

Happy thrifting :D!


  1. Glad to see a fellow thrifter with a great blog :)) Thanks for visiting Hippie Frou Frou! great polka dot skirt, btw!

    jess s///

  2. Thank you for the shoutout, dear!

    Wonderful post, and some of the best tips I've read!!! :D

  3. Thanks for the tips dear!

  4. great post! i too have become disgruntled over ripped armpits! another section that is usually overlooked "PAJAMAS!"... occasionally i'll find a vintage dress misplaced for a nighty in the pj section...and even if i don't, a girl can never have too many slips ;)

  5. well i'm glad to be found! (although i can be a bit self deprecating when it comes to my blog...i just can't seem to get a handle on it...) anyway...
    the text? i'm sorry you lost me at the end...

  6. Haggling- that's so true! I'm absolutely awful at it but my mom is some kind of superhero; I honestly watch her in awe as she manages to convince the person that $3 is clearly too much for something.

  7. Thrifting is such a fun adventure. I can't imagine how some people don't go until they're adults--my father always told me whenever I wanted new clothes that we'd find them in a secondhand store!

  8. i WANT that pink floral skirt-let me know if you're ever getting rid of it-i will pay you for it! =D

  9. Wonderful list! I really do need to work on my haggling skills... I'm such a timid haggler. Also, I've been meaning to widen my "thrift circle" and check out some out of town shops I've never been to, thanks for the reminder to do so!

    Both skirts are lovely :)

  10. i hate to argue with you but i have to disagree with number one- there have been things i havent cared a terrible lot about,that after a few weeks of bonding have become the greatest pieces in my closet, or basics i might have passed up if i were using my better judgement but now depend on to pull me together in a pinch. i think for me, the important thing is knowing if something is vintage but will never look good on me, even after i tweak it...then its no good!