- Go to the stores nearest the more well-off neighborhoods.
- Use the internet to find them; also, check with your friends who thrift.
- Decide on categories of things you want to look for that day.
- This keeps you from being disorganized and from buying too much stuff.
- I usually look for dresses and skirts, since those are the things I like to wear the most (and it is very hard to find nice plain non-button-down blouses, which I like to wear, in thrift stores).
- Stick with a certain color palate.
- For example, looking for "things that are orange or yellow" within a certain category will help limit you.
- Know your style.
- If you know the sort of thing you love and wear all the time, it becomes easier to pick it out in a sea of clothes.
- For example, I can spot an Ann Taylor or a Banana Republic skirt in a pile of Forever 21 castoffs; they have a certain aesthetic that appeals to me.
- Touch the clothes to make sure you would want to wear it and have a list of "I would nevers."
- You don't even have to try something on to know that it will feel agonizing against your skin.
- Some of my "I would nevers" include polyester shirts from the 60s, 70s, or 90s (sweat!!!), "clubwear," anything with shoulder pads, items with too many gewgaws and doodads, and tailored clothes that really, truly need to be drycleaned (unlike silk and wool, which can be washed by hand).
- Don't be turned off by sizes.
- As Yentine at My Edit has said in her thrifting posts, sizing varies from brand to brand and from decade to decade, so try on things that look like they might fit in a range of sizes.
- So, if you are generally a size 8, try on items in 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12; you'll have more options that way.
- Try it on.
- A lot of stores have no-return policies, so you want to make sure it fits and the zippers and buttons work...and you also want to make sure you can get in and out of it unassisted.
- Funny story: I got the zipper from a dress stuck on my underwear as I was pulling the dress on. It took some contorting to get free. I prayed the lock really did work on the door because I didn't want anyone busting in on that scene. (I bought the dress.)
- Be picky.
- There are so many stores containing so much merchandise out there; you can afford to be picky and only buy what you love.
- You don't want your closets to be bursting at the seams.
- The pleasure of thrifting is mostly in the finding and the evaluating; being picky allows you to do that longer.
I am very pleased with yesterday's trip. Not only did I find a dress, three skirts, and a shirt for myself, I found stuff for my friends that they loved: green cords and red pants for A., a delicate floral A-line skirt for V., and various paisley and purplish skirts for Debs. Knowing your friends' styles also makes for a successful group thrift trip.
Pictures to come!
This weekend has been a glorious interlude in the midst of the end-of-semester grading frenzy, which I'll return to tomorrow, better dressed and relaxed.