It’s cool to be cheap.
Especially in today’s “hipster” culture of upcycling, vintage revival, and shabby-chic. I have been dubbed by many of my friends to be the Queen of Thrift Store shopping. While I don’t think I’m queenly in my thrift shopping, I freely admit that I am damned good at it. As a matter of fact, 85% of my wardrobe comes from thrift or resale/consignment stores. I went through some basic information in my post 8 Steps for Thrift Store Shopping. Today I will touch on 5 more steps you can use to pair down expenses by shopping at thrift stores for your wardrobe.
Be a label queen. To tell you the truth, I never paid attention to fashion labels until I grew up and had to spend money – my money – to look good. Some very talented designers make inexpensive clothing lines but, let’s face it, it rarely holds up after repeated wearings and washings, even if it’s been professionally dry cleaned. Knowing the higher end designers and fashion labels can help you sort through the dreck at the thrift store.
- “Wal-Mart” labels – These would be any clothing line that the Walmart chain stores would carry. They are inexpensive and produced in mass quantities. But they do not hold up to multiple wearings and washings. Avoid when possible. Examples are:
- Faded Glory
- No Boundaries (NOBO)
- Midline Labels – These are labels that are slightly higher quality materials and production value. There are some excellent midline brands that, while they won’t last forever, are good purchases for your wardrobe. Examples are:
- Old Navy
- High End Labels – These are exactly what you’d expect. While they are rarer to run across, you will still seem them in thrift stores. If you live in a particularly affluent, or near an affluent area, they will appear more frequently. Especially with Goodwill stores that circulate their stock among the branches based on how quickly they sell. The most common examples of higher end labels I have seen in thrift stores are:
- Anne Taylor
- Vera Wang
- Check links and clasps. Do the links of the chain on a necklace bunch and knot? Cheap metal. Does the clasp gape? Cheap metal. Is there visible glue holding the stone in socket or bracket? No brainer…cheap and move on.
- Street sense. Have you seen other people wearing similar fashion on the street? Current style and a possibility. Have you seen the same similar style at a Walmart or other chain store? Warning; danger, Will Robinson.
Work it…play it. Thrift store shopping should give your pocketbook a little more wiggle room when it comes to a work wardrobe and a play wardrobe. But, if you’re like me, you’d rather spend whatever you are spending by shopping thrift stores on more important things – ahem, books! Those other things are going to cut into any savings you’ve garnered from shopping thrift. So it’s important to make sure a majority of your pieces selected can be used for either work or play.
- Jeans. I don’t often get to wear blue jeans for my day job. It’s mostly suits and business casual. But, when we are given the opportunity, I can’t afford to buy (nor do I want to house) too many jeans. Instead I own 3 pairs – one pair of black jeans (always dry cleaned and never washed to maintain their color), one pair of dark blue jeans, and one pair of fashionable “grungier” jeans (the last pair I owned had the trendy style of strategically placed holes). I obviously can’t wear the last pair for my day job, but I can wear the other two for work or play.
- Shirts. While I own several high end button down blouses for work, they aren’t likely to be a part of my weekend or evening wardrobe. However, by pairing a breezier and less quality top with a suit jacket, you can wear it during the day at the office and take the jacket off later to go out with friends or wear it on the weekend with a pair of jeans.