Sunday, April 15, 2012

How To: Thrifting For Clothes

I am an avid thrift store shopper - not only do I look for neat vintage pieces to sell in my Etsy store, I also look around for myself. Why not, right? I have found some really great buys for myself for incredibly cheap that I end up using all the time. I have gotten to where I go about once every 2 weeks and I even have a nick name at my local Salvation Army :) They call me the pattern lady - I have seriously bought over 200 patterns over the last 6 months.

Anyway, Thursday I decided to branch out and go to a few thrift stores I have always driven past and never visited. I'm very glad I did because I found a great pair of shoes :)
This is a pair of Talbots brand brown patent leather peep toes :) They have a very low wedge heel and they are open on the inside of the foot. The insides of these shoes look like they were never worn and there are no scuffs at all to the outside. There is some minor wear on the soles, but it is obvious that these were only worn a few times by the previous owner :) And now they are all mine! I am generally wary of used shoes, but these are in such great shape that they just need a good wipe down with a sanitizing wipe and they are good to go. Plus I needed a cute pair of brown shoes for a skirt I am making, so it worked out great. Talbots brand shoes run anywhere from $60 to $150 new, and I got these like-new ones for only $2! Yahoo :)

So, in honor of my great shoe find, I wanted to help others who may be interested in thrift shopping but scared to try. Here is a compilation of my knowledge that I use every time I go shopping.
  • Clothing - Check for stains, frayed edge, rips, tears, etc. Anything unsightly that you wouldn't want to walk around with. If it has a stain, does it look like you could easily remove it? If the answer is no, then let it go. Any small rips and tears - can you fix it easily? Things like a missing button should not be a deal breaker on something you really like otherwise. Just make sure to give any clothing a good look over to ensure you're not going to give it away eventually for the same reason as the previous owner.
  • Shoes - How worn are they? Shoes really only have so much wear to them and there is not much you can do if they have passed a certain point. Inspect the insides - do they look like something you want your feet rubbing around in? If they are really dirty or the padding has worn through, skip them.I'm very big on the dirty issue. You never know what illnesses people could have just sitting in their shoes. Are there any scrapes or tears on the outside? How worn are the soles? Say it's a pair of nice looking tennis shoes but the rubber sole is worn off on one side - skip them. Shoe soles are like tires - you want some traction. The shoes I just got had a little bit of wear on them, but certainly not much. See: 
As a side note, I also like to look through and see if there is anything that could be repurposed to be new while I am at the thrift store. This will take some craftiness on your part (and it helps if you have an addiction to pinterest like I do), but you can end up with some great items after a little tweaking. I am planning a few repurposings for Me Made May, so keep checking back to get a little more info on that :)

All in all, thrifting for clothes may not be as easy as going to a department store, but for roughly 95% savings, it is worth the effort. Just be smart about your shopping trips and the thrift store will be your new best friend :)

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