wardrobe redress

Redress: Thrift Store Adventures

After two years of dropping off clothing donations at the Salvation Army, I finally made my way there to refresh my wardrobe. There is a big difference between stopping by the SA to browse and to shop for clothing. It can be overwhelming looking for clothing at the thrift store. There is so much and a lot of it doesn’t fit, is stained, is torn, or is just a completely bizarre fashion. When I want to find really golden clothing items, this is how I approach it so it doesn’t take all day or overwhelm me.

1. Dress in layers.

Wear a button up shirt over a tank top so you can easily try on shirts without a trip to the dressing room. It sounds silly, but seriously, it really speeds things up. There is only one fitting room in our SA and people go in there with about 40 items.

2. Be systematic about your approach.

Start on one side of the store and work your way to the other. Push the clothes to one side so you have room to slide them and actually see them. Then flip through one item at a time. You would be amazed how the really good stuff gets stuck between two weird circa 1980’s over-sized shoulder padded weirdness.

3. Know your pants brands and the sizes that fit.

Pants are a strange beast and I hate trying them on, especially at thrift stores. But so do the majority of other people shopping there, so you are sure to find some nice ones. Know the brands, styles, and sizes that fit and look for those. I usually find at least one pair that works great. If in doubt, take the time to try it on. Pants that don’t fit are a pain to alter. It’s the one thing that I will haul to the fitting room if I’m not sure.

4. Skirts and dresses – I love skirts and dresses from the thrift store.

You really can get things there that you won’t find anywhere else. And tucked in with a bazillion tight waisted granny skirts can be something like this:

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or this:

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All of my favorite skirts have come from the thrift store.

And if you are lucky, you can find sweet little shirt dresses like this number:

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5. Are you okay with a little mending?

If you are, you are opening yourself to even more great finds. Like this cute shirt:

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The underarms were torn. They can be fixed with a simple stitch and no more than a half hour. This shirt cost $1. That’s less than the cost of the buttons and fabric.

6. Know what you want to hone in on, but stay open to other options.

For this trip, I really wanted to get some basic shirts to wear this summer. You know those simple black fitted t’s–some v-neck, some scoop, some round. I found 4 really great black shirts to wear with just about anything, each just $1.99 – $1 after the sale discount. In a retail store, each one of these shirts would have cost $12.50 – $24.99 depending on the brand. They were all in great shape and the black hasn’t faded.

7. Take Allergy Meds.

This one Karen brought up after looking over the post and I think it’s a good point. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t wash their clothing before dropping it off at the thrift store. If you are allergic to cats, dogs, dust, smoke and the like, take some meds before you head out. Then you won’t have an allergy attack between the shoulder pads and your favorite new shirt.

Here’s to loads of happy thrifting!
Kristin Roach

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