Friday, March 30, 2012

Thrift Store Shopping strategies/tips

I'm going thrift store shopping with my friend Patti tomorrow.  I've been thinking about how I can explain my methods, strategies, considerations--in other words why do I pick out what I pick out and how do I do it?  Completely random order:
  1. I already know what styles look good on me (for the most part) and I look for those styles
  2. I like classic clothing which is generally made in solid colors so I shop solids first
  3. I like natural fibers and most of the times can spot them. I will buy nice quality synthetics too.
  4. Quality of fabric draws my eye, lack of quality is often very apparent
  5. I'm not attached to size--if it looks about right I will try it on no matter what the size
  6. I scan by color and focus in on garments in colors I know look good on me
  7. For fabric I adore (but doesn't fit) I look to see if I can make something else out of it (have done this successfully)
  8. If a garment is close, but not quite it, I ask myself what could be done to fix it, if anything?
    1. change buttons? (a favorite)
    2. take it in? (will it still hang right, look right? works some of the time)
    3. dye it (I haven't successfully so far so I usually end up dumping those)
    4. raise the skirt hem to knee length (works like a charm most of the time)
    5. Re-hem pants? (works like a charm)
    6. lose weight (a no win proposition, why buy and store something I can't wear yet)
    7. embellish it (add trims, unlikely to work but interesting thought)
    8. change pants into a skirt (it works!)
  9. Do I have enough of "x" already?  If yes, is this "x" nicer than what I already have? Should I swap them out?
  10. What would I pair the item with? Do I already have companion pieces? If not, what is needed?
  11. If I like the fit but it turns out I don't like the color/fabric, can I cut it up and make a pattern out of it?
  12. Is it something different than I would usually wear and I am interested in an inexpensive experiment?
  13. Will my husband complain if I bring it home? (baggy overalls, sequins and anything sparkly for starters)
  14. Does it look too "youthful" or too "old lady"?
  15. Does it/will it itch? (don't buy, it only gets worse--unless it is the waistband on a lined skirt which can be easily covered)
  16. Will it be easy to clean? Am I willing to dry clean (not usually) 
  17. Does it need repairs and am I willing to take the time?
  18.  Is it flattering from all angles (usually no three way mirror so can be hard to tell)
  19. Is it well made? If not is it fixable? (buttons are easy to re-enforce)
  20. Is it too tight? It is easier to take-in than let-out. Also too tight makes a person look heavier no matter what size they wear.
  21. If I am looking for pants I scan the length first before I bother with sizes.
  • Wear clothing and shoes that you can get on and off easily
  • NO good earrings/necklaces (too easy to lose when changing clothes)
  • Use light-weight purse with shoulder straps
  • Don't keep stuff in your pants pockets (cell phone/money will fall out when changing)
  • Count on your hair getting messed up
  • Be committed, but not attached to finding something amazing every time - drop in frequently
  • Watch your items, sometimes staff is really quick to try putting things away before you even rotate them in to try them on.


  1. Perfect timing for this article! I was going to try your tip about looking at the lengths of the pants this weekend and now, I have a whole bunch more tips! Thank you! :)

    1. Good luck! Tell me how it goes. Patti found two items today. I found a beautiful blue trumpet skirt that looks like wool but is synthetic in very good condition.