I love to thrift shop. I do it for all my friends. I take my kids and they do it for all their friends. I don't know your size, though.
So, I am offering THRIFTING 101--all kinda wise thoughts about how to get the most out of a thrift store.
Merry Christmas. May you enjoy thrifting forevermore now.
BIG PICTURE THRIFTING TRUTHS:
Keep your standards high: say no to rips, tears and stains. The feeling that you can get anything “out” with Tide is just a feeling. If the stain is a crunchy one that is clearly just the lunch of the person who donated it, that’s one thing. The rule of thumb: if you wouldn’t wear it just as it is, don’t buy it. (You won’t hem it, sew it, take it up, tuck it, or anything else. Sorry, but I know you, and you won’t.) The exception to this rule: if something’s missing a button but has an extra one attached, I will get it.
. . . but not too high: it’s easy to be slurped up into the frenzy of “OhmygoshIjustgotthatfor65cents!!!!” Don’t lose sight of the obvious. For example, when you find a beautifully-intact cashmere sweater for $7.00 that fits you just right, throw off the feeling that it’s just TOO MUCH money. Buy it.
Pay attention to how it fits: the torture of thrifting is that it is possible—and a regular occurrence—to find something that you love that just doesn’t fit you right (too tight in the boobs, too loose in the boobs …whatever). The upside of thrifting is the treasure hunting and the comically low prices; the downside is that when you find something, it won’t be available in 7 handy sizes. Don’t buy something (even if it’s cute and cheap) if it doesn’t fit well. You’ll just put it back into thrift-store-circulation when you get it home if it doesn’t fit well. And remember: $1.98 is cheap only if you actually buy something you like. Otherwise, it’s just like hucking $1.98 out the window: you COULD have purchased a double tall latte with that cash.
Become an owner of fabric softner: okay, there’s the smell. Let’s not pretend. There’s the smell. Right now, as I write, I’ve just thrown away (and then fished out of the trash) my favorite black vinyl jacket. It stinks. It’s cute, but it’s got a significant must that I can’t seem to shake with laundry products. I’m in the process of experimenting with various smell-good softeners. More on this as the research lays itself out.
Or become a wearer-of-perfume: this is really information for thrifting 201 because probably your naturally aromatic personal smell trumps thrift-store-must with just a few items hanging in your closet and on your back, but once you begin to integrate additional pieces and branch out into coats, you run the risk of having the must overwhelm your personal essence. I believe that this could be fought off with the right purchased scent. I haven’t, of course, done this yet. But it seems like it would work.
SPOTS IN A THRIFT STORE NOT TO MISS:
Shirts are an easy beginning (especially at the places that sort by color). Housewares: always a sure thing for a cheap cocktail glass or a plastic plate with a picture of the little mermaid. If you’re a basket-lover, get ready to die and go to heaven. Don’t miss: men’s belts (I hover there, waiting to find a western jobby to attach to a buckle I like that’s currently attached to a belt that I don’t); tablecloths and napkins; all the weirdly smushed together accessory bins (who doesn’t need snow gloves for 25 cents?).
SPOTS IN A THRIFT STORE TO PLAN ON SKIPPING:
Any category of clothing that would cover a “trouble” spot (for me, that’s my, well, behiiiiiiiiiind, so I skip “pants”); socks; shoes (though I do watch for cowboy boots, which somehow seem different and less able to deliver an old foot fungus than your basic old shoe); women’s belts (almost always made of plastic); all the chotchky—c’mon, do you really NEED that porcelain donkey?