while we were enjoying the sun in the Philippines, I asked a few of my favorite ladies to contribute a guest post for Unruly Things. even though we’re back, I’ve got another great post to share with you. it’s from Wreckless’s Kristy Behrs and it’s all about thrifting.
Incredible treasures and inexpensive price tags — this dynamic duo is what makes thrift shopping enjoyable and affordable. And let’s not forget, the hunt for these gems is almost as exciting and amazing as the gems themselves! My wardrobe is 90% thrifted and 10% investment items I can’t or wouldn’t purchase secondhand (undergarments, running shoes, and a parka). For most, and at first, thrifting can be intimidating and overwhelming, especially when you don’t have a mentor well-versed in culling through previously worn garments and hunting for old or used treasures. My wardrobe and lifestyle transformation didn’t happen overnight and there are a few helpful rhythms I learned along the way:
1. Familiarize yourself with your local thrift stores. Find nearby thrift store chains as well as local off-the-beaten-path shops. Salvation Army, Goodwill, church or charity thrift stores, and Savers are great staples. I don’t have one locally, but you bet your bottom dollar I find my way into every Savers nearby when traveling. I move around and travel a lot, so I do a little research to see what’s available in my area before I head out. Free thrifting apps are available to help you find out which shops are worth your while when you’re done googling (I really like ThriftBuddy). Goodwill is often pricier, but it’s a great all-in-one stop if you don’t have a lot of time. Remember: harder-to-find and smaller shops offer more and older treasures at a much lower price and larger thrift store chains offer more and newer items at a higher price. It’s your choice what’s more important.
3. Have an idea of what you’re attracted to and what your style is. It’s okay if you’re neither here nor there in the fashion sense; it wasn’t until I started thrifting most of my wardrobe that I really found a sense of style that fits who I am. The more you shop, the more you’ll know exactly what catches your eye and what you’d love in your home and on your body. I’m smitten by 1940s & 50s and retro dresses, blouses, and skirts, so naturally, the dress aisle is the first section I cull through. Always. Sometimes, it’s the only aisle. I also love anything gold plated or painted; so lately, I’ve been on the hunt for gold! First, choose the type of clothing or decor that you’re most interested in and spend the majority of your energy in those areas and much less in the other aisles and shelves.
2. Be open-minded. Try things on. Pick things up. Envision possibilities. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t find anything you’d like at your first store or during your first trip, thrifting takes some time getting used to. If you follow fashion blogs or pinterest boards, you’ll find that so many of the styles you see online are available in thrift shops (vintage and newer clothes). This is also helpful when looking for decor items or jewelry. It’s easy to be discouraged by all the things that aren’t for you and overlook the amazing items that are. Often, most thrift store clothes may look iffy at best, but tried on, can be absolute winners, especially when paired with the a complementary piece. I can’t tell you how many friends I took thrift shopping for the first time who were taken aback by all the items they deemed unworthy hanging on the rack, but were absolutely stunning and flattering on their bodies.
A favorite and common thrift store item is my below velvet blazer ($3) — they’re a staple item to have in your wardrobe and go well with jeans and a teeshirt or a fancier dress. And I never even realized I liked blazers at all until I started thrift shopping! Another unsuspecting favorite always available at thrift stores is silk scarves; they’re gorgeous and easily overlooked in their cluttered bins and stuffed on shelves. Dive in. Last, but not least, give handmade clothes a try — someone of the treasures I’ll never give away are handmade vintage like the 50’s dress below.
4. Continually revisit your local thrift stores. This is a big one. Make it a habit to check in with your favorite shops on a regular basis. This might be the most important tip for finding the really amazing pieces you’d want to buy. For me, this means going to three or four of my favorite stores per week. For you, it might mean one thrift store two times per month, whatever works for your schedule. Because items are added and changed out regularly, you don’t want too much time to pass allowing someone else to snag an ideal item that was recently donated. Take time to chat with the clerks and cashiers at your local stores: most likely they’ll remember you during your following visits and be able to point you in the direction of items you’d want to purchase. Often times I’m greeted with a “Hey, it’s The Camera Girl!” and a many clerks point me in the direction of items they think I might like when I walk in the door.
5. Open your eyes and take one thing at a time. It’s not unusual to look around at the massive quantity of items and have a hard time concentrating. I try not to let my eyes wander. Thrift stores are overwhelming; they’re often unorganized, dirty, and chaotic. It can feel like you have no idea where to begin, but start somewhere, anywhere (like I said, I go straight for the dresses). Work your way through each piece of clothing slowly, sliding the hangers over one-by-one, careful not to miss any. Take your time and then move onto the next rack or shelf. Let your eyes focus on each individual piece and move to the next. Remain present and enjoy the search. Trust me, you’ll miss the gems if you browse an entire rack or shelf without moving things around and really digging in deep. I tend to look more for older fabrics (colors, patterns, and the way they feel) than the style of the item at first. Put your “maybe” items in your basket so you can make final decision when you’re done browsing. It’s rare when a gorgeous vintage piece is on display for you to grab without much effort. That’s exactly what happened with this stunning dress below, but those are very rare moments.
6. Be versatile and patient. Being willing to drive an hour in any direction means you have access to an additional assortment of donated items — different communities equal a different variety of donations. Now that I’ve settled into a new city, I’ve become familiar with all my town has to offer, but I make it a point to get outside of my town at least once a month and I never come back empty handed. Be willing to spend a couple hours (if not an entire day) treasure hunting: clothes, furniture, jewelry, and miscellaneous and unexpected goodies are all waiting to be discovered by you. Conversely, get to know your thrifting limit and don’t exhaust yourself; generally, two thrift shop visits in one day is plenty.
I hope these suggestions help you on your first (or next) thrifting outing. I’ll be posting some of my vintage items for sale this winter, please follow my travels and enjoy my vintage treasures via instagram: wrecklesscreative or check out my photography blog at http://www.wrecklesscreative.com/blog.
thanks so much Kristy! I can tell you what I’ll be doing once I get home – calling up Kristy and requesting that she take me thrifting with her!