Successful Thrifting

Because of the numerous requests and inquiries I've received in regards to successful thrighting, I decided to edit, update and re-post this article I wrote 2 years ago titled, "Do Your Wardrobe a Favor." For all you who are either beginners or have never been thrifting yourself, this how-to-guide will provide you with all the information you'll need to anticipate when walking into a thrift store and being able to navigate through one comfortably (and cleanly).

I have no problem or shame in humbly saying I'm a pretty dapper young man. Wait, can you be humble and make such a statement? Hmmm...who knows? Anyway, I'm often complimented on what I'm wearing and the way I put it all together. It's just a beautiful mess in my mind. What most people don't know upon meeting me, however, is even though my wardrobe is currently ridiculous, I don't spend a lot of money on clothes. Since the time I was a little boy, my mother always taught me to be a smart shopper. I never was the type of person to run to the most popular store in the mall to grab anything you could find 100 other people wearing at any given time. Even when my style was more "urban" I would frequent Marshall's, Ross and TJ Maxx.

Sometime in high school when my style started to evolve and I was enlightened by a great friend about the whole vintage movement and thrift shopping. At first, it was a little off-putting, as it may be to many of you. Whenever I passed a Goodwill or Salvation Army, I had this stigma that those types of places were for poor and homeless people. Needless to say I was dead wrong. It was/is actually a hidden treasure.

I love the current state of fashion in all its schizophrenic glory because I feel like almost anything goes. Just as long as you give an ensemble some thought and be somewhat forward thinking, you can pretty much do what you want. Thrifting is so very conducive to this.

In order to be a successful thrifter, it takes patience. You must have patience. The thrift is nothing like shopping in the mall or at a department store. They are rarely neatly organized and sales reps are not going to help you find item A in a size B. What you see is what's available. They're often a mess. And the closest thing you can come to any organization is the categories - shirts, vests, jackets, pants, suits, etc. That's about it.

Upon entering you should definitely anticipate the smell. Although it isn't unbearable, it is very "pungent and [may] sting the nostrils" as Ron Burgundy would say. Haha! Once you find your desired section, you're going to have to sift through just about everything. I usually try and focus my sights on colors, patterns and textures, and go from there. If it looks like something worth purchasing, I first check the size. If the size is sufficient, I check the quality of the piece looking everything from stains to missing buttons. If everything checks out, I add it to my basket.

I visit some of my favorite thrift stores on a weekly basis and always leave with at least 5 pieces and never spend more than $20.

Everything is second hand, but if you can look past that and you have a good eye, the thrift can be extremely rewarding - as evident by my closet.

Below are all the "ingredients" for any good thrifter.

First and foremost, since I do thrift so often I keep a bottle of hand sanitizer in my car. Thrifting may be extremely rewarding, but the harsh reality is that you don't know where that shit has been.

These are pretty self-explanatory. Again, you don't know where the stuff you purchase in a thrift store has been so wash the hell out of it. I sometimes wash my finds twice to be on the safe side.

Finally, find a good dry cleaner. A lot of the items you buy in the thrift can be machine washed, but some of them can't (or shouldn't be). In the past few months, I've come up on some pretty awesome leather jackets, blazers and other coats that I had to take in. And even though my cleaner is ridiculously expensive, it's worth every penny.


LaLa | May 4, 2010 at 8:18 AM

ps. I'm addicted to thrifting!

LaLa | May 4, 2010 at 8:18 AM

hello new layout, I think I'm in love, you are getting it, I taught you well ;) love you I will call you today! <3

meghan | May 9, 2010 at 6:37 AM

I am not some big handwasher (normal handwasher) but yes, purell does come in handy in some situations...
Great post.