Friday, September 19, 2008
I have come to conclude that big thrift stores (Value Village, Salvation Army, Goodwill) are the best places in the world to shop. Here is why: with any other kind of clothing store, your options, your creativity, your decisions, are limited to what the store has decided is worth selling. At a thrift store, anything wearable is sellable. That means that there is no one trying to influence your decision. As long as you are brave, you can wear anything.
Also, it is cheap and cheap=good for students, my friends.
I am also, it should be generally declared, an expert at thrifting. So here are some good rules for thrifty people that I have conjured up in my long beautiful hours at the local Value Village:
1. Move fast. If you want to come up with good finds, you basically have to go through EVERYTHING. That means you have to enter the thrift store with fire in your eyes, scattering people as you come. Move three hangers at a time through every section of clothing in your size; you don't have to look at everything individually. You should be able to tell whether something is worth looking more closely at by the fabric. If the fabric is ugly, or cheap-looking, skip over it. If you have time at the end, before the thrift store closes or you have to go, you can browse idly through the vinyl, housewares, etc, but if you want to find good clothes you need to be able to see everything.
2. If you think something might be worth trying on but aren't sure if it is dorky YOU MUST TRY IT ON. If nothing else, consider it a purging of the last remnants of fashion dependency; you're used to people telling you what to wear even if you are the kind of person who ignores it, but at a thrift store, your own judgement isn't even affected by the desire to be fashion-contrary.
Note: Another nice thing about thrift stores is that, in browsing through a hundred ugly, odd, and dated clothing items, your mind gets all washed clean. You forget what everybody has decided is fashionable. All you can remember is what you like, because that's part of you.
3. However: if it is shabby, stained, or damaged in any way, you may not try it on. Because you're buying used, you run the risk of looking shabby if you don't commit to only buying perfect clothes. Also, unless you're adept with a needle and never procrastinate, don't buy something that you think you can alter. You will probably decide it isn't worth it.
4. Ignore the changeroom rules if at all possible. Collect as many items as possible, and take them all in at once. One thing that must be understood about thrifting is that, because of the diversity in sizings, 95% of what you take into the changeroom won't work. It will fit wrong. What you need to do is bring enough so that other 5% still gives you some nice options.
5. Limit what you buy. Because thrift stores are so cheap, it can be tempting to buy everything that fits. I usually only let myself buy one thing, though, because odds are, I'm blinded by the low price, nice fabric, etc, of some of my finds, into thinking they're nicer than they are. By only letting myself choose one, I force myself to be more objective.
6. Dresses are the easiest thing to thrift. Guys' clothes are the hardest. I only let boys come along with me on the rarest of occasions, and then I dedicate myself to finding awesomeness for them, because otherwise they get totally jaded with the whole experience. That's not really a rule. Oh, well.
Good thrifting fortune to you.
Posted by Janie Kamenar at 7:16 AM