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How to: Thrift with Success June 11, 2009

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Crafting, Fashion, Thrifting.
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Unless you have been hiding in a hole for the past year, the world is currently having a little bit of money trouble. The recession is hitting hard, and no area is hit more dramatically (except for, perhaps, the banks!) than Fashion. As a luxury and optional thing, shops such as Primark and brands such as Aldo are raking in the profit whilst high end designers are really feeling the pinch. Even big spends like prom dresses are getting cheaper to survive in the current economical climate. 

But what to do if you love quality, but simply can’t afford it any more? Bargain clothes fall apart at the blink of an eye, but the well-made items are way out of your price range. The answer, my fashion loving friends, is to thrift. Vintage items allow you to buy items at cheaper costs, but with all the quality that you want.

For experienced thrifters, it is simply a matter of heading out to the shops and buying something brilliant. Or seeing the potential in an item, bringing it home, and converting it. For newcomers to the concept, however, it is by no means as simple. Follow the simple steps here, however, and it should become a lot clearer!

Step 1:

For this step, you need to do a little reconnaissance. Head out into your local area and search for shops that look like they stock second hand clothes. In the UK, charity shops and even antique shops can be a good bet. Elsewhere, I believe you have aid shops and thrift shops – make sure to have a proper scout around to sort out all the potential gems. Make sure to note shops selling only just second hand clothes, even if they aren’t to your taste – a really trash shop down my road sells nearly new but horrible dresses – and the occasional gem like a 20’s beaded dress. Commitment is the name of the game for a thrifter! Also make sure to work out where car boots and fairs are on.

investigating

(Image from here)

Step 2:

Potential goldmines sussed out, you probably ought to assign yourself a budget. After all, vintage can still be an expensive market, and if you accidentally stray into a real vintage thrift shop things could get messy. I tend to stay below £5 and preferably below £3 – and I only break this for fantastic exceptions. Being strict will do your bank account wonders, and is probably a rule we all ought to stick to!

budget

(Image from here)

Step 3:

On your first thrifting trip, don’t worry about labels or names. Instead, look for items that you would a) wear normally, either everyday or for nights out, or b) would wear something similar to. You have to push your boundaries with thrifting, and you would be surprised just what you can actually look great in. If you find an item that’s pretty and in budget, see if it is good quality – the fabric should be strong and well textured (obviously dependant on the particular fabric), and the seams should be firm. Don’t worry particularly about little tears (most can be sewn up, particularly lining rips), pulls and marks – the joy of thrifting is rescuing pieces!

thrifting

(beautiful image from here)

Step 4:

Once you have had a successful thrifting trip, you will probably be a bit more familiar with the unusual clothes (and often smells) of the thrifting environment. You might have even noticed horrible items that would look terrible, but have beautiful fabrics. Or dresses that are too long, but so pretty. Now is the stage to start considering adapting pieces – hemming, mending, and even (further down the line) creating new items out of vintage fabric. It’s a talent to be learnt and constantly built upon – but one all thrifters should try and, if not master, at least become slightly proficient at!

fabric

(image from here – which might help your crafting!)

So now you know how. Thrifting is an art form – it takes trial and error, plenty of terrible mistakes, and plenty of unexpected gems. If you follow the four steps above, however, you should have a good grounding and introduction – and a place from which to start you thrifiting future. Go forth, and shop!

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Comments»

1. Sophie - June 12, 2009

Great tips. I’m still trying to find a good thrift store near me, the only one I know of is the Salvation Army’s.

Btw, I’m inviting you to enter my blog giveaway. I’m offering 2 beautiful Gossip Girl inspired headbands from my collection.

xoxo
Sophie

2. dreamsequins - June 12, 2009

I love all these thrifting tips! Plus the photos, which accompanied the piece quite beautifully. Bravo.

3. Lilly - June 12, 2009

Oooh some great tips. Its definitely inspired me to head down to my local charity shops and get stuck in! Thanks! x

4. mysterycreature1 - June 15, 2009

Hi Sophie – If their aren’t many stores nearby, try looking for car boot sales, flea markets, antique shopes and general secondhand markets!

Hi Dream – thank you my dear, I’m glad you like the article! 🙂

Hi Lilly – give it a go – you’ll be amazed by some of the things that turn up – my Ted Baker wedding outfit is a case in point!

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9. Anna M. - June 18, 2009

Great tips! A while ago I wrote an article about thrifting as well. It’s here: http://thestylishgeek.blogspot.com/2008/12/fashionable-geeks-guide-to-thrift.html

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18. Fabulous Finds Gal - June 20, 2009

Very good info, my dear. Love your images. I adore thrifting. It takes time and patience, but I picked up an alligator purse yesterday for $3. That’s what I’m talking about!!! I’ll be back…
xo,
Christina
http://www.fabulousfindsandco.com

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23. Whatcha Find? - January 8, 2011

Fantastic guide!


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