Method to my Madness
Shopping thrift is not like shopping retail. Thrift shopping is more like a treasure hunt where you’re not quite sure what you’ll find, even if you know what you’re looking for. Having said that, I usually go Thrift Shopping with a purpose. Today I’ll talk about how I tackle shopping for clothes at a thrift shop.
Our closets aren’t that big, so they only contain what we’re wearing for that season, the rest we store in rubber maid bins. At the end of each season, I am quite faithful in discarding items I have not worn for a year ; if they’re in good shape, they go back to the thrift shop, if not, I turf them. I follow the same process for things that no longer fit. (I used to delude myself that “some day my weight will change and I’ll wear that again” because usually by the time that happens the item in question is hopelessly out-dated.) Then I make a list of the kind of things I’m looking for: a new black purse, a pair of jeans, white shirt, that kind of thing. That list stays in my wallet and I refer to it when I hit a thrift shop.
Now, just because I have a list, doesn’t mean I’ll stick to it. That’s because you never know what you’ll find at a thrift shop, so you have to look at everything. I also have a strategy in mind when I enter a shop.
I start with shoes. If I find a potential candidate, I put them on and wear them around the store while I’m doing the rest of my shopping. If my feet hurt at any point during my rounds, I put them back on the shelf. I’ve learned that no matter how much I like a pair of shoes, I won’t wear them if they’re uncomfortable. (My only exception to this rule is stiletto heels because really, every woman needs a pair of stilettos and they’ll NEVER be comfortable. You just have to accept that and live with it.) When you’re in the shoe section, check out all the sizes. People move stuff around and sometimes shoes are actually labelled wrong. I picked up these brand new New Balance runners for $7 even though they declared they were a size 6 and I wear a size 7. I tried them on and they fit like a glove.
If I know I’m going to be trying on clothes, I start with the bra section. Yes people, I wear second hand bras. Why pay $30 or more for something only my husband will see? In the dark? After I’ve gathered other items to try on, I head to the fitting room and start with the bra, wearing it throughout the whole routine of trying on clothes. Same rule as the shoes: if it’s uncomfortable at any point in that process, I don’t buy it.
If I’m not 100% thrilled with an item, I won’t buy it. No matter how inexpensive it is, I know I won’t wear it unless I absolutely love it. Sometimes I’m lucky and score a bunch of stuff. Other days I walk away empty handed. Some days I find things on my list. Other days I don’t but then I find things I wasn’t looking for – like the runners. The secret to thrift shopping is frequency and faith: frequent thrift shops because they get new things in all the time and have faith that what you’re looking for will come in eventually. It almost always does.