I’d love to see some people’s thoughts on THRIFTING. Macklemore seems to have popularized it. I’ve become an avid thrifter in the past year. This week I bought a Tory Burch shirt for $2. Curious to see the opinion of others.
Great question, JP! We’ve talked about workwear on eBay before, but not this (and now may be a great time to revisit that discussion — please tell us your favorite eBay finds in the comments!). I know there’s been a fair amount of discussion of thrifting in the comments, and I believe one reader even set up her own blog to catalog her thrift store finds. Personally I’ve never gotten into thrifting as much as I perhaps should have — in New York I’ve always felt that a) bedbugs are a concern in anything cloth and b) the hardcore fashion people are getting the good stuff anyway, so why even bother? (I’ve read far too many profiles of random stylists and PR women to hear about how their ritual is waking up at 6 AM to go thrifting, or how the women at the consignment store just know them, etc., etc.). My reluctance aside, though, thrifting is great for the environment as well as the wallet (and other reasons), so it’s a great hobby to get into. I’ve always heard that the best way to go thrifting is to:
- find the thrift store (or consignment store) in the ritziest neighborhood
- find out when the thrift store puts out new inventory (every Tuesday, say)
- go early, go often (and get to know the staff)
Thrift store shopping can be a bit more difficult than shopping at the regular store, though, so there are a few caveats. First, things may be there from all sorts of time periods, so I’d either suggest picking classic pieces, or pieces that you truly love/know look fabulous on you so much that you don’t care if you don’t look “on trend” or even look a bit dated. (Watch out for the shoulders of blazers — the puff sleeve craze of a few years ago would generally look dated now, and the width of lapels can also vary with the trends.) Furthermore, brand identifier isn’t necessarily going to be that informative of quality as it may be in a regular store — tags may be missing or so old that you don’t recognize (for example) that it’s the factory store tag instead of the regular brand tag — so it also helps to have a solid understanding of which fabrics you like, how seams are constructed, which details are worth paying for, and so forth. (This is also true of stores like TJ Maxx that buy a lot of discounted merchandise.) Finally: trying clothes on is kind of essential when you’re thrifting, because you never know what alterations someone made to the clothes before they thrifted them — if something is hemmed too short there’s very little you can do about it.
With all that said, though, with enough time and energy I think there are amazing deals to be had — even I managed to Instagram this picture a few weeks ago when I passed the local thrift store that had a ton of white Theory pants on sale for $10. I was en route somewhere else, but I stopped to rifle through them — winter whites, summer whites, white wool, white cotton, white denim… most of them new with MSRP tags listing prices around $295. A lot of the pants seemed to be without sizes, though (and the sizes I did see were super small), so I passed on by…
Readers, how often do you shop at thrift stores for workwear — and what do you get there? What are some of your favorite finds? (In a semi-related discussion: what do you get at eBay? Do they compare in your mind?)