Today’s post is written by long time Massachusetts YLF forum member, artist and college art instructor Jean (greenglove). I was lucky enough to meet Jean at the YLF gathering in Boston. She has blown me away with her killer eclectic style and a wardrobe that is almost entirely thrifted. Her creative, spunky and pulled-together outfits are always a source of inspiration and it really shows that she has fun with all things fashion. And I almost fell off my chair when she told me that she was in her 50’s! So without further ado, here’s stunning Jean on how to thrift like a pro.
I was flattered when Angie asked me to write this entry about my experience with thrift store shopping. It is not impossible to dress with style at an unbeatable price with a bit of patience, creativity, imagination and fashion advice from youlookfab.
My thrifting days started in college. I was a poor artist and cocktail waitress, but nonetheless found ways to express myself with fabulous finds. Secondhand and vintage stores lined the streets of the artsy town where I lived in Western Massachusetts. While in graduate school in Boston, I hunted in thrift stores for costumes to clothe the models I painted in my studio. I once traveled to New York City with a friend where we committed to spending $10.00 a day on food, and stopping at as many thrift stores as we could locate. We went to 36 stores in 2 days.
I have always been of the mindset that dressing well does not have to cost a lot of money. Style is very much like art. It is never about a single piece but can only be successful when all parts relate. Thrift stores help you affordably find items that can pull together existing wardrobes or create brand new ones. Creativity becomes a necessity when funds are limited, which is why street fashion has been such a huge inspiration for designers. Coco Chanel said, “Fashion fades, only style remains the same.” Style is accessible to all.
When I started reading Angie’s blog, the world of thrift shopping became even more exciting. Using Angie’s knowledge and keen sense of current and classic style, I have become a more discerning shopper. Her ability to tenaciously remain true to her very specific personal style has been an encouragement for all of us who follow this blog. Her wisdom helps us to discover, broaden and refine our own style personas. Angie also consistently keeps us aware of current trends and has an uncanny knack for predicting which ones have staying power. Armed with more fashion savvy, I now thrift with increased confidence.
Over the years I’ve learned how to maximize my thrifting experience and I’d love to share some tips with you:
- Thrift during the week: Never expect to find much on a weekend. New stock does not get put out and much of what is in the store has been picked over. Ask the people working in the store when the most stock is available. Thursday and Friday afternoons and evenings are usually the best times. I have spotted owners of vintage stores with shopping carts during these prime hours.
- Thrift often: There is a thrift store right next to a grocery store where I live. I hate to grocery shop and my husband loves it. When we do our weekly grocery shopping, I thrift and he buys food.
- Find a store in an urban neighborhood: Stylish people from many cultures often live in cities, which increases variety and flavor.
- Wear a dress: You can try pants on underneath the dress. Some thrift stores have dressing rooms but others don’t. Be prepared.
- Be efficient and ruthless: Scan the aisles looking for color and fabric. I only look at my colors. Many stores sort clothing by color, which saves a lot of time.
- Check very carefully for damage: Look under the lights. I only buy things that are nearly perfect. Do not bother with stains, even if you think you can remove them.
- Make sure it fits: I do not buy anything I think might need alterations.
- Focus on items that will have less wear: Jackets, coats, dresses, skirts, jeans, wovens, scarves, jewelry and bags often fall in this category. They are usually more durable.
- Avoid knits and sweaters. They pill and often show wear. I also never bother with anything white unless it still has tags (which does happen).
- Look out for shoes and boots: Secondhand peds are practically new! Haven’t you sometimes donated practically new footwear for lack of comfort or wrong size? My Dr. Martens were thrifted for $15.00 and I have found multiple pairs for my husband.
- Look at the Men’s Department: Men rarely shop in thrift stores. This creates a wonderful opportunity to shop for the men in your life. Men’s knits are often in great condition. My husband has a whole collection of J.Crew and Banana Republic sweaters found for $5.00 each. I even found him a Ralph Lauren linen blazer that was just perfect!! Be careful with sport coats though as they have often been altered and the size that is on the tag is not accurate. Tape measures help.
I hope this helps those who want to venture out into the world of thrift shopping. Feel free to add your own tips in the comments. I’d love to hear them. Also, if you have further questions on the thrifting pastime, I’d be happy to answer them.
Here are a few outfits that are thrifted from head to toe! The only exceptions are the gold turtleneck, gifted long pearls, copper necklace and earrings.
Be sure to also take a look at Jean’s website to see her beautiful art. I treated Greg to one of her wonderful London impressions for his birthday last year and we love how it’s gracing the walls of our home.