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Thrifting 101

I went to this amazing vintage sale a few suburbs up the other day. It was absolutely crazy. My friends and I turned up 20 minutes early, and there was already a hundred or so people milling around the big garge doors. By the time it was 10:00, we were packed in, people pressing in on every side. When – finally – the doors began to slide open, we were all literally scrambling under it, exploding into the store and dashing for the nearest racks.

And oh my god, there were so many racks. Every wall was line with velvet tops and overalls and dresses and sweatshirts and fleeces and polos, every stand was crammed with jackets – denim, leather, army, sport – and t-shirts and t-shirts and more t-shirts, boxes littered the floor, overflowing with  belts, jeans, shorts, skirts, long sleeves and crocheted pieces, and there were tables stocked with sneakers and bags of every sort you could imagine.

Change rooms? Overrated. Who needs them? You can just as easily cram into a dark corner piled with discarded clothes and forgotten belongings, strip down in front of strangers, and edge your way into view of the phone you propped up on a seat and switched to the front camera, because – mirrors? Who needs them?

This is all followed by a half an hour wait in line, slowly inching your way back around the store you just squeezed through to get to the end of line. And when, finally, you are just about to pay, the assistant will appear from some room yelling about new stock with armfuls of overalls and jackets, and you’ll duck out of line to snag the army-green one as he passes, just in time to dash back to the cash register and finally, finally escape.

With the grooviest pair of pants that has ever existed and a shirt so yellow you feel like the sun.

love thrift shopping. There’s something so special about searching for your style in amongst the discarded remnants of wardrobes. It turns buying clothes into an adventure. Where’s the excitement in flipping through racks of identical jeans you saw that girl downstairs in the foodcourt wearing?

clothing

Not to mention how much money you save, how much more unique your style becomes, how much more confident you become, the sense of community that thrifting carries, and the fact that you’re not supporting fast-fashion.

fast fash·ion / fɑːst ˈfa-shən /
A term for clothing that’s too cheap to be real. You’ll find it stocked in stores that cycle through their range within a month and a half. These days, trends come and go so quickly that people just buy cheap clothes and throw them out when they’re ready for the next trend. 

Cotton alone uses around 3% of our water, and textile producing (dyeing & adding synthetic chemicals to fabrics) pollutes alot of our water supply. It all turns to runoff and creates unusable water. There’s no reason to be so cruel to the planet just to post a cute picture on instagram wearing the latest thing. 

In addition to the environmental cost, you also have to ask yourself the social cost. If these clothes are so cheap, how is anyone making living off of creating them?

If you buy a pair of $100 jeans, a factory worker is probably making around 50 cents. So imagine the wages people who make $30 jeans are receiving, and what kind of conditions they must be working in.

The good thing is- There are so many clothes already made that are stylish as hell, hanging patiently in thrift shops and vintage stores. I recommend watching The True Cost on Netflix, but there’s so much more you can read and watch on this subject, and it’s all a quick google search away. Educate yourself, kids!

If you love the planet as much as you love clothing (if you don’t, what in the world are you doing) then you should shop vintage! It can be overwhelming, (it certainly was when I first started out), but it’s worth it, and I’ve got a few tips for you all.

#1 – SORT THROUGH EVERYTHING

Thrifting 101 – it’s not like flicking through the racks of a department store. Every single piece could be the perfect pair of mum jeans you’ve been waiting for, or that lacy cami, or your dream over-sized denim jacket. Most of the time, the gems are tucked away in the middle of the rack or at the bottom of the box. I’ve first-hand witnessed my friend Cassie pull the most gorgeous pair of Levis from a box of tangled, mis-matched denim. Sorting through pretty much everything is essential, if you’re looking to find the best pieces.

#2 – KNOW WHAT YOU LIKE

Okay, I know I said to check EVERYTHING – but if you never wear jeans, there’s really no point in searching through the jeans, is there? Know the colours you like, know your size, know what you generally wear.

I’m going to contradict myself again here, because thrifting is the perfect opportunity to try new things, and really get to know your style. What am I trying to say!?! Basically, head into the store with an open mind, but with a general idea of what you’re looking for.

#3 – TIME IS ESSENTIAL

If you really want to dedicate yourself, and really find something, you’re going to need an hour or two. Sorting through everything takes time! Plus, rushing or feeling stressed from a lack of time will make thrift shopping frustrating, and sometimes boring. It’s a slow, methodical process, and it takes time! Relaxing is key. Enjoy yourself!

#4 – SHOP AROUND

There’s lots of different types of second hand stores, and op shops, and thrift stores, so try a variety and change it up often. Every store offers something different in variety, price and style. You’ll probably be surprised by the number of shops near you, and they’ll all tend to be near each other too. Walk around for a while, do some googling, check out yelp … I guarentee you’ll be surprised.

Obviously, the more stores you check out, the higher your chance of coming across a cool piece. So hit all the stores in your area, and make a day of it!

TIP: Look for stores that donate all or most of their profits to charity – they’re pretty common.

#5 – REGULARITY IS, ALSO, ESSENTIAL

The thing about thrift stores, is the stock is constantly changing. You need to be regular! It’s that simple. Check with your local stores – they may have a specific day they put new clothes out. Otherwise, every week, couple of weeks or month – whatever works for you – pick a day, and go shopping.

If there’s a few stores you frequent regularly, you can also get to know the staff. If there’s a particular sort of piece that you’re looking for, you can let them know, and they might think of you if they come across it.

#6 – MENS SECTION

Gender divides do not exist in thrifting. I repeat, there is no such thing as gender seperated clothing when you’re thrifting. This goes for the men, too.

The best pieces I’ve found have been from the mens section. T-shirs, button ups, long sleeves, pants, shorts …

Gender. Divides. Do. Not. Exist. In. Thrifting.

#7 – GIVE IT A ONCE-OVER

So – you’re in a store, you know what you’re looking for, you’ve got plenty time, you’ve disregarded any gender divides, and you’ve just come across what looks like the perfect piece.

BUT.

You need to check for damage. Second hand clothing can have lots of little problems. Check for missing buttons, torn or frayed hems, holes in the clothing and stains. Give it a quick once over, and make sure it’s in good condition.

#8 – TRY IT ON

Fairly self-explanatory, but oh-so important. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve picked up the perfect top, only to come home, try it on, and toss it in a dark corner where it will remain for the next six months, until I go through my wardrobe again, and return the unfortunate piece back to where it came.

Try everything on. Just do it.

#9 – DRESS SMARTLY

Wear tight-fitting clothing so it’s easy to try things on, or wear loose, easy to pull-off and put-on clothing. You’ll be in and out of the dressing room, so make it easier on yourself.

AND always bring a fold-up grocery bag – the ones you can get from Kmart/Big W that come with a pocket on the inside you can shove the whole bag into (or just a plastic bag). Often, op-shops charge if you want a bag. Skip the fee!

Have fun, rock your vintage finds, and put all your savings towards a plane ticket, concert, or just a new book. Happy thrifting xo

24 Comments

  1. I couldn’t agree more with #6! I am a small framed man and have found plenty of clothing in the women’s and children’s sections! There is no gender or age in the thrift store! Love this post and all the tips!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. emma says

    this is such a helpful post! you just gave me a new activity to add to my summer bucket list: thrift shopping. thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. livesformondays says

    Great post! I like how you mentioned the social cost of fast fashion. We’re all aware that factory workers don’t get paid enough, likely don’t work in great environments… but I think that too often, we as a society brush these issues under the rug. I’ll definitely have to add “The True Cost” to my to-watch queue!

    Liked by 1 person

    • thank you!! yes, it’s similar with issues like animal testing – everyone seems to be aware, and know about it … but still it somehow gets overlooked and ignored.

      Like

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