I love thrift shops in case you didn't know, where I grew up people didn't buy things second hand so when I went to visit my Grandma I was always picking things up at Car Boot Sales (same as Garage sales but lots of people selling from the trunk of your car in a big field, heaven!!) and altering them on my Mums old sewing machine. I never told anyone where my cool clothes came from, and they wouldn't have got it, but it's something that I've just kept on with and had a ton of fun doing ever since.
It's my guilt free vice, my hubby takes the mickey out of me for wearing what he calls 'dead peoples clothes' and amongst my friends I am the 'yellow pages' of thrift store shopping. At any one time I can tell you which store is the best to buy anything and exactly when their sales are on!
Incidentally Value Village next Sale is coming up Feb 7th (in Canada)
My Mum is always asking how I do it, how I find the good stuff over the junk, my Mum doesn't like thrift stores because and I quote 'They smell'. So for those of you undeterred by your nostrils here are some tips on picking the treasure over the trash.
1. Always bring one more reusable bag then you think you'll need. If you score big it will save you struggling home with more than you can carry.
2. Same goes with cash, always carry cash and more than you think you need, some places won't accept your cards and you don't want to have to put stuff back if you run out.
3. If a thrift store sends out email newsletters then sign up, you'll find out when they have their best sales on and be able to cherry pick if you get there early on. Value Village (US and Canada), Savers (Aus) emails notifications of their Sales, in Canada these sales are on in Feb, May, Aug and Nov usually on a day during the week so pop in before work or book the day off and hit a few in the city.
4. Wear something you can easily get in and out of for trying on quickly.
5. Want to know if something fits but there's a queue for the changing room? skirts, Trousers, Shorts, Jeans etc try wrapping them around your neck, if the waistband fits around your neck then it will fit around your waist. Your waist is twice that of your neck, cool huh?
6. Thinking of refashioning it and want to know what the waist will look like cinched? grab a stretchy belt from the store (or keep one in your bag) and put it on over the dress etc it will instantly give you an idea of how it will look.
7. Never buy anything that smells of mildew or like someone may have smoked themselves to death whilst wearing that garment, you won't be able to get the smell out and it will make other things smell around it.
8. Moth holes? Check it out before you take it home by holding it up to the light, the holes big or small will show up better. You can still use something with moth holes (see my cardy transformation) but pop it in the Freezer overnight (or your balcony if you're in the Great White North) this will kill any moth larvae before they get the chance to eat the rest of your wardrobe.
9. Armpit stains? don't kid yourself that you'll be able to remove them, if the previous owner couldn't what makes you so special?! only buy if you intend on using the rest of the fabric for something.
10. Best fabrics to buy in a thrift store? anything natural, Cotton, Silk, Wool, it will make you feel more comfortable wearing it and especially with Wool or Silk you'll usually be getting a good deal over shop prices.
11. If you love it, buy it, don't think it will be there when you come back, with this type of shopping it's a one shot deal.
12. Lastly ask yourself what you'd do with it? it's not always a deal so have in mind what changes you would make and before you've bought check that the fabric will hold up to being taken apart and put back together.
Enjoy your treasure hunting people.