Tuesday 5 August 2014

I've Got Something To Say About Thrifting

Though I can't claim to be an expert as in 10 000 hours of experience (yet), I would accurately claim that I'm a practiced thrifter, particularly for clothing.  I shared some great thrifting tips that still hold true on Frugal Edmonton Mama and, as my second blog birthday approaches, I felt it was time to share more thrifting style wisdom so sit back, get a coffee/wine depending on the time of day (no judgment, it's summer), and read on!

1. True "style" is wearing what you love and what you feel good in.

As much as it's fun to consider fashion formulas and guidelines, the most important thing is that YOU feel good in what you are wearing.
Insert photo of one of my fave dresses that I feel great in!

I have a theory that many women buy clothes, get them home and don't really love them, but they wear them anyway because they spent money on them, or worse yet, because someone else spent money on them as a gift.  They're left with the questions: what do I love, what do I feel good in, what should I wear?  Thrifting is the answer!  Er, indirectly.

Thrifting is an awesome way to explore trends without spending much, but even if you're not into trends, thrifting is simply a great way to explore style!  You can try different pieces, fits, sizes - all without wasting money.  I have to yet to establish a signature style other than "eclectic" but I have learned more about what I like (dresses) and what I don't like (pants).  For example, I am not a ruffle person and I don't like cowls on me.  There is nothing wrong with ruffles or cowls, they just don't do it for me.  I wouldn't have figured this out if not for thrifting; I would still feel compelled to wear my "mistake" purchases!
I tried!  
This was a gift so I waited a while before finally giving myself permission to say au revoir to this cowl.

2. To thrift or not to thrift?

Not only are thrift stores a great source for style exploration and unique pieces, they also usually have an ample supply of classics.  White shirts, chambray, basic black trousers, denim, blazers, shoes...  Turn FIRST to second-hand sources because you can usually find good-quality excellent-condition classics at a fraction of the cost.
Perfect condition, perfect fit white button-up top, $3.50 and Lida Baday blazer $4  from VV Boutique.

What NOT to thrift?  Well, that's harder to answer.  I once thought I wouldn't thrift undergarments, then I bought a second-hand bra, and I have found tights and socks new in packages at VV Boutique.  So, my updated recommendation is to ALWAYS try to find what you need/want second-hand and if there is a time factor, consider regular retail.  For example, last Christmas my family went to Disneyland and I knew the best shoes for all that walking for me are TOMS.  I wore my last pair out and had no luck thrifting any despite searching over several months, so I finally ordered some new.  On the other hand, I want a pair of fuchsia shoes but there is no time factor so I can patiently hunt...  UNLESS I use my upcoming Splurge Sorority money(If you don't belong to some kind of Splurge club, you should start one because it is awesome!)  I also wanted brown boots and my patience paid off when I found not one but TWO pairs last year!
http://vvboutiquestyle.blogspot.ca/2013/11/boots-make-me-happy.html  http://vvboutiquestyle.blogspot.ca/p/hall-of-fame.html
Lots of women have larger feet or calves and think they won't find footwear at VV, but guess what?!  It's women exactly like you that are donating, so look there first unless there is a time factor!

There are some brands and items that are rarely found at thrift stores that may be worth regular retail.  I can only think of one brand off the top of my head - Ice Breaker.  I have never seen an Ice Breaker piece at a thrift store and they aren't really replaceable by a similar garment because of the particular fabric.  I invested in a couple Ice Breaker pieces and I'm glad I did.
http://vvboutiquestyle.blogspot.ca/2014/02/gray-and-radiant-orchid.html  http://vvboutiquestyle.blogspot.ca/2013/09/fashions-night-out-flashback.html
My Ice Breaker skirt has seen a lot of action and was my hero while camping.

Otherwise, I have found all the typical brands secondhand (GAP, Old Navy, H&M, Zara, Banana Republic, Mexx, etc. etc.), boutique brands (Anthro brands, Sandwich, etc.) and designer labels (Lida Baday, Michael Kors, etc.).  So, basically I'm the wrong person to ask because I think you should thrift almost everything!

3.  Go for interpretations, not an exact match.

Most fashion bloggers are linking up to the exact pieces they showcase which is cool but not possible with thrifting.  Instead, consider that VV Boutique and other thrift stores usually have a good selection of contemporary pieces that would make perfect substitutes for what you see in fashion blogs or on store mannequins.  I have found this season's J Crew, Zara, etc.  Use blogs, mags, Pinterest and retail stores as inspiration, then look for interpretations of those pieces secondhand. 
Same look, original spin = style!!

4.  Let go of thrifting myths!

Hands up if you've ever thought the following:
  • You can only find dingy, worn, out-of-date clothing or strange vintage polyester at thrift stores.
  • If I shop secondhand, people will think I'm having financial problems.
  • If I can afford to shop regular retail, I should and leave the thrifted things for people who really need them.
  • If something is donated, there must be something wrong with it.
My hand is up!!  I once thought all of these things but I hope the last two years of VV Boutique Style have proved all of these thrifting myths false!  I have found amazing pieces in amazing condition with nothing wrong with them.
I have no idea why people donate some things but I'm glad they do! 

There is plenty of thrift to go around for everyone who needs or wants to shop secondhand.  And when you do, you - YES YOU - make a positive impact on the environment.  It is mind-boggling how much clothing is thrown out, so every little bit helps. 

5. How to deal with your thrifted pieces?

Always wash your secondhand pieces before wearing.  I usually wash all items including pieces labeled dry clean only unless it's a special piece that I'm certain will be ruined if I attempt to wash it - like my Lida Baday blazer.  However, I have washed other wool items and blazers if I determine that the potential loss is worth the risk.  I have yet to ruin an item!  If you do plan to dry clean, factor that into the cost before deciding to purchase.  The cold water delicate cycle is my go-to!  I use about a cup of vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser when I wash my thrifted pieces to neutralize any perfume or odors from the previous owners (also works like a charm to get rid of eau de campfire), and I have been able to get out almost any stain using a bar of Sunlight soap and a toothbrush, and rubbing alcohol - even paint! 
I didn't realize till I got these shorts home that there was some paint on them.  
Rubbing alcohol took out the paint but not the colour!

I use rubbing alcohol to clean accessories...
Some of my favourite earrings are thrifted!  Not to mention a whole schwack of necklaces and bracelets.  
Can't help it, fresh out.

As for bags and shoes, I usually clean the outside with a cloth or magic eraser and you could spray some deodorizer inside if it bothers you.  It doesn't bother me because I'm lucky to be clean ever with three kids and working in preschools.

My last bit of thrifting wisdom...

6. When in doubt, donate.

Whether you have thrifted it or not, if it still has tags or not, whether it was expensive or not, if you don't love something, donate it.  Because someone somewhere will love it - so share the thrifting love!
My latest love - this $3 denim vest.  I'm wearing it with my pajamas right now.

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