I live in a neighborhood full of resale shops. We have the quirky vintage place, the awful one that keeps rotating owners and names and the fancier resale shop where I got my favorite five year old pair of Kate Spade shoes brand new for $22. Living here has convinced me that thrift stores are one of the best places to shop if you’re curvy, full-busted or just like to like nice while keeping your bank balance high.
Here’s a quick list of some of my favorite thrift store treasures, all under $25:
- Two vintage purses (one leather, one wicker) in perfect condition.
- A red and white striped pair of Kate Spade shoes that go with everything.
- Two Ann Taylor 100% silk button up blouses. They go with everything.
- Several miniskirts and crazy graphic t-shirts for casual days.
- Pencil skirts in all colors of the rainbow, many from Banana Republic.
- A red fake leather jacket that looks just like the one that Jennifer Morrison wears on Once Upon A Time. Again, goes with everything.
- A slinky little black dress.
So, ready to hit the thrift stores? Here are some tips to find things that look great, stay on a budget and not end up with a wardrobe full of things that you will never wear.
1. Set your standards.
There is no point in buying something just because it’s cheap. Maybe it’s me, but I’m not a fan of closet clutter and still want a lot of wear out of my second-hand clothes. Make sure that everything you buy is something that has a place in your wardrobe and will work with everything else that you own. That said, thrift stores can also allow you to buy a crazy one time thing and not feel guilty about it. If you find something really fabulous and crazy, it can be worth picking it up. I saw a woman yesterday try on a bright silver and purple minidress in a store that everyone else had avoided. She rocked it, and I hope she bought it even though it wasn’t an every day item.
2. Stick to what you already like.
Thrift stores can be really intimidating. They’re full of stuff and nothing is really displayed well enough to have hanger appeal. If you’re having trouble getting started, stick to items you know you’ll love. For me this is classic blouses, sheath dresses and pencil skirts, which are relatively easy to come across. I also always make a beeline for the shoe section first to check for cute flats, as I rarely wear heels.
3. Be willing to experiment and go with a friend.
I personally think that thrift store shopping is way more fun with a second person. A shopping buddy can also grab things that would be perfect for you that you’ve missed and vice versa.
However you do it, be willing to go out on a limb and try some new stuff. The fact that everything is cheaper means that you can buy that flattering shirt with the insane print that you’d normally never even try on.
4. Be nice, make friends and shop early.
Thrift store owners are usually great about remembering regular clients and will learn your size and style. If you’re extra friendly to them, they may even put stuff aside for you that they think you’d like.
Lots of thrift stores also stock items seasonally, so if you’re a curvy/full-busted woman it’s worth it to check out the new inventory early. There’s a huge demand for plus size and curve friendly items so you’ll have competition!
5. Learn to love both vintage and thrift stores.
My neighborhood contains a mix of these, but I’m a fan of one vintage store in particular. However, I also know that going there generally means paying more than hitting up the thrift store next door. When I’m buying items I know I’ll use for a long time (housewares, leather purses, furniture) I’m more likely to go vintage than thrift.
Are you a fan of thrift stores or vintage stores? What tips do you have for successful shopping?