Thrifting Tips from a Thrifting Power Couple
Meet Sam Biber and Abbey Walker (soon to be Mr. and Mrs. Biber in July!). They are without a doubt one of the best-dressed couples I've ever met. But if you ask either of them where they got that awesome (insert coveted item here), they will unfailingly give you the infuriating response that it was thrifted and no, you'll never be able to find one like it.
How is it that some people go thrifting and end up with a London Fog trench coat and just-the-right-amount-of-tacky mom shorts, and I leave with what I later realize is a pajama top and a little league jersey with pit stains?
A couple months ago, I went to Value World with Abbey. I was amazed by how quickly and decisively she rifled through the racks and stocked her cart, while I wasted a solid 25 minutes slogging through denim trying to find some Wranglers in my size. It wasn't until after her intervention that I finally found a couple of items that I liked just as much outside the walls of the thrift store as I did inside (victory!).
I figure there must be something the Sams and Abbeys of the world know about thrift store shopping that I don't. So, I asked them to make me a list of thrifting tips, and they graciously obliged. I hope you find this list as helpful as I do, especially if you are joining Elaine and me on our secondhand summer capsule challenge!
1. NEVER thrift on an empty stomach
You need to be up for the challenge of searching through lots of junk to find that buried treasure. Which means- filling your tank before you get there, caffeine helps too! Anything to keep your stamina up.
2. When possible, bring a friend
Having another person's perspective to bounce opinions off of when, the florescent lights start to make you think a shirt is awesome just because its less terrible than the ones around it, is extremely helpful in avoiding tragic purchases. + Bringing a friend adds to the fun.
3. If available, use a shopping cart
A holding chamber for all those "maybes" is a wonderful asset, especially in light of the next tip.
4. Even if you're not sold on an item at first, throw it in the cart and reassess at the end.
Load up your cart full of possibilities, you might be surprised by how much better something looks on you than it does on that clear plastic hanger.
5. ... But if you find yourself having any doubts, do not purchase or else you'll find yourself taking it back to a thrift store
No matter how hard you try you will probably end up with a few duds. I've also heard that it's helpful to think of yourself as "renting" from the thrift store, that way you feel less bad about taking stuff back later.
6. Identify the color of the week for discounted items
Work the system. The awesome thing about thrifting is that suddenly $4 for a pair of pants becomes a little pricey.
7. Look at the shoes first as a warm up
The shoe section is typically pretty easy to navigate and not too overwhelming. You never know when you'll find some barely worn white high-tops!
8. Touch every item; you can't just shop with your eye.
9. Don't be afraid to venture into unfamiliar sizes
Sizes have changed over the ages; a medium from 1980 may fit more like a large. Or a too big dress may actually look great belted
10. Never go looking for a specific item, that's a tall task.
That's where I went wrong! Jeans are especially tricky, that's why Urban Outfitters can sell knock-off 1980's mom-jeans for $70.
11. Have a try-on session at the end and be open to any criticism or compliments!
This is where the editing happens and you whittle that cart of possibilities down to a few purchases you might actually wear in real life.