2011-09-30

Thrift Day. Details.

I wouldn't say my blog is super useful. I talk about my cats and about nothing a lot and that seems to suit just fine. But if you were coming here to learn anything, I would want you to know that the best reason you have to get to the thrift store, is for a chance to upgrade your wardrobe. I've said it before but I'll probably keep repeating it. Because repetition is the mother of learning and the father of tedium but regardless... Thrifting is an awesome way to shop the trends and all that fun jazz, but it is the best way to build a quality wardrobe on a budget.
When I found the unlabelled red skirt last week, I knew it was a good one because it was lambswool/cashmere but also because of the multiple hanger loops. That got me thinking that I should do another post about how to spot quality... but this time strictly by high end construction techniques... So, these are little clues to help you spot the good stuff even if the item doesn't have a label or if you don't have a supa fancy phone (like me, let's hug...) to google an unfamiliar name brand...

Multiple hanger loops- This skirt I found last week has 4 little hanger loops, one on the front and back of each side. I reckon that has to do with the fact that the weight of the garment is more evenly distributed and you don't get the slouch in the garment like you do sometimes when there are only two hanger loops. Because you are paying more for high end garments you are also expecting them to last longer and this is just one little trick to keep a garment looking better in the mad house we call our closets.
quaility1

Interior belts in strapless dresses- I got this dress over 5 years ago. It's layers of silk with a corseted waist. It's a bit tight on my hips, so some seasons it fits and other seasons I can't walk but I've worn it plenty in the last years and so have a few on my friends... like a Sisterhood of the Travelling Dress but without a crappy movie to go with it. It's easy to see that it's good quality based on the silk fabrication and the design but the interior belt is a good sign too. Strapless dresses get their support to stay up from the fit around the waist. A good strapless dress shouldn't pinch tightly and create an armpit roll but you shouldn't spend all night hauling the goods back into the dress either. This is where an interior belt comes in. It supports some of the weight of the dress and keeps the dress in place. A good designer knows this and will take the effort to put one in.
Also, this dress also has an extra hanger loop as well...quaility2

Enclosed seams- I've shown the close-up of the seaming on this Marchesa dress before but it's worth noting again that a very high end garment will have beautifully finished seams. A well serged seam works fine in most clothing but in high end clothing the inside of a garment should be beautiful like the outside. Hence, fully enclosed seams... This technique takes waaaayyyy more time than a simple serge finish and... time=money...
quailty3



Hidden fastenings- This Victor Costa dress has a hidden placket that snaps up to conceal the zipper in the skirt. The zipper is hardly noticeable without it because there is so much volume from the crinoline but the placket was still put in just to be 100% sure that the fastening is enclosed. The idea is that a well made garment should fit perfectly, and the attention should be on the garment and its design, not on the construction that made the design possible.
quality4
The common element between these high end construction details in my thrift finds, is the extra effort they require in the technical design and construction process. They are the little things that can easily be slashed to make a budget but a luxury designer would never dream of skimping on these details. These are some of the details you pay for when you purchase high end merchandise at Saks or Holt Renfrew but these are the same details you get for free if you are on the look-out for luxury at your local thrift store. There are many more little details that are indicators of quality and as I find more, I shall report back to you. Because repitition is the mother of learning... oh wait, I already said that today...

26 comments :

Toni said...

I've never commented, I don't think, but thank you so much for this post! I have just been thinking about how to transition to a higher quality, more "grown up" wardrobe and this is exactly the kind of information I can use. Your outfits always inspire me to go thrifting but these tips are awesome too (though I think I need to do a little more Googling on seams to understand anything about them). I'm happy to say that my all-time favorite vintage dress, bought for cheap on Etsy, has hidden fastenings like you mentioned. I never paid them much attention, but I guess the overall effect has always wowed me nonetheless.

briannelee said...

Great tips. Thanks for sharing your thrifting wisdom :)

melody-mae said...

love these tips today!!! Thanks!

MONKEYFACE said...

I found the softest brown leather pencil skirt (lined in silk! like you taught last time!) yesterday at the thrift store and could immediately feel you beaming down on me from Canada. And then I spent fifteen minutes of my life in the dressing room trying to get it over my thighs without breaking it. I'm still not over it...but learning helps.

kelsey williams said...

how often do you go to the thrift store, and how much time do you spend each time? just curious because you seem to find amazing stuff! and i need to learn how to do it!

Laura said...

I don't know how you manage to find such beautiful things at thrift stores! I find things I like, but Goodwill around here sends anything w/ designer tags to their "boutique" stores where they sell them for 10x the amount they would in the regular store. Which means you'll never find designer clothes at the normal Goodwill. This is insanely frustrating. We do have St. Vincent de Paul & Value Village (both of which have kinda dirty stores) and a couple of ok priced consignment shops. But I NEVER find designer or really great vintage stuff. It probably doesn't help that there are several shops that sell really beautiful vintage for $50-$70 a dress, so they are the ones scouring the thrift stores ahead of me. :-S

K said...

I have the same issues as Laura. I find great stuff, and sometimes something amazing slips through the sorters hands and I end up with an amazing red leather cross body bag that's worth $200 for only $7. But really, Ive had like 4 amazing finds and I've been thrifting for years. All the really great finds get scooped up by vintage re-sellers who sell them for way out of my price range (and I'm sorry, but just because something is "vintage" doesn't mean that I'll pay $80 for a dress with massive sweat stains around the collar, regardless of how amazing it might fit or how great the construction) or get sent to the Goodwill Boutique store to sell for more. It doesn't mean I don't love thrifting but the more "popular" it becomes, the harder it becomes to find great deals. At least in bigger cities it seems this way.

Lindsay said...

Thank you for these tips! I agree with the girls above whose thrift stores feel picked over and lack the good stuff, but I decided I'm just going to go more often to increase my chances of finding something great!

www.wearingitall.blogspot.com

Eleanor said...

There is simply nothing as gratifying as finding a luxury item in the thrift store.
NOTHING.

Savannah said...

These post are the best I'm always thrifting for quality and thanks to you, you help me step up my game :)

Pete and Kimmy said...

Thank you for the tips! So helpful!

maryeb said...

I've got to chime in too.
Great post. I really appreciate you taking the time to show us what makes a quality garment.
I'm a slow learner, so I could use a lot of repetition :)

myedit said...

Laura and K- I can get your frustration. Hamilton is not a small city but somehow I do end up finding some really great stuff for decent prices. I hope that these kind of tips help you beat the system a bit because I often find obscure high end items... the sorters are too busy looking for Coach and fake Tod's to know that the cashmere skirt is top notch. And maybe this sounds dumb but a thrifting roadtrip could be a really fun idea with some friends. The thrift stores in smaller towns are often under priced and not picked over.

Gracey said...

This is great. I love thrifting and your posts of finding quality items have been invaluable.

The Daily Fashionista said...

Your tips before have given me so much more wisdom to my thrifting. I have been paying way more attention to details when it comes to finding good quality (but dirt cheap) clothing:)

Rin said...

I'm very thankful for this post, as I'm new to the thrifting game, but eager to get going! I've never seen anything like these in my (albeit, few) thrifting occasions. But I'll keep my eye out from now for details such as these.

Danielle Celeste Couture said...

Great information. One correction: the finish you call a French Seam is not. The technique in that photo is called a Hong Kong Finish (sort of). It's more closely related to a Hong Kong Finish than a French Seam at any rate. A French Seam is a seam sewed right sides together-then finished wrong sides together usually 1/8" or 1/4". A very easy thing to do. A Hong Kong Finish is a bit more time consuming.

Love from Oregon USA,
Danielle
xoxoxoxo

roses roses roses

Please may I? said...

Great tips on things to looks out for.

Loving the last dress, the style reminds me of my mothers wedding dress.

X x

myedit said...

Danielle- you are right... duh, brain fart. Thanks.

Urban Jungle Fashion said...

Wow! This blog offered a lot of great information on how to spot high quality thrift items without the magic of Google! Thank you for this!

urbanjunglefashion

Lorraine said...

Great tips! After years of thrifting I can often tell as soon as I feel something whether it's good or not. Fabric tells much of the story. The "interior belt" is sometimes called a petersham, although I think that word is technically the word for the ribbon used to make them. They are important for dresses with heavy skirts (especially strapless) because they transfer the weight of the skirt to the waist instead of the bodice.

:) Jen said...

Just thrifted a strapless dress with an interior belt yesterday. Thanks for putting words to my instincts!

:) Jen

a little sewing said...

Lovely, lovely dresses!
The interior belt is called a waist stay.
And they are usually made from petersham ribbon.

Sara said...

All of these are such beautiful finds!! And I agree with every one of the points you make. That's why it makes me want to rip my hair out when I see Gap and J Crew selling unlined jackets/blazers, like its a cute new trend or something...argh! It's just cheap, and they will never fit quite as right as a nicely lined blazer will!

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