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Thrift Thursday. The Foundation.

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I am so thrilled with the response over the beginning of Thrift Thursday and also with the united bitching concerning some second-hand store pricing. I said it last week, but after your input, my mind is spinning even more wildly with ideas ... I'm a little afraid you have released the beast. The hardest thing will be to pace myself with all this thrift blabber. I have to remember that I am a blogger writing short posts, not a novelist like Lauren Conrad or George W. Bush (And you never thought that those two would be in the same sentence... but it just happened. right here.).
So much to say but I have to start by laying the thrift foundation. The most important ingredient for successful thrifting is a good attitude. Yeah... it sounds pretty lame, like this is the kindergarten of thrifting up in here or something... I feel lame writing it too but it's the truth. I have gone thrifting with many friends who, within five minutes of entering the store, are looking at me with frustration, hands on their hips and whining about how I always find the good stuff. A few things to note about this scenario...

1. I have friends.
2. Their hands are on their hips.
3. They are giving me eye contact.

Hands on hips aren't moving the hangers over one-by-one as they should be. And eye contact is an absolute no-no. Eyes in a thrift store need to be searching for treasure, not expressing feelings.

When you go thrifting you need to really, really look. Sometimes things will jump out at you like a little thrift gift...


... this shirt did...
...but in general, finding that vintage dress means combing through 67 dresses with stains, triple shoulder pads and Christmas beading first. So, if you are new to thrifting or slightly overwhelmed by the whole idea, go on a day when you are in a good mood. If you are feeling crabby and lamely attempt to thrift, you will find nothing, declare that certain thrift store a dud and leave all the good stuff for me. Thank-you in advance.

A little story (that I've told before but it was a long time ago and I am getting old so I am entitled to a repeat)... in university I went thrifting with a friend and found the most perfect Marni cargo pants.



The best hardware, over-all straps, crisp cotton... perfection. In my excitement, I yelled 'Linda! Look! Marni!' only to discover Linda was way across the store and I was yelling at a stranger beside me. But I had the right attitude, I was so focused on the search that I wasn't aware Linda had left me.

If you are new to thrifting or just ready to try again, make sure you are
1)well-fed (for most hungry equals angry)
2)inspired (check blogs to find inspiration for what to look out for... I've heard of this great one called MyEdit... she thrifts a lot and she's really humble. Has she ever told you how humble she is?)
3)having a good day. You need to be patient because you will need to kiss a lot of frogs before you get your prince. Don't think too deeply about that analogy...

And thus concludes the first lesson on thrifting. If you managed to make it through, you have now passed Thrift Kindergarten. Hopefully next week will not be so elementary.


*Yes, the first sneak peak at the closet in our new house. We're moving this week (so tired...) and the closet is the only thing partially organized... shame on me...


Anonymous said...

Haha, I can just see the glitter seeping from that closet. Definitely yours.

Ps. Maybe you should consider a closet organization post?

- Patricia

Sarah said...

K but really AMEN SISTER! I take friends and they're all grumpy and all I can say is I've completely forgotten they're there because I'm totally focused. I'm a total in the zone thrift shopper. You really do have to be ready to scavenge.
-After envisioning your little analogy...I can't stop thinking about real frogs hopping out of nasty christmas sweaters in thrift stores and kissing all of the unsuspecting shoppers. Thank you for my best thought all night.

LyddieGal said...

I'm getting some total closet envy.. are those shelves? carpeting? drool?

yeah, i agree that when you go in the thrift store, you have to believe you are going to find something. often it will not be what you are looking for, but maybe it will be better.

And if you find some awesome red wool pants, could you send them to me please? been searching for weeks...

Chic on the Cheap

Anonymous said...

Good advice. I try to go thrifting with my grown daughters. Only the middle one truly understands "the hunt," although when the baby finds something, she's ecstatic...and then she's ready for a marguerita.

Linda W said...

You are off to a good start with these. All great tips.
One thing that jumped out at me? You have a friend named Linda? As in, there is someone else in our generation named Linda (I assume we are of the same generation)? That never happens. Unless you are talking about shopping with an older aunt named Linda - then it makes sense.

The Auspicious Life

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

It does sound silly but being in a good mood can make or break you. A few weeks ago I scanned the dresses and was ready to leave until a little piece of Pyrex heaven turned my world upside down. I ended up leaving with more than just something to cook mac & cheese in.

The Suburb Experiment said...

I'm always apprehensive when friends or family ask me to take them thrifting for the reasons you stated above. I think either "the hunt" is in you or it's not. I get so irritated when my hunt is cut short by impatience and/or givey-uppiness.


GS said...

Horray! I'm so pumped for your thrift thursdays! I've been inspired to put together an entirely thrifted outfit for quite some time now, but the thrift stores haven't been on my side lately. One more thing to add to your to-do checklist before commencing in the thriftventure - go to the freakin washroom. Or am I the only one who steps foot in a thrift store and suddenly has to pee RIGHT THIS INSTANT and blasts through all the racks like a mad woman? One time I had to leave behind a gorgeous trench because I thought if I tried it on and put off hitting up the loo any longer I would pee all over the changeroom. This is a tragic story and I hope to raise awareness so things like this can never happen to anyone else.

Unknown said...

I'm sorry. What did you say? I wasn't paying attention....I was distracted by your FABULOUS CLOSET!!! ~Serene

Jodi said...

great post.. and I have done that, yelled OMG look at this and then lift my head to see that I was talking to a stranger.. is so funny and you end up having some really good conversations in thrift stores!!

Secondhand Stella said...

How do you always find the most amazing sequin tops? I always look but can never find them. Hate you ;)


Your Glitter Purse Twin

Emily said...

An important thing you forgot missy! GO TO THE BATHROOM BEFOREHAND! There is nothing worse than needing to pee while thrifting... you can't concentrate and then you end up leaving too soon and missing out.

Karolina said...

That was the most funny and interesting post I have ever red!! I love your way of writing! And the sequin top is beautiful. I need to find one and add it to my closet.


Amanda @ Life with A.Co said...

OMG!! So you got the house?! I mean, I know you were pretty certain you'd get it, but did I miss that it was a signed and sealed deal!? Regardless, CONGRATS. Can't wait to see more of said closet :P

Good lesson on thrifting. Hands on hips - hahaha. It's true, you need to have an open mind and a good attitude. I've had the same 'issues' with friends, but it's the HUNT. You have to WANT to HUNT. Anyways. Fab cargos and love the sweater with the string of lights (great pic).

A.Co @ A.Co est. 1984

sartoriography said...

That closet looks huge and I am wildly envious. I once had a massive closet. Now I'm just a normal girl again. :(

I heart thrift thursdays. I heart anything that has to do with going to thrift stores, even other people doing it and talking about it. Yay!

Sheila said...

I love that you're doing Thrift Thursdays - I am a huge thrifter myself (I'm not huge, but I love thrifting hugely). Your point about having a good attitude is so true - I have abandoned friends so many times when they just don't have the right mindset/attitude to start going through all those delicious racks of thrifty goodness.

e said...

The thrifting tips were great and I love your closet but most importantly, you crack me up.

I love reading your blog for your fashion posts and your thrift finds but I seriously chuckle at almost every sentence you write.

Thank you for that. : )


FutureLint said...

I know exactly what you mean! I thrift alone because whenever I take someone with me, if they don't find something exceptional within 10 minutes they are ready to go! You have to dig for that treasure! As the ladies on Kingdom of Style put it, I know it's time to thrift when I feel "the calling." I'll just have a feeling that I need to thrift, and I usually find something amazing when that feeling hits!

Unknown said...

This is great thrifting advice!! I find the same patience and attitude needs to be applied whenever I decide to go shopping at TJMaxx, Marshalls, or Ross here in the States - you can find awesome, amazing stuff for great prices - but you have to be willing to hunt for it :)

Mich said...

Good advice!! You've inspired me to get back out there and continue the hunt - its been a while! I also got discouraged by the ridic prices.

Anonymous said...

I want to like thrifting with other people, but it totally cramps my style. I worry about boring them and all that jazz (I want to be a good thrift host) so dragging other people along causes me all kind of anxiety. And thrifting is like my Xanax - I don't want people making me anxious when I'm trying to do something I find relaxing! (This is surely the sign of a serious problem.)

All that focus not only keeps you from missing great finds it also helps you go faster. Thrifting requires a lot of mental toughness. Like a sport.

Sidewalk Chic said...

I really love this post because it's so true. I haven't been able to find a thrift store companion yet because I'm more willing to go through the racks. I honestly think Black Friday marathon shopping trips helped train me for this kind of patience...

Anyway, I'm looking forward to how your feature evolves. I feel like if I lived in Canada we would be good thrift shopping pals.

Kellie said...

Great post! Now I want to go thrifting...

Anniekins said...

Thank you!! I started reading your blog when 30 for 30 started, and it's so inspiring! I even made of list of all the cool thrift stores downtown, and my number one priority over Christmas break is to hunt through each and every one of them. I've never gone thrifting before, except for Halloween costumes, so I'm super pumped.

merciblahblah said...

THANK YOU!!! Totally agree. I have friends who whine about T.J. Maxx and Marshall's and having to really look through their stuff to find the diamond, so they would NEVER do the thrift store thang. I deffo agree that you have to love the thrill of the hunt - and I do. I would rather even find the perfect vintage item at the thrift as opposed to a vintage shop, where it has already been selected because someone else knows it's perfect. To me, that's the best thing - coming across a gem at the Goodwill or Charity Shops that no one else recognized.


compradora anonima said...

Totally agree, i Love find treasures but it's necesary soné good attitude great post i Love thrifting

those tricks said...

I have the exact same experience thrifting with friends.
They say "you find the best stuff! I need to go with you!"
Then come and are "done" in ten minutes, empty-handed, while I'm only through a 1/4 of one rack.
I have always preferred shopping alone. Or at least driving separately, because I WILL stay longer. haha

E said...

I loooove how you did that photo of the top! That's pretty genius for an indoor photo...

Emma at Daily Clothes Fix said...

MARNI indeed - they're amazing. Very pleased to have passed and looking forward to moving on to more advanced thrifting fare.

PS I tagged you in my post today.

thatdamngreendress said...

Marni pants!! wow- so jealous! I love the feeling of possibility when you walk in the door. My local Salvation Army is pretty grotty, and yet my best finds have been there- a polka-dot wool Christian Dior dress, yellow patent-leather Manolo Blahnik flats...the Dior was on a 50% off day, so $3.50!!

Rach is Ordinarily Urbane said...

You perfectly describe all the reasons why I prefer to thrift by myself! Even worse than trying to thrift with friends is doing so with my husband - he just complained and stared me down the whole time. Ha.

If you can't hang then, as you said, leave the good stuff :)


katou said...

i'm a big fan of thrifting, I come from a little country in North Africa it's like a national sport for us, everybody thrifts.and yes it's better to thrift alone, it's like a therapy but much better you can clear your head but still focus on the most important thing gorgeous clothes with insane prices and most of all unique pieces. have a nice weekend and keep sharing your tips with us.
xo xo

myedit said...

Totally agree with many commenters about the fact that thrifting is like therapy for the hardcores out there.

Malicious Mallory said...

Great advice! Haha! Sometimes I am very good at thrifting - but sometimes I suck at it. :p
You've definitely gotta pick the right friends to go with you - ones who are good at thrifting and like it, but won't want the same thing as you! That way, you won't fight about anything, but can point out good finds to the other person.

Dorky Medievalist said...

You are an inspiration. I am not very good at thrift shopping, probably because I am always hungry and/or grumpy. And I have next to know imagination or sewing skills. But I love this advice column. And your closet.

I also thought, if I may, that you might enjoy one of my go-to blogs (yours is a go-to blog too, of course) The Bright Shillings of March. Baxter just did a tutorial on how to spot a luxury scarf in a thrift shop:

Blogging makes me rue my impatient shopping ways. I can barely shop at H&M. Thankfully, there are food courts.

C said...

This post is chock full of wisdom. I'm going thrifting in exactly fifteen minutes, and now I know I need to eat some bread, go to the bathroom, and put a smile on my face before leaving. Then I'll be full, relieved, and happy for my big outing. And remember not to make eye contact with Emily or Joe once we get there.

Also, oddly, my word verification was: "a novelist like Lauren Conrad or George W. Bush". These things are just nonsense!

Linda said...

True story. Your closet is very delicious, I loves it. Congrats on the new house!! I can't wait to see it!

MUA said...

Do you give personal lessons : let's call it thrift coaching if you ask ! I'll be your first client ... and I 'll even buy you coffee and cupcakes before we'd go on the treasure hunt to make sure you're at your full potential. Deal ?

Caro xxx

Babes in Thriftland said...

Love the tips. I feel the same way about thrifting when you're in a good mood. Sometimes I plan on thrifting but after work I am in a bad mood so I know I won't find anything. Do you feel like a lot of your success is because you are thin? I find a lot of cute items but they just don't fit! I'm only a 10 but I feel like older items run so small that they don't really fit. Any tips on this dilema?

poca said...

Marni pants?? I would have had to buy them since I probably would soil my own after seeing them there!!

I love the picture with the white sequin top. It reminds me of a sassy holiday party.

Thanks for bringing it back to the basics and for cultivating a strong thrifting community!

I found this coat for $13:


Stella said...

Yay! Thrift Thursday post! I agree. Although...sometimes I go thrifting when I'm in a bad mood to cheer myself up! But I think that doesn't count since I love thrifting already? And, to me, it's going to be a guaranteed good time?

If people that aren't familiar with thrifting go with a sour disposition, it definitely isn't going to turn out great. You definitely have to be prepared to search, scour, and sneeze at some points. It is a treasure hunt.

Anonymous said...

LOVE that picture! It is very unique.

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