Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A thrifter's guide to thrifting

Hi fellow Alyson is Neat readers! Let me introduce myself, i'm Mel and I blog at Idée Géniale. The super funny, witty and kind Alyson asked me if I'd do a guest post for her while she's away basking in the Florida sun and possibly getting a dolphin tattoo on her lower back, wait no? not that kind of vacation. So I said ok, now what to talk about? I mean, she's a crafty lady who is on a mission to sew 10 items in 100 days. She's on a shopping ban for a whole year and can't buy a single piece of clothing until her birthday. And she's quite the funny lady that knows how to write. So you bet I was kind of nervous to take on this task.

Since I can't really sew all to well I thought I'd focus more on what I do best: Shopping. I think most people think that we bloggers have an unlimited budget and an infinite closet filled with fancy frocks and designer duds. Well, I'm sorry to break it to ya but I have neither of these things. Want to know my secret? I'm frugal and don't like to spend more than $20 on any article of clothing. True story.

Want to know more? Here are some tips that I've learned along the way on how to make the most of your wardrobe and to spend wisely. (Because we're not all as disciplined as Alyson)

1. Go through your closet every few weeks and make piles of the following: donate, consign, keep. (I also add in an "to alter" pile but it just goes into an abyss to never be seen again)
  • Donate: Clothing that is piling, shrunk, slightly stained, probably bought on major sale
  • Consign: Anything that you paid hard earned money on, designer brands, still current or very vintage
  • Keep: Current items that you've worn in the past 6 months, great condition, in season, classic/basic pieces.
2. With the donate pile, research what charities/organizations are in your area and accept donations. It's nice to support local charities like church shops or community centres that might not get as much volume as the Goodwill or Savers. They'll really appreciate your donation and you'll feel better about yourself.

3. Treat yourself to an ice cream (or drink) for your good deed of the day.

4. With the "consign" pile, bring it to the nearest consigment shop and see what they offer in terms of cash/credit percentages. This can then either go towards a store credit (if you think that there's a slight chance you'll want to shop at this store) or get the cash. Places like Buffalo Exchange are great as they buy on the spot but other consigment stores you'll need to check back every month or so to see if anything sold. I highly recomend that you pick a place that is close to home or work so that you can actually make the trip on a regular basis for it to be worth it.

5. Don't get discouraged if they don't take alot of your items the first time. Remember that you are dealing with buyers. They want current trends, vgood condition vintage and in season items. If items are all of those things, I say go back in a couple of weeks and try your luck again.

6. With the "keep" pile, arrange all items in your closet as to what makes the most sense to you. I personally like keeping all of my dresses together, woven blouses, knit tops, then pants and shorts go together. I think it's easier to grab than say color coordinating things but that's just me.

7. If you went with the 4th "to alter" pile, congrats to you. Wait for the next rainy day where you can spend it indoors, make yourself a big pot of coffee, maybe some snacks ( i like banana muffins) and get your sew on. I usually try and get the most of it done all on one day. Mainly because it kind of creates a little bit a chaos in my tiny studio apartment so I only need to clean up once.

So now that your closet has a little breathing room and your pockets are a little deeper, you're likely to want to fill some void of what is left of your wardrobe. Here are some tips to think about while thrifting:
  •  Take stock of what you need before leaving the house. Maybe you have an inspiration folder saved on your computer of things you'd like, make a mental note or write it down for when you get to you're thrifting mecca of choice. This way you won't come home to a bunch of clothing that are destined to make their way out at your next closet purging party.

  •  When you find something, take a close look at it to see if there are any damages, spots, rips. Take note of these and if they are salvagable and only if they are and the price is right, then get it.

  •  Price: I try to only buy something if I know it's one of a kind or definitely vintage. My pet peeve is going into Value Village and seeing a ton of Forever 21 stuff. That place is so cheap you 're better off buying it directly from then than at a goodwill. Stick to a certain dollar amount, like nothing over $10 and you won;t go home regretting any splurges

  • Try everything on. Pieces made back in the 70's have a diferent fit than they do now. Tags, sizes don't mean a thing. I fit into some size 10 pieces as I do a size 4. Never pay attention to the tag, always make time for the fitting room.

  •  If you really love something but it doesn't fit consider if it's worth tailoring. If it's priced under $10, then I'll tell you know: It's worth it.

Some of my most favorite pieces are the one's that I found at thrift stores an cost mere dollars. I think if you're ready for a hunt and like to push the fashion boundaries a little you can definitely look like a million bucks without having to spend said million. I hope this has helped you and feel free to leave any questions in the comment section!

Thanks again Alyson for letting me fill your shoes for a day! Hope you're having a blast and wearing your sunscreen.


  1. Anonymous10:10 AM

    Mel is so funny! (I like banana muffins!) And I agree about the Pet peeve about finding F21 stuff at thrift stores. If I go to a thrift store, it's to find that gem of an item I can't get anywhere else!

    Great tips! :)

  2. Thanks you SO MUCH for these great tips. I will put them to use!

  3. an awesome post, mel! :D

  4. Becky1:08 PM

    Mel! One of my favorite bloggers :)
    This is great advice! I'm actually starting to begin thrifting because I need to save all my pennies for a trip to a France this summer! And I'm also currently learning how to sew! So now I'm excited that you lead me to this blog so I can read up on how Alyson is sewing 10 things in 100 days!
    Yay another blog to read! :)

  5. Good advice and fun to read. I especially like #3 (drink)!

  6. I like your advice to treat yourself for your good deed. I will need to add that one to my life

  7. Hugs from Venezuela.
    Check our work: http://oh-nena.com/

  8. great tips and great advice! i used to be an avid thrifter and have gotten away from it. i'm doing maternity clothes on a budget right now...i think you have inspired me to some maternity thrifting (and possible altering!). thanks for the guest post : )

  9. Mel, did you end up buying that tshirt at the end of this post? Just curious...because you might've gotten it cheaper down in chinatown where they're like 5 for $2.00 or something ridiculous



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