I’ve always loved shopping.
I think it started when I would beg my mom for fourteen pairs of earrings, all at once, at Claire’s in 2006, in the Five Points Mall.
Maybe it was when I was eight years old and snagged a deal-of-a-lifetime, ten dollars for a gorgeous pair of gold sandals at Payless Shoes.
I should mention the gorgeous gold sandals were high heels, so I was only able to wear them around the house, but I still managed to walk with a purpose up and down my carpeted stairs.
When I was eleven, I watched Pretty in Pink for the first time. Of course, being one of the most iconic ’80’s movies, I fell in love with it.
I would have to argue I fell in love with the lead character, Andi Walsh, played Molly Ringwald, a lot more.
The way she could take thrifted clothing and make them into masterpieces was stunning.
“I can do that. I’m only using second-hand clothes to create my outfits from now on,” I promised my childhood best friend as I eyed my great-grandmother’s sewing machine my mom inherited.
So I tried, and that didn’t last very long. It turns out Molly Ringwald was actually acting and not sewing fabrics together in the matter of five minutes.
I didn’t realize how much work sewing was. It’s safe to say I was very disappointed. But, I didn’t stop my thrifting adventures there.
I guess with a mix of admiration for ’80’s films, deals and shopping, it only makes sense that I love thrift shopping.
According to Merriam Webster, thrifting comes from the noun thrift, which originated from the verb thrive.
Thrifty means to use money and other resources carefully and not wastefully.
The word began to be used more often in the early 2000s, part of which is thanks to Tyra Banks, for challenging America’s Next Top Model contestants to create outfits out of second-hand items in 2003.
It’s not only the bargains that drew me into shopping at thrift stores, it’s also the mystique of the clothing. Thrifted clothing has its own personality.
Who owned this before you did? Was it an old woman named Myrtle? Was it a young guy in his twenties named Teddy?
The number of years I can get out of my second-hand, blue and black, oversized GAP polo shirt, is much longer than any cheap mall sweater can last.
Longevity is another reason why I buy from thrift stores. Why buy something if it won’t even last the entire year?
The man who wore the GAP polo shirt before I bought it made sure the shirt was worn in. This isn’t me saying thrifted clothing is in great condition, there is typically a worn look to the clothes. But with second-hand clothing there’s typically a longer life expectancy.
If I buy a pair of jeans at the mall and the fall in them, they’re ripped. If I buy a pair of Levi’s a guy named Bobby wore for 35 years at Missions Thrift Store, I could fall off of a cliff and they would stay intact.
So, now that I’ve obviously gotten you hooked on the idea of going to your local Value Village, allow me to give you the perfect tips to follow when searching for second-hand finds.
One: Wear a simple outfit.
By simple, I mean something you can pile clothes on top of, or take off easily, like a pair of leggings and a t-shirt.
The last thing you want to wear is a bold fashion statement or something worthy of appearing on the New York fashion runways.
Two: Don’t limit yourself.
There are gems in all clothing sections at thrift stores. The men’s section and even the boy’s can hold treasures.
They have tons of jeans in all sizes. Think of all the styles you can wear them as! Need a pair of shorts? Need some oversized jeans? The men’s section has many options.
The men’s and boy’s sections are also known as the holy grail of graphic tees.
Three: Keep an open mind.
Try not to be too picky, especially when looking for a particular item.
Thrift stores are crowded with clothing, which could make you think it’s easy to find any item you’re searching for but the reality is, it’s actually much more difficult.
Have a rough guideline of what you’re searching for but avoid high expectations. It’s likely you’ll never find the exact item.
Keep in mind, my most proud and best finds have been discovered when I wasn’t looking for anything in particular.
It’s always a better idea to focus on the kind of item you want instead of focusing on the details of it.
Four: Get Creative.
Thrift shopping is the time to be bold.
When I’m shopping at typical retail stores, I tend to avoid pieces outside of my comfort zone. In retail, due to prices, there’s a certain fear of wasting my money.
With thrifting though, it’s easy to step outside your comfort zone, especially when it only costs you a few dollars.
Five: Don’t waste your money.
With experimentation and boldness in mind, make sure you’re also smart.
Even though each piece may be three dollars, that can add up if you’re buying items just because they’re cheap.
You will probably never fix that missing button, so it’s better to keep your money to spend another time, on an item you’ll use more.
Stay honest with yourself – you know if you will ever wear that neon yellow tube top.