Trends on Trial: Thrifty Like a Rockstar

molly and colleen hurford go to the thrift store and get some nice threads …

You’ve all seen it in tabloids or magazines, under the credits where designer brands are listed: “belt belongs to celebrity, found at thrift shop,” “Angelina Jolie’s velvet dress only cost $39 at a thrift shop.” So how do celebs manage to look so stylish on such a teensy budget? There are some definite tricks to thrift shopping effectively and getting the most bang for your buck.

Decide what it is that you want: are you looking for one of a kind vintage designer labels? Then you want a higher end consignment shop. But if you’re looking for cheap buys with the slight change of striking gold, be on the lookout for church basement thrift shops. Salvation Army and Goodwill are OK options, but tend to be a bit pricey for what they offer compared to the smaller charity shops.

Know what to expect. You aren’t always going to find that awesome sequins hat or that super ironic denim jumper. The odds are heavily in favor of finding basic blouses, out of date office wear, and worn out shoes. Don’t expect to just spot the great finds right off the bat either — sometimes you need to dig for treasure.

Don’t discount the children’s and men’s sections. While it’s natural to gravitate towards the women’s wear, don’t forget about checking in menswear — after all, menswear for women is a big trend, and we’ve found Christian Lacroix button downs for 50 cents by checking labels on the rack. (We’ve also found a few Ben Shermans, for that whole Punk Redefined style we’ve been over before.) And added bonus: you can always E-bay a good condition designer shirt and use those funds to buy even more vintage clothing! Children’s clothing can be great for T-shirts and flannel shirts as well.

Check the bins! A lot of places have shoe and purse racks and then a bin with the overflow. Oftentimes, the real gems will be buried at the bottom, since no one bothers digging that deep.

Look at the accessories — jewelry, belts, scarves and hats — and think creatively. That broach could be put on a necklace, those old lady long pearls can be wrapped around to make a bracelet, that belt could go at the waist of a sheath dress, et cetera.

Speaking of accessories, thrift shops are a great place to go to find cool special occasion shoes. If you need a dress shoe or a nice pair of heels for an interview, this is a great super-cheap way of getting a pair. Plus, a hefty portion of shoes at thrift shops are vintage, so tend to be uber-trendy right now.

Just because it’s super cheap doesn’t mean you need it. We will say, if you’re going on an impulse shopping spree, thrift shops are the way to go so you don’t break the bank. But try to only buy things that you really believe that you’ll wear. (We’re guilty of the ’80s prom dress syndrome: anything with crinoline and we’re sold, despite the fact that this is not the 80s and we are not going to prom.)

One word: luggage. Love the look of vintge suitcases? Don’t pay for new ones with a retro feel, just check back shelves of church thrift shops — they’re typically full of funky old suitcases in cool colors and leather or serious hideous green shades of plastic. Even if you don’t travel, these make for cool looking storage containers and are usually sold for practically nothing, since they take up a ton of space.

Check the quality: Make sure there are no buttons missing, that zippers work, that there aren’t any tears or stains, and that it fits decently (even if you have to pull it on over what you’re wearing. Older clothing from pre-1990s can be deceptive in it’s fit, and most of it isn’t stretchy.)

Try before you buy: Our golden rule of thrifting is that if it needs alterations, unless you’re absolutely crazy about it, don’t bother. You might have the best of intentions, but the odds are good you’ll never follow through. Simple fixes like a hemline or a button are one thing, but letting something out or taking it in is a big- and potentially pricey- commitment.

We can’t stress this enough: Wash everything immediately and dry on HIGH heat. Bedbugs are a serious issue and thrift shops are a killer place to pick them up. While vintage clothing is great, take basic precautions, please.

Use this as a time to experiment with new looks! It’s a cheap way to try out new/old styles and have fun with clothes, without dropping a ton of money.

For $15, we scored a pair of boots, three scarves, a denim skirt, a sleeveless sweater, two new strapless tops, two dresses, a leopard print skirt, and a designer A-line skirt. Another $5 netted us a box of slightly used textbooks on web and graphic design, a Russian copy of The Little Mermaid, and a box set of Indiana Jones movies. Not a bad haul!
Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.

1 COMMENT

  1. The probability of finding that huge score also dePends on the area. A colleague who lives near a very affluent area in the middle of Pennsylvania often finds brand new cashmere sweaters for pennies at her local Salvation Army. Nearerbto NYC, even low-quality stuff in poor condition commands a premium price

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