One of my favourite people, Amanda, is in New York studying fashion design right now (yes, isn't that like a girl's dream come true? =D!!) and she sent me an article about thrift-shopping in NYC. I wish I could be there to go thrift store hopping with her, because honestly that's one of the major things I miss about home. To all my friends who shook their heads disapprovingly at the way I scoured Vancouver thrift stores for clothing + furniture, you have not seen Hong Kong thrift stores hahaha. To all the Hong Kong locals - let me know if there are any good ones, because the ones I've seen are creepy, dark, and look infected with hepatitus. Anyway, I'd love to see what New York thrift shopping has to offer, but for now, here's the article by Refinery 29 with some tips for thrift store shopping!
all images from Refinery 29
I don't know when my own obsession with thrift stores started, but maybe it was when I was a 10 year old, going on Saturday morning excursions with my mom to yard sales where people were selling cheap knick knacks and second-hand goods out of their garages. I distinctly remember my first second-hand purchase was a $2 nike sweater from one of those garage sales. Favourite sweater ever. (Aside from the red and black plaid sweater I owned - totally ugly-Christmas-sweater worthy - that said SCOTLAND in big bold letters on the front). I was so cool.
How come kids nowadays don't go through such an awkward clothing phase? I attribute my later coolness to having experienced that awkward phase, contrary to popular opinion that suggests I'm still in said phase. haha.
Here are some of MY tips on thrift shopping (specifically) for clothes + fashion accessories:
1) be happy: It sounds kind of silly but you've got to be in the mood for thrift-store shopping. If you're in a hurry, it's probably not a good time to be hunting for unknown treasure in the depths of a dark second-hand lair. If I'm in the right mood though, I can spend hours combing through assorted racks of fabrics and rummaging through shelves brimming with trinkets. For me, thrift store shopping is a therapeutic, enjoyable treasure-hunt of an experience!
2) be open: Going second-hand shopping is not for everyone, but if you're willing to attempt it, you have to be open to possibilities. The outside of the store may look like a run-down warehouse, and the inside might be overwhelmed with dust bunnies, but sometimes those are the best places for hidden treasure waiting to be uncovered.
3) be risky: But not in the scandalous way. Take some fashion risks - since thrift store prices are so cheap, you can try some styles that you usually might not try if paying regular prices at the mall. It's an inexpensive way to experiment with fashion and find one-of-a-kind pieces that are beyond the current trends.
4) be eagle-eyed: hahaha. seriously. be as sharp as a hawk. I usually like to look at accessories (handbags, belts, jewelry) and I head to those sections with the intention of finding some cheap but interesting additions to my accessories collection. If you're searching for something particular, switch to tunnel vision and use your thrifting eye lazers to zero in on that specific colour, fabric, print, or style that you're hunting for.
5) be androgenous: (creeped out by the headings of my tips yet?) Okay, so for this one, I just mean that if you are a girl, sometimes you might find something worthwhile in the men's section. I do it all the time at Urban Outfitters, where they sell men's clothing in some colours that most straight men would not wear, and that's exactly where I find my size XS men's cardigans that are more comfortable than form-fitting women's ones, and often slightly cheaper too!
6) be inventive: This one's a biggie! If the chain of a small handbag is broken, maybe you can cut it off and use it as a clutch. If a belt is too long, sometimes the leather can be cut and shortened. If you see a skirt in a cute print but it's a tad too long, think of how you could bring up the hemline for a more youthful look. If a blazer fits nicely but the buttons are not your style - that could be an easy DIY fix! There are endless possibilities with thrifted items!
7) be selective: Now this is the opposite of #6 but it's just as important and this tip balances out the amount of spending that takes place. You might have a whole pile of clothes that you want to re-sew and re-new, but... (and this is a lesson for myself as well)... only buy something if you're REALLY going to take the time to fix it up. If you don't have time and it's just going to sit there in your closet, then don't buy it.
8) be thrifty: kinda sounds ironic while we're talking about THRIFT shopping, but sometimes even if you're grabbing all these amazing cheap items, the price CAN add up. Make sure you ask yourself, "am I really going to wear this or am I only buying this because it's $2?" If it's the latter, then drop it and run from the evil lures of the beast named Impulse Buying.
9) be kind: if you've collected a whole pile of items and decide not to purchase some of them, do put them back in the sections where you found them or give them to the shop workers. Most thrift stores are pretty organized and it's pretty annoying to have piles of unwanted clothing lying all over the place, discarded by customers.
10) be patient: I usually go thrifting alone just because when I take people with me, they tend to get bored faster than I do. haha. You really have to be patient. Sometimes, you'll search for a long time and come up treasureless. Don't be sad if you can't find the perfect coat of your dreams right on your first thrifting attempt. You have to be willing to look through racks and racks of moldy sweaters or stained t-shirts... but when you find that one gem of a spotless white blouse, mint-condition pearl earrings, or vintage leather bag... it's totally worth it.
Here's one of my thrift-store shopping locations back in Canada (near Steveston Village in Richmond!)
...and here's a picture that my (reluctant) friend took of me with my newly-found lace curtain (currently residing in my room). After he took this picture, seeing how I was still lurking around every inch of the store, my friend said: "I'll wait outside". HAHA. I still remember that.
I started out my list of tips with only three points, but somehow I rambled it out into a full-fledged list of TEN. haha. Hope this info is useful... and someday, I'll do another post on some of my favourite thrift store finds! If you have any awesome thrift store purchases and don't mind sharing, send me pictures! I'd love to see what you've found!