Thursday, 16 April 2009

Dream Style: The Art of Thrift

Image thanks to jeffk

This post is part of The Dream Style Series.

Thrifting is a real shindig, but it’s also hazardous and, if misused, can be a big threat to dream style. How so? Thrift clothing is cheap, and therefore ignites the closet-degenerating attitude that is both my own downfall and that of so many others: ‘I can afford it, so I should have it, and if it’s that cheap, I should have more of it, right?’


Thrifting is an art; it takes discretion and care in order for it to work in your favour. The archenemy of your dream style is a wardrobe stuffed with garment after garment that you don’t really wear all that much, don’t really like all that much, and don’t really place that much value on, i.e. the job lot you picked up at your local thrift store just because, well, you could afford it.

Thrifting is about dedication; it’s about finding the diamonds in the rough. Any serious thrifter will tell you it takes more than a five minute grab and run in your local charity shop to source the vintage leather jackets and pristine 1930’s tea dresses of this world. It takes time, research, repeat visits and a constant wallet barrier of self-restraint; I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve purchased items in charity shops that were in good condition and going for pittance but were just not me.

But, before you think I’ve taken all the fun out of it, thrifting is worth the effort; it's a great way to celebrate your individuality, go against current fashion trends, experiment, explore, and generally enjoy clothes for what they are – tangible, colourful, wacky self-decoration, not just a designer label or a hot ‘it’ item. You can also often pick up great quality at thrift stores; clothing that will stand the test of time, unlike similarly priced high street garb.

Top Tips for Fashion Thrifting

Do…stick to the golden rule of quality over quantity. Thrifting shouldn’t be anymore an opportunity to load up on cheap tat than your regular shopping practices.

Don’t…kid yourself. It’s easy to fall under the thrift illusion – that you can justify buying an item because of the low price tag. Generally, I like to think that if I wouldn’t pay the equivalent high street price for an item, I shouldn’t pay the thrift price. It won’t be worth anything to you in the long term if you do.

Do…bring a friend. Outsider perspective is often essential in a quality thrift session, more so than in other shopping medium because it’s all too easy to get over excited and walk out with a neon tennis visor and crimson velour cat suit you’re convinced you have an occasion for.

Don’t…abandon your inspiration. It all comes down to price again, but if an item’s not for you it’s not for you and a $2 tag won’t change that.

Do…find a local haunt. Zone in on your nearest and dearest thrift or charity store and get to know it a little better; make friends with the staff and pop in as often as possible; ask about stock replenishment days; mention a specific item you’re on the look out for, or even volunteer there one afternoon a week. All these strategies will set you on the path to a very fruitful thrifting experience.

Don’t…lose faith. You shouldn’t assume that every time you wander into a thrift store you’ll be met by barrow loads of exquisite vintage relics – you won’t, but this shouldn’t dishearten you, it’ll make the real finds all the sweeter if you hang on in there.

Do…thrift thriftily. A dedicated thrift store that’s popped up under the current trend on Hipster Street will charge you a premium for their finds. A local church jumble sale will practically give it away. Think about it.

Do you have any top thrifting tips? Do you think thrifting will work with your dream style? Say your piece!

Like what you've found here at Charade? Then please subscribe, follow me on bloglovin' or bookmark me easily by clicking one of the options in the menu below. Your support is very much appreciated


Leia said...

Great tips - and I think they apply to shopping in sales as well! I really have to ask myself twice - "Am I buying this because it's on sale, or because I really, truly like it?"

Love your Dream Style series!

Claire said...

I find it hard to thrift - I even hate sales shopping - because I'm hardly ever in the right state of mind. I think this is why "hip" thrift and vintage stores will always exist. I don't mind spending a little more on fewer items, even vintage ones.

Wish I could though!!!!

Sherin said...

You are so right. Thrifting takes time. I can spend ages in one charity store, and that spending that time has rewarded me with a pair of warehouse jeans that was a fiver.
I have 2 local stores that I go into very often. I might befriend them and take your advice and tell them what I'm on the look out for.

DumDiDum said...

My rules in thrifting are the following:

1. Does it flatter me?
2. Are changes easy to do? Simple hemming or replacing buttons are ok. Major overhaul just isn't going to happen.
3. If in doubt - don't buy it. If in serious, chewing-on-your-cheek kind of doubt, ask the staff to reserve the item for 24 hours or the rest of the day.

Delilah + Jack said...

Number one you need Patience!!!

Number two- always consider tailoring- turn a dress into a flowy top or a part of outdated boot cut jeans into a tapered pair!

KB said...

Great post, I definitely try to bear this in mind when I go thrifting, definitely need to find a local haunt. I've posted the latest finds on my blog here.

Voila Megan said...

Thanks everyone!

Claire - I know what you mean, I often avoid sales racks and messy thrift stores because I just don't have the energy for the hunt! There ain't nothing like a good ol'bargain though...

Sherin - Let us know how the befriending goes!

DumDiDum - Awesome tips, number three especially.

Delilah + Jack - Super comment also, patience is definately key to sourcing those magic finds.

KB - Checked out your blog, you seem like a super savvy thrifter, I'm jealous!

Anonymous said...

i LOVE thrift stores! i used to volunteer at one a few months back, (i had to stop because of my studies) but while working in the back room i found some amazing stuff - before it went out to the shop! i have so many lovely things from there that i wear so often! defiantly worth the time and effort, and its nice to know its all going to a good cause!

Post a Comment