Thrifting for Kids

Note: none of the pictures loaded in the previously published version of this post, and a few still aren’t coming up.  But now you can get a much better idea what I was talking about re: clothes!  Apologies for the hiccup. 
In the “What would you like to see me cover in a post?” section of my recent reader survey, someone wrote:

“Do you thrift your kid’s wardrobe? My wardrobe is almost entirely thrifted (except underwear and shoes- hard to fit). I’ve got an 18 month old and an almost 4 year old, who, aside from socks and underwear, dress entirely in hand me downs and stuff from Once Upon a Child [kids’ consignment store]. But we’ve now moved 40 minutes from the nearest Once Upon a Child, and I notice that I can’t just roll up to the Goodwill and quickly find a whole season’s worth of clothes, because the selection is strange and there’s zero organization. I would love to hear how you go about clothing your child.”

This question resonated with several of you who commented that you’d like to read about some strategies for thrifting children’s clothing and/or see an update on my kid’s current wardrobe. (You can find the last time I covered it – last winter – here.)

First up: strategies for finding clothing your kid/s in secondhand clothes

General strategies (all applicable to grown up thrifting as well!):

  • Try to stick with one color palette so most/all of your stuff is mix and match.  This palette may be pre-chosen or may develop out of the things you piece together in store.  If you accidentally end up with an “outlier” that doesn’t play well with everything else, remember: jeans/jeggings go with everything.  But:
  • Don’t be afraid to get creative!  YOU get to determine what “goes” together, so don’t restrict yourself to rules about certain colors or prints not going together – if you or your kid love it together, it’s fair game.
    We aimed for legging-like solid-color pants this time around (see below) to keep legs warm and not clash too hard with her printed tops.  We ended up with some heart print pants and some striped pants, though – which turned out to be fun to mix in with patterned tops.  In a pinch I also ended up with slightly baggier pants that look a little funny paired with some of the bigger tops. But the essential I care about – that they not ride up so she doesn’t get cold – was covered by the elasticated ankle.  Done!
  • Also try to stick with a silhouette or two so that none of your finds become standalones that can only be worn with one other item.  Button down shirts probably will look funny with sweatpants so stock up on jeans/chinos…skirts/dresses in cooler weather mean lots of tights…active kids who love skirts might go with leggings or leggings shorts underneath…you get the picture.
    When my kid was tiny I stuck with onesies (with pants pulled up over them as necessary) since standalone shirts were prone to riding up on her wriggly body, then switched to shirt and pants/shorts when she was walking to make diapering easier.
  • Know your kid’s measurements (at least by eyeball).  Brands all have different sizing standards, so only your familiarity with your kid’s frame can tell you whether an item is likely to be too small/short/long/wide.  This is especially handy for when your kid isn’t with you to try things on/there is no place to try things on/online shopping.
  • Create a small (2-3 item) “fancy” capsule for special events – worship services, school performances, weddings/funerals, etc.  This keeps special stuff clean(er) and gives you flexibility to do another silhouette (e.g. my kid rarely wears dresses in ordinary life but has 2-3 she likes to wear on special occasions).
  • Decide your strategy for thrifting ahead.
    Because I live in an area with multiple stellar Goodwills and have limited storage space (and even limited-er willpower), I try NOT to buy items that will fit my kid “someday.”  I stumbled upon this strategy when I realized that I could not predict the rate at which my infant/toddler would grow and thus would only be guesstimating what size she needed for what length/weight of clothes.
    Your mileage may vary – your kids grow more predictably, you have more storage space, you have fewer opportunities to thrift and thus stock up when you find good stuff, you have multiple kids coming along so even if it doesn’t fit kid A in winter it might fit kid B in winter…etc.
  • If you have older kids, particularly ones who care about their clothing, have them help you identify which colors/silhouettes they like before you shop – or better yet, take them with you!

Tips specific to various secondhand contexts:

  • Consignment stores: Our reader question mentioned Once Upon a Child
  • Thrift stores
  • Hand me downs
  • Online 
  • Gifts – both retail and secondhand


And now, my kid’s current wardrobe.

You should know that my mom has saved a BUNCH of my/my sister’s baby clothes.  You should also know that she has one grandchild (my kid), and that one of the ways she loves on her granddaughter is buying her clothes.  This means we start off most seasons with some hand-me-downs and 3-4 new outfits and new pjs (see below for pics).

This means I end up with a sort of mini-capsule at the beginning of the season in a matching(ish) color palette that doesn’t make me want to keel over from pink overload (thanks Mom), to which I then thrifted mostly complementary clothes to get us to a serviceable wardrobe size.  (My mom came thrifting with me over Thanksgiving to get in on the fun! Pics below.)


Here’s what my mom dug out of storage for us for winter – 

Blue zip sweater

red cardigan

My grandmother made these and I love dressing my child in them. Grandmother died before her great grandchild was born but it feels like she is hugging my little girl (and thus me) every time I pull her arms through the sleeves and zip or button her up. /tears/  Plus who else has a rad zip sweater that goes on backwards so your kid’s face is always framed by that sweet little hood that never falls down?


Here’s what my mom gave us (new) for winter:

Owl top:

teal top, jeggings

pink/blue stripe top

polka dot top

Heart pants

The light purple leggings (in the pic with the red sweater) and jeggings ended up going home with a friend by accident when I threw them into a load of her clothes she was washing at our house (bah, broken washing machines).  We’ll get them back this weekend!

It’s been about a month since those pants stowed away in our friend’s laundry.  At the beginning we got along alright without ’em because it was still warm (thank you Atlanta summers extending into November).   But in anticipation of cooler weather, this kerfluffle quickly got me out and thrifting for some new (to us) pants – plus a few extra shirts, because a pink short-sleeved T Rex on the Golden Gate bridge shirt can only be worn under a red cardigan so many times.


Here’s what I thrifted, round 1:

Navy & white striped sweatpant-style pants:

Jeggings (SO many jeggings to choose from) – basically the same as above leggings.

Floral baseball top – *I* would wear this in a big person size.  Great mix of chic + sporty:

Heart stripe top:
Yes this is all pink, but the election had just happened and I felt like sending a message to the world about LOVE.  Also, it’s a 5T (my kid wears a 2T) but looked smallish.  It fits in the body and I cuff the sleeves – remember, it pays to know your kid’s frame!

REI purple puffy coat:
(The hat, shoes, and jeggings are also thrifted)

I KNOW.  This thing looks brand spankin’ new and was $6.  Perfect for colder days here and for our annual wintry trek to the wilds of New England.  I picked up purple mittens at the grocery store and we have hand-me-down hats; I will ask my mother-in-law to keep an eye out for a secondhand snowsuit and we’ll be all set.  Take THAT, Winter!

Her other thrifted winter shoes are these:

If you’re counting, we’re now at 3 pairs of pants (soon to be back up to 5) and 5 long sleeved tops. This is juuuuuuust enough to get us through a week of daycare plus 1 weekend day of “I don’t care that my kid is wearing a shirt that already has paint on it.”  In other words, since I am lazy and try to only do laundry on the weekends, this is not quite enough.

Enter my mother, come to town for Thanksgiving, and game for a trip to Goodwill!

What we thrifted, Round 2:

Dino top:
My kid loves dinos and I love claiming non-traditionally “girl” colors and motifs for my kid via her clothing.  I don’t think she cares yet.

Glitter top:

Sorry the pic isn’t better – it says something about Glitter EVERYWHERE.  Too twee?  I was on the fence about the message but I love the sports jersey look and the color scheme.  It crosses traditionally “boy” colors/design with a traditionally “girl” love of glitter in a way that means any gender could wear it.  Because really, what little kid doesn’t love something designed to be strewn everywhere with glorious abandon so that your parent can’t ever get it out of your hair/off the floor/combed out of the cat?


Then I broke my own rule and let my mom thrift two shortsleeve shirts that will (theoretically) work for my kid next summer: a lion-with-sunglasses top (fun and cute), and a tow truck top (she loves tow trucks and looks great in blue).  My mom is a bad influence.


This month my mom sent us this for Christmas, which we have used as our church/holiday party outfit ad nauseum:


So that completes my kid’s current capsule.

The orange shirt is an outlier, colorwise, but goes just fine with jeggings and can work with the stripe pants and the heart pants (first time out she wore it with the hearts).  The purple pants are also a bit of a color outlier but still go (to my eyes) with the polka dot top, the teal top, the heart top, and in a pinch, the blue/pink stripe top.


TIP: save (or buy) a pair of pants or two that you’ve thought about donating – too worn/too baggy/too short – and take ’em to daycare/preschool/babysitter in case of potty training accidents.


How do you all thrift for the little people in your life?  Scroll down to comment!


PS My sister sent this yesterday for Christmas, so now we have another shirt.  Thanks Seester!


Reader Survey + Thrift Tips

I’ve whipped up a quick survey geared towards helping me understand more of what you want to read here at Thriftshop Chic.  It’s under 10 questions and, depending on how loquacious you want to be, it could easily take you under 2 minutes.

Click here if you’d like to take it – I’d be supremely grateful!

And as a thank you, a quick appetizer of thrifting tips to chew on as you head into the week:

  • Look outside the plus-sized section for plus-size clothes.  They’re often mixed in with everything else.
  • Same goes for maternity clothes – often thrift store employees don’t recognize maternity brands to sort them out.
  • Line for the dressing room?  Wear a close-fitting tank top or undershirt to be able to try on tops in public (thanks Nicole for that tip!)
  • Trying on a dress but don’t want to take your shoes, socks, and pants off again?  Just unbutton and drop trou like you’re using the toilet, then try the dress on over your head.  If your imagination can’t remove the pants from the ensuing visual, well, just go ahead and take ’em off.
  • If you have the luxury of a fitting room with more than one hook, set up a quick system to help you sort your finds: NOs on one hook, YESes on another hook, and MAYBEs on a third hook (or on the YES hook if you only have two hooks).  Another option, particularly if you only have one hook?  As you hang your tryons back on the hook, face all your YESes forward and your NOs backwards, tucking each NO at the back of the batch.

One more link to the survey, if you’re so inclined.

Happy Halloween!  (If my toddler wanted anything to do with putting on a costume, I would’ve gone as Shere Khan with a side of skulls.  You?)


To Stock Up – Or Not?

This post accidentally published yesterday; if you saw it yesterday, please enjoy the same text but with photos!

My thrifting list got something crossed off it recently when I found a replacement for my too-short winter white turtleneck.

Well, technically, I found four replacements.

I’d been looking for a few months (thrifting in the off-season to give myself time to find juuuuust the right piece) and ended up finding the perfect cream turtleneck(s) by Coldwater Creek.  The fit is not too tight (and also not too big – Coldwater Creek runs large), the length will prevent chilly skin exposure, and this shade of white will warm me up instead of washing me out:

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on


The fold lines were still in these babies, so I figured maybe Coldwater Creek had ended up with some leftover stock which they donated to Goodwill.  (I’ve seen this often at Goodwills in Florida and New Hampshire; not as common in Georgia.)

But there were no tags…so maybe someone was really neurotic and bought 4 to stock up and then NEVER. USED. THEM.

Which brings me to my dilemma: to stock up, or not?

I mean, 4 practically brand new tops in a style and color I love and know I will use, at a fraction of their original price.  Tempting.

Having multiples of a staple item means less wear on each individual garment, and it means you always have backups if one gets lost/torn/shrunk/stained.  (Hello child who loves to eat frozen berries and then wipe that cute little face on me.)


But how many backups do you really need?

How many resources do they tie up?  (Not as many if you’re thrifting, but still about $24 for the 4 of these.)

How many other people could use these if I left some on the racks?

And how much do backups promote a fear- or scarcity-based outlook on life?


This last question makes me think of a few illustrations from Marie Kondo‘s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the woman who hoarded 20,000 Q-tips just in case, or the man who stockpiled 60 toothbrushes because they were a good deal.

We’re guilty of this last one, though thankfully on a smaller scale.  Costco toothbrush 10-packs, anyone?  The cost-per-toothbrush was cheap and it’s annoying to find yourself without a toothbrush because your toddler is always carrying them off somewhere…but really, getting a toothbrush from the dentist every 6 months suffices.  (Plus just 1-2 extra per year if we’re sticking with the ADA guidelines.)  Or a miswak stick.

Because what happens when we stock up based on good deals and scarcity is we end up with a toothbrush holder that looks like this:


And we’re STILL using old, busted toothbrushes, in part because it’s much harder to keep track of all those extras and whether they’re in a usable state.  (I recently evacuated half the sock population from the spouse’s drawer for the same reason – JUST. TOO. MANY to keep clean/folded/sorted/screened for holes.)


Look, it’s not pathological to have one backup of a frequently-used item; it’s practical. But what if you had that one backup for every item in your closet?  You’d own DOUBLE the clothes.

You got room in your closet for that?  I sure don’t.

Too many backups also limits your creativity.  I’ve seen doubles and triples of this staple summer shirt in the thrift stores but I refrain from buying, because even though I love that top, there will come a time when I’m ready for something fresh.  If, when that shirt dies, I have two or three more just like it waiting in the wings, the sunk cost will discourage me from evaluating whether it’s still “me” and what else might fit into that slot instead.

And fear not – with mass production these days and, therefore, mass donation, it’s easier than you might assume to find an exact replacement when something you’re not ready to let go bites the dust.  You may even have better luck than with retail, where specific styles are often produced for just one season, then discontinued.


So how many of the four turtlenecks did I end up buying?


Two.  Ha.

I told myself it’s suuuuuch a neutral staple that I’ll never fall out of love with it…but after my proposal to wear nothing but turtlenecks this coming winter, it’s entirely possible I’ll be sick of them by 2017.

On the other hand, there’s always the danger of being drawn on with permanent marker by the small person who lives with me.


Still a work in progress over here, folks.  :)


What’s your take on stocking up?  Do you find you go through garments so quickly you need to replace them?  Or does it clutter up your closet to have extras?  Scroll down to comment!




Translating Style from One Season to Another: Tips

Tuesday’s post was an exercise in thinking out loud about my own winter style; I know it’s helpful for some of y’all to read about how another person strategizes about their wardrobe.

But I wanted to do a short reboot with universal tips based on what I learned, because not everyone wants to read my inner style monologue.  If you process best via bullet-points and lists instead of story and narration, this post’s for you!

Tips for Restyling your off-season wardrobe

  • Thrift off-season.  It gives you time to go slowly, consider where your  holes are, and wait for the perfect piece.
  • Figure out what’s not working.  What do you dislike about your current lineup?  Is it the texture, the silhouette, the level of formality?  The way things go together (or don’t)?  Some ideas for getting your juices flowing to diagnose the issue:
    • Write about it
    • Talk about it with a friend who has an objective and stylish eye and knows you well
    • Scroll back through outfit pics to see what worked/didn’t (this is the #1 reason I use Instagram)
    • Go thrifting and try on some different styles to see if a new perspective helps
  • Figure out what works in a part of your wardrobe you love, then apply it elsewhere.
    • Silhouette/cut.  What’s the cold-weather equivalent of the silhouettes you love in your warm-weather clothes (or vice versa)?
      I’ve nailed down my summer work style – tapered pants and looser tops – so for me this would mean slimmer trousers + slouchy sweaters in winter.
      For you maybe it’s loving shorts and a 3/4-sleeve top in summer, so you do a miniskirt over tights/leggings and a blazer with rolled sleeves over a shirt in winter.
    • Color scheme.  What color scheme makes your heart sing in summer?  Find a muted, darker, or bolder version for winter. Or vice versa, lighten up your winter creams into white, navies into sky blue, aubergines into mauves.  Keeping it in the same color family also lets you use cross-over pieces in the transition months.
      (On the other hand, if you’re sick of one color scheme by the end of the season, it’s also a great time to adopt an entirely different palette.)
    • Fabric/texture.  If you love natural woolens or tweeds in the winter, try linen or cotton in the summer.  Silk, depending on the weight, works well across seasons.  If you love you some tencel, modal, or jersey in the summer, find the same fabric but in heavier weights (or just layer what you already have) for winter.

Caroline at Un-Fancy does this whole how-does-my-summer-style-get-winterized-or-vice-versa thing well if you need some visual inspiration.  So does Janice at The Vivienne Files – she visually walks you through putting together and accessorizing an outfit for each month of the year, with all the garments sharing the same style philosophy and color palette.  Amazing.


Do y’all prefer lists and tips, or narrative and story when it comes to thinking about style?

And what are your tricks for revamping a wardrobe you’re not currently wearing?



Restyling an Off-Season Wardrobe

Copy of Winter capsule wardrobe (4)

I wrote last week about why I like thrifting garments off-season: it gives me several months’ breathing room to mull over my wardrobe, figure out what worked/didn’t and where the holes are, and assemble what I want in the lineup for next season.

Thrift shops make this relaxed, thoughtful process possible because they have all seasons of clothing available all year ’round instead of for just 2 weeks before everything good is sold out (thanks retail stores).

Since it’s almost May, that means I’m currently thinking about my winter wardrobe.  (Not that I’m not excited about spring/summer clothes…I was thrilled to break out my first short-sleeved work top and dress last week.)

This may seem counter-intuitive, but the juxtaposition actually helped me get a handle on what in my winter closet needs fixing. Continue reading “Restyling an Off-Season Wardrobe”

Rough Guide to Atlanta Thrift Stores, Part 2 – Goodwill

Rough Guide Pt 2

Part 2 of my (geographically biased) guide to Atlanta thrift stores is all about the Goodwills, baby.  (Click here for part 1.)  Because: SO. MANY. GOODWILLS in Atlanta.  Goodwill of North Georgia is so successful and ubiquitous that I’m pretty sure it’s run by the Illuminati.

No, seriously—I don’t want to devalue their hard work and awesome market strategizing by attributing their success to Satan. (Btw, this is the problem with saying Beyoncé is part of the Illuminati…’cause some people can’t or don’t want to believe an African-American woman would have this much success due to her own hard work and savvy.  /rant over.)

But truly, the Goodwills are EVERYWHERE. And they’re growing.

All of their prices are the same—they’ve increased in the 6 years I’ve lived here and are definitely not the cheapest around, but still not horrible. Most items are $5-and-change to $6-and-change, with “special items” more expensive and a few categories, like baby/toddler clothes, less so.

Without further ado, the Goodwills of Northeast(ish) Atlanta—chime in with your own experiences of said stores! Continue reading “Rough Guide to Atlanta Thrift Stores, Part 2 – Goodwill”

What I’m Currently Thrifting

In an effort to stick to my own advice about knowing what you’re looking for before you go thrifting, I like to keep a list of what specific items I’m hunting.  I find when I’m surrounded by limitless options—grocery store aisles, say, or movies to watch online, or racks upon racks of delicious secondhand clothes—my memory becomes a sieve and I can’t remember all the food/movies/clothing items I meant to look for.  Is there a name for this??

A list also keeps me on track when I get distracted by—ooh! fun shoes!— or hmmm, I like the look of those skirts…   I can consult the list and (in theory) redirect myself back to the pants/tops/dress section I meant to be combing for finds I actually need.

My list is literal; I tuck it in my jewelry drawer so I see it every time I reach for a pair of earrings.  Seeing it this often seems to combat the aforementioned sieve effect to the point that I can access it in my head even on spur-of-the-moment thrifting adventures.


(Keeping said list in your bag might be a good option for those of you who prefer to consult the real thing in situ; since my toddler likes to clean out my bag a couple of times a week, anything I try to keep track of on paper has a short shelf life.)


My current list:

  • a classic blue short sleeve or sleeveless sheath dress without a lot of embellishments
  • off-white turtleneck to replace the one that was too tight to wear on its own
  • warm winter cardigan that can layer on top of everything
  • tapered thick trousers for winter

Two visual notes re: pants I loved for this last bullet point but that weren’t in my size (I’d tailor the legs on the Talbots to taper); good research reminder for next time:

WP_20160415_13_26_59_Pro WP_20160415_13_26_53_Pro

You may have noticed that 3/4 of the things on my list are winter-related (ideally the shift would be able to go over a turtleneck and leggings, thus winterizable too).  I like to look for things off-season so that I don’t fall prey to last-minute panic when the seasons change and I am COLD and IT DOESN’T MATTER THAT THIS SWEATER LOOKS LIKE A YETI GET ON MY BODY ALREADY.

That’s why I say thrifting is a long game—keep your eyes peeled and your focus sharp and, over time, you can assemble a wardrobe that is perfect for your lifestyle, taste, and body.


Do you keep a thrifting list, whether on paper or in your head?  If so, what’s on it right now?


3 Mini-Tips for Thrifting in Style

Today I’m throwing atcha 3 quick tips that have helped me out recently. (Check out thrifting strategies Part Un et Part Deux and some more tips for a lot more ideas on how to successfully thrift.)  

  1. Start with the special price section.  Easy to overlook, especially if you don’t know where a particular store puts the “designer” items. (Common locations include behind the checkout counter, in racks near the front, and in racks near the back.)  Not all the designer/quality stuff makes it to these racks, of course—employees sorting the clothes don’t always catch all the pricey stuff—but if you’re limited for time and only want quality goods, make the pre-sorted system work for you.
    PS don’t be afraid to spend more on a really excellent pair of shoes/bag/dress if you love something and it’s a luxury/designer brand.  $20 feels like a lot when  you’re used to price tags in the single digits, but if it’s a quality piece you love, it’s worth it—and still a heck of a lot cheaper than retail.


  2. Check the clothes someone else tried on.  That sounds a little gross as I write it…but we are talking pre-owned clothes, after all.  You don’t want to miss the good stuff just because someone else took it off the rack, tried it on, and then put it on the back of the fitting room door or on the rack for tried-on clothes.  If it was in good enough shape and stylish enough for someone else to try on, it might just work for you, too.
  3. Use the couches to minimize buyer’s remorse.  Most thrift stores have a furniture section which you may overlook if you’re focused on clothing.  But it’s really your secret weapon: when your arms are full of “maybes” and you start to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of decisions to be made (this is a thing) and are in imminent danger of committing thrift lust, go sit down on one of the couches (if that’s allowed) and take a deep breath.  You can set your things down and go through them one by one; but more importantly, you can take a mental breather in order to bring to mind what’s already in your closet at home and what among your selections will work well and what won’t (or what you already have 5 pairs of).


What are your favorite thrift tips?  Scroll down to share!



On Thrifting Maternity Clothes


My advice:

Do it.

Pregnancy is the perfect time to thrift clothes because you’ll only need them for a finite time and you don’t want to lay out a fortune for a new wardrobe—you got a baby coming, after all!

Except for a couple of gifts and one pair of jeans on clearance, all my maternity clothes were second hand—passed on or lent out from other mamas, thrifted, or consigned—and I did just fine.

In fact, my maternity wardrobe was pretty ideal: cute, coordinated, and stylish without being overwhelming (because, see above, I didn’t buy a ton!).  Essentially it was a maternity capsule wardrobe, and as such, it was also a great chance to try out a different color scheme from my usual—instead of muted reds, navies, and neutrals, I got to play with springy greens, heathered purples and some fun plaids and corduroys.

Read on for ideas on how to thrift yourself some maternity clothes. Continue reading “On Thrifting Maternity Clothes”

Friday ReBlog: Thrifting Off Season

Dina Younis of Dina’s Days posted this on Instagram yesterday (let us appreciate the delicious fall colors and beautiful composition—y’all should follow her!):

Her observation is totally true.  While I did just find a winter coat in November (note: still not truly cold weather here in the ATL), I typically find great stuff off season.  I start looking for spring/summer things in January and for fall/winter stuff in the middle of summer—not coincidentally, just about the time I start getting sick of whatever weather we’re in the middle of.  It just brightens those seemingly endless, nasty, slushy days to browse through bright florals and cools down a hot August day to contemplate warm knits in leopard prints.

Click here for more on why this makes sense/how it works (and pics of the leopard print sweater in question).

What luck have you had thrifting off season?  Scroll down to comment!

Happy Friday!