A lit bit of common courtesy towards staff and fellow patrons can make a big difference when shopping. Thrift stores are no different from retail stores in this respect, although some of the unique aspects of thrifting call for a few tweaks. Read on for some pointers on how to employ basic thrifting etiquette for an all-around enjoyable shopping experience.
It’s Pants Week at Thriftshop Chic. Yesterday’s post featured my newly-thrifted pants; tomorrow we’ll look at all the pants I own to help you see how thrifted pants can work in a real-life capsule wardrobe; then Thursday we’ll help you get started on perfecting your own pants lineup.
Let’s talk pants. You are probably familiar with the smorgasbord of pant styles out there, including but not limited to the typical styles in women’s/men’s pants featured below. (But first of all, let’s be clear–these are binary-conforming clothing industry terms, not dictates about what genders can wear what styles; I have had “men’s” pants in my wardrobe and know plenty of people across the gender spectrum who wear more than one pants “gender.”)
Women’s pants. Source. Notable miss: boyfriend jeans
Men’s pants. Source. Notable miss: a true pleated front
Thrifting Tip of the Day: don’t neglect the end caps, or the portion of the clothing racks on either end that extend beyond the main rack. End caps often have random items that a shopper has tried on and then couldn’t be bothered to return to their proper place, or feature displays like the one below:
This particular item was on a mannequin at the end of a row of non-dresses, so if I hadn’t spotted it on my way to check the dresses, I would’ve totally missed it. End caps are easy to scan as you walk down the central aisle of a store and often yield some prize pieces.
Check back tomorrow for a rundown on the thrift store where I snapped this shot…aaaaand an outfit post featuring the dress–because yes, it came home with me. Sneaky.
So you know how “distressed” jeans are a thing? Very much in vogue amongst style bloggers.
As my friend Sheena likes to say, this might be controversial, but…ripped jeans ain’t my cup of tea. Let me rephrase: intentionally ripped jeans ain’t my cup of tea. I have a pair of Gap jeans I bought 8 years ago at a consignment shop in Mississippi already cut off and rolled at the knee, and they have unravelled quite a bit more and are starting to thread on the pockets and side seams because I have worn them so. dang. much. I wore them through Katrina rebuilding and took engagement pictures in them and made long, comfy road trips with them and they were roomy enough to be the first jeans I wore after I had my child. The distress on these jeans tell a story–my story. Jeans shipped to the store “pre-” distressed? Jeans I artfully cut with scissors to give them that “authentic” distressed look? Not so much.
Exhibit A, from Denim Therapy – which has tips on denim care and actually repairs your busted jeans, too
BUT, I get that the distressed element can de-formalize what might otherwise come off as a “fussy” ensemble, keeping it from looking too put together. I get that deconstructed jeans bring texture and interest to an outfit. Stylistically speaking, I could probably even pull them off. But since I work in a business casual environment and spend the weekends it’s not too hot for jeans in the one pair I love*–a pair which I also use for casual Fridays–I’m going to stay content with jeans that look a bit more polished. You don’t have to chase every trend just because it shows up at the thrift store or it’s popular amongst people whose style you admire.
And now on to the difference between intentionally distressed denim and neglected denim.
When my spouse and I stopped by the thrift store on the way home from work last week (other thrifted finds: $18 quality subwoofer, handpainted photoframe, 3-hole-punch for work, and shoes for the kiddo), he went looking for men’s clothes and came out of the dressing room with a sweet-fitting pair of Gap jeans…with frayed hems. The kind you get when your hems are too long and the fray slowly eats up the back of your pants like your dog’s been mouthing them on the sly. My spouse is not really a distressed-on-purpose kind of guy–his is more an “I’ve owned this Phish shirt since 1998 so it has holes in it” kind of distressed. Not to mention that having only raggedy hems made these jeans look more sad and neglected than intentionally trendy.
Like this, but on steroids.
I pulled out my best Nancy Reagan and told him to “just say no” to the frayage. It made me sad to do it because he so rarely finds things he wants to buy at the thrift store –I take that back, he rarely finds clothes he wants to buy; he often finds electronic stuff he wants to bring home!
He replied they’d be good jeans to bum around in–to which I responded with a (what I hope was gentle) reminder that he already has jeans with other strategically placed rips at home for bumming around. With a sigh he put them back.
Y’all, it ain’t easy to say no to things that alllllmost work. But I could already hear the disappointment in his voice when, tired of wearing khakis, he looks hopefully to these jeans, only to decide they just aren’t polished enough to wear to work or to a family event. And I’m all about avoiding thrift store purchases that leave you feeling less than satisfied.
What do you think about deconstructed jeans? Do you agree that fraying hems on otherwise undistressed jeans look tacky, or do you think they can add a little insouciance to your look?
More importantly, should you ever weigh in on your significant other’s (or family or friend’s) thrift choices??
*Yes I only own one pair of jeans. Well three if you count jeans for maternity wear.
A thrift store pitfall is any clothing item that for some compelling reason calls your name but which, after the first trial wear, will molder away in the back of your closet/bureau, never to see the light of day until you have mercy on it and finally donate it back to the same store from whence it came.
How do you avoid thrift pitfalls? By listening to what I like to call your Style Conscience.
It has a sort of minty, magical gleam
This week I had to go to the Goodwill for work (lucky gal, I know!!) to drop off some items we were no longer using at the office and to look for a gag gift for a departing coworker. I found the gag gift, along with a perfect little ramekin to keep the rubber bands that had been procreating like bunnies all over the inside of my desk drawer. I had gone through the checkout line and was halfway between the cash register and the door when I spied a display area placed strategically near the entrance. Normally these displays catch your eye as you enter with hand-selected merchandise–some stores go with the outfits-on-mannequins approach while others (this Goodwill included) go by theme: designer or upscale clothes, all denim items, all white shirts, etc. But since I’d gone in on a mission and with a tight schedule, I had totally missed these racks. Good thing they caught my eye on the way out, though, because what was the theme of these display racks but navy blue trousers, for which I had been thrifting at least a year!
Lesson learned: don’t let a great find pass you by just because you didn’t think to look somewhere unexpected. More on that later–because sometimes your new favorite piece will be hidden in the kids’ section.
This past Saturday on the 4th of July my friend and I went thrifting–the perfect activity when it’s raining out, especially on a day that’s supposed to be about outdoor activities. Adhering to thrifting tactic “Know Before You Go”, I had 2 goals in mind:
- try my hand at live Thriftstagramming for the first time, and
- look for a neutral silk camisole to go underneath some sheer-ish tops I have.
We covered strategy–your overarching approach to The Thrift–in Thrifting Done Right, Part 1. Now it’s time for tactics–how you actually operate in store. If this is sounding like a military operation or a major league playbook, please excuse my enthusiasm. And remember, I’m not here to be a thrift dictator, so take the principles you like and make them your own.
Thrift store shopping can be overwhelming for the uninitiated–aisles upon aisles of clothes, a mishmash of styles and colors that looks like a muppet threw up everywhere, and the siren call of cheap, cheap prices that can make you think “It’s only $3…I can buy 10 shirts here for the same amount I’d spend on one shirt retail!” Even people who are thrift pros still occasionally get sucked into the vortex of inexpensive and plentiful clothing.
This post covers some basic strategies for your approach to thrifting. Part 2 covers tactics for once you’re in the store (see what I did there? Strategies are for how you look at the forest, while tactics are the methods you use to negotiate individual trees…or something). Oh, and let’s be generous about the “done right” part–I’m not here to be a thrift dictator, so take the principles you like and make them your own. Continue reading “Thrifting Done Right, Part 1”
I’d say 95% of my wardrobe comes from thrift stores. The other 5%? Christmas gifts from my mom and mother-in-law, the occasional fair trade or Made-in-USA (where labor practices can be monitored) item, and things you just don’t really want to buy in a thrift store (your mileage may vary):