Strategies for Thrifting Trends

The Friday re-blog a few weeks ago about thrifting runway trends got me thinking about thrifting trends in general.

In some ways, I like to think of thrifting as a second-run theater where all the movies show up 2 months late but the tickets are $1.50 so you don’t mind waiting; plus 2 months is enough time to hear from other moviegoers whether that new blockbuster is really worth your money. (This is how I ended up seeing Catching Fire and Mockingjay Part 1 only last week.)

So it goes with clothing trends–there’s a definite delay in their arrival at your local thrift shop, but you get them for a lot cheaper AND there’s a buffer between you and any short-lived, ill-considered trends (personally I’m thinking of all things neon).  You have some time to let new trends, colors, etc. marinate and decide whether they really fit your style, instead of just succumbing to fashion peer pressure–“everybody’s wearing military parkas, so I must, too!”

Military parkas--a trend I've studiously avoided
Military parkas–a trend I’ve studiously avoided

Full disclosure: I tend to be a late adopter for the reasons stated above plus the fact that sometimes it just takes a while for something to grow on me (slim-cut pants come to mind…), so I’m biased.  You may not be as patient, or you may be more adventurous or spontaneous, or you may just want to be able to do the fashion equivalent of talking about The Martian in the staff lunchroom the Monday after it comes out.  No judgment here!

So if you want to enjoy trends but also shop secondhand, how quickly do trends cycle through the buy-donate-resell cycle–that is, when can you expect to find them in thrift stores?  Well, it varies.  A really popular trend can take awhile to show up on thrift racks because EVERYBODY is buying them and actually wearing them, and the greater the trend’s staying power, the less likely folks will want to donate their own pair (I’m looking at you again, slim-cut pants and skinny jeans–took forEVER for them to show up in thrift stores).  On the other hand, the more popular a certain style, the greater circulation and the greater chance you’ll see it come through eventually, and probably not before the trend has completely jumped the shark.  But it’s a guessing game.

My advice to navigating the trend/thrift rollercoaster?  First, since (almost) everything old is new again, look for donations from a few years (or decades) ago and repurpose those vintage items for today.  I guarantee you that chambray existed before J. Crew picked it up, and flared/wide-leg pants have definitely cycled in and out a few times just since I’ve been paying attention to clothes–which is not counting the bell bottoms of the 60s and 70s.  Thrift stores can be the best places to find those newly-repopularized items because it’s the first place they go after they’ve been evicted from someone’s grandma’s closet or childhood bedroom.  Maxi dresses, cross-body handbags, cashmere sweaters, sequins, velvet, palazzo pants, silk scarves, riding boots…this ain’t their first rodeo.

Second, if you’ve discerned what your style is really about and what colors/cuts/fabrics/detailing are your jam, you can determine, with a certain amount of cool-headedness, whether a trend is something you even care about at all.  If this year’s Pantone color doesn’t do it for you, but you’d buy one of everything in 2013’s color Emerald if given the chance, then avoid this year’s trend and snatch up all the donated Emerald merchandise you can find.  True style is knowing what’s you and wearing it with confidence; if you truly love something but it’s no longer “on trend,” it’ll stick in your wardrobe and become your signature; when people see you wearing it, they won’t think it’s behind the times but rather see it as part of your look.

 

What trends have you skipped–or wished you’d skipped?  What trends have you embraced because you know you’ll love them forever?  Or do you embrace new fashions, using thrifting to add some inexpensive trendiness to your closet?

3 thoughts on “Strategies for Thrifting Trends

  1. I pegged my jeans once in middle school and have never forgiven myself.

    I will forever love pull-over hooded sweatshirts even though I look like a multi-colored pumpkin with legs.

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