Tips for thrift shopping

WESTMINSTER (CUP) — Shopping second-hand is not only easy on your wallet, it is also a great way to express your individual style. Gone are the days when hand-me-downs were forced upon you, oppressing your freedom of personal expression. Today’s hand-me-downs are sought after. You can create a sense of individuality by wearing something that is limited edition or even a one-of-a-kind piece.

Let’s distinguish between thrift shopping and vintage shopping. Vintage shopping is an easier — yet potentially more expensive — way of finding pre-loved beauties. Vintage stores curate special second-hand finds for consumer convenience, so the price tags are, at times, largely marked up. Basically, you pay more for the convenience.

Not everyone is willing to spend hours sifting through racks and racks of junk at thrift stores in order to find those hidden gems. If you’re okay with spending a little extra money, vintage stores can save you most of the effort.

On the other hand, thrift shopping is just that: thrifty. Finding bargains for great items in places like Value Village, Goodwill and other thrift stores can be like a treasure hunt. Successful thrift shopping requires a keen eye, determination and patience. Walking into a Value Village as a rookie can be overwhelming and discouraging, but the key is to have the right mindset.

Here are some tips for skilled thrifting.

Know your geography

The nicer the area, the better the finds. Let’s be honest: you’re not going to have much luck finding anything of value at the Value Village in the dodgy end of town —  even if you do, leave it for those in need. Check out thrift stores in the well-to-do areas and you’ll be amazed at how what was another person’s “trash” is just waiting to be claimed as your treasure.

Manage your expectations

Walk in with no expectations or prejudgments. If you go thrifting for a specific item, you’ll never find it, and you may end up missing out on something special because you’ve been close-minded or too focused on a specific find.

Be a material girl (or guy)

Stay clear of polyester or other cheap-looking materials. If you think it’s going to make you itchy or that you’ll look as cheap as the price tag, then don’t bother. After thrifting a couple of times you will train your eye to look for materials, patterns and colours that appeal to you. You don’t have to pick out every single item to decide if you’ll like it. Scan through the materials, and if something pops out at you, pull it out and take a closer look. Don’t waste your time.

Always try it on

You never know how something will look until you put it on your body. You don’t want to look frumpy, outdated or tacky. If it’s not your style or it’s not something you can see in your wardrobe, then put it back. If it’s worth altering, then make sure the price to alter it doesn’t exceed the value of the clothing itself, and make sure you’re actually going to do it. It may only be $5, but if it’s just going to sit in your closet, what’s the point?

Bring a buddy

Especially if you’re a newbie, it always helps having a second opinion, specifically from someone who knows your taste and style. Best friends will always be honest if they like something or not.

Go with your gut

At the end of the day, you’re the one who has to wear it, and if you don’t feel comfortable or good in something, then it’s not for you. Style is 100 per cent about having confidence, which comes from knowing who you are and staying true to that. Just because something is fashionable or trendy doesn’t mean that it fits you and your style.

Happy thrifting!

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