This Earth Day I wanted to share a (passion? hobby? interest?) of mine – if you couldn’t tell from the title – thrifting! When I was in high school there were definitely mixed opinions among my friends about shopping secondhand. It wasn’t looked down on, per se, but it also wasn’t widely accepted.
My family has always been thrift store, secondhand shoppers. Not because we needed to, but because we wanted to!
My mom is the most resourceful/economical woman on the planet and she instilled those values in myself and my siblings from a young age. And in our house, finding treasures in thrift shops was the thrill of the month!
True story: my brother found an authentic Chanel bag at a Goodwill and gave it to me for Christmas one year. I mean… if that’s not thrilling, I don’t know what is!
Now, I think the conversation and attitude about shopping vintage or secondhand has changed and it’s much more accepted and often encouraged! But still a lot of people have some pre-conceived notions about thrifting that I want to talk about today.
Currently, about 40% of my current wardrobe is from secondhand stores of some kind. And when I say secondhand, that’s a combination of online platforms (like Poshmark and ThreadUp) as well physical secondhand stores.
I think this post is timely for Earth Day because the fashion industry is one of the most wasteful, harmful industries. Did you know the fashion industry uses extremely harmful chemicals in the production of clothing? Fabrics like polyester are completely synthetic (i.e. not naturally produced) which contributes to the amount of toxic waste that’s dumped into our water sources.
From excess plastics to the amount of clothing we just throw away is negatively impacting our planet. Shopping secondhand (or even just donating your clothing) is an incredible way for an individual to contribute to the clean-up of our planet. By buying fewer newly produced items, both the demand and the production decreases.
And on a less environmental note, I honestly find more pleasure in searching a bit for unique treasures in a secondhand store than knowing my top is going to be worn by 40 other Target-loving women at an event.
I’ve been able to cultivate my personal style so much easier by frequenting my favorite thrift stores because I’m able to pull a mix of affordable vintage, designer, and obscure brands to create my neutral-focused wardrobe.
1.Go Frequently to Find Treasures
I have a rotating list of my favorite thrift stores in the area and some that are a little further out. Because these shops change out their inventory so frequently it’s common to find loads of treasures one day and nothing the next. If I’m looking for something ion particular I try to visit my favorites at least once a month (or more depending on my time) to try and find what I’m looking for.
2. Mange Your Expectations
It’s not like an actual store where you could walk out with 10 items. Go in knowing you may not find anything. It will make your score that much more rewarding if you find something you actually like.
Also, I almost never go in with something very specific in mind. I may know I’m looking for a white tablecloth or small baskets, but I try to keep my mind open to the possibilities of what that might look like (instead of comparing it to a Terrian tablecloth or a Target basket).
3. Know What’s a Good Price and What’s a Rip Off
Sometimes there are items at secondhand stores (especially furniture/home goods) that I can find at TJ Maxx brand new for the exact same price. I’m not looking to pay $50 for a dress at a secondhand shop – unless it’s designer – so know the limit of your budget and what a gently used item is actually worth.
4. Look for Quality Items
I’ve made the mistake in the past of picking up EVERYTHING I’ve liked at a thrift only to discover it had a small hole or slight stain. Now, I’m really through in my examination of the item in order to make sure I’m still only buying something that looks new because I know I won’t wear it if there’s a noticeable blemish on the item.
Also, make sure you check the return policy of the store. Often thrift stores are final purchase on all clothing, so really know you’re going to get some good wear out of a piece before you purchase it.
5. If You Don’t Know a Brand, Look It Up
I’ve discovered some amazing brands in thrift stores. One of my favorite high school thrift store purchases was from the designer brand Marni. I had never heard of the brand but a quick search later I found the exact jacket I purchased for $6.99 was a current season piece retailing for over $500! A seriously good find.
If you’re interested in more on shopping secondhand I’m thinking about turning it into a mini series either on the blog or on IG stories. Let me know if you want me to keep sharing shopping secondhand tips!