How to Thrift
The most sustainable clothing is the clothing that you already have and wear. However, if there are some gaps in your wardrobe, or you just want to try a new look, then the best alternative is thrifting.
Coming off of Fashion Revolution Week, I want to be mindful of how we get our clothes and the impact we have when we buy new and throw away old. No matter how organic, or “clean” the manufacturing of new clothing is, there is still a negative footprint that is created. When we donate our old items, thinking it will do good in the world, they are often shipped overseas (because Americans don’t want it), which takes away jobs from local tailors. I mention these points to bring about awareness, not guilt. In addition, I want to encourage slowing down impulse buys and to think twice before offering over life’s earnings for new things. Although I buy new, thrift, and donate stuff, I am also buying less, thrifting for key pieces, and styling more!
My friend Michael always shows up to our Monday Night Dinners looking super cool and rocking unique jackets, shoes, or pants - I envy his look. He is a thrifter and has become really good at finding treasures amongst the chaos of people's unwanted clothing. I, on the other hand, immediately feel anxious, confused, and drained at the thought of trying to find something cool in piles of “junk.” In fact, if you are anything like me, then you may feel that thrift stores are overwhelming and seemingly unorganized. So I asked Michael how he manages to find great pieces without getting overwhelmed by the sheer volume of clothing. We went thrifting together and he gave me pointers that streamlined the process and took away the anxiety. I have even gone on my own since then and felt at ease and found some great pieces!
Here are tips on how to thrift:
1. Have a purpose or list of what you are looking for. Be specific and limit yourself to looking for only a couple of pieces at a time. When Michael goes, he limits himself to one piece of clothing at a time, e.g., he will only check out jackets. After looking through the jackets, he will then move on to another item, such as sweaters. When I went, I was looking for basic blouse-like tops in neutral colors.
2. Have an idea of what you are willing to pay for the condition of used clothing. This aspect of thrifting can also determine the type of thrift store you go to. If you are willing to pay more for used, ready-to-wear goods, then check out consignment shops, as they tend to be more high-end. If you’re looking for things to fix up or do DIY projects with, then maybe Goodwill is the better choice.
3. Once you’re at the thrift store of your choice, pay attention to signage or ask a worker about the general layout of the store. Although it may seem like a no brainer, this was one of the first tips Michael gave to me. This helped me immensely! Instead of feeling like I was walking into chaos, I knew what I was looking for and could go straight to that section.
4. Know your comfortable color pallet and start there. This was another genius tip from Michael. Because thrift stores usually organize things by color, it eased my anxiety of where to start in order to be successful. Since “Curating my Closet,” I know what my wardrobe’s color palette is and can easily add to it!
5. Be patient and persistent. Not every trip is a success, but with these tips you will be well on your way to pro thrifting!
6. I am going to throw this one in for fun - bring a friend! Sometimes I think I found something good, only to have it be borderline “grandma,” “frumpy,” or just plain gross. Friends are good sounding boards and can hopefully prevent you from buying something less than great.