I grew up in a family full of fashionable women. We all coveted each other’s wardrobes and hoped and prayed that a sister, mother, aunt, or grandmother would decide that her wardrobe was too full, and that it was time to clean out the closet. This was a happy day for all of the recipients, but often these events were few and far between.
Finding new clothes for the season was always a miserable venture with the hideous, generic styles that one would find at the department stores. We wanted embroidery, jacquard, beads, silk! So we finally got wise, and started heading to the thrift stores at the beginning of every season.
The thrift store was a wonderful place full of possibilities and treasures to be found. Okay, the musty smell always made me sneeze, but my discomfort would quickly melt away once the excitement of the hunt took over.
But the prize items were not always easy to find. There are tricks to shopping second hand. Many people find their first few experiences disappointing. I remember the first time I went with my older sister and could not find a thing, while she walked off with cocktail dresses and mink trimmed coats! “Thrift store shopping is a skill. Not everyone has it,” she told me. Through the years, I have learned this skill, and I will pass on some tips to my readers on how to acquire it:
1. Always go to the thrift store with what you’re searching for in mind. Thrift stores can be huge and daunting: if you don’t know what you are looking for, how will you ever find it?
2. Check the labels. I recommend making sure the fabric content are natural fibers. And if you can find designer name labels, once on the garments are better than the hanger appeal would suggest.
3. Look for original price tags. This is oddly common. There are actually people out there who buy things, never wear them, and send them to the thrift store untouched! Shocking, but I’m always happy to take it.
6. Try on the “old lady” clothes. If it looks like something that your grandmother would have worn, chances are the tailoring is immaculate. Most clothes used to be tailored to be form-fitting and flattering. Old school design houses such as Balenciaga,Prada, and Lanvin still use the classical tailoring methods. But the companies that produce the clothing that reaches the majority of shoppers have now given up on tailored fits, and instead try to fit every garment to all body shapes. So try on some of those older styles, especially if you’re trying to achieve a more polished or sophisticated look.