The writeup that previously existed above mine touched on a lot of things you might shop for in a thrift store, but gave (I felt) too little consideration to shopping for apparel.
"?? What on earth is that supposed to mean? Surely it's not a reference to not shopping for clothes
. My stars, clothes shopping is by far the best reason to go to garage sales
, swap meets, thrift stores, etc. Granted, people who cruise these venues soley for clothes don't generally make as much as people who go out looking for antiques and what have you, but the thrill of the chase
when the chase excludes all but apparel is incomperable.
Here are some tips, whether you're shopping for a wardrobe or for beer money
- Unless you don't have the capital, there's no excuse for passing up a good deal. The biggest heartbreak of second-hand clothes shopping is that the really, really good stuff is almost never in your size (assuming that you, like the majority of the population, are more or less average sized). In the all-too-common event that the gorgeous $2 vintage designer label mint condition hand beaded cocktail dress you've picked up is a size -3, don't put it back in the bin. Someone else will want it. In the example case, "someone" is probably a large vintage boutique like Seattle/Portland's Red Light.
- It's a goodly amount of work to sift through what will be almost entirely crap in search of a few golden nuggets of fashion. If the racks you're sorting through aren't so full that you can't clearly see a little piece of what's on each hanger, this process can be sped up quite a bit by staying focused on what is acceptable and what is not. Scan for fabrics and colors the Ministry of Truth should have written out of existence the second the sixties ended, and avoid them. If you see an off color that could be ok, if the cut were right, look at the seams. Seams hold a suprising amount of subtle information on quality and style. Trouser seams look different than elastic waist polyester bellbottoms seams look different than Levi's seams. The fewer things you have to pull off the rack and hold up to examine, the better. Every second you spend at one rack is a second in which someone at another rack could be having a Marge Simpson Chanel suit experience that was meant to be yours. Hence, it's good to establish some sort of screening process.
- If you're going to try to shop for clothes for the opposite sex, do your research first. If possible, bring a differently-gendered friend who's willing to play mannequin for several hours. By the time they reach adulthood, most avid shoppers have developed a good eye for cut, but this generally pertains only to clothes they wear and clothes for their own gender. Spatial reasoning abilities will help you in this area. I have no such skills and, hence, have never been able to find a pair of men's slacks that fit correctly.
- Take a break every now and then, or you'll come home and find you've got two really good finds and a bag and a half of ridiculous bullshit. Go look at shoes, or bad art, or anything but clothes. Sorting clothes takes a great deal of effort and concentration. There are times when you hit that shopper's high and the hangers go click, click, click as you Rolodex through them, not confused by the siren's song of chartreuse dacron or driven to indecision over whether a pair of jeans is flared or boot cut. Mostly that doesn't happen, and you get sucked in, straining to remember what nice clothes look like while drowning in a sea of neon tropical print mumus. Be strong, walk away.
- Never buy anything trendy. It doesn't matter that the glitter denim capris with the safety pin seams are only a buck. Do not buy them, nor any of their ilk. These things are being thrown away for a reason. Stick to classic and, if you deviate from this philosophy, limit your trendy purchases to vintage trendy and vintage tacky.
- Don't be afraid to come away empty handed. Don't buy things that are "almost exactly" what you want, unless you happen to have mastered the arts of the sewing machine.
Do follow ignorans' advice above.
- ailie adds: "If you find something that fits you perfectly but is too ugly (or not ugly enough) to wear, buy it anyway. You can take it apart and use it as a pattern to make your own new version from fabric you do like!" (Note that, if memory serves, ailie is some sort of crafty sewing supervixen. You have to train before pulling mad l33t freestyle stunts like this.)