Thrifting 101


The notion of thrifting for clothing is one that has been around for over a century. Thrifting first started as a merchant trade industry where travelers would sell their old clothes from the summer to purchase clothes for the impending winter season. Just like any tradition or popular societal custom, thrifting follows a cycle of social popularity to the extreme of diminishment from our point of view. But now that we are in the era of Mackelmore and Ryan Lewis, thrifting has made its way back onto the forefront of all our minds as the “it” thing to do.

“I’ve always been a thrifter. I’m glad people are getting into it, but most don’t understand how to properly do it,” said local fashion fiend Tiffany Woods.

A few of the dilemmas novices find with thrifting are: How to determine an item’s worth? What items should be purchased? What items should I pass on purchasing? Well fashion fiends never fear, the ‘Just In Style’ guide to all things thrifting is here!

Rappers, models, and even your mom are all thrifting but how do they find all these great items but you always come up with nothing? The simplest answer to that question is research. To properly thrift you have to know the market your desired stores are targeting.

Find thrift stores that are clothing-based, not all-purpose. This will cut your list of stores to visit in half for sure. Next, by researching the shops you can find out what kind of items they normally keep in stock and target for purchase. This can be found out with a simple phone call and just ask. If you can also find out if they also receive any wholesale merchandise or are purely resale. Wholesale thrift stores are the treasure trove for thrifters, because you’re getting barely damaged merchandise for a fifth of the price or cheaper.

Now that you’ve got your list of stores to visit compiled and have eliminated a few unnecessary stops, you’ve got to learn how to evaluate the merchandise. Resale clothing is one of the easiest items to decide whether to purchase or not. Simply ask yourself, “Do I like this? Does this look like a quality item despite its current price? What would this normally retail for? What will this add to my wardrobe?”

If the answers to those questions are positive, the item is quality, and it is a unique piece that would normally be expensive, you should get it. Make sure to take note of the type of fabric and look for any visible or glaring damages that are beyond simple repairs. A disclaimer I must make is to never expect perfection from any item purchased, some items are barely used but it is still resale clothing. My mantra for slightly damaged merchandise is if it can’t be easily fixed, washed, or hand sewn its not worth the work.

“I have found vintage luggage, purses, and jewelry in thrift stores. So there is something to be said for their accessories,” said Nordstrom Houston retail manager Brianna Turner. The strategy to purchasing accessories of any form requires a more skilled eye but with time spotting a great buy is a piece of cake. Simply evaluate the quality of material, think about what it would cost brand new in todays market, and estimate how many uses you could get out of it. Always purchase if quality has held up, its price is fair, and you feel you would get several uses.

Thrifting is something that takes skill, practice, and patience. Every time you go looking for items you will not always find something, but if you’re persistent you’ll find some amazing things. So get online, do some research on your local stores, and get to hunting, fashion fiends.

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