I have loved fashion from High School through college to post-college into my marriage and now with two kids. Post-college is where my thrifty fashion story starts. I graduated and moved to a small apartment but paying my own rent and my own food (something I didn't do while at home) meant I had almost nothing left over to indulge in the latest trends. With a sit-down job my tiny little college self was...expanding... and I was in NEED of all-new clothes. What is a girl to do? My boyfriend (now hubby) recommended I hit my favorite home thrift store (Savers) to check out their clothing. I never wanted to do second-hand clothing but desperate times called for desperate measures.
I was so surprised at what I found! All my favorite quality brands like The Gap, Old Navy and Target along with brands I always wanted to buy like Banana Republic, BCBG, Bebe, Michael Kors and my favorite-not-in-New-Mexico store H&M. These clothes were practically brand new (some were with tags still on) and they were cheap! I was paying $10 for dress pants from Banana Republic and $6 for shoes from Dillards by Giani Bini. I have been a faithful Savers shopper ever since and have even expanded my Savers/Goodwill shopping for my two young toddlers. It takes time to go through the hundreds upon hundreds of items (my store is very well organized) but it is worth the massive savings.
Here are some tips for finding and using a good thrift store.
- Find out where a thrift store gets its donations from. Savers on the west side of town gets its donations from three neighboring upscale cities and local upscale neighborhoods so it is nearly always full of hardly worn good quality name brands. The Savers on the other side of town gets its donations from the poorer part of the city so the clothes tend to be really "used".
- Flip through fashion magazines/websites for the latest styles or key basics and then assess your closet. See what you need and what you want then decide on a budget.
- Finally once your budget is set, see if there is a way to get more discounts on top of the cheap prices (yup I still wanted more discounts). My local Savers has a HUGE 50% off sale twice a year. I do our kids' wardrobes-Winter and Summer during this sale and I will do any replenishing in my or the hubby's wardrobe that is needed. I also found out that Savers offers a 20% off coupon on ENTIRE PURCHASE for a small grocery bag of donations. When I purge clothes or pillows or home items, I save them and if I need or want something I only donate a grocery bag at a time to max out my savings. Our Goodwill also offers 25% off entire purchases on Mondays.
- Go Frequently. It is not like the mall where new items come in every month or season. Thrift stores get new items all the time, all day long. You have to be willing to be patient and look frequently especially if you are looking for a specific item. I recently waited for two months looking for a specific shoe and just as I was beginning to lose hope and think about paying $60-80, I found a brand new pair of shoes in a different brand that were exactly what I wanted for only $6!!
- Be Choosy. The danger of thrifty shopping is that you will end up with tons of "so-so" $3 dollar items. Hold out and wait till it is amazing, The shopping experience needs to be the same as at the mall or a dept store: if you are not loving it- then DON'T get it. If you stick to this rule, your closet will be filled with amazingly good fashions on a dime budget.