22 In Expert Tips/ Series

the art of thrift store shopping

So here’s the scenario (backtrack a few weeks): I tell E that I have to work late and won’t be home until 8:30. I assume he’ll get home, have dinner, and leave some for me (insert marital advice here: never assume). I roll in around 8:20 to an empty driveway and the dark condo. I call E who sheepishly answers the phone: Where has he been for the past two hours? Savers, the national chain thrift store. He comes home half an hour later with a giddy grin and bag full of goodies. We could not be more different in this way. I love outdoor flea markets and antique treasures, yet five minutes sifting through those clothing racks gets me totally overwhelmed. But he is a champion of second-hand steals. So I tapped into his expertise for all the best tips on thrift store shopping.
What’s your favorite part about shopping in thrift stores?
I love the idea of finding something that others may have missed. It’s like a scavenger hunt and I’m trying to spot the nicest clothes for the lowest price. It’s out there, you just have to have the patience to find it!
If someone isn’t used to shopping thrift, where should they start?
For starters I recommend working with sweaters, shirts or jackets. You can quickly know if it will fit because of the standard sizing. It’s harder to find great pairs of jeans and button-up shirts as the sizing of the denim might not be exact and the quality of the dress shirt may not be ideal.


What’s one thing you’ll never buy second-hand and one thing you love buying second-hand?
I would say there are certain items that I tend to steer clear of and others I tend to gravitate towards. I find it’s easiest to unearth great sweaters, jackets and ties. The quality of these items is important and shouldn’t be purchased if there are flaws or imperfections. I would NEVER buy lounge/sweat pants or shoes, but I love buying sweaters and dress ties.


What is your favorite thrift store item ever purchased?
The best item I ever purchased was a white Luigi Borrelli dress shirt. It fit me perfectly and was my first French cuff shirt.


How do you mix thrift store clothing in with your regular wardrobe?
I’m often able to find pieces that are basic/staple wardrobe pieces. So it’s easy to wear them with other items in my current wardrobe. For instance, I’ve worn a pair of thrifted 7FAM jeans with a new Banana Republic cashmere sweater. Basic wardrobe pieces that can be mixed and matched with anything are what I look for.


If you had $1 million to spend on clothes every year, would you still shop at Savers?
Of course! Maybe not as much as I do now, but I think the thrill of finding a “gem” in a thrift store is sometimes more rewarding than the actual item purchased.
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