January is here and it’s New Year’s resolution time!
I’m usually not big on resolutions because I think self-improvement should happen all year, not just in January. And I tend to give up on New Year’s resolutions after a few weeks because they feel forced.
But it’s 2018 and I’m mixing things up this year! I’m resolving to make more secondhand clothing purchases.
For the past several months, I’ve been more conscientious about my clothing purchases by only buying from ethical brands that use sustainable materials and manufacturing practices.
But while considering sustainable lifestyle decisions, I’ve come to the conclusion that any consumerism is bad for the environment. It’s certainly a good start to buy from only ethical brands, but purchasing new items, even if they’re sustainably made, negatively impacts the environment to some extent. Natural resources are consumed, greenhouse gases are generated during manufacturing and shipping, and some environmental waste will be produced at some point during the item’s lifetime – either during it’s production or when it eventually ends up in a dump.
The only truly sustainable way to add to your closet is to buy secondhand.
Thrift stores are packed with cast off textiles, but only a small percentage of them actually get resold – millions of pounds are carted off to landfills and billions of pounds are exported to developing countries, leading to a significant chunk of greenhouse gas emissions during transportation.
If everyone in the USA made the decision to buy a few secondhand items per year, the amount of environmental waste contributed by discarded clothing would be significantly reduced. We’re talking millions of pounds less clothing in the dump annually that won’t be decomposing and emitting carbon dioxide and methane.
It’s a no-brainer, right?
But if you’re anything like me, you find thrifting super difficult. So many racks, so much junk, so overwhelming!
Today, I’m sharing with you a list of tips I put together to help myself be more successful while I’m thrifting. Check them out and head over to your local Goodwill!
Seven Tips for Thrifting Like a Pro
1. Make a list.
I’ve been really big into planning my clothing purchases to avoid adding unnecessary items to my closet that will get minimal wear. At all times, I have a list of two or three items that I really want or need. Right now, it’s a fisherman cardigan and a pair of grey denim.
It is very easy to get carried away at the thrift store because the prices are so good. Stick to your list and only pick up items that will fit in with what’s currently in your closet. Otherwise, you’ll just be donating those purchases right back to Goodwill after they sit in your closet for a few months.
2. Don’t feel pressured.
In my younger years, I actually loved thrifting and bought pretty much all of my clothes secondhand (much to my mom’s dismay – she tried to bribe me more than once to wear cute, new clothes like “normal” teens). But I always felt like I had to buy something every time I went to the thrift store. And it was easy to give in because, hey, even if I don’t love it, what’s a few bucks? But that attitude got me dresser drawers stuffed with men’s graphic tees that I pretty much never wore.
In the spirit of keeping a minimal wardrobe, don’t feel like you always have to buy something when you go thrifting. If you hold out for things you really love, the moment you find that perfect vintage fisherman cardigan will be magical and you’ll feel like a thrift store queen.
3. Clear your schedule.
It takes time to go through the racks at the thrift store, so make sure you give yourself an hour or two to spend browsing. This is a tough one for me because I don’t often have time away from the kids and bringing a two-year-old to Goodwill is my own personal nightmare.
Bribe your husband to watch the kids for an hour so you can have uninterrupted time to visit the store. It’s super hard to find anything worthwhile at the thrift store when you’re rushed. As the saying goes, “You get out what you put into it.”
4. Don’t be afraid of alterations.
If you find something that you love but it doesn’t fit quite right, take it to a tailor. It’ll only cost you a few bucks and you’ll have a perfect fit for a lot less than buying new.
When I was in 8th grade, I found a pair of men’s size 42 jeans that I loved. The fabric was soft and worn in to perfection. But it never occurred to me that I could take them to a tailor. Instead, I rigged them by wrapping them tight around my waist and attaching the hook closure to one of the side belt loops. It was super ridiculous, but it worked!
These days, I’m still keeping my eyes peeled for things on my want list, even if they’re not the correct size. But I’m operating under the assumption that I’ll get them altered if necessary.
5. Shop in the men’s section.
Don’t limit yourself to the women’s section. Oftentimes, donated clothing has shrunk, so you might find something valuable on the men’s racks. And you can always have it altered to fit.
6. Try a different location.
I haven’t had much luck at the thrift stores in hipper neighborhoods because the racks are already heavily picked through. If you’re looking for the perfect vintage Levi’s at that Goodwill in the college neighborhood, you can bet that hundreds of other people had the same idea. Try traveling to a thrift store outside of the city and see what you can find there.
7. Stop at a vintage shop.
When all else fails, check out your local vintage store. The pieces will be more expensive, but they’re curated for you and you won’t have to spend hours picking through racks.
You can also try Etsy, Poshmark or Ebay if you have something particular in mind. I’ve had some success finding specific brands on all three. You’ll have to pay for shipping, but it could be worth the convenience.
I’ve been following these tips and it’s definitely helped my thrifting game. My most recent score was an amazing handmade (!!) cropped knit sweater. I had a chance to wear it while I was in Pittsburgh for the holidays, but it’s a heavy knit and a little too warm for San Diego right now. It’s great for the cooler hours when the sun is down, but with two small children at home, I almost never go out while the sun is down!
I styled it as shown above with boyfriend denim and riding boots. Because it’s a snug fitting sweater, I think it would also look great with these wide leg pants and ankle boots for a more contrasting silhouette.
Let’s chat. Do you like thrifting? Have you been able to score any amazing finds?