I’ve been thrift shopping since 2006 and it has become one of my favorite hobbies. I love the hunt, and it can be very rewarding. In fact, I’ve found most of my wardrobe at thrift, goodwill, and secondhand shops – all at ridiculously low prices.
The secret is patience and frequency. Not one day goes by that I don’t check the vintage store in my neighborhood. I’ve also become acquainted with the owners and employees there, who often call me when new duds arrive in my size. Sometimes, too, I’ll let them know about specific items I’m looking for, with the hope that they’ll think of me during their next buying trip.
The following are some of my favorite vintage finds, along with tips from the TSB team on the art of thrifting.
1. Vintage Layers
Vintage store items are one in a million. So if you want it, buy it now! Chances are, if you leave it behind it will get scooped and you won’t come across the same piece again.
This Ralph Lauren lumberjack coat is one of my go-tos for Fall/Winter. To be honest, the sleeves are a touch short, but the body fits just right and I had been looking for a jacket like this for a while. When you’re getting a $300 jacket for $30, you might have to compromise a little.
Here are some things that can help you determine the quality of a vintage item:
1. Brand name. I hate to sound like a “label whore” but knowing who manufactured an item gives you an idea of the expected quality. Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean that non-brand items are low quality. Personally, I have some amazing no-name pieces, like this corduroy waistcoat.
2. Fabric content. Look for organic fibers (like wool or cotton) and avoid blends with a large amount of synthetic fibers (like polyester and rayon).
3. Feel it. The “hand” of a cloth can tell you a lot. Generally, the softer and sturdier the fabric, the better it will wear.
4. Try it on. A well-cut garment can be slim and fitted without being overly restricting.
5. Check the hardware. If the item has zippers or snaps, give them a test run. Cheap clothes have cheap hardware that “sticks” are breaks.
Vintage head-to-toe is not easy, but it can be done (see our post on All Vintage Everything). Here everything is secondhand, with the exception of the pants.
These basket-weave lace-ups are not the highest quality, but I get compliments every time I wear them. Not bad for $30.
- Spectaculars eyeglasses by Fabulous Fanny’s
- Red plaid jacket Vintage by Polo Ralph Lauren
- Beige corduroy vest Vintage
- Blue denim shirt Vintage
- Navy blue corduroy pants by JCrew
- Brown basket weaved shoes Vintage