The Art of Thrifting feat. Westley Dimagiba

November 13th, 2012

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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.

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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
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  • http://undefined Dick Lickerson

    That bomber jacket is awesome. I’m gonna keep an eye out.

    • http://www.tsbmen.com Westley Dimagiba

      I’m actually about to sell it…

  • http://undefined Travis

    I love the sweater you have in Fall Festive. Where is it from?

  • Anthony Coco

    This a necessary read for me, especially since I haven’t gotten into this art as much or consistently as I’ve wanted. This article also reminds me, though, that I have hand me down 3-piece suits and other clothing items from my late grandfather. I need to look through them and maybe something will “suit” me just fine. Thanks for the article.

  • RJ

    Inspired me to go thrifting! I enjoyed reading this. Keep the articles coming Wes!

    p.s. I loved the macklemore link at the end.

    • http://thestyleblogger.com westley

      Will do man, glad you caught that at the end! hah

  • Fin

    Just get back from thrifting
    I got 4 jacket for $6

  • Guillermo

    Can you name a few of those thrift stores that you visit, and the tailor?
    Thanks

    • http://thestyleblogger.com Westley Dimagiba

      There’s a great set of vintage stores on 11th street btwn 1st and 2nd avenue Guillermo.

      Our tailor is Franklin at The Tailoring Room and you can find a link to their website on the bottom of our page.

      Thanks for reading!

  • VikFlo

    Great posts, I was always un sure of shopping at thrift stores but this post gave me the push I needed. Westley, I enjoy your posts but lets get more on a regular basis. LOL

    Vikflo

    • http://thestyleblogger.com westley

      lol thanks for the love, I’ll get on here more.

  • Wally

    Really cool post

    This really set off my inner thrifting spark! ‘Thing is, I’m only 5’6 and have a 33′ chest. Would I be able to find clothing to fit my frame?

    • http://thestyleblogger.com westley

      Of course man, you just have to be patient and know what you’re looking for. I’m of average build and still have to do some searching. When all else fails, go to the tailor!

  • TO

    You guys have the dude not named Pesko from GQ’s “In the Closet” coming up! Just wanna go on record to say that’s awesome, I really liked that men.style.com feature back when and I am pretty sure Dan did too!

  • pz

    How about sharing some more of the thrift/vintage stores for an out-of-towner like myself? :) (From Toronto, visiting NYC in Dec)

  • cam

    nice first post wes! i do remember dan recommending not to buy things that don’t fit no matter the price. i understand certain items can be tailored but the lumberjack coat you state the sleeves are too short. do you regret the purchase from a functional standpoint?

    • http://thestyleblogger.com westley

      Thanks Cam, I’ve just come to accept that the sleeves are short… I wouldn’t go as far as to say I regret it. It doesn’t bother me because I saved some money and not everyone will notice or at least I hope not.

  • TimL

    Again. great post Wes. I love the color combo of the first outfit. The reds and blues and tan vest with brown shoes works really well and is a great look for this cooler fall weather.

    I really like the shoes. I have trouble buying thrift shoes and have never done so– yet…. who knows now.

  • mathieu lavoie

    Very nice post. Happy to see I’m not the only one with a list on its phone of item to hunt in thrift store. :-)

    • http://thestyleblogger.com westley

      It’s the only way to go!

  • Arron

    I thrift everyday and have been for a long. As for my finds I could probably say I have one of the strongest thrift waredeobes of anyone I’ve personally met. In last months I have found a brand new pair of hanover vintage longtips, a brand new pair of cheaney wingtips and also a pair of monkstraps that retail for 600. I’ve noticed thrifting has become more and more popular and only my daily routines I see tons of people trying to resale and make money on things , after watching all those pickets shows. I will say now I would never pay full price for a pair of dress shoes ever considering I find Allen’s Edmonds on a daily basis. If anyone is interested I do sell some clothing. I have a brand new Golden Fleece brooks brothers suit size 42r and a pair if Allen Edmonds loafers size 11

    • neil cummins

      Great post, Good tips – especially the tailoring aspect. I have been thift buying for a few years now and I am lucky to work close to many great shops.
      Keep them post coming – Love the site

  • Alexei

    Where did you get the jacket?

  • J. Lamarr

    Started thrifting about a month ago and my entire checklist of “things to add” has been crossed off since. It’s an amazing hobby that pays off to no end. I live in Las Vegas but I’m originally from Los Angeles and I can’t wait to go thrifting out there. A city as stylish as LA has to have an amazing haul if I’m finding such great stuff in Vegas.

    • http://thestyleblogger.com westley

      Funny you mention Las Vegas and LA, I spent a few years in San Diego and Las Vegas when I was younger. Couldn’t enjoy the vintage stores then, but the next time I’m out there I’ll check it out. Oh and enjoy some In-n-Out burger for me hah

  • Tim

    Great post…. finally a thrifting theat.

    I love thrifting and have been doing so for the past couple of years. I have a couple of decent stores by me.
    I have about 300 ties for about 5-cents each.
    I bought 25 sports coats for the average of $2.50 each and some nice sweater vests that change my look every day.
    Got some nice trench coats and a really nice camel wool coat for about $6 each.
    Thrifting is the way to go if you don’t have the money for new suits.
    Thanks again.

    Always have everything cleaned for a couple of books and had some tailoring done.

    • Tim

      Sorry about the type-o…

      One thing to remember that fit is everything as Dan and the group has said before. Took me a couple of purchases to realize this when I stopped wearing certain items. If it’s not right then wait until something comes up that is.

      Love this site Dan and have been following for past couple of years. This is what fans have waited for.

      • http://thestyleblogger.com westley

        5 cent ties and $2.50 sport coats? you have to show me where YOU’RE thrifting! Thanks for the support Tim.

  • TO

    That PRL plaid jacket is exceptional, btw!

    • http://thestyleblogger.com westley

      thanks man, I was real lucky to find it!

  • TO

    I wish I had a vintage store in my neighbourhood! Awesome Westley, so well articulated. I have developed the same love for thrifting and know the EXACT feeling you’re talking about not wanting to take a piece off. Also, most of my best clothes are thrifted, etc. What an awesome post!

  • Mrjbeee

    Love these thrift posts! Ever since reading one of them on here I’ve become addicted to thrifting! Some pieces people love and cant believe how much ive spent on the actual item. Good stuff. Now if only I could get a good recommendation! Keep it up!

    • http://thestyleblogger.com westley

      Thrifiting takes patience, but pays off. Saw some of your recent pick ups on Instagram, dope stuff.

      • Andres

        Thanks for the tips. You’ve recently re-awoken my love for vintage/thrift shopping. Also, seems as though along with the quality of materials being better on some older items such as coats the FIT is also better/slimmer.

        • Andres

          Oh and one more thing, I’ve always been weary of buying used shoes because you cant simply throw most of them in the washer, any tips on sanitizing cleaning them (sprays?? Mom always told me to lay them out in the sun for a day ;) but I’m prone to picking up skin irritations.