Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Rules of Thrifting

Now I don't consider myself to be an authority on much, but I do enjoy thrifting. A lot. Here are a few guidelines I use when I make my occasional trips to the thrift store.

  1. Don't feel that you have to buy something just because you enter the thrift store.

Everything might be much cheaper at the thrift store, but items can add up. There’s no need to spend money when it’s unnecessary. Also, once you buy something, you need to put it somewhere. Personally, I don’t have enough free space for everything that might be useful. (This is a rule that I struggle with every time I enter the thrift store.)

  1. Make sure each item fits, or can at least be tailored within reason.

Fit is everything. There might be some expensive designer or name-brand item on the rack, but if it doesn’t fit well, you might as well be wearing a potato sack. I can’t tell you how many times I’ll pass over a Brooks Bros. shirt because I know they fit like a tent. However, if you don’t mind having the item tailored, it’s fair game.

  1. Look over the entire item for holes or stains.

There have been countless times where I have spotted a fantastic find, only to discover it has been soiled in one way or another. I know there are techniques to stains, but I simply don’t have the time. Holes? Forget it. Unless it can be easily patched leave it on the rack.

  1. Know when to put an item back on the rack.

How worn is this item? Could you easily buy this new? Do you already have 3 similar items? Is this something you will wear? How rare is this find? How much life is left? After weighing all these concerns and you still want it? Go for it.

  1. Leave something for the other thrifters.

Don’t be a hog. Just because you can afford to buy fifteen jackets or fifty shirts doesn’t mean that everyone else has the same ability. Select your key purchases and exit.

  1. Do your homework.

Often I’ll come across an unknown brand name and skip the purchase because it was unfamiliar. Later I’ll find out that it was an extremely good value, or quite possibly the opposite. Read up on tailored clothing. Try one of the many messageboards for men’s clothing, such as Stylforum, AskAndyAboutClothes, or Superfuture. Educate yourself.

  1. Visit a section you don’t necessarily check every visit.

The best items are found when they are least expected. For this reason, visit an area you might not visit every trip to the thrift store. I usually skip over the sweater section, but found a beauty my last visit. Try the pants, shoes, or vinyl section. You might be surprised what you find.

  1. Brand names are good, but look at the construction.

This goes along with doing your homework. Is the item made in America? Mother of pearl buttons? Goodyear welt? Picked Stitching? Split curtain waistband?... Know these terms, for they could be your key to a thrifting treasure.

  1. Be courteous, to employees and other shoppers.

Don’t be an asshole. This shouldn’t need to be said, but I often see this rule broken. Put items back the way they were found. If you try something on, either return the item or hang it outside the dressing room. Don’t crowd other shoppers if you’re browsing the same rack. Just use common sense.

  1. Be cautious if you are purchasing to flip on the internet.

Make sure that the item is worth purchasing. It should be new, to nearly new. Think, would you purchase this item? Make sure that you’re able to make your money back and that you have enough room for storage.

Most importantly… 11. Have fun and don’t take thrifting too seriously.

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