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I am following a few fashion channels on You Tube at the moment and because nothing beats procrastination as a hobby I have been seeking out more channels to add to my list.

One of my current favourites is The Fashion Citizen, it is hosted by two young women from America who seem to go thrifting about once a month. They both spend a fortune on shoes but draw the line at spending much more than a few dollars on items of clothing. I have to admit based on the looks they have been able to create I have slightly re-evaluated my opinion of thrifting as an approach to fashion.

I previously associated second-hand clothing with cheap clothes bought for dress up parties or costumes. I was aware that “vintage” resellers existed and that they were considered the high-end of the market but I don’t think I ever seriously considered them as an option. Primarily due to the fact that larger sizes are rarely available, quality and durability are hit and miss and prices are often higher than similar modern garments.

So to road test the idea I decided to try it for myself. A friend and I went to four locations. I came away somewhat enlightened and with a satisfying haul:

  • An amazing collection of second-hand Tupperware for about $8
  • A set of coloured glass bottles for $11
  • A legitimate looking Guess handbag for $18 (original retail probably around $170)
  • A Dior scarf for $1.50 I plan on giving to a friend as a gift. It is probably not an original but at that price who cares?

I wasn’t able to find any other clothing that suited me or was in my size but I considered it a good shopping day.

My friend walked away with a massive amount of stuff including;

  • 3 belts which seem to have been made by a reputable brand and are of a very high quality
  • 2 dresses, one of which I would say was legitimately vintage
  • A faux fur and leather vest for winter that looked like it had never been worn
  • A rust coloured top that looked incredible and still had its tag on, neither of us had seen the colour in any stores this year
  • A few pairs of navy and black pants for work WITH POCKETS!

Based on my experiences I would offer the following tips:

  • It’s only a bargain if you actually wear it, don’t buy things you don’t really like just because the price is low. Its sooooooo tempting to buy something just because it is cheap, I had to stop myself doing it about three times. I had a good long talk to myself and I think I saw the error of my ways.
  • Go to stores located in more affluent areas, the quality of the items tends to be better and we found that the stores in nicer areas had a coffee shop near by, I call that a win/win.
  • Don’t buy damaged items unless you think that it can be easily repaired and that you’ll bother or otherwise you’ll end up with a damaged clothes that you’ll probably end up throwing away.
  • Look in the home ware sections! There are so many unique things to be found or even things that normal stores don’t stock any more.
  • Don’t always trust the label. We went to a vintage store where the prices were approaching that of normal retailers and my friend bought a “designer” skirt. When we got it home and had a proper look it turned out to be from a large chain store in America instead. The skirt still looks amazing, caveat emptor and all that jazz, but someone had put a designer label on the skirt at some point and that is a little misleading.
  • Try everything on. Sizes in normal retail stores tend to be internally consistent, but we all know that sizes between stores are very different. For that reason you should never buy based on the label. At the very least slip the item over your existing outfit to check for fit.

Some of the benefits of thrifting/ buying vintage:

  • You will find some great bargains if you are prepared to put the effort in. I would also suggest taking a smart phone along so you can Google labels etc if you are dubious about an items’ authenticity.
  • Most of the items are pretty unique and the range was quite surprising.
  • Donate! I took a bag of things with me to give to one store. It made some room in my wardrobe and someone out there will get some almost new sweaters for winter and a few summer dresses that have hardly been worn. Another win/win.
  • Thrift stores are often staffed by volunteers and my friend and I cannot recommend talking to hilarious older ladies about fashion trends highly enough. They had us laughing pretty much all day and were very helpful when we wanted help locating certain types of garments. 

How about you, do you buy second-hand?

Found anything amazing for dirt cheap?