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Ashley Tells You How to Thrift Store Shop for Clothes!

Ashley Tells You How to Thrift Store Shop for Clothes!

By Ashley Brooke Roberts

Instagram / Buffalo Exchange / Inset courtesy of Mindy Tucker

Hey, look at you! Standing there in your crocheted top from the '60s with a cool beaded necklace from the '50s tying it all together. You’re getting all retro-thrifty and we love it. Whether you’re hitting up the local shops for cool one-of-a-kind pieces or you’re a fashion lover on a budget, thrift stores can be super fun. And now that the seasons are changing, it’s a perfect time to attack your local boutique vintage store, kooky consignment shop, or good-ole PTA thrift store. Here’s a handy dandy guide to help you along the way! Enjoy, you little burgeoning trend setter, you.

Before the store

  • Be hydrated! Not too hydrated though, thrift store bathrooms can look like no one’s entered one since the era of that grandma scarf you found in the bargain bin.
  • Have something to listen to. Whether it’s a podcast or a mix created just for the occasion, make sure you have something to plug into so you can drop out. Thrift store shopping is all about going through the hay to find the needle, so be prepared to get into the zone (aka hypnotic shopping haze). Fun!
  • Think about what you need (jeans? a new skirt?) and it keep your "shopping list" in mind, BUT be open to finding something you didn’t realize you need but once seeing could not live with out (MAXI PANTSUIT, I'M LOOKING AT YOU). Approach the expedition with purpose, but also an open mind, like Lewis and Clark. p.s. this also applies to life.
  • Know how much you’re gonna spend and then have a $10 in your back pocket for emergencies, but set your limit before entering the store. We can not stress this enough. LIMITS CAN INSPIRE CREATIVE CHOICES. Never forget.

How to browse

  • Touch everything. It’s all about fabric when it comes to second-chance clothes. You may recoil at the touch of a metallic polyester onesie—good, we're learning. Somewhere in that pile is a silk blouse or two, maybe a cashmere sweater, and quite possibly some linen pants, just waiting to be discovered and loved. Feel, feel, feel. Know the difference between good fabric and cheap fabric and grab the quality stuff. More likely than not it’ll be priced the same as the plasticy fabric that chaifs and gives you pit stains (or comes with pit stains!).
  • Know your colors. What looks good on you? What doesn’t? Some people never wear yelllow because it washes them out, where others feel like pink makes them too rosy. What’s your color of choice? Find it, touch it, try it on. It doesn’t matter how cool, or unique a piece is, if it makes you look so pale people are asking if you’re sick, you’ll never wear it again.
  • Inspect. Look for holes, stains, and smell the pits. Sorry, it’s gross, but you gotta do it. Some B.O. stays around forever and you don’t need to give a gross smell a new home. SMELL. THOSE. PITS. GIRL. If you love it, but it stinks, don’t buy it. You won’t get the smell out. You won’t get the stain out. And you most likely won’t get the rip repaired. We currently have a pile of thrift store finds at home that we bought thinking “I’ll just fix this,” or “I’ll just fix that,” AND WE NEVER DID. EVER. Maybe one day we will? Who knows. We wish we had the money back we spent on them in the first place.

How to try on the goods

  • Don’t force yourself into something that won’t zip or button. Unlike all our lovely clothes now, most thrift clothes lack the elastic in the fabric that provides a little give. This is why your Uncle Tom couldn't eat white food for all of the '80s. If you’re forcing yourself in there, you’ll rip the dress.
  • Don’t trust the mirrors. These stores rarely have flattering mirrors and more often than not have the kind of mirror that has been warped to make you look like a clown. If you went with a friend, have them check you out. Or take a pic and look at it on your phone.
  • Do walk around in the piece. Does it make any weird noises when you walk? Is your walking restricted? Do the same thing with sitting down. MAKE SURE YOU CAN SIT DOWN!
  • Do keep the dressing room somewhat organized. Don’t be a jerk.

Congrats! You found something you like. Now what?

BUY IT! LOVE IT! PAIR IT WITH SOME SASSY SHOES!

p.s. Don't forget accessories! Big hats, funky purses, the perfect broach you can put on a necklace to make a statement piece. Use your imagination, have fun, think of it as an adventure.

Are you a thrift-shop pro? What are your tips?

[Picture via Instagram / Buffalo Exchange]

Topics: Life, Advice, Fashion
Tags: fashion, clothing, vintage, how tos, thrift stores, thrift shop, best of ashley, crusades, all hail thrift queens mary kate and ashley, our ashley

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About the Author
Ashley Brooke Roberts

Ashley Brooke Roberts is a stand-up comedian, writer, and actor living in Brooklyn. She's a performer at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater and can usually be found smiling at random dogs on the street. Follow her on twitter at @AshleyBRoberts.

Wanna contact a writer or editor? Email contribute@sparknotes.com.