Thrifting in the Year of the Dress

I don’t know what happened this year with me and dresses! I tend to skip the trousers three or four times a week but usually go for skirts. For some reason I must’ve bought five million dresses this summer!

White cotton fitted spaghetti strap with ruffled grey sweater.
White cotton fitted spaghetti strap with ruffled grey sweater.

Since I’m “on a budget” (trademark pending) thrift stores are my go to places to shop. I wouldn’t suggest them for white shirts or…eww…underwear but thrift stores are fantastic resources. People give up clothes for all kinds of reasons and one can pickup really good quality name brands items, one of a kind homemade pieces you will never see friends wearing or just items for everyday wear. Unfortunately, thrifting is not like going to Macy’s. Items are rarely available in other sizes. However, now Goodwill seems to have an agreement with Target to sell brand new items sometimes in multiple sizes; I can’t say if GW is pricing them cheaper than Target clearance.

Black and floral empire waisted dress.
Black and floral empire waisted dress.

I like getting new clothes but I also just enjoy the hunt. My mom (who favors clearance at the mall) and I compare our finds in “fashion shows” (our family’s precursor to a haul). She’s often impressed by what one can get and frequently borrows from my collection. She’s asked and I’ve taken her shopping but the first thing she does is wrinkle her nose and says, “It smells funny in here.” Again, not Macy’s.

Blue cotten dress with floral embossing.
Blue cotten dress with floral embossing.

Many thrift stores are organized first in type (for example: women’s shirts) then in general kind (knit vs blouse) then pattern (pattern vs solid) then by color if solid. Most have clothes divided by small, medium, large, and extra large but be aware that its according to the judgement of the stocker so a size 10 or 12 is sometimes included in XL. This makes me feel bad about myself.

Shopping here can be kind of overwhelming for the newbie. If I’m looking for a shirt for example, I don’t look at every piece.I might scan the other sizes because you never know with sizing. First I look at the pattern and fabric of the material. There’s no reason for me to even reach for the beige polyester. Then do I like the sleeves? I like a little detailing or poof in the sleeves so if I see that I’ll probably look at it.

Handkerchief style dress with fitted waist.
Handkerchief style dress with fitted waist.

I try to buy good quality items but if its cute and cheap enough I’ll pickup less well made trendy stuff. Sylvies Fashion Secrets post on evaluating the quality of clothes is VERY helpful (sylviesfashionsecrets.com/2013/07/06/quality-control/).

Sorry for the long post but I do love thrifting and feel its really worthwhile. May the shopping gods bless you with good finds.

Happy Hunting!

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