I love thrift stores! Tips for shopping on a budget

Hey Strangekittens!

Did you have a good weekend? Mine was pretty nice. Saturday was my birthday, so was was a little bit spoiled. My husband took me to one of my favourite places: Value Village. Yes, really. (He took me other places too. Don’t worry, he’s not cheap lol) I found an awesome leather jacket there, check it out!

red wine leather jacket

I love second-hand stores. You can find some of the most awesome stuff there! I’ve been haunting second-hand stores since I was in high school. I grew up dirt poor, and then was booted out rather unceremoniously (long story). In any case, I had to learn how to make my money stretch, if I wanted to eat, roof and be able to clothe myself.

So, here are some tips from an experienced thrift store pro!

Ignore the size labels. Really. No, really, stop looking at me like that. I’m not gonna tell you to squeeze into something too small. BUT. Buttttt. Hehehe, I said butt. Ok, back to task. Ignore the size label. Why? Because some vintage stuff, and foreign brands, use different systems. I’m usually about a medium at places like Ardenes, but on Saturday I picked up a wicked leather jacket at VV that was a 4XL. Why? Because it’s a Chinese label, and their sizes are dramatically smaller. If in doubt, and it look close enough, TRY IT ON.

I’m also tall for a lady (5’11 if you’re curious) and i’ve fit into some truly weird sizes. Anything from an 8 to a 14. Strange yes? Not really. Most companies use vanity sizing, so it’ best just to try something on if you’re not sure.

On that note, clothing can be tailored, and it’s not as pricey as you think. But there are limits. Stuff like sleeves can be lengthened slightly (dropping the hems), the same goes with pants. Other stuff like altering the rise on pants (the length of the crotch, basically) or the waistline really depends on the piece itself. Some pieces may be too old to be restructured too much; I have a dress from the 70s I found that would honestly fall apart with too much fiddling around.

There’s certain pieces you should not alter unless you really know what you’re doing; one example is corsets. They’re generally made to a specific structure for that size, so unless you know someone who makes such pieces, it’s best to pass it over.

You can get the old lady smell out. Really. Most stuff just needs airing out; if in doubt, wash it (Gently, if it doesn’t have a label. If it has care instructions, why are you asking me this?).

In relation to my last point: Look over the piece for damage, stains, etc. Some stains can be removed, if you really like the piece then go ahead and take a chance. You can always try the dry cleaners.

Rips, tears, loose seams – Look closely. Can they be easily fixed or worked into a ‘look’? One good example is old jeans. Nothing more authentic than an old pair of worn in jeans that’s genuinely ripped. Yes, I can tell the difference hipsters. HIPSTERS!

Sometimes you can salvage bits from something and use them for something else. Could you layer it over something? I’ve done this with vintage lingerie. Madonna would be proud.

Another tip: If it’s damaged, sometimes you can get a discount. But, I try not to do this in charity stores, as I feel it’s bad manners. If it’s a garage store, it’s every woman for herself!

Ok, now onto less clothing related, more ‘random stuff’.

– Definitely check out the appliances/electrical section. I’ve seen some awesome stuff there, like a vintage curler set from the 80s. One strong warning though: on any electrical stuff, check the cords, casing, wiring etc. Is anything loose or frayed? cracked? If so, it may be there for a reason. If you’re really keen on it, don’t use it til you can get someone to check it out and make sure it’s safe.

– Tossing through random accessories I found some really cute vintage silver backed mirrors, with some really pretty detailing on the back.

My point is, if something catches your eye, go look. If a bin looks interesting, take the time to look through it real quick. You never know what you’ll find.

– Same goes for shoes. Yes, some people are grossed out by wearing other people’s old shoes. But shoes can be cleaned, just like anything else. Here’s a good video: Clicky!

There’s stuff you can do to get rid of the smell, too. I’ve tossed shoes in the freezer in a plastic bag for about an hour, that kills any bacteria and the smell! Don’t do this with leather, though.

That’s all for now. Have fun kittens!

– Dannielle




Like this post? Pin it to your recipe boards!