Monday, September 3, 2012

Thrifting - My love and my not-so-love of the game - September 3, 2012

A while back I took you on a tour of the thrift stores in the Atlanta, Georgia, area. I gave you my thoughts on the pros and cons of the major chains. Now I want to talk to you about why I thrift and my thoughts about that.

Awesome things about thrifting

+ The bottom line is that I can get an entire wardrobe for about $50. And by entire wardrobe I mean multiple jeans, pants, skirts, and tops. You know those commercials for that discount clothing chain that say you should totally brag about how little you spend? (I love those ads.) Yeah, I think the end result in those ads is WAY overpriced. Ha.
+ Within spending that $50 (or sometimes more ahem ahem), I can get high-quality clothing for myself. Name brands and even designer brands. Yes, I've gotten brand new clothing at thrift store prices, but it's usually clearanced/heavily couponed/sale-caught Target or Old Navy or the like. And I wear that all quite happily. But through thrifting I've found nicer, higher-end, better-made clothing for the same price or less. And sometimes it even has the tags still on it - or a dry cleaner's tag, which means at least it's recently been cleaned! (Usually if I am wiling to buy a dry clean only piece, it means it's amazing and/or that I'll just use an at-home kit on it. Usually.)
+ I find very unique items when I'm thrifting. Perhaps at one time the shirt or pants I buy from a Goodwill or Value Village was in fact hanging on a rack with 100 other similar items in all the sizes and colors one could create. But that's not the case anymore. And often I've found things that clearly were limited runs. And perhaps this isn't as great, but I find things that were brand new 10+ years ago and either are still in style, are about to come back in style, are timeless, or...are cute on me so I don't actually give a fuck. Not many people will be wearing what I'm wearing.
+ I have the chance to find stuff that fits me that was from a certain time period. For example, I know that a certain specific year/make/model of Old Navy jeans fits me very well and that perhaps the jeans that are in the store right now aren't the same. I can look for that specific year/make/model and scoop the jeans up when I find them - for $7 or less!
+ The thrill of the hunt. I just love digging through books, housewares, and - this is more recent - clothing to find treasures. The clothing love is really relatively recent. For most of my life I've felt awkward and, quite frankly, ugly. So I've been afraid to accentuate any of that and as a result I'd paw at the clothing briefly and then wander off to look at books or dishes or clothes for my kid. I feel like in the past year or two (yes, the weight loss helped, but that wasn't everything) I've figured out more of what I like and what I want to wear (skirts, in particular). So now that's fun too. Even if I walk out of a store with no purchases at all, I usually have had a good time with the process.
+ Kid clothes! Sure, I occasionally find grown-up clothing in high-end brands. But I find fancy kid clothes ALL THE TIME. Hanna! Mini Boden! Tea! Boutique brands! (And then a lot of Target/Old Navy/Gap/Children's Place/Carters - I buy that all too as long as it's not pilly or faded.) My kid is very well dressed - and I'm quite proud of that!

Not-so-awesome things

- I can't rely on thrifting for everything I wear. I personally don't thrift undergarments. I look at the shoes but unless they're OMG amazing (that hasn't happened yet but I haven't given up hope!), I don't buy thrifted shoes because my feet fit things funny. On the other hand, thrifting does free up my clothing budget so I can spend more on these things.
- Two words: Vanity Sizing. I am intimately familiar with that now. The range of sizes in which I fit is wide and I can no longer trust labels, just use them as a guide. I have to try pretty much everything on - even in clothing that I know fits me in a similar style/make/model. While this is true with all clothing, if you're buying new you can start to figure out how a brand's sizing runs - harder to do with older styles, random brands I've never heard of, and so on. I recently had two almost identical skirts from an identical brand in an identical size in the fitting room with me - the only thing different was the color. One color fit beautifully. The other was too small, tight, and short. So when a store doesn't have fitting rooms, I have to take big risks - sometimes that pays off, sometimes it doesn't, and long ago I used to wear black tights under long skirts and pull things on in the aisles...
- If I find that one perfect item that fits like a dream in the perfect color, well, that's pretty much it. I can't buy five of that thing in case I stain or rip it - and, er, I do both things ALL THE TIME. That whole one-of-a-kind thing isn't always ideal.
- So I have this whole....issue with driving. I plan to blog about that in depth very soon. But in any case, I have limited my ability to go shopping, which is both great (I could be VERY DANGEROUS if I went thrifting as often as I'd like to) and also really shitty (I can't go most of the time unless someone goes with me). On the other hand, I LOVE shopping with friends and HATE going alone - when I go alone into a store I usually leave it again very quickly - so it's not all bad, but it does mean that I've relinquished control.

One thing I'm neutral on is the desire to have new things. Having a brand new item of clothing is nice and fun but it's not something I crave or need or feel sad about when I don't have it. I usually find much more of a selection of Things I'd Actually Wear at a thrift store than a mall store anyway. Plus I'm being all green and stuff, saving clothes from the landfill, reusing, recycling, all that jazz. SEE MY HALO?

Oh and I do periodically clear out my closet/drawers and re-donate (or occasionally re-sell, depending on the situation). When I lost all the weight, I had a lot of fun doing both things. I am not a hoarder, I promise. I swear! I'm not! For realsies! And so on.

I think the pros far outweigh the cons. Do you thrift? What do you think? What are your personal pros and cons? And do you want to go shopping with me sometime?

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