People always ask me how I find such amazing clothes on a college budget. How do I afford such lavish pieces? The answer is, I don’t. At least not if I bought them new. This is where the beauty of thrift shopping comes in. I have found pieces that are $300-$500 in the original store that I get for $8-12 sometimes $20, at the thrift store.
Luckily, Bellingham has quite a few good thrift shops in the area. Goodwill and Value Village always have the best deals, but stores like Buffalo Exchange and vintage or antique shops such as Penny Lane or Mad Hatter Clothing may have more unique or trendy pieces that are still affordably priced.
Sascha Guenter, a Western student and fashion enthusiast said “Labels would probably be my favorite because they really gear towards woman’s stay and they pay nicely when doing consignment.”
While there are about 100 different aspects of second hand deals that I could go into, we have to start off with the basics. First things first, how to successfully shop at a thrift shop. This is where we will cover, what to look for, how to tell if you’re getting a fair price and how to get the longest lasting pieces.
- Take an inventory of your closet. What are you looking for, what basics are you lacking? While this sounds horribly simple, you’d be surprised of how many people have no idea what is happening inside their closets. For example, it is much more useful to make note that you already have 3 black sweaters and even though you see one you for only $6 (score!) should put that $6 towards something you don’t already have, like a white button up top. Part of affordable fashion is getting the most bang for your buck that you can.
- Once you know what you are looking for, look for the top quality of that item. Research some brands, or make note of the ones in your closet that last the longest. For example, why opt for a used H&M white button up, when there is a Banana Republic one there for a very similar price? While you may be spending an extra few dollars in the short term, the higher quality option will save you in the long term because you won’t have to rebuy again in a year. I found a Ralph Lauren button up at Goodwill for probably $5 over four and half years ago and wear it constantly!
- Don’t only look in your size. So many times items get placed incorrectly or moved and a small ends up in the large. Or, better yet sometimes a size six in one brand fits more like a size 4 on you. For example, at a place like J.Crew what fits as a two there is a six at H&M. So you may end up finding a piece that fits you perfectly in the large section when typically you are a small.
- ALWAYS check clothes before buying. Scan the pits, crotch, inside and outside for stains or tears that are not fixable or are just plain gross.
- But, if you find something with a stain or tear, usually you can get around 20 percent if you really realllyyy want that piece. Negotiating has always been in my favor at the thrift shops, all you have to do is ask, haggle a little bit, tell them the button is missing and that you will then have to guy to a craft store to find one and they’ll give you a small discount. Half the time they just want you to move on anyways so they can be pretty quick to say yes.
Here are some pieces I have found from the thrift shop from these tips.
A Banana Republic Jacket from Goodwill priced at $12.99, similar jackets are going for around $300 on their website.
This gorgeous tweed Banana Republic Blazer for $15 that is typically around $200
And last but not least, this beautiful floral skirt from Buffalo Exchange for $7.50, I have seen similar skirts from Zara (I am about 90 percent sure this is a Zara skirt) for $100 to $130.