Monday, June 11, 2012

a new how-to: vintage, thrift and consignment shopping

part 1: educate thyself

for years now i've been very fond of this resourceful kind of shopping. i find that i get the most complements on outfits and pieces than are unique, and usually not brand new. after talking to some of my friends and realizing just how much used clothing is in my closet, i decided to share this wealth of knowledge (along with some tips from trusted, fellow vintage-loving ladies).  the most important thing before a thrift or vintage mission is to be educated and knowledgeable about a few things.

1. know your style

sometimes i feel like i might spend a little too much time reading and keeping up with fashion; then i remind myself there is no such thing as too much fashion. when opting for recycled fashion, know what is in style, what the classics are, and what defines your personal style. i read a variety of websites and follow others on Instagram to keep up with trends and what trends suit my own style. check out style.comwhowhatweardaily, and Song of Style for ideas, photos, designer info and more. not only is it important to know your trends, but knowing about designers and the different values of their clothes is equally important.

2. know your designers and brands

vintage DVF shirtdress; paid $20
in 2006
the whole point of buying recycled and used clothing is for the bargain, right? so finding an item by a cheaper brand really isn't worth the search or has the same thrill as finding a Prada blouse. it takes time to learn about designers and their styles are constantly evolving, just like our own. if the item you are looking doesn't require high quality then some inexpensive brands will do the job. for example, recently i wanted a few things to wear at festivals but since it's a fairly dirty place, i don't want to buy anything new or expensive. i went to my favorite Savers in Reno and found 2 long, comfy, inexpensive skirts. 
lightly used Jil Stuart floral dress;
paid $13 in 2011

3. know your needs

there is nothing worse than feeling guilty about spending too much money on things you don't really need (OK, there are worse things but let's stick with this context). after studying up on your designers and trends, think about what you already have that could be used in a different way to suit a trend, and only then think about what you could add to your wardrobe. this is an important factor to have a successful vintage or thrift shopping trip, so as to make the most of what's offered at the store. 

4. know your stores

it's helpful to do some research about which and what type of used clothing stores are in your area. this could mean asking your girlfriends who shop vintage, checking yelp for different reviews or starting at your local thrift store to get in the mood for searching and scouring racks. different consignment and vintage stores will cater to different customers, so it's good to know ahead of time what you're looking for. it's also helpful to know the different types of consignment, but i'll get into that more later.

important terms

vintage - generally refers to crafted, quality pieces that are 20-25+ years old
consignment - the store buys, sells and trades more current fashions; some vintage, sometimes more items by higher-end designers 
thrift - used, non-categorized items, usually sold to benefit different organizations rather than a small business
damask - tag is sewn properly onto item; the threads and stitches can be seen on the outside of garment


  1. Thank you! I already scouted out a few shops in Minneapolis I want to try.

  2. awesome! are you living there now? going to include my favorite places in MSP in the next few parts :) i'll be moving back there in august!

  3. No I don't live there, but I am in that area a lot for work. Options are more diverse in Minne/St Paul. I bet your family is excited to have you back in the Midwest. Maybe we can do a little shopping together :)

  4. waa, thanks for sharing! :D