Tips for Thrift Shopping


If you cannot view the video above, please check it out on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TwYxutG-jJg

The number one question a thrift-lover is asked on a regular basis is: “How do you ever find anything?!” The thing about thrifters is we don’t see these shops as gross, we look past the scent lingering in the air from unwashed clothing, we see the limitless potential in every piece we see. The fun is in the search, the reward is discovering that magical piece whether its clothing, home decor or furniture. In these stores it is all one of a kind and to me, that’s something special.

I’ve watched plenty of YouTube videos and read plenty of blogs regarding the do’s and don’ts of thrift shopping. They all have similar points but a few I would disagree with based on how I go about it.

Try it on or wear your thrifting uniform

I used to load up a cart with items that looked like they would fit, I was pretty certain I was about this size and if not well I didn’t spend much so it’s okay. Its this attitude that gets you spending and wasting. More recently I have been taking the time to try things on, even if its just over top of my clothing. Now I don’t have a thrifting uniform (leggings, tank top as your base layers with easy to slip off shoes) I just go after work so whatever I’m wearing is how it is. Granted, this doesn’t make it easy usually for trying things on – so I have to really love it before I go through the effort in the change room.

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Tour My Wardrobe

If you cannot view the video above please check it out on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8YL9TtVNLM

People often say to me “wow you must have a huge closet!” well there are a few ways to respond to this. Yes and no. I live alone and have a two bedroom home so therefore I have a master bedroom that can be better used to make my life easier. Complete with sewing station, garment rack, makeup desk and storage.

My closet was reconstructed by my father as it was not useable in the state it was in. The bar was located deep into the back of the closet, one shelf above the bar that was installed too close to the bar, so I wouldn’t be able to hang any clothing on it as is. My father lowered the bar in the back and installed a second one at the front of the closet – easily enough space in this deep closet for two rows of clothing.

I use the back row for off season so currently it has my summer tops and dresses, as well as my vacation clothing. The front is what I use most frequently. Yes there’s also the garment rack, and this is because it was offered to me so I wanted to make use of it to keep myself organized. It actually fills the empty space in the room as well as giving me a place to sort my ready-to-go business outfits for mornings when I must be up and out the door before 6:30am.

As I say in the video this home is exceptionally old (close to 100 years old according to my landlord, at least a good 75) and was not built with decent lighting or shelving of any sort. All storage would have to be created using thrifted cabinets, bookcases and desks. It makes for a lot of furniture and a cozy atmosphere.
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The Many Shades of Blush

feb5finalHow long would you hang on to a unique item in hopes of eventually finding the perfect pieces to match it? 6 months this vintage skirt has been hanging in my closet, front and centre, in hopes of one day finding a matching top. A handful of hopefuls came home but went back out as I searched for the right shade of blush to match this skirt. Sure you could put other shades with it, but every one I tried bothered me. It wasn’t quite right and for this type of skirt I felt like it had to be a certain… je ne sais quoi.

Now I don’t necessarily feel like this top is “the one” I do feel it was a close enough match to warrant a test run in real life rather than being sentenced to serve lonely days in my closet. This sleeveless crochet style top by RW&Co was brought in for consignment last week and I thought, “maybe, just maybe” this would be the right colour. Sure enough it was!

I kept the look low key with a long wrapped scarf and matching earrings (I do have the matching necklace but I thought that would be a bit much.) My nude pumps by Nine West go with everything and I am saddened to know that their time is running out. They were very worn when I got them in the summer and now your foot rolls like there is no sole left. Sigh. One day I will find another pair and you will be mine.

 

Craving Magenta

feb4final This is truly the colour of the season for me I am finding it in so many unique shades throughout the thrift stores. When I was a child a friend bought me a shirt this colour and I believe it may have been the only compliment from her I ever received – but she said this colour looked really nice on me. I must agree! Its that lovely dark pink!

This is a new look I’ve put together featuring two half price day pieces I found last month the top only needed a slight alteration. Unfortunately some of the cutest tops I’ve found in my travels I’ve left behind due to the style of the elastic band around the bottom for this “peasant” style… Looks good on no one by the way. Fortunately for me the elastic was not sewn into the hem so I could remove it with a small snip! My intention was to wear it tucked into a high waisted skirt so the bumpy bottom isn’t so much of an issue.feb4final2

I didn’t have to alter this skirt in any way and it fits really well because of the stretch. It also matches my pumps nicely! I picked up this multi layered necklace from The Store a few months ago, as it had sat in the display case not selling for a few months. I honestly can’t imagine why its a stunning Shopping Channel piece thats a bit on the dressy side that we had priced for just $20.

No bites. Often there are things that I love in the store that sit there without someone to love so I take it upon myself to see what’s wrong with it, why it hasn’t sold. Sometimes I end up absolutely loving it myself and have to introduce it to my wardrobe – other times I figure out right away it was a bad design.

However I think this pairing is absolutely gorgeous! I am always so thrilled with the vision I have for a look turns out better than expected!

 

Monthly Consignment Update

I thought this year I would try tracking my purchases and consignment income a little more closely based on the success of my first year of the “Thrift Challenge“.

Thrift Spending:

Value Village half price sale purchases total:
January 10th – $160 Belleville ($100 in consignment-worthy goods)
January 11th – $38 Kingston
January 20th – $56

Total purchases: $254

Consignment Income:

January 4 through 10th – $105
January 11 through 17th – $37
January 18th through 24th – $70
January 25th through 31st – $137

Total income: $349

Number of items consigned: 55

Consignment Income $349 – Spending $254 = Month End Balance $95


This year I will be lowering my monthly spending goal to $70 per month with the exception of months where a half price sale is applicable as I take this as an opportunity to collect items for resale and therefore income! Sadly to start out the new year I painfully failed my goal, damn you half price days!

Appropriate Work Attire


If you can’t see the video above please check it out on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Awne0y5yUy0

I had written an extensive article (or rant) two years ago about the importance of dressing appropriately in the post: Dress For The Job You Want. I referred to the job hunters I was seeing come into the shop as “looking like they rolled out of bed, as if they didn’t mean to go out in public they were simply doing their laundry at home…” On to explain that “yoga” pants are not dress pants, they are meant for… wait for it… YOGA!

As a clothing store we are trying as employees to be fashionable, knowledgeable as to what to wear with different items that we stock. As a manager, its exceptionally frustrating to try to communicate this simple idea to staff: You must look the part! I find as a society we care less and less about our appearance and feel that if we simply show up to our jobs that that’s good enough. As if the employer or business should be thankful that you showed up at all to help them out. You know what I think? Its not about them, its about YOU. Do you want customers to question whether or not you are an employee? Have your employer looking you up and down trying to be polite but really wishing you would take a hint that you need to dress more appropriately?
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How to Hem Jeans

If you cannot view this video please view it on YouTube at:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3_lYrfOSN0

I went through all my blog posts and was surprised to see I haven’t posted a tutorial on how to hem your jeans or pants! I have done this basic tutorial in the form of a YouTube video so that you can follow step by step how I change my pants to be slightly shorter. I find most women do not sew anything for themselves, let alone alter their own pants to fit. Unless you’re buying new you can’t pick and chose the length of your jeans! Most times I end up with pants that are way too long. The only time I don’t have to alter them is the boyfriend or cropped style which is mean to be capri length.

I hope you find this tutorial useful! Be warned if you are highly trained in the art of sewing, I do not use correct terminology – technique or fancy bells and whistles. This is a basic, beginner tutorial to get by!

Glamour in a cozy sweater!

Last night we celebrated my good friend Holly’s birthday with a lovely dinner at Greek Islands followed by drinks at the pub. I have never eaten at that restaurant but I was pleasantly surprised! Since switching to my pescetarian diet I’ve been a lot more conscious about what I am putting into my body and focused more on smaller portions and more vegetables. To be honest I was a little concerned when I started reading the menu and most things were deep fried or breaded. I ended up with a really nice vegetable plate with garlic shrimp! I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a unique place to eat.

jan16final1I wasn’t totally sure what the plan for the evening would be if it was just going to be dinner, if we would end up going dancing afterward or maybe just end up hanging out at a pub. My choice of clothing for these would all be different so I had to settle on a look that was both warm (its -10 degrees!) fashionable and dressy as we are celebrating! I picked up this gorgeous sage green knit tunic by Bench on Friday at The Revolving Door. Normally Bench fits very small so I was pretty excited to see it was a medium. Lo-and-behold it is fitted in the arms and around the bottom but loose in the middle for added comfort.

I spent the afternoon playing with false eyelashes after watching a few tutorials on YouTube explaining that they weren’t the easiest thing but quite fun for a night out. I was determined to figure it out as the ones I had bought for Cuba ended up in the garbage with no luck. As it turns out you need to trim them as they are made quite large! I had no idea. jan16final2So these ones I purchased from Walmart for $6, the brand Ardell was recommended by Shaaanxo I had to trim about three times to get the size closer to what I needed. I bought a clear glue to apply by the same company. I have not mastered the timing and placement – the videos said to do your eye makeup first, but I cannot get it to stick if I do that… You need to let it dry a little bit before applying which is where I struggled, either it was too wet or too dry and wouldn’t take. I found I had luck with one edge but not the other so a little more practice will be required next time.

I was also informed today by a friend who is a Stella & Dot rep that this necklace I thrifted in the summer is actually the Silver Medallion Bib Necklace “Medina” by Stella & Dot which retails for $98! I won’t break your hearts by telling you what I paid but I can assure you I now consider it one of my best finds!

 

A Great Business Suit

jan15-final To explain professional attire we used to say, “look at what the girls at the bank are wearing” until it became a casual environment. In the last ten years, or as I would call it “the era of yoga pants and sweats” we are seeing less and less interest in our appearance. As a child I didn’t know exactly what job title I wanted, I simply wanted to have a position of status where I needed to wear a suit… to this day I love the look, so classy and professional. Any time I have walked into a bank I expect to see this but I rarely do. Financial advisers and I’m sorry to say it, any male staff are in my opinion the only ones dressed appropriately for the level of status I feel their job title has.

Everything now is worn tight, assuming spandex and stretch makes it more comfortable – forgetting the amount of rolls it creates. Dress pants are no longer a staple but rather yoga pants tucked into boots. These are meant for athletics, at home, running errands on your day off perhaps… but trying to pass them off as work attire? Seriously. There was a young hire at a job I had a few years ago and she was showing up in yoga pants and a blazer with dressy flats. The Lululemon logo was painfully bright for me to not notice. Although it was not my place to say a word about dress code I just continued to wear my dresses and business suits. The day finally came when she wore black “toe” shoes that people where for barefoot running. This is right next door to running shoes folks. I decided it was time to inform the owner of the lack of dress code – but before the words came out of my mouth he beat me to it. Thank goodness.

jan15-final2 A business suit is not hard to find, even in thrift or consignment you can get a beautiful tailored suit with no bells and whistles that matches any blouse you have – for a fraction of the cost new. This beauty fits to a T without much in the way of alteration. I am not really big on long sleeved blazers so I created a small hem to bring the arms in a little shorter to expose my wrists – great for wearing bangles! The pants were painfully long on me so I added a simple hem to the bottom so I wouldn’t be walking all over the bottoms.

Its comfortable and works well with so many blouses I already have in my closet. Easy for any style or look you want to create. Pair it up with heels or flats, jewellery and accessories and voila you have yourself a very professional suit and look the part!

Vlog: Value Village Half Price Day Thrift Haul

If you cannot view the video above please check it out on YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjUk-RFWINA

I consider this thrifting trip to be quite successful however as always some things are better left on the hanger or for another body shape. I was excited for a couple pieces that I do not feel were all that flattering which is completely okay, you don’t have to win them all! I styled up a select few pieces from this haul quickly to show them off but I’ve gone into more detail below as to which are yay’s or nay’s!

The Yay’s
Taupe Joe Fresh Skirt ($3.50)
Blush Forever 21 Dress ($6.50)
Pink Dynamite Blazer ($5.00)
Ivory Calvin Klein blouse ($4.50)
Peach Forever 21 top ($3.00)
Grey Emma & Michelle dress ($10.00)
Turquoise Forever 21 dress ($3.00)
Coral Forever 21 skirt ($5.00)
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Vlog: Half Price Day in Belleville!

If you cannot view the video above please check it out on YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ElwgeP6HbMQ

On Sunday January 10th during the all-day down pour my sister and I ventured off to nearby town Belleville, Ontario to check out the Value Village there for “Half Price Day”! Now I have mentioned a few times in the past that I believe Kingston has its own idea of appropriate pricing compared to other locations, this trip was no different as I was blown away at the prices of average mall brands (ie: Reitmans, Rickis, Smart Set) for just $5.99 whereas Kingston would start them at $9.99!

Stay tuned for the rest of the haul!

Vlog: Thrift Haul #2 – Salvation Army

If you cannot view the video above please check it out on YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vlHv4zQD4hI

I did not start out my day with thrift shopping in mind, quite honestly I knew the Value Village 50% off days were coming up so I thought I should behave. While I was out running errands (on a Saturday – gasp!) I thought seeing as I had time I would stop in and check out the prices at the local Salvation Army. Although it has improved greatly I find it to be a challenging place to shop.

For me the low prices would make up for the difficulty of searching through racks. Its a smaller shop than Value Village, but it seems to be organized in just basics: women’s tops, women’s pants, dresses… As much as I am not big on sizes and labels I do find it far more calming to shop when you start in one size and gradually work to another. They have standard pricing for the most part, most tops were $4.50 from what I could tell – which is still a great price but a challenge to find!

The pricing as I’ve said before, is not what it used to be when I shopped as a child – before “thrifting” was cool. A top would be $1, $2… you would leave with a full bag! Now you have to decide between this and that to keep it under $10. Quite sad really that the charity based shops had to pump prices up to compete with the big leagues.