I’m a baller on a budget. Have been since early childhood. Growing up we didn’t have a lot of money to spend on clothing of the fun and fashionable variety. My aunt used to give me my cousin’s old hand-me-downs, which was always exciting because you never knew what you would get. One time I found a hot pink acrylic nail stuck to the inside of a pair of cargo crops. #Jackpot.
This thrifty mentality has tagged along into adulthood and has served me well. Some of my favorite clothing pieces were discovered in the clearance section of a Marshals or the back corner of a consignment shop.
Granted, there are always some rotten apples in the bushel- you have to rifle past a lot of shoulder pads and polyester before you find that special treasure. And there will inevitably be a smell in the consignment store- don’t ask me what it is- it just is.
Smells aside, I find buying gently used or clearance clothing to be a very positive experience and it’s definitely easier on my wallet (my clearance wallet). So positive in fact that I have put together a couple tips for all you still skeptical thrifty unbelievers. If you already are a clearance connoisseur, please feel free to add your excellent tips in the comment section below.
3 Helpful Tips when Shopping Thrift
1) Know your brands and recognize quality- One of the biggest mistakes you can make when thrifting is to purchase something without looking at the tag. For example: if you buy a cute but used Forever21 top at the local consignment store, chances are it won’t last long. Cheap brands are not designed to be long lasting in quality or in trend, and buying used cheap brands means you have even less time to wear it. Instead, invest in quality brands that have a history of durability and timelessness (i.e Ralph Lauren, Land’s End, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, J.Crew). Consignment or clearance name brands might be a little pricier than the generic cheap stuff but when compared to their original retail value, you are definitely saving money in the long run.
2) Be realistic- are you going to wear that? Shopping thriftily is economical, environmentally friendly, and fun. You never know what you will find hidden amongst those retail racks. I still remember the day I discovered my Emily Fox leather purse shoved into the clearance section of a TJ Maxx store. With simple clean lines and an adjustable strap (not to mention the numerous pockets in which to store lipstick) this bag has become one of my favorite staple pieces simply because it goes with everything. I wear it, therefore the $$ amount (however reduced) was worth it.
An easy blunder to make when shopping thriftily is to become mesmerized by an item’s uniqueness and inexpensiveness and forget that it might not work within your wardrobe. Be honest with yourself- that awesome leopard print pantsuit with matching fuzzy purse might be cool now but are you ever going to wear it? Yeah- probably not. Move on. If you’re not going to wear it, don’t buy it.
3) Be willing to stand out. Inversely, just as you should be conscientious of purchasing “realistic” pieces, the great thing about shopping thrift is the opportunity to spice of your wardrobe. If you are the type to be daring and take fashion risks, then you will almost always come back from a consignment shop/clearance rack adventure with something glorious! When shopping with my BFF, I came across an interesting spider brooch on super, super clearance.
Most people who see don’t really like it and would definitely never wear it- I, on the other hand, wear it all the time and consider it a unique accessory in my vast and varied wardrobe. So, if you see something cool that you think you can rock, buy it! Thrifty finds are unique and equally hard to come across a second time.
I love a challenge and a bargain- shopping thriftily encompasses both of those things. But this does not mean that you should never pay full price for what you want. A seasoned consumer knows when the time has come to pay full price. For me, that time is when I need new underwear and highlights. Always pay full price for underwear and highlights.
Life is about balance. Be smart. Shop smart. Live long and prosper.