How To Thrift with Personal Style Instructor Shana Berkeley

On the surface, thrifting––the act of buying from stores that sell pre-owned and donated clothing––seems to be a contemporary and trendy thing to do. However, this form of second-hand restyling is a little-known secret that’s been around for years. Taking the old and infusing it with the new is one of the best ways to create a unique and signature style, and it walks a fine line between fabulous and fragile with the grace of a dancer.

Thrifting is a fluid term, arguably similar to vintage or consignment shopping. The difference between thrifting and vintage or consignment shopping is that the latter usually includes higher-end brands and designer names. This is not to say that thrifting is void of fashion value. On the contrary, many thrifters find top-dollar brands in thrift and preowned clothing stores. They are simply mixed with lower-end, unknown, or discontinued fashion lines.

The beauty of thrifting lies in its budget-friendly quality. Thrifting allows those who need new outfits to post on social media to find what they need and have money to spare––because, let’s face it, you can’t post the same outfit twice!

Now that we have some context to the joys of thrifting, here are a few tips to allow your budget and style to live in perfect harmony:

Take your time. Thrift stores are not grocery stores. You shouldn’t run in, pick up a few items, and run out. Thrifting is more of an experience. Getting started is easy, though. You simply need to park in front of a thrift store, walk in, and look around. That’s it! Don’t be overwhelmed by the size of the store. Stroll down each aisle, casually looking at the inventory, and pull out whatever catches your interest. Repeat this practice until you have browsed the entire store.

Explore the possibility of further savings. Go on sale days, which are usually twice a week. Some places have a “color of the week” that outlines the clothes on sale for that entire week. Most stores allow you to use a college ID for a percentage off, and some stores offer a senior discount. Another incentive is frequent-shopper rewards cards. Make sure to ask the cashier about these cards before you make your purchase.

Be open to sizes and styles. Thrift store clothing can be as old as a few decades or as new as last week, so be open to unconventional sizing and styles. Sometimes a small is actually a medium, and a size 12 may fit a size 8. (Trust me on this.) Look at the cut and length of the garment, and be sure to try it on. Ladies, be open to shopping in the men’s department. Be prepared to go down a size for a true-to-size fit and a size up for the oversize, boyfriend look. Even consider shopping in the children’s department if you are petite (or have been doing ChurchFIT!). If the cost is not too prohibitive, you may want to consider alterations. For example, if you find something you like but it is too big, take it to a dry cleaner or tailor and get the clothing altered. There’s nothing wrong with making these alterations yourself if you can sew; but if not, don’t hesitate to take your clothing to a professional, because a small tweak can make all the difference.

Be aware of clothing care. Most times, people donate nice clothing to thrift stores, but there is always a possibility that the items you choose will have imperfections. Be sure to inspect each item for tears, holes, stains, and other irregularities. At home, check the clothing labels, and then wash, or have dry-cleaned, everything you bought based on the care instructions. Then mend any tears or holes so you can extend the life of your garments.

Accessorize and modernize. Love the buttons on a thrift store jacket? Buy the jacket, but use the buttons to replace the ones on that boring black blazer in your closet. Like a shirt that has a 1960’s feel? Add strappy sandals, a statement necklace, and gold hoops to make it trendy and fresh. Think outside the box. Make note of outfits or trends you like and want to recreate. Search the store with these trends in mind––not the specific pieces but the concept. For example, florals, midis (mid-length skirt), and fur vests are all trends this year. Look for these items while shopping. If there is a trend you want to try, find it in a thrift shop first, but don’t be too focused on a pre-created list. Pick up everything that catches your attention. Be creative!

Now, let’s go shopping!

Article written by Shana Berkeley

Shana is our instructor for Discovering Your Personal Style



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