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Tips for an amazing thrifting experience

Hey friends!

It’s been a while! The pandemic had me take a step back and slow down to reflect, something that many of you can probably relate to. BUT I’m back and better than ever! And my recent thifting experiences inspired me to document my tips for a productive, happy thrifting adventure:

1. Pick a good store

Not all thrift stores are created equal. Ask around, or try out several before you come across one where you consistently find things you like. My go-tos in Montreal are Value Village on Ontario and Pie-IX (“Pie-IX” is pronounced “pee-neuf”, neuf being 9 in French) and the Renaissance across the street from it.

2. Know what you like, what looks good on you, and what you’re missing in your wardrobe

This one might take some time and trial and error (I’m still working on it!), but it’s a lot easier to sift through large piles of clothing if you know what you’re looking for. It’s also a lot easier to eliminate an article of clothing because you already know that the cut, fabric type, or style is not something that you’ll actually wear over and over again.

3. Be very, very picky

It can be tempting to buy something just because it’s cheap, but in my opinion, it’s better to walk away empty-handed than to buy something for the wrong reasons and have it sit in your closet unloved and uncared for.

My personal selection process goes something like this:

  • no to anything that has pilling, stains or other obvious signs of wear. One good way to tell is by inspecting the clothing tags – if the items has been washed many times, the writing on the tag will be faded.
  • look out for lighter-coloured fabrics being see-through, that’s a no unless it’s a layering piece.
  • no to brands that are known to have poor quality clothing (Suzy Shier, Uniqlo, Ardène and the like).
  • brands that have a reputation for having good quality garments (mid-range designers) are the sweet spot if the piece passes the no-obvious-signs-of-wear test (and the not-see-through test). And if you can snag a higher-end designer piece in that condition, even better!

4. Pile everything in, then eliminate

Once the item is past step 3, and you like it on the rack, try it on! It’s often hard to tell how a piece will fit just by looking at it on the hanger. I say when in doubt, pile it into your cart and eliminate it once you’re done your rounds and are on to the speedy try-on phase. PS: it has to fit. Like, NO fitting issues. If there’s even a slight fitting issue, I would either put it back or make plans to get it tailored (and factor that into the purchase price, and actually go through with the tailoring plans).

5. Inspect the living **** out of finalists

Once you’ve narrowed down your pile, it’s time to inspect the remaining pieces. Look at EVERYTHING – the stitches (are they neat and even, are there loose threads), are there rips, stains, are any buttons loose, etc. I once got a GORGEOUS coat that, upon inspection at home, had the cuffs shortened, and not by a professional. It’s really not noticeable unless you look inside the sleeve, but still. It also had a smell of being in storage for about 20 years, which took forever to get out. You live, you learn. I still wear it a lot though.

6. The 30 wears test

Finally, to avoid impulse or emotional or it’s-so-cheap-so-whatever buys, ask yourself if you will *actually* wear it at least 30 times, and with what other pieces. If not, ex. if you’re looking for something for a one-time-only occasion, make plans for the piece once you’re done wearing it and factor that into your decision. Will you try to sell it on Poshmark or ThredUP? Give it to a friend? Donate it right back? The goal here is to make sure that your valuable closet real estate isn’t being taken up by things you don’t love and wear.

If the piece passes all of these steps, CONGRATS! You’ve got yourself a thrift find that’s kind to the environment AND your wallet. I encourage you to make space for it in your closet and your life, and take care of it as if you paid a designer price for it. And hey, if you didn’t find anything, it was still hopefully a learning experience about what fits and looks good and what doesn’t. Your thrifting skills will be better honed for next time!

Hope you found this helpful! If you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to leave them below or email thestoryofclothes@hotmail.com.




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