Thursday, 27 April 2017

How to Thrift Clothes More Effectively

Thrifting is one of my favourite pastimes—as you probably would notice since at least 70% of the items in my wardrobe is thrifted. I've grown fond of it since I started getting interested in fashion—and simultaneously thrifting—since 2011. Since then on, I've been thrifting all over the place—online, offline, out of town, abroad; you name it. Now, I realise that there may be people who have never thrifted before and it could get overwhelming—the numerous tacky clothes in your face, the lack of cataloguing and the various sizes available. Believe me, I know. But fear not! Here are some of the things you could do to waste less time in the piles of clothes and find the gem in the haystack—both online and offline.

I don't know about you, but when I shop, it's so easy to get lost in the searching and get caught in the tumultuous of adorable items and suddenly end up with a huge bill to pay. With thrifting, it is even more so since most items in a thrift store are unique and come at a small price. Before you head out to the store or go on an online rampage, it is wise to determine exactly how much you're willing to pay for whatever item you have in mind. Or, if you're not looking for anything in particular, you should still determine the limit where you will stop spending your wealth—and save it for the next thrift store trip. Keep in mind that in certain circumstances—for instance, at a flea market—you can haggle for cheaper price and save more bucks to get more items of your fancy.

The one thing you need to remember about thrifting is these items are not mass-produced. Someone used to own these things and they don't always come to your exact taste. There could be occasions where you find a cute fabric on a dress with an ugly silhouette or an adorable skirt that is far too big on you. Unlike shopping in retail, where you can ask the employees for your exact size, thrift stores don't usually have the same items in various sizes or styles. You often need to see the bigger picture—the potential of the items that catch your eyes. Maybe you can take in a few centimetres off that skirt to fit you better or you can restyle that dress to match your liking. I've definitely thrifted oversized items before and they're still my favourites to this day.

Yes, I did say that these tips are supposed to prevent you from wasting time upon thrifting, but this isn't wasting time. Thrift stores—both online and offline—rarely ever accept returns. So, if you aren't 100% sure you like an item, I suggest you at least sleep on it instead of rushing to the cashier. You can take a look at other thrift stores to see if someone else has something more to your liking. Also, thrift stores almost never have catalogues, so you might need at least several hours rummaging through piles of clothes before you fall in love in an item. I suggest clearing up a whole day to go thrifting to fully benefit from the experience. Otherwise, you can always do it online while multitasking on other things.

Not only in terms of going from one store to another in search of whatever strikes your fancy at the time, but also thinking outside the box and checking out other sections besides the obvious—like the children's or men's section. If you're particularly small, the children's sections might store various gems waiting for you—and they're usually cheaper too! You can even check out the linen sections to score some fabric you might want to turn into clothes—or any other items of your choice. If you don't find something good at a local thrift store, you can always search online for an item that you have in mind. Or maybe visit the next flea market in town—or on the next town over? The possibility is endless!

If you ask me, I would say there is no point in going through all that trouble if you're not going to purchase something you can see yourself wearing for years to come. Okay, we don't know what's going to happen in the future, but at least we can take precautions to make sure the items we buy will not be tossed out in a week—or less! Personally, I always start with checking the quality—be wary of the hems, the feel of the fabric and the soles of the shoes—and then I ask myself how badly I want the item. Can I style them with the items I already own? If yes, how versatile can they be? Will I keep wearing them in the years to come? If it's yes to all, then there's not much reason to back away. But, otherwise, maybe you should put that thing back on the shelf.

So that's basically the five major principles I swear by when I go thrifthunting. When I move into a new town, one of the first things I do is explore the town in search of thrift stores. It's also a great idea to keep an eye out for fliers and posters on upcoming flea markets—my uni used to hold one too twice a year, so checking out the bulletin board isn't such a bad idea. Aside from those, I used to go online to look for something I might have spotted at a retail store but couldn't really afford new. For international options, there are places like Depop and Etsy. For Indonesian options, you can check out Carousell and Shopee. For German options, I used to roam around Kleiderkreisel. I've also written tips on how to shop and sell your clothes before, if you want to check those out. If you have any questions, let me know!

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