Everyone enjoys reading about a good thrift haul, but reader Rose suggested I post about my thrifting decision-making – why I choose to leave some “maybes” behind but bring others home to my closet.  So, in the name of research and reader satisfaction (!), I dutifully went thrifting last weekend and documented my process!

This isn't even my full cart. :D
This isn’t even my full cart. 😀

Thrifting Prep Checklist:

  • Go with a friend – especially one in a different size who can offer a helpful opinion on potential thrift scores – I went with my friend Colleen who is close but not quite my size, loves thrifting as much as I do and has a keen eye and a kind word for my style options!
  • Watch for sales or take in donations for a discount card – I’m at the point now that I hate to pay full price when thrifting!
  • Wear a tank top for easy trying-on in the aisles, basic jeans or a skirt so you can see how well pieces will mix with your wardrobe, and slip-on shoes – check, check, check
  • Gauge which aisles you shop according to your available time – I had time for a nice long shopping trip – a few hours – so I basically looked in all the sections.  When I have less time, I only go to a few sections.
  • Have an idea in mind what you’re looking for but be open to what you might find – I was looking for a pair of mules and cool outerwear.  Since I didn’t find any, I’ll have to go again. Shucks.  
  • As you shop, put anything that catches your eye in the cart, THEN try on, THEN edit your choices.  Don’t be afraid to stop and Google if you want to check the quality of the brand or authenticity of designer pieces.

Thrifting with Nicole:

The scarves were front and center so that's where I started, though usually I start in shoes.
The scarves were front and center so that’s where I started, though I usually start in shoes so I can wear the options while I shop and gauge comfort.
YES you even need to try on scarves, otherwise I wouldn't have known this one had a length and bulk that did not spark joy even though the colours did.
YES you even need to try on scarves, otherwise I wouldn’t have known this one had a length and bulk that did not spark joy even though the colours did…
Or that this this bowtie print would look like spiders! Eek
Or that this this bow-tie print would look like spiders once on! Eek
I did nab this leopard print scarf because I don't have a summer-weight leopard print scarf! SCORE!
I did nab this leopard print scarf because I don’t have a summer-weight leopard print scarf! SCORE for $2.80!
On the backside of the scarf aisle was bags so I meandered past them on my way to shoes. I always scan for a mustard or grey cross-body bag, other designer finds or pieces that catch my eye. I liked this but decided the pattern wasn't versatile enough for my coats!
On the backside of the scarf aisle was bags so I meandered past them on my way to shoes. I always scan for a mustard or grey cross-body bag, other designer finds or pieces that catch my eye. I liked this but decided it was too small for the lipstick collection I carry everywhere.
Also liked this Nine West tote but not enough to spend $20.
Also liked this Nine West tote but not enough to spend $20.
I also usually rule out any bags that aren't leather, like this metallic beauty.
I usually rule out any bags that aren’t leather, like this metallic beauty, unless they are Matt & Nat or otherwise irresistible.
Next up shoes, and a potential thrift score of Miz Mooz nude sandals in my size.... *except* for the bunions. #oldladyfeet
Next up shoes, and a potential thrift score of Miz Mooz nude sandals in my size…. *except* for the bunions.  Wahhhhh. #oldladyfeet
Same story for these otherwise-perfect patent pointy toe flats. :(
Same story for these otherwise-perfect patent pointy toe flats. 🙁
These leather flats had serious potential...
These leather flats had serious potential…
Until I noticed the heel falling apart... I bet you could get that fixed but I also bet I'm not gonna. Sad.
Until I noticed the heel falling apart… I bet you could get that fixed but I also bet I’m not gonna. Sad.  Check all pieces for wear and stains – not necessarily to rule them out, but to inform your final decisions.
These peachy Easy Spirit shoes were super comfy but already looked quite worn.  I was *almost* willing to overlook that until I remembered all my other beauties waiting at home for an opportunity to be worn!
These peachy Easy Spirit leather loafers were super comfy but already looked quite worn. I was *almost* willing to overlook that until I remembered all my other beauties waiting at home for an opportunity to be worn!
The closest thing to mules I found were these pink slides - good except the heel is too pointy to be functional in my life and the price is high for something with limited wear potential.
The closest thing to mules I found were these pink slides – the heel is too pointy to be functional in my life and the price is high for something with limited wear potential.
I liked these sandals so I wore them around the store a bit... You'll see later...
I liked these sandals so I wore them around the store a bit… You’ll see later whether they made the cut… *needpedicureSTAT
Next I walked past the outerwear aisles to see what caught my eye. I liked this denim moto jacket but alas it was too big. Fit is most important for someone like me who won't tailor most pieces.
Next I walked past the outerwear aisles to see what caught my eye. I liked this denim moto jacket but alas it was too big. Fit is most important for someone like me who won’t tailor most pieces.
I liked this one-of-a-kind coat but it was ITCHY. Pass.
I liked this one-of-a-kind coat but it was ITCHY. Pass.
This Calvin Klein denim-esque trench road around with me till the bitter end when I decided it had too many buttons was was priced too high for my budget at $20.
This Calvin Klein denim-esque trench rode around with me till the bitter end when I decided it had too many buttons and was priced too high at $20 for my budget.

After coats, I started gathering pieces for the fitting room.  I’ll start with my no’s, then the maybe’s and conclude with what I actually bought!

NO!

This BR denim skirt was so soft but TOO tight. boo
This BR denim skirt was so soft and had tons of potential but it was TOO tight.  Boo.  It’s not me, it’s you, Skirt.
Gorgeous, but too tight.
Gorgeous, but too tight even though the tag was my size.  Pieces get donated because the fit doesn’t match the tag, so it’s a good idea to check the racks in the size above and below your own AND simply look at the garment to estimate if it will fit!  I’ve bought pieces in a size 3/4 all the way up to an 18 and I’m actually a size 10ish.  You have to try on!
This one was just meh and more unflattering IRL. The pretty waist detail would require tucking in and YOU DON'T TELL ME WHAT TO DO, SKIRT!
This one was just meh and more unflattering IRL. The pretty waist detail would require tucking in and YOU DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO, SKIRT!
Too big, too bad - love a simple shirt dress!
Too big, too bad – love a simple shirt dress!
Case in point - this gorgeous Escada dress was tagged an 11/12 but the label said "34" - which is a true size 6.  I put it on anyway just in case... no dice.
This gorgeous Escada dress was tagged an 11/12 but the clothing tag reads “34” – which is a true size 6. I put it on anyway just in case… no dice.
Loved this classic sheath dress but it was too short and a little tight - however it made Colleen look like Claire Underwood (a kind, non-manipulative Claire).
Loved this classic sheath dress but it was a bit tight and too short – might not even meet high school dress code!  However it made Colleen look like Claire Underwood (a kind, non-manipulative Claire).
I would only wear this on my way out of Abnegation to hook up with Four.
I would only wear this on my way out of Abnegation to hook up with Four.
Cute print, bad fit - such is the case for a lot of trendy but low-quality brands that end up in thrift stores.
Cute print, bad fit – such is the case for a lot of trendy but low-quality brands.  Sometimes they fit okay and no matter what, it’s ALWAYS better to buy them secondhand if you’re buying them at all to avoid the fast fashion cycle.
I'd love a cobalt top for Spring but don't want to HAVE to wear a tank under it.  No.
I’d love a cobalt top for Spring but don’t want to HAVE to wear a tank under it. No.

MAYBE…

Liked the print on this blouse but the length was a bit short...
Liked the print and tailoring of this blouse but the length was a bit short…
I heart green!  But the fabric looked worn and a bit misshapen...
I heart green! But the fabric looked worn and a bit misshapen…
I heart bird-print but this was a junior brand and, er, would always require a tank top.  I'm ready to wear one layer already!
I heart bird-print but this was a junior low-quality brand and, er, would always require a tank top. I’m ready to wear one layer already!
This maxi dress was pretty but a bit tight and felt a bit ... old ladyish.
This maxi dress was pretty but a bit tight and felt a bit … old ladyish.
Another gorgeous dress in a gorgeous colour!  Loved the texture but it was a bit big (not a size 15/16 like the tag said!) and priced at $22.  Too much for my budget for how much I'd wear it.
Another gorgeous dress in a gorgeous colour! Loved the texture but it was a bit big (though not a size 15/16 like the tag said!) and priced at $22. Too much for my budget for how much I’d wear it.
I LOVED this Trina Turk dress but the big snag would be impossible to repair or disguise.
I LOVED this Trina Turk dress but the big snag would be impossible to repair or disguise.
Also loved the colours and easy fit of this Max Mara dress but wondered if it lacked a "wow" factor to compete with the rest of my dress collection.
Also loved the colours and easy fit of this dress but wondered if it lacked a “wow” factor to compete with the rest of my dress collection…

YES!!!

Now for what I ultimately decided to adopt into my closet!  Starting with difficult shoe decisions…

These three pairs each had virtues but ultimately I decided on...
These three pairs each had virtues but ultimately I decided on…
This pair had a gladiator sandal vibe, were unique and in great condition for $7.70.  I liked them as an alternate to the lace-y shoes that every blogger seems to be wearing these days.
This pair had a gladiator sandal vibe, were unique and in great condition for $7.70. I liked them as an alternate to the lace-y shoes that every blogger and their dog seems to be wearing these days, and I’ve already worn them twice!
Fresh out of stripes (!), so this classic tank was a no-brainer at $4.20.
Fresh out of stripes (!), so this classic tank was a no-brainer at $4.20.
I prefer skirts to shorts but with summers off and lots of family camping trips, a classic pair of perfect condition denim shorts for $6.30 makes good thrifting sense.
I prefer skirts to shorts but with summers off and lots of family camping trips, a classic pair of perfect-condition denim shorts for $6.30 makes good thrifting sense.
Oh how I adore thrifted Anthropologie!!  This $4.90 silk skirt is perfect.  So pretty and comfortable.  Can't wait to wear it!
Oh how I adore thrifted Anthropologie!! This $4.90 silk skirt is perfect. So pretty and comfortable. Can’t wait to wear it!
Next to thrifting Anthropologie, I LOVE thrifting unique vintage pieces and so I had to take home this vintage dress for $5.60 in a colour that's majorly trending for Spring and Summer - orange!
Next to thrifting Anthropologie, I LOVE thrifting unique vintage pieces and so I *had* to take home this vintage dress for $5.60 in a colour that’s majorly trending for Spring and Summer – orange!

And that concludes my thrifting adventure!  I spent $34.30 on 7 pieces (including a copper cuff that I forgot to photograph), each of which adds something to my wardrobe.  Now, I’m a fashion blogger and I love novelty, so there’s a lot of coming and going in my wardrobe.  You might be the kind of person that shops once a year or buys far fewer items – no matter how often you shop or how much you get, SHOP SECONDHAND as much as possible.  It is THE source for quality, unique, durable, trendy, stylish and cost-effective pieces and most importantly, it opts out of the horrifying fast fashion cycle that is consuming us and our world.

That leads to an early introduction of next week’s Tuesday Try in honour of Fashion Revolution Week April 18 – 24thinstead of challenging you on what TO wear, I’m challenging you on what NOT to wear…  Can you, for one day, NOT wear anything that is fast fashion?  Check your tags – where were your clothes made?  Who made your clothes?  If your clothes aren’t secondhand, made in Canada or the US, or from another reputable ethical or sustainable manufacturer, don’t wear them, just for one day.  Now you know how to thrift – so go forth and use these new-found powers for good!   We can do this.

4 Comments

  1. Shannon Ebbesen Reply

    Love the challenge!!!! Those shoes…sigh…and the orange dress U0001f352U0001f496

  2. Taylor Madge Reply

    I love this post! Your process and mine are very similar 🙂

  3. Rose by His Grace Reply

    Absolutely wonderful post!  Beyond my expectations of what you could do with this idea!  I found your evaluations and thought process most informative and humours too!
    I think the greatest thing I learned from this is that even a good priced, lovely item can be walked away from if it does not spark joy.  I like the way you allowed items to catch your eye, tried them on then confidently let them stay behind.  You showed us that the reasons can vary and it is okay to choose wisely and that does not make us ungrateful, but rather wise shoppers.  
    Thank you ever so much for doing this.  I hope you do more of these in the future as I did find it helpful and informative.

  4. Rose by His Grace Thank YOU for the idea!  It was so fun to carry out!  Indeed, thoughtful thrifting IS wise – ultimately, as “slow fashion” conscious consumers, we want to buy things that have a long life in our closets, even if they’re inexpensive secondhand pieces.  Thanks again and I would love to do it again!  Stay tuned!

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