Sunday, August 7, 2011

secondhand (an instructional guest post by olivia)

Hello, lovely readers of Emily's blog. This is Olivia from of horsefeathers, and today I have a quick post on thrift shopping.

Oh yes. Thrifting is fun, cheap, and often yields spectacular results. Shall we?

Before we get into the dos-and-don'ts, we need an actual place to go thrifting, yes? Fear not. I promise that somewhere near you is a good place for thrifting.
My top three?
1- Goodwill.
2- Yard sales and flea markets.
3- Salvation Army.
I can guarantee that somewhere around you there is one of those places. But one you get there, there's a whole other realm of shopping you need to be introduced to. It's very different from the mall.

Always check secondhand clothes (and bags and shoes and jewelry, for that matter) very carefully for holes, frays, or defects. A lot of the time, you can't return your purchases, so be cautious. Nothing is worse than getting a great deal on a pretty cashmere sweater then coming home to have someone point out there's a big moth hole in the back.

Bargaining is a skill you need to learn, especially for yard sales and flea markets. 
It even worked for me a few days ago at Goodwill. I had like five nice shirts, and twenty-two dollars. The total was $24.97. So, putting on my best innocent-and-young face (which was a little difficult since I was looking down on the cashier lady, being about a foot and a half taller than she was) I took out my money and told her that's all I had.
I got all five shirts for $22.
If you just think something is overpriced, you can pull the same trick, even if you DO have more. Say you like a certain pair of boots. They cost $16, but you think you could get them for $10. Pull out Mr Alexander Hamilton and plead for your life... ahem, your boots.
This will work especially well if you look a bit disheveled. Mess up your hair a bit. It makes you look a little poorer. Maybe the seller will feel sorry for you.

Getting into the thrifting world? Already an established citizen?
I have a challenge for you.
Pick out the dowdiest, ugliest, most old-lady-ish thing you can find — a cat sweater should do the trick.
Now work your magic! Make it wearable.
Here's some hints:
A fresh face does wonders. Being young (and by that I mean under 30) lands you points for ugly clothes.
High heels make everything better.
So do short shorts, little dresses (worn underneath), and black.
This girl did an excellent job of turning a weird sweater into something amazing. She bought the sweater ("jumper", since she's British) from a thrift store ("charity shop"; again, I wish I was British). In fact, check out her whole profile. Lots of her stuff is thrifted.

Good luck, lovelies, and happy thrifting!


My own (most recent) thrifted outfit. None of this stuff is new.
Dress from my basement (1990s), sweater from my grandmother, shoes and bag from a thrift shop.
Whole post here.


  1. I love charity shops. When I was in Bradford last month, we were walking through the downtown area, and literally every other store was a charity shop.

  2. I too wish I was British.