Thrifting for dark fashion is one of my all-time favourite things to do, but despite having been a regular to second hand stores since I was just out of the womb, it’s only recently that I’ve really started to develop my skills in finding clothes that I will love and cherish until the grim reaper comes knocking.
Now, I’m not saying I haven’t found treasures over the years, because I have. I mean, we’re talking real treasure, like vintage Laura Ashley ball gowns and hand knitted sweaters from Norway, but I’ve become more attuned to the tactics that need to be put in place so I can make the most of every thrifting trip and significantly increase my chances of finding stuff.
So, using my thrifting know-how, I decided to make a list of top tips to put into practise whenever heading out to thrift.
Note: All the outfits in this post contain thrifted clothing.
1. Bring along a few tote bags (read this if you want to learn how to hand make one from an old t-shirt!) or a couple of plastic bags. Some second hand stores have stopped providing bags and some will charge you for one.
2. From the moment you walk through the door, be prepared to be thorough. (I’ve been silly on multiple occasions and looked in somewhere, thought nope and left without even giving it a chance.) By being thorough I mean go through every garment. Sometimes stuff gets put back in wrong places, so there might be your dream size 10 dress snuck away in the size 8 stock. Also, never, ever be afraid to dig right to the bottom of the baskets and boxes. I’ve found some of the most beautiful scarves by rolling my sleeves up and having a good rummage.
3. Take your time. I can’t stress this enough. There’s nothing worse than thrifting when you’re in a rush. The likelihood of you missing something really special is enormous. Ensure that you plan your trip on a day when you don’t have to rush to be anywhere else.
4. Don’t just stick to the women’s section. Head over and see what’s hiding in the men’s rails. I’ve found so many perfect, over sized woolen jumpers, and I can nearly always score an over-sized long sleeved top to distress and make into a tunic dress, like I did here.
5. If you don’t absolutely love something, then don’t buy it. If you’re not in love with it in the shop, then you’re not going to be in love it when you get home. Buying something that’s cheap and that you think is just ‘alright’ really isn’t worth it. Save your cash and leave the piece for someone who will love it.
6. Be prepared to step out of your comfort zone. I’ve worn strictly black for years, but recently I’ve allowed some grey into my wardrobe. Needless to say, it’s brought an entirely new dimension to my outfits, and opened up a whole new world of possibilities.
7. Always check the garments over for damage and quality. Small things like broken zips or missing buttons can be fixed. If there’s a few holes or loose strings, and it’s the sort of top that you could distress anyway, then some of the work is already done! If the top is a bit bobbly or has bits of lint all over it, don’t let this put your off. There’s plenty of ways you can get it looking great again, just head to You Tube to find out how.
8. Keep an eye out for clothes that are way too big/too small but that can be used for something else. I’ve recently become obsessed with finding the perfect fabric that I can use to make a heavy, long, over-sized scarf.
9. If you find something that’s a little bit too big for you, don’t fret. Head to You Tube to find out how you can wear it without needing to make adjustments, or how to make adjustments yourself. If it’s something really spectacular, it might be worth going to a clothing alteration shop. I’ve done that a few times myself and it’s always been worth it.
10. Be prepared to visit second hand stores in other towns/cities/villages. I regularly make the rounds of the local towns and like nothing better than checking out the thrift stores in cities that I’m visiting.
11. Thrift often.
12. If you don’t find anything, don’t mourn. remember, these places get stock in every day so there’s always another chance to find that perfect piece.