Right now I’m preparing to leave my husband and daughter and hit the road with my bestest friends in order to play a slot machine in the middle of a Nevada Raley’s while eating cookies. Don’t be jealous. I don’t even like to gamble (though I do like to eat cookies) but my dear friend Stefanie, whom we’re going to visit, told me that you have to in order to cross the state line. I’m not really sure how I’m going to manage eating cookies and gambling while also waving about the free gun I’m supposed to get at the border, but I’m ambidextrous so I’m sure I’ll figure it out. According to Stef, gambling in a supermarket is a right of passage for Nevadans, which makes me surprised I’ve never seen it featured on a Nevada state commemorative plate, especially since Texas made one with burnt down schoolhouses. Come to think of it, it’s probably hard to gamble, eat cookies, wave around a gun, and make a commemorative plate at the same time. You win this round, Nevada.
BUILDING A THRIFTED CLOSET
First of all, thanks to Carrie Anne for having me here! I’m honored to share my thoughts on creating a thrifted closet!
Why I Thrift
As a second-time grad student librarian with only one income (hey fellas!), money is tight to begin with. When I got my head straight about being fit last year and my body composition started changing rapidly as result, suddenly none of my clothes fit the same way anymore. It’s a welcome problem, to be sure, but with no money to spend on clothes to flatter my changing figure, it was time to frequent the thrift stores. It’s much kinder to my budget, and I won’t feel bad if the skirt I bought for a dollar doesn’t fit in a few months.
It’s also quite fashionable to dress in thrifted and vintage finds – and not just for hipsters! I’ve outfitted new drag queens with thrifted dresses, too. Oh, and normal people, like me and you.
While building a thrifted closet can be incredibly rewarding, there are some challenges you should be aware of:
1 – Little Big’s Thrifting Pyramid? Just as applicable with clothes.
2 – You know how hard it is to find the perfect size with all the arbitrary sizing out there? Thrifting takes all the challenges of knowing you’re an 8 in one brand and a 12 in another and, conveniently, puts it all in one store for you. If anything looks like it even might fit, regardless of size, try it on. You are not a hanger, and nothing looks the same on you as it does on some rack. But…
3 – Not all thrift stores have fitting rooms. Fun, huh?
How do you combat all that to build the perfect ensemble?
1 – Be patient and keep your eyes open. Sort through everything, even if it takes awhile.
2 – Bring a friend! I can be successful on my own, but friends will spot things you didn’t and give you a second opinion, then you can return the favor! (Disclaimer: Maybe most girls already know this, but I’m an introvert who usually dislikes shopping and just generally not your average girl, so I always seem to forget it.)
3 – Wear a thin middle layer, like leggings and a tank top, to try on clothes at the stores without fitting rooms. Unless, of course, you like flashing total strangers and risking being arrested for indecent exposure . . .
4. Know the difference between vintage stores and thrift stores. Vintage stores, taking advantage of this vintage trend, are in it for the profit. You can find some great things, but they are generally sold at regular retail prices. Thrift stores are usually supporting a charity that’s happy to get whatever it can and prices are much easier on the wallet.
5. Launder everything before you wear it. You have no idea where that item has been before.
6. The smaller thrift stores have a better selection than the Salvation Army or Goodwill. There aren’t as many offerings on the whole, but they aren’t nearly as picked over.
7. Don’t buy underwear at a thrift store. Just . . .don’t.
Other Thrifty Closet Ideas
Hand-me-downs are not just for kids. Have a shirt you don’t love on you anymore that would look great on a friend? Pass it along. What goes around comes around!
Clothing Swap Soirees- Everyone has something they don’t want in their closet anymore. Get a bunch of friends, gather their used clothes, and then turn your living room into a thrifted boutique! If the clothes are collected in advance, the host(ess) can organize them, making swapping go more smoothly. After the party, whatever isn’t given a new home with a friend can be donated.
Most of all – have fun! Find some fabulous clothes and then rub it in your friend’s faces when they compliment you and you can say “Thanks! It was five dollars!”
“Really, you found that top for five dollars? What sale?”
“No, the whole outfit was five dollars, because I am the awesome.”
Because what fun is looking good if you can’t be smug about it?*
*That’s pretty much all I’ve learned from fashion magazines. Spend ridiculous amounts of money every season and be really smug.
Brown shirt – thrifted
White tank top – Shade Clothing
Denim skirt – Hand-me-down
Brown shoes – Clothing swap
Green dress – thrifted
Red shoes – Clearance sale
Necklace – Gift, handmade
Yellow dress – Thrifted
White tank top – Shade Clothing
Red espadrilles – Clearance sale
Necklace – vintage shop
Red sweater – Clothing swap
Khakis – JcPenney
Emily Pilmer – pilmerportraits.com
Joseph Peterson – @planetJoseph