Hi! I’m Amanda Press. I’m a lifelong thrift shopper, one-time costume designer and current upcycler and reseller. Throughout this year I’ll help you build a chic, sustainable wardrobe on a budget! We’ll talk about how to find your style, how to find high-quality pieces second-hand, and how to build a wardrobe that works for you! My goal is to make sure you can quickly get out the door feeling cute and confident, all while saving money and saving the planet. Here are 15 tips to get you started on your recycled wardrobe journey!
- Shop often.There is always new inventory available, because donations come in to Goodwill every single day. Weekdays are a great time to shop, because that’s when you’ll find highest number of donations out on the floor before the weekend rush.
- Create a list. Thrift stores can be very overwhelming if you don’t know what you’re looking for, so it helps to create a list of items you’d like to add to your wardrobe. We’ll talk later this month where I’ll give you specific tips on what you should look for when shopping.
- Look at the edge of hangers. Review the different patterns and colors that appeal to you and only pull those items for further consideration. You don’t have to go through every single item on the rack (that’s too overwhelming)! Keep in mind—If you don’t like the color, pattern, or fabric, you’re never going to wear the item.
- Keep your eyes peeled. Look for high-quality fabrics and timeless pieces. Genuine leather, wool, cashmere and silk are more expensive retail pieces and are great to find at a discount. They will also last longer in your closet than cheap fabrics and fast fashion pieces.
- Check the condition of the garment. Holes and stains are easy to see but check the seams as well. Check the armpits of sweaters, as they tend to pill as soon as they are worn for the first time. If you don’t see any pilling, you might have a brand-new sweater for $6.99! Score! Cuffs of jeans should show no wear and not curl up. Items with some damage can be great for repairing, altering, or upcycling, but be realistic about your abilities and your commitment to working on the garments. In future blog posts I’ll teach you all kinds of tips and tricks if you like this type of challenge.
- Familiarize yourself with high quality and luxury brands. Think about your own personal style and then look for those brands. You’ll recognize a great deal immediately when you see it on the rack. Recently I’ve picked up items in new or excellent condition from rag & bone, DKNY, Joe’s Jeans and Pronto Uomo for $10 or less. Levi’s, Lee, and Wrangler are known for having 100% cotton denim in vintage styles that are very on-trend.
- Familiarize yourself with the clothing silhouettes you like. Some people like drapey garments while others like clothing with a more structured, tailored look. Thrifting will go faster once you have a good sense of what different shapes and silhouettes look like on the hanger, and you'll be able to make smarter decisions about which items are worth trying on. Measure the items you already own that fit for your body type best! Make note of the waist, inseam, hip and shoulder to shoulder measurements. Put those numbers in your phone, and keep a measuring tape in your bag or pocket to use while you are shopping.
- Mall brands are always plentiful. Goodwill stores receive a lot of donations, so if you know that Gap jeans fit you like a glove, or you wear LOFT blouses to work all the time, and Banana Republic outerwear is your jam, pick them up super cheap!
- Be very picky. When purchasing shoes second-hand you want them to be brand new if possible. Check the wear on both the bottom of the sole and inside the shoe. Wearing shoes that have been worn down from someone else’s feet can screw up your stride and lead to injury. Having some great shoes that fit well, are comfortable, and are made to last is very important to your wardrobe. It’s awesome to find high quality shoes at a bargain price.
- Shop sales. What’s better than a good deal? An even better deal! Goodwill Store & Donation Centers always have one colored tag available for 50% off as they rotate the inventory. I’ll take a cashmere sweater for $3.49! And if you are a Club Goodwill REwards member you can save more when you spend more on Customer Appreciation Day, which is the 15th of the month!
- Don’t buy it, if you don’t love it! Don’t fall into the trap of buying an item just because it’s inexpensive. A deal isn’t a deal if it just sits in your closet and no one ever gets to see it. It’s just a waste of money and fills your closet with stuff you will never wear. Be patient. I promise you will be able to find terrific items you will wear all the time.
- Check the racks by mirrors and dressing rooms. Another shopper liked these items enough to try them on, but maybe they just didn’t fit right. However, they could be perfect for you. Think of it as being pre-curated.
- If it catches your eye, grab it.. Shop the new racks that associates bring onto the floor. They usually haven’t been picked over yet, so grab what you like and try it on!
- Consider what else is in your wardrobe. If you already have something similar, will you wear this item more or instead of that item? Will you donate the old item? Additionally, consider what you already own that will mix and match with the new piece. If you can’t think of a few new outfits right off the top of your head, it might never make its way out of your closet.
- Goodwill has lots of thrifting options.I will cover each of these in more detail in future blog posts, but here are the basics:
—Retique in the Third Ward has a more curated selection of higher-end clothing and accessories
—Goodwill Outlet in Racine is great for people who want the biggest bargains
—Shopgoodwill.com is a great choice for people who prefer to shop second-hand from the comfort of their couches.
I’m so excited to get started on my next blog post, “How To Find Your Style and Build a Capsule Wardrobe!” See you then!