Nifty thrifty!

Please forgive the naff title. It’s all I could think of.

As promised, I’m going to talk a little in this post about shopping in 2nd hand stores. My mother was a WORLD CLASS thrifter, so I include here some tips I picked up from her, and also a few I have developed over the years of having very little money to spend on clothes. Bear in mind also that my style aims at tidy, a bit 50’s, and masculine. I am also bigger than average, and so some of my tips and tricks have that specifically in mind.

1) Ok, so. Starting off. The worst thing you can do is go in not really knowing what you want to pick up. Obviously, have an open mind, but if you don’t at least have an idea of the kinds of pieces you’re looking for, things get a bit overwhelming. It’s only recently that I have started to enjoy clothes shopping, so I am a bit more easy going than I used to be, but either way faffing around with little to no purpose still irritates me.

2) You will have to try things on, probably on the shop floor, so dress accordingly. If you’re looking for jumpers/ shirts, then wear a tee shirt with a zip closing hoody or something similar, so you don’t have to keep dragging your layers off over your head. If you’re going to be trying on shoes or trousers, then slip on shoes (a la Vans, or something similar) are your new best friend.

4) When you’re actually in the shop- whether it be a charity shop, a funky little thrift store, or a big warehouse type store (like TK Maxx)- be aware that you cannot trust labels, or the size sections. I can’t stress this enough. If the label says size 14 or xl, or whatever it is, don’t dismiss it because it’s “not your size”. At the very least take it off the rack and look at it on the hanger. So many older pieces are labelled in a different sizing scheme that we’re used to today. If something is originally from a different country, those sizes won’t match- there is no such thing as a size “2” dress/ trousers in Ireland. I have picked up things that are cleared not labelled correctly. Do I care? No.

5) Obviously, don’t stick to one ‘side’ of the store either. If something suits you, it suits you, regardless of the gender it was originally intended for. If you’re very slim, mens trousers may suit you more because they have a small hip/ waist ratio. Likewise if you’re bigger like me, no matter what you do men’s trousers just aren’t going to fit right. Get over it, and work around it.

6) Sometimes the best times to buy something are in completely the wrong season. I picked up an awesome really thick knit polo neck jumper on one of the hottest days of summer a couple of years ago. But it was there, it was marked down because it was the wrong season, and come November I was damn glad I had it to throw on when the cold arrived with a bang.

7) If you are thinking of buying something, look at it again. Does it have a stain? Put it back. If the last person to have it couldn’t get the stain out, you probably won’t be able to either. If it’s too small somewhere, put it back. It’s very difficult to let out something if it’s too small. If it’s too big, it’s possible to work with, but be aware unless you can use a sewing machine VERY well, you’ll have to leave it in to a tailor. Now, that might be brilliant, because you’ll probably get something at a fraction of it’s original cost and tailoring might not add too much to the price. But be aware. The easiest alterations are sleeve length and trouser length and waist size. If the shoulders are wrong, it can be altered but probably not as well as you’d like, and it’ll be pricey. But it might be worth it. I bought a navy peacoat online from an army surplus store for €70 two winters ago, and spent another €70 getting it altered to fit; shoulders, sleeve length, etc. With such a heavy fabric, it was a lot of work. But I now have a classic winter coat that I love, that fits me very well and will last and last.

8) Possibly the best thing about thrift stores are the accessories. Ties, scarves, hats, shoes, braces… there are so many accessories in thrift stores that can be amazing. You usually have to dig through big bins to get them, but when you find the good stuff, it’s brilliant.

So are many of you into thrifting? Any great finds?

Keep it dapper!



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