Is that image above not the CUTEST sequined jacket, paired with a graphic rock T and ripped jeans?! Guess what, it’s a thrift store find! Yep! And that gal, is Mhairi Loftus, my guest author for today’s post, I can’t wait to introduce her to you.
Wait, thrifting? Are you thinking, “ewww, sifting through old clothes people donated because they didn’t want them, no way!” Well, then I take it you never watched Girl Boss on Netflix! I HIGHLY recommend.
I recently posted an outfit on Instagram that included a pair of shoes from a Consignment store here in Dubai. And since coming here, there is NO shame in my consignment game; but here, it can be pricey! Many of you do NOT live in crazy expensive Dubai, so you’ll want to bookmark this article!
Ladies, allow my guest author to inspire you to find your style, without always buying new. Fashion is fabulous; but it is a MAJOR contributor to waste and pollution. There’s a ton of great life left in MANY pieces you can find, at the fraction of the price!
PLEASE WELCOME MY GUEST AUTHOR – MHAIRI LOFTUS
The following tips come from a very close friend of mine, who also happens to be a master thrifter. Mhairi lives in Calgary, Alberta, with her husband and two sweet kiddos. She’s a super gifted interior design consultant, who also happens to love fashion! She is the perfect person to give you her top tips to helping you find gold, when at first glance all you might see is “old”. Introducing Mhairi, or as she goes by on Instagram – @forbesinferver. Be sure to follow her so you can see all of her fabulous finds from her fave thrift store, her beautiful interior decorating projects, and a little DIY! Take it away Mhairi!
THRIFTING – BY @FORBES IN FERVOR
Thrifting, consignment buying, charity shop hunting has become increasingly popular over the last few years. No longer deemed the best option for only lower income families or those on a budget, thrift shopping has become popular amongst those also fighting against the societal and environmental effects of “fast fashion”.
MY TOP 5 TIPS FOR SUCCESSFUL THRIFTING IN YOUR AREA
I’ve been thrifting for a number of years, and regularly pick up pieces of clothing for all family members, as well as items for the home. Don’t they say that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure? Well, believe me, if you take the time, there’s lots of treasures to be found.
As a thrifting “addict”, here’s my top tips (if you’re up for the challenge) of trawling the thrift rails of your local
second hand shop.
TIP #1: GO WITH PLENTY OF TIME ON YOUR HANDS!!
I honestly can’t stress this point enough. You have to allow yourself the time to go through the rails and consider each item. If you’re in a rush, you won’t be as successful if your mind is always on the clock.
Unlike mainstream stores that showcase everything beautifully and allow you to do a quick walk-through to determine if there’s pieces you like…. your local thrift store certainly won’t be that “accommodating” in how the clothing is presented.
You also need to give yourself the time to try everything on. Grab anything that piques your interest, as you’ll be surprised by what you like on your body, versus on the hanger. If your store offers trolley’s/carts grab one and start loading her up. It saves your arm strength, and allows you to be experimental with your choices by adding more to the “try on” pile.
Once in the changing room, inspect everything closely – seams for tears, are all buttons/poppers accounted for and working, check fronts/backs for any stains or irreparable damage. Speaking from experience there’s nothing worse than bringing home your latest find, only to discover exactly why someone else threw it out in the first place! LOL!!!
This totally applies to the stores here in Dubai. I have found 3 stores I visit, and all require browsing time because they are packed. Trying on clothes is super important because rarely do consignment shops let you return items for a refund. Everything is typically final sale!
TIP #2: IF YOU WOULDN’T BUY IT AT FULL PRICE, DON’T BUY IT AT ALL
When you initially start thrifting, it can be exciting and exhilarating, especially when you discover brand name items for a fraction of the price. But…you still must reign yourself in and ask yourself, if I wouldn’t pay full price for it, why am I buying it? just because it’s priced a lot less? You must still buy items that you love and will wear. Otherwise you’ll end up with a closet full of clothes that were incredibly affordable; but bring your wardrobe ZERO value.
All of the stores here in Dubai that I found carry the suuuuper high end desginer brands. So at first it was definately a thrill to see them marked down; but Mhairi brings up a good point. Just because you CAN afford it at consignment prices, doesn’t mean you SHOULD buy it. So make sure you love it first!
TIP #3: HAVE A LIST / IDEA OF WHAT YOU’RE NEEDING
In other words, shop with intention. It helps keep me on track. I’ll often keep a list going of what items I want to look out for when I’m next at a thrift store. This might be everything from basic black t-shirt, new belt or items for the kids. When you have a list, you go in with a focus, and it’s surprising that you often find what you’re looking for!
Depending on the size of the store, also makes the shopping experience less overwhelming. It allows you to go directly to the racks that have the items you might be looking for. I know Taryn talks alot about shopping with intention with her wardrobe tips too, so whether thrifting or not, it’s always great to know what you are looking for so you can make your “style dollars” stretch!
Remember that article I wrote about doing a closet cleanout?! The part about once you purge, now you create a list of what you need, and shop only for those items? Same rules apply with thrifting!
TIP #4: GO OFTEN!!!
Unlike your mainstream stores at the mall, who change over their product in a systematic fashion, thrift stores are receiving new drop-off’s daily! Don’t be disheartened if you don’t find what you’re looking for on one visit. Go regularly, as you never know when you’ll find your treasure. I treat it as my guilty-pleasure “me” time. Grab myself a coffee and peruse the rails of a few of my favourite thrift stores. Ah, bliss!!!
I fully agree with this tip. I find that I go around once every 2 weeks the consignment stores here. Not only am I checking for new stock; but also further markdowns on items I mentally added to my wish list. I tend to find something new to their inventory, that interests me, every time! But also, be ready to execute. I watched a Dior bag disappear on me. I could’ve bought it; but kept second guessing it, and when I went to finally make it mine, someone had beat me to it! Everything in the store is a ONE OFF, so you snooze, you lose.
TIP #5: KEEP AN OPEN MIND
Let’s face it, your thrift stores aren’t going to be sporting the latest trends donning the recent fashion show and catwalks/runways. But they have something that’s even better. They offer you a style that can be unique and 100% you!!! I’d encourage everyone to set out on their adventure with an open mind. Don’t get stuck in what you feel you should be wearing but instead put all societal opinions of dress code aside and get creative.
Again, try on anything that jumps out at you. Some of my most favourite pieces I’ve picked up are vintage items. They are made beautifully, and seem to be designed to fit a more “womanly” figure…and you guessed it, I have hips and a baby belly!!!
I am a firm believer in you all finding your Method to Style; but I also want you to be an original! Thrifting will allow you to find something completely you, versatile in your fab wardrobe, and very unlikely to be duplicated. Now we’re talkin’!
KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN FOR THE DETAILS
Even if you don’t know any of the brands, look for quality finishes and always read the labels as to where things are made and what fabric they are made from.
I’ve found stunning pieces, by brands I don’t know, because I looked for dresses that are fully lined or sweaters made from cashmere. I’ve come home to then discover my $5 cashmere sweater was a designer brand (who I’d never heard of) and would have retailed for closer to $500! Boo-ya!!!
I can’t stress this point enough! The things that set amazing pieces apart from everyday fashion, is the details. Mhairi has found brands that are incredible and totally unaffordable off the rack. And even if they are a few years old or even vintage, THE GOOD STUFF HOLDS UP. Google the designer of the article you are interested in. You just might be surprised what you can add to your closet.
So, next time you have time on your hands…consider popping into your local thrift store, opening your mind and letting your creative juices flow. Fashion’s meant to be fun…so let’s all do exactly that!
xoxo Friends, and happy Thrifting!! – Taryn & Mhairi