• How I Find Great Vintage & Thrift Store Finds

    Posted on August 6, 2012 by in Style

    This weekend I went thrift shopping and lucked up on some amazing finds to add a lot of color to my wardrobe as well as fun “new” pieces.  I don’t usually go shopping as often as I once did, yet for a once shopaholic I still get the thrill finding great pieces for a tiny fraction of the cost.  It also pleases me to know that it is so much better for the planet to buy used than new.  The final bonus is having clothing that is unique and not going to be in everyone’s closet.  Here’s how I find amazing vintage and thrift store finds.

    1. Shop Rich Colors

    I’ve noticed many second hand retailers organize their clothing by color versus sizes.  Some do both, but that isn’t what I usually see.  This weekend I made a conscious effort to look for luxurious jewel tone clothing since I’ve found myself looking at black pieces repetitively while shopping.  I still ended up purchasing one black blazer, yet also a stunning plum dress and more of my favorite green than I can usually ever find.  I knew the colors that I truly love wearing and searched in those sections of clothing.

    2. High Quality Fabrics & Design

    Thrifting and shopping vintage allows me to purchase high fashion and quality pieces that I wouldn’t otherwise buy on a budget.  I’m not so into designer labels in general, yet I’m a big label reader when I’m second hand shopping.  I want to ensure that the item that I’m thinking of purchasing will have a long second hand life in my closet.  When I’ve purchased trendy thrifted pieces, they didn’t last very long in my wardrobe.  To make the work of thrifting pay off, I need to make sure I bring home only quality.

    Check the labels for high quality fabrics and care information.  Many times you can simply feel the difference in quality immediately.  Also look to see if there is a proper lining in the jacket, pants, or skirt, and also how well the seams look.  Unique quality designs may take a bit of effort to find, but sometimes they just show up out of no where.

    3. Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone

    The whole purpose of thrifting for me is to find pieces that I wouldn’t usually buy to enhance the items that I already have in my wardrobe.  Before I really starting paying much attention to fashion and my shopping habits, I was always buying the exact same pieces.  When I wanted or even needed something to wear for a specific occasion, I was completely out of luck and back at the mall.

    This weekend I found a great pair of green pants that I wouldn’t usually even think twice to buy.  For a girl whose wardrobe was once a sea of minimalist neutrals, I’m finally adding much needed color to spice things up again.  Although the pants fit me well, I plan to reshape them tomorrow or the next day which gets me to my next thrifting tip.

    4. Don’t Discount A Great Piece Because It Isn’t Perfect Immediately

    Even if you are not a seamstress or own a sewing machine there are always tailors.  The green pant that I found fit perfect, yet I didn’t like the straight leg shape on me.  I tend to prefer wide leg, flares, or skinny leg pants.  I took a moment to pull in the leg and look in the mirror.  They were immediately perfect once slimmed down a bit!

    Having a bit of imagination can be your best friend.  Just keep in mind that it is best to never go more than two sizes larger than your size and of course never smaller.  Don’t plan to fix tears or holey garments as that most likely won’t work out in the end.  Thrifting is to be fun not a torturous experience.

    5. Use Your Intuition & Also Shop With A Plan

    Whenever I go shopping I usually head for either jackets or dresses first.  After those two sections anything goes.  I will look for pieces section by section but never take too long in any one section.  I tend to skim across racks looking a what stands out to me and intuitively stopping to look when I think I may have found something good.  I also look for pieces that stand out with great fabrics, unique cuts, and special details.  I was headed for the dressing room when I spotted a taupe silk blouse that I just knew would be perfect and it was.

    Although thrifting takes some time, you can sometimes find some incredible treasures.  I recently found a great vintage denim jacket that I will share with you later on this week along with the other terrific finds from the weekend.  Between the vintage denim jacket and this weekends finds, I purchased six fantastic pieces for less than $40!

    Any Tips To Add?

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7 Responses so far.

  1. Jesus-in-the-City says:

    Hi Dawn!

    Are you in New York City?

    I love thrifting too, but how do you find stuff so cheap? I’ve started shopping at my favorite regular stores again because buying vintage,I was paying the same price anyway.

    Mind giving away any of your favorite stores? Mine are The Family Jewels on 23rd Street and Ruby Slipper in Crown Heights, BK.


  2. Jesus-in-the-City says:

    Oh, and Stella Dallas in Williamsburg!

  3. Mary says:

    try buffalo exchange, theres a couple in nyc.. i love the one by FIT, such great clothing for great prices :)

  4. Dawn Michelle says:

    Hi Aja,
    I’m in Los Angeles. The places I like to go thrifing here are Crossroads, Buffalo Exchange, Goodwill, Wasteland, and It’s A Wrap. This sounds like another great article to go into more detail a bit later. I also like visiting consignment shops in other cities. I would never have found the amazing vintage 80’s black leather jacket if I wasn’t looking at shops in San Francisco last fall. I don’t ever need to buy a lot. Just one phenomenal piece at a time is good for me. This recent shopping experience was all from Goodwill. More on that later this week!
    Dawn Michelle

  5. Dawn Michelle says:

    Hi Mary, Buffalo Exchange is a great spot! In Los Angeles I think Crossroads and Wasteland are pretty awesome too!

  6. Kiriko says:

    I love visiting thrift + vintage shops when traveling. Such a fun way to get a sense of a new city and meet like-minded people. And great for souvenirs!

    It also pays off to develop a relationship with one good local thrift/vintage store. I love to visit local shops that I haven’t yet seen, but I try to focus my attention and dollars on one shop in particular– one time the shop owner sold me a $120 gorgeous wooden bookshelf for almost half off, and there are a couple employees who are now friends and give me great discounts or will save things for me that they think I’ll like. =)

  7. Dawn Michelle says:

    Hi Kiriko, I think I should visit more vintage shops when traveling too. Thanks for sharing!