Tuesday, August 7, 2012

top ten Tuesday: ten items of clothing from thrift stores.

A few months ago, I wrote about my undying love for all things thrifty. In that article, I gave you a list of my top ten thrift store/rummage sale finds: all under five dollars. While those items are lovely, there’s so much more to share, and some of it did cost a bit more than five dollars. I’d like to elaborate on my love of consignment stores – this time, I’m going to focus only on clothes. Places like Goodwill are a goldmine for quality clothing at a measly price – that is, if you have the patience. You can always go to consignment stores, but expect to pay a little more. Since stores like Plato’s Closet actually pay people for bringing their clothing in, the overall inventory is going to be higher quality than a Salvation Army or Goodwill. However, since they DO handpick their stuff, Plato’s Closet merchandise tends to aim itself at the Hollister-loving preteen crowd.

Overall, Goodwill tends to be my thrift store of choice. Getting clothes from Goodwill is much more satisfying for a number of reasons. First of all, you really have to work to get the good stuff. You have to sift patiently through the racks of clothes which are almost never sorted by size. When you find that elusive treasure, it’s just that more rewarding because you really searched for it. Plus, when you buy from Goodwill, your money is going toward a good cause. Lastly, you can’t beat their prices – if you go on the right day, you can even get half off things with a certain color tag.

Enough rambling. Here are my top ten clothing items from thrift stores!

Black embroidered skirt. Goodwill. $3.99.
I don’t know if you’ve been skirt shopping lately, but it’s a pain, especially for a cheapskate like me. When I’m looking for a skirt, I want it to be affordable and not skanky. Unfortunately for me, skirts tend to be one or the other. All of the professional-looking skirts cost more than I want to pay, and the affordable skirts barely cover my butt. Where, oh where, could I find an reasonably priced skirt that wouldn’t make me look like a hooker? Goodwill, that’s where! Goodwill can be a skirt treasure-trove. Sure, you’ve got to dig through the ankle-length plaid numbers, but you’ll find something good if you look long enough. Case in point: this black skirt. It’s an A-line (do you watch What Not to Wear? If you do, you know that an A-line is universally flattering!), and it’s got some neat little designs to add some interest. Versatile, flattering, cheap, not skanky. Goodwill wins again.

Zebra skirt. Goodwill. $3.99.
Yep, another Goodwill skirt. While the black skirt was snagged from the mega-Goodwill in St Paul, this skirt was salvaged from a smaller Goodwill in Hopkins – a mid-level suburb of the Twin Cities. I hadn’t had much luck at the Hopkins Goodwill in the past, but it’s James’s Goodwill of choice, so we go there anyway. While he’s scouting for dress pants, I poke my way through the skirts and dresses, and behold! I find something good. This one is also an A-line, but this one has zebra print! How can you go wrong with zebra print? Ok, you can totally go wrong, but not with this skirt.

Maroon dress (Banana Republic). Second Debut. $9.
Second Debut is the classy older sister of Goodwill. When donations come in, they’re sorted at some magical Goodwill warehouse. Most of the stuff goes to Goodwill, but the brand-name donations make their way to Second Debut. At Second Debut, you’ll pay a little more for clothes, but you won’t have to search for the good stuff: the entire store IS good stuff. Best of all, they have sort of a sliding scale for prices. When an item comes in, it’s given a particular price. After three months, that price drops – the dates and prices are listed on the back of each tag. If you’re fortunate enough to find something off the clearance rack, it’s always fifty percent off the lowest price (hence my nine dollar Banana Republic dress). And after all that, the money is still going towards something good.

Grey trousers. Plato’s Closet. $10 before trade-in.
I hate dress pants. I really do. I don’t know what it is about them, but I’d put them in the same category as stirrup pants and skorts on my list of clothes to avoid. Since I dislike dress pants so much, it makes dressing for my business-casual workplace all the more difficult. In the spring and summer, it’s no problem: I have plenty of skirts and dresses to last me for those fleeting warm months. It becomes much more of an issue in the winter when it’s too cold to wear skirts with bare legs: I enjoy wearing tights about as much as I like dress pants. So I really do need dress pants, but I have a tough time finding any that I actually want to wear. Imagine my surprise when I found the holy grail of dress pants at Plato’s Closet: they’re soft, comfortable, and trouser-cut (again, universally flattering! Thanks, What Not to Wear!). Aside from a hole in the crotch that even someone with such limited sewing skills as me could fix, these pants were the perfect find.

Green jacket. Plato’s Closet. $14 before trade-in.
Whenever I go to Plato’s Closet, I have clothes to sell. I rarely go there just for the sake of shopping; I don’t have the patience. While the buyers are sorting through whatever I brought in that day, I browse – and that’s how I end up with stuff from Plato’s Closet. I can never remember how much I paid for something because I always get a discount from my trade-in. Otherwise – let’s be honest – I would probably never buy stuff from Plato’s Closet without that glorious trade-in option. Their clothes are nice, but $14 is an awful lot for something used, especially considering places like Target, JCPenney, and Kohl’s will have sales where you can buy brand new clothing for three or four dollars. So I shop at Plato’s Closet, but only with the discount. I had this particular jacket stripped from a mannequin. It totally looks better on me.

Grey sweatshirt jacket. Goodwill. $4.99.
In case you haven’t noticed, most of my Goodwill scores take place in urban Minnesota. This is one exception. There are two Goodwills in Sioux Falls, neither of which is anything too wonderful. I was in there with James one day (he was on a mission to find something kitchen-related, I’m sure), and I saw this jacket thing hanging innocently on the end of a rack. It’s kind of bizarre; it looks like a jacket, but the material makes it feel more like a sweatshirt. I’d call it a classed-up sweatshirt. Whatever it is, I wear it happily.

Brown and white flowered dress. Goodwill. $6.
This dress is my favorite thing to come out of any thrift store so far. It came from the Brookings Goodwill sometime in 2008. The Brookings Goodwill has notoriously slim pickings, so I wasn’t expecting much when I went there with Mom. We were perusing the dresses when she pulled a brown and white one out of their midst. I was not convinced; the dress was a few sizes up from what I normally wore, so I didn’t even want to try it on. Mom said, “Oh, just give it a shot! You never know!” Sure enough, it fit beautifully. It’s not only my favorite thrift store item, but one of my favorite pieces of clothing out of my entire closet.

Blue coat (the Limited). Plato’s Closet. $30 before trade-in.
Mom and I found this lovely blue coat while in the Sioux Falls Plato’s Closet. Normally, I would never pay $30 for a used coat. NEVER. But in this case, a.) I had some trade-in money, b.) I had a 20% coupon – Plato’s Closet gives you a stamp whenever you spend or sell $10, and once you get 20 stamps, you get 20% your purchase, and c.) Mom offered to pay for the rest since it was nearing Valentine’s Day. I cashed in my discounts and took her up on her offer (Mom got a very nice black coat that day, too). This is by far the classiest coat I own, and I love it. The lobster pin was my addition – it really adds something, dontcha think?

Black flats (RocketDog). Y’s Buys. $3.
This is the only pair of shoes I own that I have gotten via thrift store. I’ve always had a hard time buying previously-owned shoes, but I made an exception for these since they still had the original tags on them. I’m one of those people who just doesn’t like feet. I think they’re gross, and I don’t want them anywhere near me. My idea of the worst job ever is to work at a nail salon giving pedicures. That being said, I don’t really want a pair of shoes that once belonged to someone else. I have no idea where those shoes have been, and what if the person who owned them had athlete’s foot? No thank you. I have purchased secondhand shoes in the past, but they’ve all made their way back to the thrift stores. But not these shoes – they were clean and perfect, so they came home with me. Y’s Buys is run by the YMCA, and they have a TON of stuff. It’s organized much like Goodwill, so you have to search for what you want. Like Goodwill, the money goes to a good cause, so I feel extra good about my black shoes.

Turquoise necklace. Plato’s Closet. $2.
I really have a thing for turquoise, especially when it comes to jewelry. I’m not talking about actual turquoise, but just the color turquoise… hence the plastic turquoise necklace! Rarely do I browse the jewelry at Plato’s Closet; it’s right in front of the cash registers, so it’s almost always obstructed by people waiting in line. One day, while I was wasting time waiting for the buyers to finish with my clothes, the crowds parted. I took this rare opportunity to sift quickly through the jewelry and found – much to my surprise – that it was all super cheap. So now I’ve got a lovely plastic turquoise necklace that cost less than coffee at Starbucks. Score.
So there you have it: my top ten clothing items from thrift stores. I certainly have nothing against buying brand new clothes, but it’s just so much more fun to find the good stuff where you least expect it. If you haven’t paid a visit to your local Goodwill lately, I strongly recommend you do so. If you’ve got the time and the inclination, you might come away with something good.

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