Thursday, May 5, 2011

Clothes! (Part 1)

So, one of the things of I had a hard time getting used to shopping for at thrift stores/yard sales was clothing. I'll be honest, it took me some time to be comfortable wearing other people's clothes. My older sister always brings me her 'yard sale' clothes before they go into the 'yard sale' pile. I never worried about her clothes- I knew where they came from and usually remembered her wearing them about a month before. I joke with her that for her birthday and Christmas I get her stuff I want because I know I'll end up with it before too long. :)
So, I did have a hard time with the clothing issue. But I was brave, and started looking in the clothing sections and WOW was I surprised. I was used to finding last-seasons cast-offs or the dreaded 1980s jeans that hadn't felt the presence of someone's legs since the 1980s. But, around all the tacky sweaters, faded tee shirts, and high-waisted/ weird legged/ 'Mom' jeans I found some real gems.
Name brand clothes aren't uncommon in thrift stores or at yard sales. They are there, you just have to look. I'll be honest, I have to be in the mood to dig- and trust me, you'll have to dig in the clothing section at most thrift stores. Sometimes I'm just not in the mood, and I'll pass up the clothing section altogether. But when I'm in the mood to dig through the racks, you better watch out.

Yard sales are great for finding baby clothes- I pass up a lot of yard sales because I can tell just by driving by all they are going to have is baby clothes (which I have no need for at this point in my life). It is harder to find adult clothes in your size at yard sales; thrift stores are usually better because you are more likely to find items in your size. It's just common sense- in order to find clothes in your size at a yard sale, you have to stumble upon a house with someone close to your size; but thrift stores have a wide range of sizes.

Last weekend I found some great deals on clothes when I went to some yard sales. I will admit, I was shopping in an 'upper-class' subdivision where, not pointing fingers or trying to make anyone feel bad, things can be overpriced. I know lots of websites and people tell you to price yard sale items at 10% of what you paid or whatever. In some areas of the country, you might be able to do that, but when I'm going to yard sales I don't want to spend an outrages amount of money on your old faded work out clothes- I don't care how much you originally paid for it. That's just me and my opinion on things. Obviously, there are people who will pay the higher prices for nicer, name-brand items but I'm not one of them. I usually have more luck at thrift stores on clothing, but I was blessed with some great finds. I'll highlight some of my greatest finds in part 2 of this post.

Now, yard sales/thrift stores can be wonderful places to find great items. But there are some noteworthy ideas you can't forget when looking at yard sales or thrift stores for clothes.

1) You can't try on the items at yard sales (usually, thrift stores have fitting rooms). I know when I have a yard sale, I don't want a stranger coming into my home to try on clothes. I should probably be more trusting, but sadly, that's how the world works. So, don't think you'll be able to ask to try items on and be let right in their front door. The only exception I can think of would be the case of a formal prom dress or other evening gown that is priced significantly higher. So, do what you need to hold items up and debate whether it will fit. I know that it is hard, hard, hard to tell just by looking if something is going to fit, but that's when a background knowledge of brands that fit you are great to have. I know that in certain brands I can wear one size, but in another brand I need one size bigger. I know I can rarely find junior's clothing that fits so I stick with women's clothing. But worst case, you spent $1 and in your next yard sale you can probably make your money back. Or of course my mantra- donate it! Also, at thrift stores there is hardly ever a 'junior's' section. The sections are either separated by style (sweaters, tee shirts, long sleeved shirts, etc), by color (whites, pinks, reds, grays, etc), by size (small, medium, large- with no indication as to whether that small is a women's size small or a junior's size small- which we all know there is a big difference between), or a combination of the sections (women's size small tank tops). Don't rule out looking at the size large racks if you are a small- items get misplaced, or shrink, or are really a junior's size large hiding in with the women's size large. Just skim through them all- you never know what you'll find.
2) Make sure the item is worth the price. Like I said earlier, some items are worth 10% of what the original price was, but more often than not, they aren't. Just make sure you are comfortable paying the price listed. At thrift stores, usually-not always- clothing is priced as a group. For example, all the sweaters are $4 no matter the brand, size, condition, or whatever else. Some thrift stores take the time to price items individually and might have a section dedicated to 'boutique' or 'designer' items. These items are priced higher, but usually worth it. At yard sales, sometimes people are, what I like to refer to as being, 'proud' of their items and will firmly price their clothes at the amount they see fit- which sometimes is reasonable, but other times not. Just be careful, and as long as you are comfortable, that's all that matters.
3) Look clothing over CAREFULLY. Not always, but sometimes, items have holes, are ripped, have missing buttons, or not working zippers. For example, I was beyond excited when I found a brand-new, with the original over $120 tags hanging from the hip, designer jeans at a thrift store. I hurried to the dressing room to try them on and come to find out the zipper was broken. That wouldn't stop some people- they can fix it or take it to a tailor- but for me, it wasn't worth it. Just make sure if there is damage you can fix it.
4) Know that it is okay to buy summer clothes in the winter and winter clothes in the summer. Think long-term and broadly when you shop for clothes at thrift stores or yard sales. I know, from experience, that it hard to imagine wearing that red sweater when it's 100 degrees outside and your face is the same color as the sweater. But, when December rolls around, you'll be wishing you had that red sweater to wear to a Christmas party. Also, buying that cute summer dress in the winter might be a motivator to make sure you can still wear it when May comes around.
5) Wash it when you get home. Because just like you never know what you'll find at a thrift store/yard sale, you never know where or who last wore that top you just bought or where the top next to it on the rack was...

What clothing I like looking for at thrift stores/yard sales.
1) What I call 'fun' shoes. You know what I'm talking about- those shoes that are super cute, but you know you'll only wear once or twice. Or the shoes that can't really be worn all day, the 'special shoes.' I will tell you, just like my mama told me, you get what you pay for when it comes to shoes. My 'work' shoes that I wear teaching and standing on my feet all day, I make sure are quality shoes that are comfortable. It's worth it to me to spend more on shoes like that and then buy my 'fun' shoes at thrift stores. I have found great shoes like this- just make sure you try them on. Shoes are kind of a tricky thing because usually- not always- once shoes are worn- they are WORN and not worth reselling. I've stumbled upon some gems which I'll show you in part 2.
2) Summer dresses or swim-suit cover-up dresses are always good finds at thrift stores. In the spring and summer, I love to wear dresses because they are easy, light, and fun. You do have to be careful about getting styles that are too out of date- just be sure to look at the cut of the dress, that can show how old a dress is. Formal dresses are also common at thrift stores and I don't mean just prom dresses. I've seen lots and lots of formal, not necessarily evening gown dresses, but I guess you could call them cocktail dresses, at thrift stores- many with the tags still on. We've all done that, bought a dress at some fancy department store when it was on clearance thinking we would wear it next year- well those dresses end up at thrift stores or in yard sales when they don't get worn that next year and make great finds for you and me.
3) Work clothes- mainly tops. Since I am a teacher, dressing professionally is part of the job. I normally wear black dress slacks and nice tops. The slacks I usually have an easier time buying at J.C. Penny's (they have a brand that fits me well) because slacks at thrift stores or yard sales are often very worn and are faded- pretty much any material that is black is going to be faded- not always, but often. I find a lot of my tops though, and it's such a good buy. I like polyester kind of tops and there are usually lots of them at thrift stores/yard sales. I also buy sleeveless tops/ spaghetti strap tops because I can wear cardigans or light sweaters over them.
4) Skirts/jeans/shorts but only if I can try them on. We women all know- you can't tell by the number printed on the label.

I know once I post this, I'll think of something else I could have there will probably be more post about clothes and what to look for or stay away from.
Part 2 of this post will contain pictures of my greatest clothing finds...check back in to see what items I've found.

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