Those rare, thrifted, treasure finds never come on a silver platter. The contrary, the stuff on most vintage markets smells like a moldy gym locker, half the staff in thrift stores is there because of community service (no friendly shop assistant to hand you your size) and you’re lucky if the stock is hanging on an actual hanger. Yes you really have to dig and work for it.
I’ve talked about reasons why I love to shop guilt free and why I think everyone should do some secondhand shopping; no extra strain on the environment, finding unique pieces and because of the better cuts and quality that clothes had before mass production. Because I’m always asked how I manage to find the best pieces among the trash, here is a little 3-step thrift guide!
1/ Look for fabrics
Those tacky neon track jackets might grab your attention so much that you overlook the black blouse in fine silk hanging right beside it. Try to discard everything you are not looking for from your view. Now, thoroughly go through the racks or piles and look for nice prints, good quality denims, nice worn down leather, silk blouses or wool blazers. Ignore the fits and sizing. Start off by only looking (and feeling) at fabrics.
Now that you have a pile of garments in the right colors and materials, it’s time to further narrow down your selection: estimate the size by viewing it and keep ignoring those size labels. Size labels from other era’s and regions can vary a lot, so it really doesn’t say anything. A ‘too small’ little boy’s blazer could be cropped and boxy on you. A huge ‘too big’ heavy wool grandpa blazer could be your next Yamamoto-style coat.
Look for the potential in these pieces, try to imagine how they would look belted, think about possibly cutting of length (or a frilled edge). Also inspect for stains or damages and keep in mind that these garments will look more polished after being washed and ironed.
Three Small Adjustments
/A dress can be cut at the waist to become a skirt or top. Something I used to do with my dresses when I was about 6 years old.
/Too big trousers can become fold over pants with one small adjustment like I did with these.
/Cut a slit under the arms of a jacket to get a French editor-over-the-shoulder-jacket look like I did with this DIY.