Thrift Round-Up and Thrifting Tips

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Hey all! It’s been way too long since I have been able to sit down and devote some time to the blog, but it’s all for a good reason: we moved! After three years in Southern Illinois, we are so elated to be back in Kentucky (Lexington, to be exact).

The timing of the move with this particular blog post is sort of perfect…because, I’m talking about my major thrifting hobby (habit?), which all began while living in Illinois. Before getting married, my husband and I lived in NYC, where we loved finding gems at the Goodwill in Chelsea or the Housing Works in Hell’s Kitchen. But, I’d never considered myself ‘lucky’ at finding secondhand clothing that fit my style or my body. Oh, how I wish I had tried a little bit harder when I had all of New York City at my disposal.

Over the past few years, I’ve ‘honed’ the skill of shopping second-hand. I still have SO much to learn when it comes to shopping and finding truly great pieces.. but, I’ve got so much to share with you about what has been really working for me.

Today, I’m sharing what I’ve found second-hand in the month of July, and also sharing some helpful info if you’re someone that feels like you don’t have a good eye. (Spoiler alert: you do! It’s probably your mindset that needs a little work)

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First up: clothing! My favorite. Also, what a lot of my friends think is the hardest thing to shop for secondhand.

I would agree! It is tricky. It’s slow-going, if you’re doing it right. When I look at this photo, it doesn’t look like much considering the amount of visits I make to my favorite local spots—but that’s my first tip.

SHOP OFTEN. BUY WAY LESS OFTEN.

This rule can apply to any and all savvy shopping practices, but as a lover of sustainable fashion, in order to find the best pieces, you have to visit your local spots OFTEN and be seriously picky about what you go home with. For me, I hit up the stores about once a week (usually on Fridays…it’s my end-of-the-week celebration). More times than not, I will leave a store empty-handed and that’s okay. Another tip is to ask your store employees when they put out their ‘new’ items. Time your visits accordingly…just like you would at a regular store.

When I began exclusively shopping secondhand, I was buying any and every little piece I thought might work for me. Most of the time, guess what happened? It ended up in a donation bag, headed right back to the store it was purchased from. Just because shopping secondhand is a more affordable way to shop doesn’t mean you can’t waste just as much money on clothes you will not wear even once. Often, because the price tag is so much more tempting, it is extra easy to go home with something you a) really don’t love b) doesn’t fit properly c) love but doesn’t fit into your wardrobe or d) is actually really uncomfortable and you don’t know that until you wear it! Be picky. Try it on. And…my next tip:

STUDY YOUR STYLE. Learn your closet!

Let’s say you have 5 pieces in the dressing room with you. Hallelujah! They all fit. They’re flattering. They’re in good shape! What a wonderful feeling. But there could be a major qualification you’ve forgotten to consider: will you actually wear these items? This may not be as much an issue for you as it is for me, but will i actually wear this is a question I need tattooed on my forearm when I’m shopping. What has helped me to avoid buying things that sit on a hanger gathering dust is to memorize what’s in my closet. When I’m on the fence about an item, if I don’t have an outfit already in mind (specifically with items I already own), it’s probably a no-go. Exceptions to this rule would be a special occasion dress or super unique pieces that are just too amazing to pass up. Even then, I like to have an event in mind or at least an outfit idea. Otherwise, it truly will just sit in your closet forever, and you’ll wish you hadn’t jumped the gun.

Here are 4 outfits I have put together from my thrifted finds. I’ll walk through the process of ‘why’ I chose them for my style and my closet!

Pardon the color inconsistencies — the color on the right is accurate!

This outfit is almost 100% second-hand. The earrings are the only thing I purchased new (from this amazing store). All elements were purchased at different times. The basic white linen shirt and straw bag came from Goodwill, and I’ve already worn both these items countless times. Linen is the perfect summer fabric, and a white button-up is a basic item that goes with everything. The shoes are Target, but I sought them out on Poshmark (another amazing way to shop second-hand…more on this in the future!). I own these exact sandals in yellow, but love them so much I searched for them ‘used’ in other colors. These are like new! The Madewell pants came from a second-hand store in Lexington, and, once again…they’re such a good basic pair of pants to have for late Summer and early Fall. Not to mention, Madewell is one of my favorite brands when it comes to denim and other pants.

This outfit is half-thrifted, half DIY! I bleached this denim jacket myself (I have a saved highlight on my Instagram about this, if you’re curious), and I made those little earrings from sculpey clay! The dress is one I almost bought on-a-whim at Target. However…I refrained, and months later, I found it at Goodwill. It is missing the matching belt, BUT I plan to sew a simple black belt to go around the waist if I plan on dressing this up. For now, I love the look of a swing-y dress with a denim jacket and cute shoes. The shoes are my new favorite find ever from Clothes Mentor in Lexington. Black mules (Franco Sarto is an awesome brand of shoes!) that will be perfect for summer and transition into the hot Kentucky Fall weather so well.

*Note: I. Love. Mules/Slides. I own them in so many colors. In suede, in leather, high heel, low heel, open toe, closed-toe, etc. They are very flattering to my leg and they complement my style well. If there’s a style of shoe that works for you like this, it is so fun to go on the hunt for that style in many variations so you can have lots of options when it comes to putting outfits together.

This green-striped top was a bit of a wild-card for me. The color is very bold, and doesn’t fit perfectly into my wardrobe. BUT, I had an outfit idea in mind (and more, not pictured), with items I already own. No matter how much I love the bold color (it’s seriously so bright in person), if I didn’t immediately know how I would wear it, I would have had to say no. (The clogs are Lotta’s, my favorite!)

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Lastly, I didn’t do a flat-lay for this one, but the red top is also thrifted. Everything else, you just saw!

I am truly most excited about this outfit as we transition into Fall. What’s great about this outfit, is you can change out the shoes and the top and come up with countless other options. This kind of uniform is what I feel most comfortable in, and what feels most like me.

That is so important when shopping secondhand (or shopping at all). Thinking about physical comfort of the item, but also that mental comfort. Do you feel good in this? Is this something that just feels like you? Are you relaxed in it or self-conscious about some little part of it?

Kiley in Kentucky Thrift

I want to lightly touch on buying accessories second-hand, because, I think accessories are tricky. When it comes to shoes and bags (belts, jewelry, scarves, etc), I really want something that feels like new. This is my personal preference. I also want something of a little higher quality (aka: a nice-r brand or at least one I recognize). I don’t buy shoes and bags as often as I buy other things, so these are the items that will last me longer, and also see the most wear and exposure. This is where I think second-hand online shops like ThredUp and Poshmark come in clutch. You can filter through specific brands and can filter to ‘like new.’ You may pay more with these stores than Goodwill, but to me, it’s worth it. That’s not to say I haven’t bought shoes from Goodwill, because I have. But I was shocked to find them in such great shape!

As for bags, I always take a look, because it’s fun and I love the hunt. This leads me to my next tip.

ARRIVE READY TO LOOK THROUGH EVERY SINGLE ITEM. And do whatever you have to do to focus.

This is the only way you’re going to have success. Seriously. I have to do a little pre-game pep talk before thrifting. I get a podcast queued up, I get the earbuds in, and I go in with a mission. At this point in my life, these little shopping excursions are easy for me to do and they’re a little celebration at the end of the week. I look forward to it, and that’s another huge piece. Enjoying the hunt is probably the biggest key to success when shopping second-hand.

Why shop second-hand? What’s the big deal?

Oh, there are so many reasons I am moving toward shopping exclusively second-hand. Originally, I wanted to be more conscious about how much I consume and how much I contribute to clothing piling up in landfills (not to go all granola on you, but I’m very much eco-friendly these days) across the world. Not to mention, many people making the clothing we see in stores are not paid fairly or treated well. This is not something I want to contribute to, though I am not perfect, and I still buy new clothing. (One way to combat this is to find clothing brands that make their clothing in the USA). Besides the benefits that second-hand shopping has for our environment, it is a MEANINGFUL way for me to shop. I enjoy shopping. I like dressing cute and feeling stylish and showing my personality in my wardrobe. Shopping second-hand is an amazing way to find clothing that will be UNIQUE. You can find vintage, crazy patterns, unique items and fun colors—basically, you’re not limited to what is trendy right now. It also just feels more meaningful (to me) to find clothes I want to wear. Each piece I thrift and end up loving feels like an extra-special treasure, because I found it. A little woo-woo? Yes, maybe. But, I never said I wasn’t woo-woo!

I also love thrifting for home decor because, once again, UNIQUE. Not being limited to what is trendy right now is a key part of creating a home that feels like you and represents you…not only now, but for years! In July, I found this planter (just so happens rattan is super trendy right now, so I felt like this was a huge win) and these vases and candle holders. Once I find a plant for the planter, I will find some sprigs of faux greenery to place in the vases (and probably move to the other side of the tv). Our living room is far from done, but I love the process of slowly finding the pieces I want to display and watching our new space become a place that feels just like us.

So, what did you think about this post? Are you an avid thrifter or a second-hand newbie? If you have any other tips to share in the comments, please do so, so we can spread the love of shopping used!