December 15, 2011

Nifty Thrifty


*Every labeled piece of clothing in this post was purchased at either a thrift or consignment store for under $10.

Goodwill, Salvation Army, Plato's Closet.  Some people cringe at the thought of not only shopping there, but actually wearing clothes that other people have worn before and admitting it.

I used to be one of those people to an extent.  I only wanted to buy new clothing and would only shop at thrift stores for items needed as part of a Halloween costume.

That was, until I started footing the bill for my own wardrobe.


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I am a first grade teacher and am surrounded by kids, paint, markers, play-dough and snot everyday.  In the past I have had "work clothes" and "nice clothes".  But it never failed, I would start wearing my nice clothes to work and they would get ruined, and in turn, I would get upset.


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Well, this summer I took a bit of a risk and decided that I was going to do the majority of my Back to School Shopping at consignment/thrift stores to see what I could find.  

My thought was that if I could find some decent items that were inexpensive, I could be trendy and not care if paint was splattered on me at the same time.  Mike was loving my new found frugalness as well.


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Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised.  Not only did I get some great finds, some of the items still had the tags on them.  They were brand new!


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Although it has been working for me, thrift/consignment shopping is not for everyone.  Many times the stores can be overloaded, disorderly and overwhelming to shop in.  Here are some DOs and DON'Ts that I have found to be helpful:

DOs and DON'Ts of Thrift Shopping

  • DO try to find items with tags on - they are brand new!
  • DO look for structured clothing. Knits are often misshapen and faded.
  • DO look for fabrics and patterns that catch your eye.  Most likely they are brands that you would normally shop.
  • DON'T get bent out of shape if your "normal" size doesn't fit. Sizing can be tricky.  The clothes at these types of stores are from any/every store imaginable with different sizing charts. The clothes also could have alterations and have been washed and dried which can have an effect on the sizing.
  • DO try things on.  Rule of thumb: no matter what the tag says hold it up and see if you think it might fit. Some of the clothes may not even have tags in them, many times they have been cut out.  If you think there's a chance of the garment fitting, get in that dressing room!
  • DON'T buy if something "kind of" fits, has rips or stains, especially if it is for your everyday won't wear it.   Even if it is $3 you are still wasting money.

Great deals can be found, but you still have to be selective.  Items in thrift stores are not priced based on retail costs or brand labels, which means, if you are savvy shopper you can find some great deals.


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Great finds I have recently found:

Banana Republic


J Crew


Forever 21


Another great suggestion for younger people is Plato's Closet.

Plato's is a consignment shop that focuses on trendier clothes for the younger generation. The purses, wallets and accessories they offer are also worth a look. Plato’s is very selective as to what they accept and will pay cash when you bring in your clothes to "sell".   They offer better quality most times than actual thrift stores, but are also a bit more expensive.  They also have  designer jeans and men's clothing available.


  • Visit a thrift store in swankier towns, they tend to have high-end items. For example, the Winter Park Goodwill Boutique has amazing finds!

Good Luck!

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