, pub-5075614835530024, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0 What to Look for at the Thrift Store | Tips for Shopping Second Hand or Consignment | Classically Contemporary

Monday, January 11, 2021

What to Look for at the Thrift Store | Tips for Shopping Second Hand or Consignment

Thrift Store Shopping Tips

Hi everyone! Happy New Year indeed. I wanted to start off 2021 by sharing some awesome tips for thrift store or consignment store shopping. Check out my video below to see them all with examples!

Thrift Shopping Tips
Everything I'm wearing in this outfit is thrifted, except for my skirt (F21) and shoes (Bagatt, purchased in Italy)

I love shopping secondhand, I remember the first time I stepped into Value Village with my two best friends from my ballet studio, and bought this fabulous mint green sweatshirt. It was back in the day when plaid shirts were all the rage, and no stores had started selling them yet - the grunge trends had just hit the North American market. Our mainstream brands hadn’t picked up the loose-fitting boyfriend fit styles yet, so I would raid the closets at my grandmother's house and shop from second-hand stores along Queen Street - yes that includes the elusive Black Market store. I got some really exciting items there for $10 each... they did smell awful, mind you. That grungy Queen St. shopping has now translated into consignment store shopping more uptown. I’m a huge fan of the vintage crawl in Toronto, and hopefully their events start back up soon. 

Tips for Finding Great Fashion Items:

  1. Visit local stores often
  2. Keep an open mind 
    • But know your limits and storage!
  3. Try to avoid looking for 1 specific thing, you may be disappointed 
  4. Wear spandex tank top and leggings for easy try-on
  5. Note the fabric and styles you like and stick to that 
    • I avoid polyesters, scratchy wools, shine or glitter
    • I also look for items made in Canada, made in USA, made in Europe
    • Lace - Good lace is hard to find at a reasonable price, so slips and night gowns can be taken in under the arms for fit and look great layered under a sweater dress
    • Mens silk ties - great to fashion as belt - check for rips stains and pulls. Make sure length is OK if you are buying a tie to wear traditionally
  6. Look for defects, damage, moth holes, missing buttons, etc. on ALL pieces
    • very important to remember when buying sweaters made of natural fibres like wool or cashmere - Look up at the light, open the garment, lay it flat - and do not buy if there are big holes. It really jeopardizes the integrity of the item when it’s full of holes, and it’s no longer worth it. 
  7. Check side seam tags for manufacture date
  8. Look for unique patterns in jackets, scarves etc.
    • AVOID BASICS, get those at Uniqlo! Also thrift stores charge way too much for tees
    • I always find at least one silky or polyester scarf when I go to Value Village. They’re so easy to wash with cool water and a very gentle detergent, and will amp up any handbag. I love to wear silk scarves as a belt or just around the neck - check out the tying videos linked in my video description
  9. Know which stains can be removed
    • Ask for a discount if its damaged
    • Avoid damaged items all together as they might be unsalvageable
  10. Pair high & low, new & old
    • Identify the qualities of a high-end item: wooden soles and heels on shoes, quality brass hardware on purses or jewellery, look for signs of ware

Draw the line – no intimates, activewear, running shoes (hello, toe fungus!)

Clutch bags or any shawls, jackets, shoes for an event are ideal. Pieces you can turnover quick and re-donate, I once found a designer clutch bag at Value Village that would retial for $200 and only paid $10! 

Jeanne Beker said it best: 

“It's not WHAT you wear, but HOW you wear it - and more importantly, how you move through the world that really matters”.

Tips on Homewares:

  1. Forget about brands at first 
    • Look for things you like, and lightly used
  2. Don’t buy anything chipped or damaged
    1. Handwash delicately printed or coloured items 
  3. Buy useful items, limit the “décor” - it can get junky looking very fast
    • Too much is too much. Leave the statues at the store. You aren’t filling a shrine.
  4. Look for great gifting items 
    • Plates, baskets, cute storage bins, vases, frames, etc.
  5. Keep an eye out for sale days
    • I just scored BIG on 30% off homewares, lots of frames, new glasses, storage bins etc.
Some stores also have cool furniture, and decor items like lamps - just make sure it works! There are plugs around the store so anything electric, run it by a plug before buying.

I adore buying unique mugs, vases, storage solutions like shoe racks, sets of drawers, stationary, utensils, pots and pans that are glass or visibly unused. Steer clear of plastic, it could be filled with BPA. As mentioned I am trying to buy less of the useless things like a little decorative figurines and such that may be cute, but serve no purpose. For decoration instead, I find useable items like water pictures cups etc. Also any storage solution in my space has to be cute. That is my rule! Look out for cute coat racks, sets of drawers, etc.

Thrift and Consignment Shopping Recommendations in Toronto (Including Online):

  • The Vintage Crawl Events in Toronto
  • Brickworks clothing swap
  • Value Village - drop off items and receive a 25% off coupon
  • Common Sort Vintage - you can sell items for cash or store credit here too
  • Plato's Closet offers consignment and is now doing online sales
  • LAB Consignment Luxury Retail is a great place for Luxury Consignment
  • Follow your local consignment stores on Instagram for updates
  • My favourite is Facebook Marketplace. No need for crazy shipping costs, and it's easy to bargain with folks in your area
  • Poshmark and Depop are other retailers but not the best options for low-price items as you pay at least $13 for shipping
  • Look for Palz Trading Zone or local buy & sell groups on Facebook that are in your particular city
Thrifting, shopping second hand and buying luxury goods are a reduced price not only is great for the environment, but it's also a way to "shop local", find items that are already broken in like leather shoes, and a perfect fix for someone who has recently changed size, wants to experiment with new trends and is looking to save some cash. Let me know your favourite tips and stores!


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