I love wearing secondhand, so I tend to shop local consignments and I would sometime go length just to explore unique stores. I find it most thrilling to purchase good quality items for a cheaper price than retail. It’s the perfect combo – saving money while staying sustainable.
At this moment in my life, I avoid used undergarments, sheets, sportswear, and shoes. I don’t know what it is, but I am still uncomfortable with the idea of buying these things.
Although you wouldn’t see my boo thang buying anything legit at a thrift store, he accompanies me on my hunting trips. To be frank, I rather shop alone and spend hours on end and not worry about someone else time, so I guess you could say this is a hobby that I genuinely like to do.
Plato closets and other stores that carry secondhand fast fashions don’t really work for me.
Don’t get me wrong I still think you can find few good items in these places (quality doesn’t always equal expensive) but having to pay almost the same amount for secondhand items if not more to retail new sales items, I rather not spend the money at all. Don’t let the brand fool you either because let me tell you, some designer brands just don’t work. Fast fashion is a major issue to greenhouses gases and it is also the 4th most polluting industry.
I’ve never bought expensive items like channel or Louise Vuitton for myself, but I was told I have expensive taste for quite some time and yes, I do tend to preach about quality over quantity. I fear that it’s not always that simple, so I thought it would be a refreshing way for me to show you guys how I prepare myself to shop quality items in thrift stores/consignment stores and perhaps it might help you to start thrifting.
Here are 7 simple rules I use to find the best quality at the right price:
- Bring your phone
- know your fabrics
- Know your source/ingredients
- Stitching of the Fabrics
- The weight of the fabrics
- Patterns and Colors
- The right fit
A common sense of most people is to bring their phone to do a little bit of research to buy the best item for the right price. It is so useful to help you learn what to buy and what not to buy. It is a source of information and take your time in getting the best deal. I can’t tell you how many times I research on the sales floor when I find an item that I like that are similar to the internet for a much cheaper price. It helps me decide my ultimate purchase decisions.
There is a whole lesson about fabrics, but I will share with you some of the most commonly known fabrics we use today. There are three types of fabrics; natural fabrics (natural fabrics), synthetic (manufactured), and semi-synthetic (modified fibers with natural and synthetic fabrics).
Commonly known natural fabrics are cotton, linen, silk, wool, cashmere, and hemp.
Commonly known synthetic fabrics are nylon, Acrylic, polyester, and spandex.
Commonly known semi-synthetic fibers are rayon and lyocell.
There are also woven (non-stretch) and knit (stretch, flexible) fabrics that made up these type types of fabrics. Knit fabric is mostly used for cold seasons and woven fabric is used for hot seasons.
Clearly, there are a lot of different textiles, but I try to stay away from synthetic fabrics and learn towards natural fibers that can break down in a composting environment. I also look for newer sustainable fabrics like tencel and modal that can be reused and return to earth.
I avoid 100% polyester fabrics or 100% polyester lining because it is made of plastic and it is obviously harmful to the environment. A garment that is 100% polyester lining, it is not that good quality but that is how most garments on the cheaper side of the market are made. I look for satin lining, silk lining, and rayon lining when I am looking for a really good quality lining.
When I’m shopping for bedsheets (just in general), I rather buy linen (I am so in love with linen) and if I can’t find linen, Egyptian cotton would be the other choice.
Most clothing comes with a tag that tells you how to care for a garment, where it was made, and type of fabrics it contains. I find it most useful when I am unfamiliar with the fabrics and I just need more confirmation on the piece. It is also important to know the company or the designer label/brand to be more familiar with the type of items they make. This is where I draw a line of whether to support a brand for their activities.
Stitching is a crucial point in finding quality items. Make sure that all your stitching and hemming of the garment is properly even and pay close attention to the seaming and spacing to secure nothing is falling out of place.
I look at all the stitching like the armpit areas, seaming on the bottom of garment, zippers, and buttons for any irregular threading or any holes that aren’t worth the time or price.
It is not a huge problem to stitch on a button or replace a zipper but do take consideration that if you are unsure, it is best to leave it. Save money, live better. (Dab, I know I just stole Walmart slogan)
Touch and feel the fabric! Some fabrics are made to not last long that is why we have fast fashion so be aware of the things you buy. It is a bad sign if a garment is see through unless of course it was made that way, but garment should hold a sturdy weight to ensure it wasn’t used multiple times already.
I stay away from anything that has fuzz balls or pilling. It is a huge sign that the garment is already falling apart. Trendy items are sometimes weightless (not always) but it focuses on trend for a season, so this method works best on staple pieces and basic essentials.
Colors and Patterns:
You wouldn’t think I like colors if you look at my closet, but I’m a bit obsessed with patterns and colors and how it makes the whole outfit look more interesting. As a merchandiser and a stylist standpoint, colors and patterns play a huge part of putting together a visual flow in a much more formulated execution.
If the color is fading, it is rather worn out or it wasn’t made for the purpose to last long.
Patterns do play a part in price so be careful on to look over the seam of a garment for unmatched patterns. Be detail and keep it simple.
No matter how much you like something, unless you try it on yourself, it might not be for you. The fit is a way to make sure you have an item that could potentially give you the right shape and form you seek. Unless you have the right fit, it is pointless to buy it. You could tailor it if you really want it, but this is a stand I take to minimize my budget on things I need and want.
It is better to find a shirt that fits right for $5 than a shirt that doesn’t fit at $100. This is where I got my saying quality doesn’t always mean expensive and expensive doesn’t mean quality.
If you have any other tips, please feel free to share so we can all become a better shopper and a smarter consumer!