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What Should a Beginning Thrifter Know?

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    What Should a Beginning Thrifter Know?

    Hey all!

    I'm a long time stalker of these forums and know you guys have tons of great advice.

    After months of reading about people getting crazy good deals from Thrifting, I decided to give it a try. It's gone great so far but I've also come up with a few questions....

    What are some Brands I should look for? I know the basic ones like Brooks Brother and J Crew, but I don't know any outside of the obvious ones.

    What sort of material should I be looking for? By this question, I mean is it safe to buy a pair of no-name leather shoes?

    And finally, should I have any fear of picking up a knockoff? I found a Christian Dior casual shirt but it was 55-45 Poly/Cotton and that seemed odd for a designer shirt... it still felt and looked amazing but I'd expect 100% silk or something crazy like that.

    AND last but not least: if anyone else has some questions, feel free to ask them on here!


    Read this:

    Don't buy anything:

    - made in a 3rd world country

    - with artificial fibers

    - damaged (unless you know what you're doing)

    You should know that thrifting is not like shopping... You don't set out with a shopping list and pick up those items. You find what's there and you shouldn't get impatient and try to force it with something that's not worth picking up. Sure, you might do this for a little while, but your house will quickly fill up with stuff if you don't have high standards... then it will only fill up somewhat more slowly



      Oh sweet, thanks!

      Yeah thats one things I had to get used to.... having days where you don't find anything :/. But like I said, I've had a decent amount of (beginners) luck. When you score a hit thrifting, you really score a hit.



        Bring a smartphone if you've got one! You can make some extra cash by picking up things that are from good brands (but not your size) and sticking them on eBay. Use your phone to help determine resale value. Don't limit yourself to clothing either; I picked up a suitcase for $10 the other day which I expect to be able to sell for around $75.



          A few tips I've heard about (though I've had 0 luck thrifting myself):

          - ALWAYS completely inspect the garment for rips/tears/stains/etc before you buy it

          - Remember to check for european sizes. For example, if you are a 40, look for size 50.

          - Orphaned suit jackets will often have a pair of matching pants on a separate rack

          - Beware of jackets in your size, but with older fashions. For example, large shoulder pads of very low button stances (80's/90's)



            Some hard truths and necessary advice about thrifting:

            #1 KNOW WHAT A TAILOR CAN FIX (There are whole articles about this. Read them)

            sport jackets/suit coats - the length and shoulders have to be right (barring extreme cases)

            shirt - the neck needs to be right.

            shoes - good leather shoes can be stretched a little bit by a cobbler/shoe repair guy.

            pants - make sure the rise is what you like.

            #2 Factor in the cost of alterations. If a jacket requires 4 alterations and a shirt requires 2, you are often approaching retail prices

            #3 Suit coats are not sport coats. Wish I had learned this one earlier.

            #4 Know how to filter out items quickly. It is a numbers game.

            -for jackets, learn to tell if the shoulders will fit by grabbing them. This will tell you if it will possibly fit, if the shoulder pads are too big to be what you want, and if the material feels like crap.

            -if it feels like crap, it probably is.

            -do you really want pleated pants?

            #5 Pants and jeans have changed styles drastically over the years. A current pair of pants, whether chino, jean, or dress, is rarely donated by a man. It may not be worth your time to look for a pair of current pants among the pleated, orphaned suit pants. They are sometimes there, though.

            #6 It is nearly inevitable that you will end up with a bunch of really strange stuff that you couldn't pass up. I have a blue suede sport coat that fits perfectly, for example. Do you really want that blue suede sport coat? I don't know if I'll ever wear mine.

            #7 buying things for other people because they were $2 is a dangerous game. People value things differently when they are retail shoppers. If you give someone a wool overcoat that retailed for $800 but you got for $7, it is probably going to be in their closet in 20 years even if it doesn't fit.

            #8 That acrylic sweater you bought because it fit and it was $2? You will find a better one next time and wish you had spent those $2 on a burrito. I've rarely felt bad about buying anything that was wool/merino/cashmere/silk/linen. The exception is sport coats, of which I have purchased quite a few that I wish I hadn't.

            #9 Designer doesn't mean it is good quality. You still might want to buy it, though, at least in the early stages. They are fun to brag about.

            #10 I have half a closet full of things to have altered. You probably will too.

            #11 The average person won't know that the sport coat you are wearing was made by Canali and cost more than their wedding ring. They will, however, know if your sport coat has a hole in it from a moth.

            #12 You can't go in with a shopping list. You should, however, know what suits you and what you like. KNOW HOW THINGS SHOULD FIT.



              .... and that's what happens when I'm supposed to be doing homework. Hah...



                If a designer is well known for their women's clothes, that doesn't mean they make good men's clothes... See also, Yves Saint Laurent (unless it's within the last 2 years). They license their name to make some bucks, and the licensees put out crap.

                Just because you know the name doesn't mean they're good: Christian Dior (unless it's Dior Homme), Tommy Hilfiger, Oleg Cassini, etc. Some of those were very good in the past, but have fallen far down market.



                  Yea.. name recognition counts for a lot for the average person in shopping. The best thrift store in my area often sells stafford dress shirts for $12, 4x the price of better shirts, because people recognize the brand from shopping at JC Penney for years.



                    Most of the luxury brands people now about are actually not that great quality wise unless you find a piece from maybe 15 years ago. This would be a good read:



                      JC brings up some great points about brands being good quality in the past. Tommy Hilfiger especially used to have some really good stuff. I have a couple Tommy made in the USA ties I bought years ago that are nice quality.



                        Thanks everyone for the advice!

                        Some real useful stuff here for sure.



                          I agree with much of what Jason said: do not purchase it just because you can and it's cheap. You will regret it once you purchase it and can't return it.



                            Do you guys go to big brand thrift stores (like Goodwill, Salvation Army, Savers)? I'm currently in the Boston area and can't find anything good at those places (brand wise there is hardly any J. Crew, Ralph Lauren, etc, and shoes were all beat up rubber sole square toe oxford types). Are these the stores you go to and I'm just not looking hard enough?



                              Yes. In Milwaukee, we have a boutique Goodwill called The Retique. It's got some okay stuff, but in general, it sucks up all the name brand items that would be in regular Goodwill stores in the area.