I’m delighted to introduce my first guest blog, on the challenges of charity shop shopping in the States, written by my friend, Lynette, who is the successful writer of not one but two blogs! Read all about her and get to her blogs in her bio below. We met on Twitter, btw! Enjoy the post and do comment – I know I will!
Why I Seldom Shop for Clothes in Thrift Stores
Though I love fashion, I confess that I dislike shopping. That might explain why I’m not a very good thrift store shopper when it comes to buying clothes. I like to get into and out of stores pretty quickly, which I can do very nicely at nationwide discount chains such as TJMaxx, and outlet versions of upscale stores like Talbots.
My real preference is buying my clothes on sale at lovely little boutiques, where the knowledgeable women who work there hand you the colors you want and the sizes you need, as well as show you items and accessories to compliment whatever it is you’re trying on, like this coral top and decorative cardigan. They’re not really a twin set, but they’re close enough pass for one.
Still, I know I’m not saving as much money at these places as I would at a thrift shop. Until she died in 2012, every spring and fall I used to drive my mother-in-law (queen of frugal shopping), to yard, garage, and estate sales. We loved large rummage events hosted by local churches, especially those in affluent towns nears ours. I might have to search through a ton of preppy styles (pink and light green masculine-looking shirts), but how could I lose when every bag I filled with clothes came to only $5.00?
At that price, I didn’t mind if only one of all the items in my bag turned out to be something I wanted to keep after I got it home. Take a look at this soft wool Ann Freedberg jacket below that I scrunched into one of those shopping bags.
On my own in a thrift shop, I might find 4 or 5 items to try on. If none seems quite right, I have to don my own clothes again, replace the rejects on a rack that seems — and, in giant shops, sometimes is — the equivalent of a city block away, then make some other choices to schlep back to the dressing room. When that second round of goods doesn’t fit, I’m outta there.
Recently my husband and I went to very large Goodwill store. I had high hopes because a well-dressed friend of mine said she shops there. Actually, I wouldn’t have been surprised to find some of my own cast-offs there, since I send Goodwill my excess items.
Masses of clothes were on display: coats, jackets, suits, dresses, shoes. Tops and bottoms. Since I can never have enough sleeveless tops to accommodate my hot flashes, I began my search there, among the hundreds of tops, all neatly lined up on hangers. They were organized by color. Any time I selected a nice yellow or turquoise or pale pink one, it was the wrong size. This happened over and over, but I managed to find enough to put in my cart.
I went on to slacks. Grey, black, brown, tan, russet, white. Since they, too, were organized by color, rather than size, each time I saw a pair I liked, I had to wrestle it off its hanger to find the size. In these stores, there is only one of an item, so if the size 8 slacks my heart desires don’t fit, I’m unlikely to find a 6 or a 10 to try. At Goodwill, nothing I liked fitted me properly. I found the whole effort discouraging and exhausting.
I need Penny’s Frugal Fashion blog to provide a tutorial on thrift shop shopping! In the meantime, if there’s any guidance her readers can offer me I hope they’ll make it available in a comment.
All the same, thrift stores or discounts and sales at regular stores — does it really matter? Since I enjoy being stylishly dressed, I’m usually just hoping to get what I want at the best prices available that day.
Lynette Benton, a published writer and writing instructor, hopes you’ll visit and chime in at her blog, Stylish Ole Woman.
Her other blog, Tools and Tactics for Writers, was named one of the Best 100 Blogs for Writers—2014.