I live in a large city, so I do have lots of thrift stores from which to choose. However, even when we travel to tiny towns, we still spot items of value at the lonely, local charity shop. So what's the secret? Familiarize yourself with quality, so you will recognize that diamond in the rough.
Labels are one tool of the trade. Everyone's eyes light on the Ralph Lauren logo, but you may be the only one to recognize more unusual brands (especially with things like European children's clothing or specialty cooking gear). Consequently, the most expensive items are often underpriced or ignored at thrift stores. Take a free field trip through the exclusive boutiques or luxury department stores in your city. Feel the fabrics, take note of the brands, and most importantly, peek at the price tags! Catalogs and magazines are also great resources for studying the good stuff from the comfort of your own home.
What are the labels that make your heart beat a little faster?
I recently went to visit my parents in the States and went to Goodwill to find some winter clothes for my daughters (different hemispheres so opposite seasons). I found a brand-new pair of Lands End pants in 3T for just 2.50. Those same pants are nearly $20 full price at Lands End. My mom often buys the kids clothes from Lands End (on clearance, of course!) and I know that they last forever and look great. What a bargain!
I recently *found* an onGossamer brand bra/camisole (regularly $96) for $9.99 at a local Marshall's. Although I know Marshall's isn't a thrift store I *shop* it like it is. Although Lauren by Ralph Lauren is an easily recognizable label I've been amazed to find the prettiest dresses left over for less than $20 at Marshall's too. I never understand why someone else hasn't already grabbed them. Last year I found a *like new* men's Woolrich jacket for $2 at a little thrift shop in Maine. The best thrift store I've been to though was in Austin, TX. It was neat, orderly and almost like shopping in a department store. I found incredible bargains there.
The brands that make my heart beat faster are Dooney and Burke purses - at a thrift store by my mother's house - $6. You have to make sure you know how to spot the real from the fake - the real will have a full hide construction with a suede type inside. It will also have a small, cloth tag to indicate authenticity. In the heat of the summer, it is fun to go to the fancy department stores and have the shop girl show you a couple of expensive purses so you can spot the real from the fake.
In clothes, I love Elizabeth brand (for plus sizes) and Land's End for the men and kids. I am showing a friend's 18 yo boy how to shop thrift stores. He purchased 3 Land's End shirts for $3.20 each. He wanted more, but couldn't find any and was SHOCKED at the catalog price. Oh the wonders of a thrift store.
I have also purchased shoes by Cole Haan. Pricey if new, but only $4 for used!
Again, during the summer, with kids in tow, go to the mall and really get to know your stuff. It will really help you spot killer bargains.
I'm a Lands End fan for the durability, and have also had very impressive wear from Tommy Hilfiger children's wear. On an other frugal blog or website I read the tip that even if you don't want to stockpile past the season ahead for your kids, go ahead and stockpile winter coats and jean. So when I saw a mint-condition Lands End size 5-6 down winter coat for $3, I snatched it up although my son is years away from that size. Why someone in sunny Sacramento had ever bought that coat I don't know--and I'm sure the lack of opportunity, except when skiing in the Sierras, explains its stellar condition--but it will serve my son well in January 2010 when we travel to Bend, OR to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary.
I always scan the current magazines, esp the upscale parenting mags like "Cookie" and "Parents" and "Martha Stewart Kids" for the brands/looks the child models are wearing.
some of my favorites:
for me: Talbot's, Lands' End, Eddie Bauer, Orvis, and Jones of New York.
for my fashion-conscious tween: Self Esteem, Hollister, Peace 'n Earth, Rave, and Giacca
for DH -- Cabella's
Post a Comment