If you follow me on Instagram, you know I’ve been working on thrifting my capsule wardrobe, despite the fact that the blog has been quiet the past couple of months.
To be perfectly honest, I got pretty frustrated with this challenge a few weeks ago. After hitting up several thrift stores in a row, I suddenly had this feeling that I had no idea what my personal style was. I couldn’t tell if I was just being too picky, or if everything on the thrift store racks really was just garbage.
The problem was solved when I finally found a few things that spoke to me, and I couldn’t think of reasons to talk myself out of buying them (I was getting really good at that). It turns out, it just took a few “hits” after a lot of misses, to get back into a groove.
It was through this phase of frustration, however, that I was able learn a few important lessons about thrifting, and my personal style. If you find thrifting difficult, unsatisfying, or too-time consuming, maybe these tips will speak to you.
First, let me remind you why I chose to thrift a capsule wardrobe for 12 months in the first place: I want to develop a wardrobe outside of the confines of the latest trends. I want to be sure I’m not wearing things just because it’s what I see everyone else wearing. Not because there is anything wrong with that, but because I want a cohesive style that is truly me! I want a wardrobe that fits my body perfectly, and is comfortable for my day-to-day life. And of course, the money-saving thing is helpful, too!
I hope to collect more thrifting tips as the months go by in my 12-month thrifting challenge, but right now, these are some helpful things I have learned so far. They help keep me sane, and will hopefully help you stay sane as well, should you choose to make a little more time for thrifting in your life.
So here they are: three tips to keep you sane while thrifting…
^^^thrifted dress and cardigan, handmade necklace
1) Have a list in your mind (or on paper) of things you don’t like, or that you absolutely know don’t work on your body.
This may seem obvious. Why would you be tempted to buy something that you don’t like? Well, I’ll tell you. There have been many times when I’ll see a shirt with a J. Crew tag, or a beautiful cashmere sweater, and I’ll immediately think it must go home with me. But the J. Crew shirt has capped sleeves and the sweater is chocolate brown. Capped sleeves and the color brown are fine and dandy unless they just don’t work on your body. And in my case, capped sleeves make me look like a football player and brown makes me look like a totally different person.
Fair warning: this list may feel like a stumbling block to you at first. Especially if it is a long list, like mine. But when thrifting, you have to remember that the vast majority of things you look through will be “no’s”. It’s a treasure hunt, remember? And how often do people find treasure? That’s right: less often than people find things that work at thrift stores. My point is, the key to thrifting successfully is to do it often, and to never give up.
One last thing: if you are trying to talk yourself out of an item that has a “no” from your list, but it’s still tugging at your heart strings, be good to yourself and try it on. It won’t hurt anything. It will either reinforce why you look like a hag in dark brown, or mysteriously prove you wrong.
2) Have a thrifting wishlist.
This helps to eliminate second-guessing yourself when you come across something a little out of the ordinary. It also makes you feel like the lottery when you have found it! On my wishlist: a classic khaki trench coat, black pointed pumps that look as close to new as possible (it’s a wishlist, remember?), a little black dress (the kind that’s perfect for dressing up or down), and a great pair of AG Jeans. These are all things I can live without. They are also things I can use my “saves” for, if I do get to the point where I can’t live without them. But it’s too soon to give up on finding them while thrifting.
A thrifting wishlist reminds you that you aren’t going to score big every time. It’s a list of things you hope to find one day. So when you go a few times without finding anything worthwhile, this list will keep you optimistic about the future.
3) Don’t feel like you have to tackle the entire store in one visit.
You guys, thrifting is fun, not an endurance test. I personally despise the “pants/jeans” rack of the store, and usually try to pretend it doesn’t exist. But I can’t spend a year not wearing pants. I mean, I do own a few pairs already, so I wouldn’t be exactly pantless… but I would not feel properly challenged in this thrifting challenge if I never braved the pants section.
But I don’t torture myself with browsing the vast selection (WHY is the selection always SO VAST? Oh my word: everyone is afraid of the pants section…), every time. Some days, I conquer the jackets/coats, head over to the book section, and call it a day.
And that brings us to a bonus tip:
If you are feeling discouraged that you haven’t found anything in a while, go to the book section and get a book. Or go to housewares and get a cute little vase to hold flowers or your favorite pens. Or buy a pretty, lone saucer to put on your nightstand to hold your earrings. You own thrifting, thrifting doesn’t own you! It may be necessary to show it who’s boss every once in a while.
So that’s it! My three tips to keep you sane while thrifting. What do you think? Was that helpful? Were you already doing all of those things? Do you have more tips you want to share with me? I’m all ears! Comment below, send me a tweet, or join the conversation on instagram.
Up next: I’ll be showing you some of the things I have found thrifting so far. I’m really excited about how my winter capsule wardrobe is filling out, and I can’t wait to share it with you!
Also, I’m now on snapchat! If you want to see some thrifting + Carrot Top Paper Shop behind-the-scenes action, my username is jennylizdub. Add me!
P.S. Here’s where I explain the rules of my thrifted capsule wardrobe, if you missed it.