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Hooked on thrift stores

vintage-bootsWhen celebrities wear “vintage” clothing, they always look so terrific, so classic. But there are some real tricks to pulling off such a look. If you don’t follow a few rules, you may look more garage-sale reject than style maven.

Still, finding that perfect piece – whether it’s a pair of sunglasses, boots, or even a gorgeous watch – can be loads of fun. Plus, in these tight economic times, you can shop resale and not feel guilty – you’re saving money and helping the environment by recycling older items. That’s what they call a win-win situation! Before you hit the resale trail, read these guidelines to make sure you come home with good deals (and no regrets).

1. Inspect it carefully.
Older garments are going to have some wear, but you don’t want a piece that has things that can’t be fixed. For example, a torn seam or hem can be re sewn, but holes in the fabric mean you need to leave it on the rack. For leather goods, such as shoes and purses, you want to make sure there are no cracks or water stains. Always try on everything – older clothing can be sized differently than today’s standards. Finally, take a good sniff. Most older items will have some odor, but remember that no trick will get rid of mildew. And some garments, no matter what, will still smell a bit “funny,” so don’t purchase if you’re uncomfortable with that thought.

2. Consider the required care. Dry cleaning is expensive and could double or triple the cost of a garment. If it’s a fabric like 100 percent cotton, are you willing to do the ironing in order to keep it looking great? Older pieces also may not have today’s wash-and-go or stain-resistant fabrics and may require hand washing. And, while you may be able to remove some stains by following directions for vintage clothing, some stains such as perspiration may not come out.

3. Don’t become a caricature. Don’t go head-to-toe vintage or you’ll look like you’re going to a costume party. Be selective in what vintage items you put in your wardrobe. Look for signature pieces such as a great belt to pair with jeans or a fun hat to wear on your days off. You can also buy the “real deal” cowboy boots…already broken in.

4. Be patient. You may initially be frustrated with the resale-shop experience because you find only “junk” or there’s nothing in your size. But once you find the better shops, you can make it part of a fun adventure where each visit unearths new possibilities. Talk to the shop personnel so they can get a feel for your tastes and let you know when great stuff becomes available.


Anita Bruzzese

Anita Bruzzese is an award-winning journalist. Her book, 45 Things You Do That Drive Your Boss Crazy...And How to Avoid Them, was named one of the top 10 most notable business books by the New York Post in 2007. For more information, visit her Website at

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One Response to Hooked on thrift stores

  1. Not Nurse Jackie

    I wear a size four at The Gap but HA! I learned the hard way that I’m no size four when I tried to pull on a vintage leather skirt last week. I’m lucky I didn’t rip it…couldn’t even get it over my calves. Sizes sure are different when you shop thrift. But I’ve gotten some great deals. Try Yelp for recommendations in your area.