SEWcially Acceptable: Thrift Shopping

SEWcially Acceptable: Thrift Shopping

A very long time ago, before I became the intelligent shopper I am today, I thought thrift shopping was something only hipster kids or financially conscious people did. Old, smelly sweaters and used pants? Why would I want that, when I could just buy it brand new! Then a very savvy and stylish friend of mine told me a lot of her wardrobe came from thrift shopping. I associated thrift shopping with vintage, old man looking clothing, when really it just means second hand pieces that someone else has just gotten sick of. Since I gave into the habit of shopping second hand, I have found plenty of hidden treasures. The things people give away really put meaning behind the saying “one man’s trash, is another man’s treasure”. I’ve found tons of vintage, high-waisted jeans that I cut into shorts for less than $10, when in-store they sold them for $40 or more. I’ve also found things like home decor, craft supplies, fabric, etc. for a fraction of the retail price. Thrift shopping is something that everyone should try out at least once and with an open mind.

The benefits of shopping at thrift stores is endless and different for everyone’s individual needs. Some of the reasons why I love getting second hand clothing is the cost savings, the ability to create an outfit no one else will have and the freedom to experiment with pieces that didn’t cost a ton and you won’t feel bad about giving away if you don’t like it. A lot of thrift stores also have a charity component to their sales, so you can feel good about spending your money at a store that gives back to the community.  I do a lot of upcycling with clothing and can make trendy new pieces from old outdated ones from the thrift store, and not spend a ton of money either. Altering a piece to suit your body and style is a great way of creating a unique and personalized wardrobe in a world of ready to wear, straight off the rack fashion. If you’re just learning how to sew, or want to try pattern making, using thrifted clothing is a great way to start. Try altering a pair of pants that has a longer hem or needs a little bit of tacking at the waist to fit. Or find a style you really like and take apart the sections of the piece to figure out how the pattern was made for it. 


When shopping second hand, you know that the piece has gone through the wash at least once, if not several times, and is still in good enough quality for resale. With that in mind, you may think that it’s okay to just throw it in the washing machine with abandon since you acquired it so cheaply. It’s always a good idea to give your thrifted clothing a good wash before wearing it. Be conscious of the care labels inside, and if they’re missing, take caution and hand wash the items with other delicates. Even if you happened to only spend $3 on a top, it’s worth it to take proper care of that item and get as many uses out of it as you can. Soak can be your best ally when caring for and cleaning your second hand finds. Be sure to give your haul a good soak before wearing them and to get out any stains from previous owners. Even though I love finding a good thrifted piece to add to my wardrobe, I always feel better about wearing it after its been thoroughly cleaned. What have your thrift store experiences been like? If you’ve never been, I hope this has sparked your interest enough to try it out for yourself. Check out the blog Refashionista for inspiring ideas on just how you can turn secondhand pieces into wearable garments in your wardrobe.

Second Photo Courtesy of Dani Ayee