Thursday, February 12, 2015

Secondhand Lifestyle :: Shopping for Mama

Thrift stores are full of clothes. So, so, so full of clothes. If you don't know what you're looking for going into a thrift store looking for clothes for yourself can be incredibly overwhelming. Today I am going to share some tips for shopping for yourself and examples of how I apply them in my shopping.

Before you start there are two big things you should get to know:

  1. Get to know your style. As I said in the intro to this series, I like classic styles. I like simple clothes that are comfortable to wear and make it easy to work in the gardens, work in the kitchen, clean my house, and play with my daughter. I believe firmly that women should look feminine.
  2. Get to know what colors you look best in. I look absolutely awful in pastel and pale colors. I think they are so pretty and so feminine on people they look good on - I am just not one of those people. I look great in black. I also look good in purples, teals, and blues. 
A great way to figure out your sense of style is to get on Pinterest and start pinning outfits that you like. What do those outfits have in common? What clothing pieces do you like? What words would you use to describe the style that you see in those pins? This was a very helpful exercise for me. 

I am in the process of building a simple mix-and-match wardrobe using this information about myself. My wardrobe has a foundation of black basics and I add in colored items as accents. I am slowly building my wardrobe, making sure that I only buy things that I love, and am starting to acquire several outfits that I really enjoy wearing and feel that I look nice in using this mix-and-match method.

Knowing my personal style and knowing the colors I look best in is very helpful when shopping at the thrift stores. In stores where clothes are sorted by color, I can skip whole sections - I don't even look at brown, red, pink, etc. colors. I don't look good in those colors and won't even shop for them. 

Now, I just said that I shop knowing what styles I like best, but I also recommend being open to try some new things on just to see what you think. This has been especially good for me when it comes to the fit of clothing. I have found several things of a "loose and flowy" style that usually wouldn't be a part of my "classic" styling - but after being willing to try them on, they looked much different on than on the hanger and they have turned into some of my favorite pieces! 

** Huge Tip** Keeping a fairly minimalistic wardrobe with a very simple color palette will be very helpful in allowing you to shop for secondhand clothes. I never buy anything that won't be able to be a part of an outfit right now. Having just a small amount of clothes means I always know what I have at home and can think through how a new item would mix with those other items. 

The biggest tip I can give for shopping second hand is to BE PATIENT. There are so many times that I walk into a thrift store, shop around, and walk out empty handed. But the times that I walk in and find just what I have been looking for are so worth it. My process for slowly, patiently building my secondhand wardrobe has been: 
  1. Scour pinterest for outfits that I like. Study those outfits. Identify what basic pieces would be necessary to build those outfits. What are a few "pop" pieces that would make those outfits possible. Create a basic idea in my head of what pieces I am shopping for. Write them down. 
  2. Identify the colors that I will be wearing. I wear mostly black. You will see a lot of it in my closet. Identify my accent colors and know which clothing items I would like to find in my main color or my accent colors. 
  3. Frequently pop into thrift stores, look through the racks, if I see something interesting, try it on, if I really like it and the price is right - add it to my closet. 
  4. Pick up a few accessories (this may not be secondhand). I find that a few scarves that I purchased not-secondhand really help my basics that I have thrifted a bit more exciting. 
  5. Keep working on it. It's a learning process and a slow process - but seriously exciting when you have been shopping for something and find it! It's like a wonderful treasure hunt :) 

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