Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Thrift Store Clothing and My Mini-Compact

I guess by now most of you have heard about the The Compact, wherein a person pledges to not buy anything new for a year.

While we buy a great deal of our furniture, clothing and household items used, I'm not quite ready to go full-on Compact.  However, I did make a pact with myself to not purchase any brand new clothing for myself this year.  I'll buy clothing for myself only at thrift stores, garage sales or consignment stores.  My exceptions would be underwear and New Balance tennis shoes; I'm fairly stocked up on both, so I shouldn't need to even buy those.

I'm not sure why I didn't mention my mini-Compact when I started it at the beginning of the year.  I was looking at clothing on a clearance rack at the store in January and decided I didn't need anything new and really didn't want anything new.

I prefer to buy clothing used.  I like that most of it has already "been through the wringer", so to speak, and has already shrunk, faded or gone through whatever other changes it's going to go through.  That way I know how it will fit and look from the very beginning. So, on a whim, I decided to refrain from buying any new clothing for the entire year.

I like how it keeps perfectly good clothing out of the landfills, how it helps lower the demand for new clothing to be made, and most of all, how it lets me keep my money in my pocket.  Garage sales, in particular, can be a very frugal place to buy clothing.  I've found many designer items for just a few dollars, or even less. 

I didn't impose this pact on Shane or Kat, although I do try to get as much of Kat's clothing from second-hand sources as I can.  Shane's clothing is a different story.  Unlike women who tend to change their wardrobe with the seasons, most men wear their clothing forever; by the time those jeans hit the thrift stores racks or garage sale tables, there is usually not a lot of wear left in them.  So, I get what I can for him at garage sales, but we have to buy some of his work jeans new.

Here are some of my past finds:

This cotton summer dress is from Kohl's and is brand new.  I paid $3 for it, but the tag says it was originally $42.

I love Coldwater Creek's styles and they seem to be easy for me to spot on the thrift store racks.  This silk blouse doesn't have tags, but it looks and smells as if it's never even been laundered. I think I paid $4 for this one.  No telling what it sold for new.  $40?  $50?  More?

I bought this heavy microfiber Fleet Street coat last summer at a garage sale.  It had been worn (I could smell perfume on it), but I don't think it had ever been washed or cleaned, and it looked brand new.  It was about 100° that day, and of course, no one was looking at the coat.  It was priced at $10, but I offered $5 and the lady took it.  Similar Fleet Street coats online cost $70 to $100.

As an aside, all three of the items above are keepers, but I sometimes buy especially nice items even if they aren't my size, then resell them.  Now, I know some people have a problem with that and say that it's "taking away from those less fortunate" when I buy things at the thrift store to resell.  I don't see it that way.  The needy people who are helped by Goodwill, Salvation Army and the like are not given a free pass to enter the store and take whatever items they need or want.  It's a part of the proceeds from selling the items in the store that is used to help those in need.  And as for garage sale finds, well, all's fair.  You sell it for what you can get and I'll do the same once it's mine.


The Cookbook Junkie said...

I don't see the issue with reselling items. They put a price on it and that's what you paid, that's all they're going to get no matter who buys it for whatever reason. Nothing wrong with trying to turn a profit on these items.

What I love about buying clothes at Goodwill is that I'm not overly influenced by the marketers, the trend-setters. The clothes I'm looking at come from so many different stores, from various 'fashion seasons' - I get to see a little bit of everything at once. I buy what I like based on my own ideas of style, not what Target or whatever store decided is the style at the moment. I can mix the trendy with the more classic clothing all in one outing.

When it comes to determining the quality, I'm not biased by retail price or what store the clothing is from (although I do recognize many brands and know these things to some degree) - I really have to look at the quality of the item. Sometimes I find nothing and sometimes I find too much.

sara said...

I love thrift shops and garage sales and 90% of our clothes come from there. The exceptions are work jeans for hubby (like you said it's very hard to find decent jeans used for guys!), each kid gets a new outfit for Easter (usually from Burlington Coat Factory and grandma pays :) ), and then shoes usually are new from Target or Meijer.
Otherwise, it's all used! We have an awesome local thrift shop and kids clothes are all $1 or less, and adult clothes are all $2 or less! Reading your post reminded me that I need to head there later this week to start buying spring/summer clothes :)

Annie Jones said...

You're right...I have found some very well-constructed hand-sewn items at thrift stores and garage sales, and the best jeans we've found for Kat (fit, wear, etc.) are Target's Circo brand. Shane prefers Sam's Club store brand jeans over any other kind.

However, I wanted to list those items and their brand names just to show the amazing price differences you can get when you buy used. Kind of a way of fending off those who would say that used=cheap.

And I really do love the styles that Coldwater Creek puts out. Thrift stores are the only way I'll ever be able to wear CC clothes.

Annie Jones said...

Hi Sara! Hope you have good luck finding summer clothes. Kat's in desperate need of shorts, so I'm hoping to find some at garage sales for her. Only a couple more weeks until they start up here!

sara said...

I'm doing something different this year for shorts. My girls have what I call 'giraffe' legs-where they outgrow their jeans length wise constantly, but not in the waist. I'm going to make cut off jean shorts for them this summer- using their current school jeans (once the weather changes) :)
And for me-I'm going to take my current jeans, and make cut off capris once the weather changes. Then I'll just have to buy shorts for my son (hubby refuses to wear shorts so he stays in his jeans year round).

Jill said...

Looks like some great finds! Awesome job! It pays to shop around everywhere and reap the rewards.

Have a great night!


McVal said...

I LOVE that coat! We use freecycle a lot... Anytime I can get my hands on a box or bag of clothing for women in almost any size, I grab it. Use what I can out of it for the girls or myself and freecycle the rest. My girls have gotten several free pairs of jeans out of this for school this year. I don't think I bought anything major clothing wise for them this past fall, except for fabric for special sewing outfits for them. And lots of my sewing projects come from remodeling clothes into things we can wear.

Frances said...

I love thrift stores, but rarely can find clothes that fit right. Maybe someone my size is hitting them before me. So, I usually have to buy new, but I buy them on sale and usually with a coupon, so get them for what I would pay in a thrift store. I may be hard to fit, but I am still frugal.

Anonymous said...

I just stumbled across this post and thought I would pass along a new charitable thrift store I found. Its Aunties Closet at 48 Elm St Salisbury and all their clothing is just $1. They have nice name brands some new with tags it amazing. Shoes are only $3.
Its good to be able to get nice things for only a few bucks.