I’m a big second-hand shopper. I love it. It’s like Raiders of the Lost Ark to me. Well…I guess…Raiders of the Lost Closet where you can find one of a kind things without spiders all over your back or huge boulders attempting to crush you. Plus you’ll pay cheap money for cute things and ALSO it’s already been washed so you don’t have to worry about shrinkage (reminds me of Seinfeld’s George and the Pool. I WAS IN THE POOL!!).
There are two kinds of second-hand clothing shops. There are places like Goodwill and Salvation Army and there are consignment shops like Second Time Around and others that you might find in your community. Both are good and you can find cute stuff.
Sals (or Sal’s Boutique as my aunt calls it) and the Goodwill are cheaper but you must be a more dedicated shopper. Plus you have to get over what I call the “ew” factor. Some people just can’t get over it. I too have a hard time, at times, but I get over it because I’m so damn cheap and then after enjoying the “ew” I shower, post haste to get the heebees off me.
The “ew” factor is basically the fact that other people have been wearing these clothes and most likely they have not been washed. And yes, they also have that Goodwill, Sals smell on them (which yes, can take a few washes to get out). So as you can see, there’s dedication involved. And for me, an admitted germaphobe, sometimes I do think about it. But I try not to.
The other part of dedication to the task at hand involves being willing to search through a lot of crap to find the diamond in the rough. It’s there amid all those racks, you just know it is, but it’s not immediately apparent. I treat this as a puzzle that needs solving or some fossils that need finding. I will find a deal, dammit. But…this takes stamina and the ability to push through obstacles. You’ll need to search through a lot of stone-washed jeans and BUM Equipment sweatshirts from the 90’s before you’ll find that cute sweater from the Banana Republic. But I am telling you, that cute stuff is there, if you search for it and you’ll get it for a steal too, particularly at Sals and GW.
You’ll find more high end stuff at Second Time Around and the like and you will pay more for it. While I like these stores I have come across some snooty types that work there. I want to say to them, you work at a second-hand clothing store, not big designer XYZ, NYC. Get over yourself. Sometimes though you have to brave the snooty types to find that expensive Cole Haan handbag for $42. You can do it. I’m all about empowerment.
The other fun thing about second hand shops is that they seduce you with deals. Most of the consignment shops I’ve been to have discounts depending on how long the item has been there. A similar thing happens at Sals and Goodwill because they have color coding that determines which items are 50% off. Obviously, psychologically sales just get me. I can’t say no. Particularly when I can get a $2.99 item for $1.50. I mean, come on.
Here’s the best way to shop for second hand clothes at Sals or Goodwill (afterall you have to go through some serious volume before you’ll find those diamonds in the rough):
1. Wear clothing that you can easily remove (sounds scandalous but this is not a rendezvous of that varietas).
2. Same goes with shoes, wear slip on shoes so you can move quickly.
2.a. You’ll want some easy way to manage money and other items you carry with you. Zippered pockets work pretty well. No big handbags.
3. When you walk in, grab a cart. Trust me, your arms will thank you. My arms have been broken more than once with heavy loads of clothes when I got too enthusiastic about shopping.
4. As you browse (quickly flipping through the racks) toss anything of interest into your cart. You may feel wrist/arm pain, ignore this. It will be worth it.
5. Once your cart becomes unbearably full of items you might remotely find interesting, it’s time for the changing room. Yes, the “ew” factor will commence shortly. If you are smart, like me (clearly) you’ll drive your cart INTO the changing room with you (if it will fit of course) because this saves time.
6. It’s essential that you try on anything you might be interested in because as you know, shapeless blob on the rack could equal stunning structured you-are-now-super-hot item on your body. The only way to tell is to…yes…try it on, on top of your skin but under your own clothes. I know…I know….you can do it, it’s not like you’re putting the clothes on UNDER your skin. So you probably won’t get the heebeegeebees. Most likely. But you will get great fashion at a cheap price. Sounds win, win, right?
7. When you’re in the changing room, there is no time for dilly-dallying around. Get serious, fast. You must whip off your own clothes and shoes and get this show on the road. After all, the 100 items in your cart are not going to try themselves on and the other people waiting in line outside the 3 changing rooms are not patient about getting their own “ew” on. They want cheap clothes, no matter the personal “ew” cost and will take the door off its hinges if you take too long, thus exposing you mid- “ew”ed.
8. This lightning fast change, a la superman in the phone booth, will leave you with little doubt which clothes are best within seconds. So luckily, each individual “ew” session will not last long. It’s a quick yes or no and then move on.
9. Once you’re done, put your clothes back on (this just seems wrong to type for some reason) and then rehang and sort your items.
10. Now it’s time to repeat steps 4-9 until you have a cart full of clothes that you’ll pay $50 for. That’s like 4 outfits for $50. Seriously. I’m serious. I’ve bought nice button up shirts for $4.99 (JCrew). I bought an adorbs hat for $4.99. I bought a Marc Jacobs coat for like $7.99. Seriously. I’m serious. Stop dis-believing me. This is real. It’s at that place right down the street.
So…for a few minutes of “ew” you can have months worth of wearing pleasure. Plus when clothes are so cheap, your closet can turn over several times a year and you can get rid of things you don’t really like without feeling you spent too much and get new things without breaking the bank. Let some other jerk break the bank and then you can swoop in and get that shit for cheap.
And let’s face it, second-hand shops are good for the environment. Instead of buying new clothes all the time, but some used stuff that still has a lot of love left in it. A lot of “ew” love! Share the heebeegeebees! (Those clothes have a lot of love to give. Let them give you love.) HA!