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August 19, 2013 at 2:00 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Thrift Shop Swag: The Thrill of Buying Secondhand

By Jeff from SLN More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the Fashionably Broke Blog Series

We’re all individuals, and the way we dress is one way of expressing that individuality. Through the choices we make out of infinite possibilities, we make a statement – a statement for the world to see and interpret. We don’t just walk down the street; we shuffle along, radiating a personal expression known as style. Each element of our look tells someone else something about us. Your dress puts intentional elements of your personality on display. Snoop Dogg does it by hanging a flag on his left side, “cuz that’s the Crip side,” while he sips on his favored drink (gin and juice). These style statements are why people are willing to pay top dollar for a limited run t-shirt. You don’t judge a book by its cover, but you judge people by their gear.

Don’t agree? Take my clothing right now, for example. My v-neck might say I’m totally trendy or that my neck likes space to breathe. Or it might just say that I want to show off my luscious chest hair. My grey jeans say that I’m a cool cat because they aren’t your standard blue. The comfort of the combination could tell you that I’m a casual guy… casual, but not quite “laid back.” Even if a person were to walk around in the buff, it would send an unsavory image in the form of rebellion against wholesome family values. I mean, what would your mother think?

Get my drift?

I think most of us will agree that the nudist trend just isn’t practical. Good golly, even restaurants have a minimal policy of shirt and shoes. It just won’t work, but that isn’t to say you have to drop a wad of cash to show personality. Maybe you’ve heard the idea that “retail is for suckers.” So, if you see a shirt and it’s overpriced, “drop it like it’s hot.”

So, as a fashion, yet fiscally-minded, consumer, I’d like to recommend adding some thrift into your pattern of consumption. And why not? You aren’t just saving money, you’re opening yourself up to a clothing adventure.

You never know what you’ll find at your local Salvation Army.

Maybe you aren’t accustomed to a shopping experience where the brands fluctuate from day to day, but maybe you aren’t used to this kind of variety either. Where else could you find a dress shirt sold alongside a little league jersey? Granted, I haven’t checked the racks at Express lately, but something tells me they're lacking in this department.

So, here are some tips for letting loose and catching a deal:

  • Keep an open mind: While you may not find the particular brand you have in mind, you may likely find something that suits a style or color that you did.
  • Inspect Each Article: Some people give away their clothes simply because they don’t want them anymore. But sometimes they do so because their is a tear, hole, or stain. Make sure your potential purchases are up to snuff.

We all know the two big names in thrift: Salvation Army and Goodwill. So, let’s get acquainted.

Goodwill always seems to be a little cleaner, a little brighter, and far more organized. That isn’t to say the place is spotless, just reasonably put together. Personally, I’ve found the store easier to browse, and I’ve had better luck with the non-clothing items there as well. 

Salvation Army, on the other hand, is a little more chaotic. I almost feel like I’m in a thrift jungle when I go. Sometimes the labels on the racks are more like suggestions, and the floor might not be as clean, but that chaos feeds into the experience. What might not look so great at first comes alive when you hold it up to the light. It might even change your look.

Of course, there are other options to express your swag on a budget. There are resale shops, and then there are department stores like Kmart. But, in the words of Raymond Babbitt (A.K.A. Rain Man), “Kmart sucks.”

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