Six Tips To Slay At Thrifting

I was born in the aisle of a thrift shop. Okay, that’s a lie. But I had to get your attention, because today I’m talking about my absolute favorite thing in the world: thrifting.

If you know me from my non-internet life then you probably know that I thrift shop a lot. You probably also know that I’m really good at it.

Thrifting is a culture I was introduced to back when I was a wee lass. I remember thrifting with my mom, and spending absolute hours (felt like years) in the thrift store. Thrift stores were wonderous places where me and my siblings were allowed to roam free. My favorite sections? Books, shoes and craft supplies. Even as a kid I didn’t have much of an interest in toys. I wanted to MAKE things.

As a travel blogger, thrifting is a very necessary part of the lifestyle that I’ve chosen to lead. If I’m funneling my money toward plane tickets, it can’t be flying out of my purse for designer handbags. Thrifting is a lifestyle that enables me to live my best life. And today I’m going to be giving you six of my personal tips on how to thrift shop like a pro.

1. Hydrate, Eat and Pee First

For the love of all that is sacred in this world: Eat before you go shopping. Take care of your basic needs before you even think of stepping foot in a thrift shop. Most stores will have a bathroom for you, but to be perfectly honest not even that’s guaranteed. If I had a dollar for every thrifting trip that’s been ruined because someone who was with me needed to pee or got hungry/thirsty, I would be a very very rich woman. Thrifting is a marathon, not a sprint. You don’t walk in and out in 10 minutes. Prep before you go (sometimes I even bring snacks and a water bottle with me in my purse).

2.  Choose Your Thrift Shop Wisely

There are three kinds of thrift shops I look for.

  1. Thrift shops in well-off areas (thrift shops are donation based, yo—do the math).
  2. Thrift shops that are run by charities (usually these are super cheap compared to chains like Goodwill or Value Village).
  3. Buy, Sell, Trade Shops and Consignment (this is where I buy designer items)

Which type of thrift shop you choose to go to really has to do with what you’re trying to achieve. I really like having statement pieces in my wardrobe that are well made (leather boots, leather jackets, leather purses…okay, so I like leather—what of it?) so shopping at #3 type shops is important, but I usually only go into these once every two or three months. #1 shops are my weekly trips because these are where I can find cool vintage pieces that people who don’t value their dead relations give away for free. One woman’s trash is another lady’s treasure. #2 spots are where I shop for furniture and other home items because big things you want cheap, if at all possible. You can also sometimes find other cool nuggets for really cheap at these (like when I found a pair of Frye boots for $20).

Favorite find — List price: $328 | I paid: $20

3. Know Your Brands

Here’s the deal: Unless you rely solely on vintage clothing (which you might—more power to you) you probably have certain brands in your closet that you’ve bought recently from a normal store. Remember those brands. Take a moment to jot them down. If you don’t have clothing that you love in your closet, then go to your favorite store (whether you can afford it or not) and try stuff on! Does it fit? Great, note the tags and brand. While you’re in a thrift store trying new things can be great, but also knowing what works for you will allow you to make smarter decisions when purchasing.

NOTE: I will admit that I have a bit of an advantage here because I worked at a two different consignment shops in the past, but get to know the feel and look of well made clothing and it will take you far!

4. Sale Days are the Best Days

Fun fact: Thrift stores have sales too.

How do you get to know about these sales? A lot of chain stores have email lists that you can subscribe to for updates on when they have sales, but smaller stores will have sales often just based off of how long an item has been in the store. You can’t always ask an employee outright what will be going on sale, soon, but you can pay attention to patterns (for example, if things that have been there one month are now on sale). There are also often sales based off of item categories (ex. all dresses, shoes). Check stores for calendars of sales dates, or check on their website.

5. Shop in Chunks

Here’s a really big insider tip: I never (ever ever ever) shop an entire store at once (unless it’s like the tiniest shop in the world). Why? Because that is just asking for exhaustion to set in, and this is supposed to be fun, remember!? What I usually do is hit my favorite sections (books, candles, shoes and fabric). Obviously, some days, I go in knowing that I need a pair of jeans or a dress for a party, so I’ll look at those specific sections in addition to my regular ones, but like I said, I’m not trying to pass out from exhaustion. How long do I shop for? I usually shoot for around 1-2 hours.

6. Don’t be Disappointed if You Don’t Find Anything

The beauty of thrift shopping is that you never know what you’re going to find. This also means that you never know if you’re going to find something. Do yourself a favor and don’t pressure yourself into finding that amazing piece the first time you ever visit a shop. Have fun with the experience, and realize that sometimes it’s just for the thrill of the hunt.

*Extra pro tip for introverts: Shop with headphones in and your favorite relaxing music playing. 

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Why Tina Fey is Wrong – You Shouldn’t Have It All

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The other day I was clothes shopping and spent close to a millennia in the store…but only 3 things. SHOCK. Despite what my American upbringing echoed in the back of my mind:

“You should have bought it all!”
“You’ll look better walking out with overflowing bags on your arms.”
“How do you call yourself an adult without being able to splurge on payday?”

I wasn’t “sad” that I had “only” found a few things – I was elated. Why? Because what I bought was what I really really wanted. It wasn’t because I was broke, it wasn’t because nothing else worked, it was because I only bought what I was really passionate about.

I know, crazy.

Yesterday I went to the grocery store. And while I was there I had to wonder: Why are American grocery stores the size of small villages? Have you ever been in a European grocery store? There’s like 8 aisles and one option of each thing (Yes, even in Paris). Why? Well for one thing, it’s because they don’t have to worry about organic – it’s all organic. The other is because life in general is more straight forward. You get what you need and then you move on with life.

And while we’re on the topic, have you guys seen that “Impulse Buy” Tina Fey commercial, if not watch it, below.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a BIG Tina Fey fan, but every time I see this commercial I think about how intense the culture of, “I can, therefore I will,” is in the U.S. Not saying it’s always a bad thing, just that it’s problematic, in that it creates this idea that all that is going to make you happy.

Clarification: I am no proponent of the kind of minimalism that Scandinavian countries advocate for. I know that works for some, and high-five to them, but that is NOT my aesthetic. I love having tons of art supplies, and bookcases overflowing with vintage/sketch books. But, something that I think has really stuck with me, from living in France, is that you don’t NEED to have every version and every color and every brand of something, in order to be happy. I mean, I basically lived out of two suitcases for A YEAR (and one of those suitcases was just art supplies) and I was perfectly functional.

During that year I had a lot (probably too much time) to think, and I was able to really analyze what was and wasn’t important/necessary in my life. Essentially, I learned what makes me happy. And, the emphasis here is what makes me happy (this is not a guide to making the world happy, again).

So, here’s what I learned and continue to implement in my day to day:

Languages are my passion:
I’ve always loved learning other languages (except Spanish, which for some reason I CANNOT pick up) and I love exploring the cultures that come with them. Studies show that learning/speaking other languages can actually make you happier for a multitude of reasons, including reducing stress, helping you feel more connected to other people and of course there’s the “chocolate cake high” that comes with learning new words. Regardless of what the motivation is, I love the idea that we can add so much value to our lives for (especially with online resources like Duolingo etc) little or no money.

“If we spoke a different language, we would perceive a somewhat different world.” –

Ludwig Wittgenstein

Art makes me whole:
While I was in France the two things I chose to spend my pitiful allowance on was postcards (another passion of mine!) and art supplies. Why? Because I literally start losing my mind if I can’t create art. Whether it’s painting or drawing (I learned in France, I actually can draw) I love having art as a meditative part of my life. Hop over to my Facebook page if you’d like to see what I’m currently up to, or you can check out my Pintrest board to see some of my drawing projects from France.

Learning new things enriches me:
Three words: Khan. Coursera. Skillshare. These are the trifecta of my learning (with perhaps some PBS worked in there) and I love taking classes, picking up new skills and learning about the world around me.

Khan Academy
was one of my favorite resources when I was in France, because it’s totally free and you can take classes on a million different subjects, including Pixar animation (also, because I’m a Trekkie – ha). I’ve taken ALL the history classes, and I regret none of the time spent. They also have science, art, coding, and math (gross – but if you’re into that kind of thing).

I also love Coursera, although now they’re starting to charge (but you can find hacks by Googling how to get the classes free). Coursera allows you to take academic classes from universities and professors all over the world, which I also think is amazing.

And lastly Skillshare is amazing for learning new creative things like drawing, photography and even cooking! I’ve learned so much from this resource, and the monthly subscription rate is about the same as Netflix/Hulu (but way more valuable, in my opinion).

Books are beautiful:
The Christmas before last I spent my day wandering Paris, and buying a bunch of classic literature. Why? Because for some reason, in Paris, the cheapest books to buy (we’re talking like 1 euro) are the classics in English. Needless to say, I’ve now read pretty much all of Jules Verne and Jane Austen. Books don’t have to be super expensive (especially if you’re finding them used) and yet they have the amazing ability to transport you all over the world and on a million different adventures. I’ve always been such a bookworm, but I think there was definitely a post college (or even during college) period of time when I forgot how much I loved them. I don’t have as much time now, because obviously I’m not a kid running free, but I do try to make sure to carve out 30min-1hour of reading time, each day. What am I reading right now? The Outlander series, and it’s making me want to go back to Scotland real bad.
WARNING: These books are mammoth.

I don’t need a million friends:
Okay, so let’s talk popularity contest. Why, oh why, do we have to feel like we need a million people who you’re “best friends” with? Unknown. But it’s a thing. And, as a proud introvert, it’s a lie I’m not buying into, anymore. I love me time, and I love alone time. It’s when my brain is settled and happy and free and I come up with my best ideas and creations. I do love the friends that I have, and I do love meeting new people, but not under the pretense that if I don’t have 12 friends I’m Snapchatting every night I’ll shrivel up and die like a raisin. Nope. I’ve had to fight hard for it, but creating that space, and bringing in only people in who understand that I need alone time has made me much happier than a thousand friends ever could.

My faith is really important to me:
My faith, like meditation or exercise, is something that keeps me whole. While I’m not sure that I would describe myself as specifically one denomination, Christianity is a really important part of my life, and one that inspires and strengthens me, daily. It’s not perfect, and neither am I, but it’s something that no one can buy, trade or take away and that makes it an invaluable treasure in my life.

What about you guys? Yeah, shoes are awesome, but what else makes you really glow with happiness? Comment below!