Saturday, July 30, 2011

How To: Selling Clothes at Secondhand Shops

Long ago, I promised a rundown on how to sell your secondhand clothes as part 3 in a series of posts on how to clean out your closet. So long ago, in fact, that I’m almost too embarrassed to put this up. But better late than never?

Remember when we cleaned our closets?

I broke this down into two sections, what I know works based on discussions with the lovely ladies at a number of Crossroads Trading Co. locations and what I think works based on my own twisted logic and superstition.

What Definitely Works
These tips are culled from consignment and secondhand stores’ buying tips. I’d rate them as must-follows:
  1. Call ahead – The best way to find out what a store is buying right now? Ask. They don’t want to look through a bunch of things they don’t want any more than you want to lug in your clothes to find out they don’t want them. So save everyone the trouble and call ahead. Another good resource is the store’s website. They’ll do their best to give you a good idea of what they are looking for.
  2. In season – I know you’re excited to get rid of your heavy sweaters in the middle of July and save the space in your dresser (Incidentally, that’s where they should be. Sweaters shouldn’t go on hangers.)

    However, no one in the Northern Hemisphere is looking to buy sweaters in July, so a secondhand shop won’t buy them. Which is just as well. You don’t want to throw out clothing you might want when the season’s change. Look through what’s suited to the season in your wardrobe, if you’re not wearing it now, you don’t wear it, and it can go.
  3. On trend – You might have a great pair of designer jeans, but if they’re wide legs from the late 90s, no one is going to buy. Your mileage may vary in vintage shops, but most places won’t take a chance on a look that couldn’t be straight off the racks at H&M.
  4. Keep it clean – It may seem like a no-brainer, but bring in clean clothes in good condition. For an added bonus, fold them neatly before taking them in. Try to give the buyers the idea that you take good care of your clothes all the time. Even if your room looks like mine:
It's not always like this . . . only usually.

What I Think Works
These might be insane, but they seem to work for me, so I thought I would share:

  1. Brand Names – So I have to admit that I will hold onto massive amounts of clothing until I know I can take everything in with one super expensive brand name.

    You know, the kind you don’t care about but you think everyone else does? The kind that I will brag more about getting cheap at Goodwill even though I get more use out of a Target dress? Yeah, those. I may be crazy, but I always feel like I sell more stuff when I have one of those brands with me to sell.

    I do this in one of two ways:

    -- Wait until I am ready to part with something I wear. Either because I’ve stopped wearing it or it doesn’t fit. What I never do is part with something I’m still wearing on a regular basis. Don’t do it; it’s never worth it.

    -- When Goodwill has a $2 sale or there’s a super deal on an item that’s not my size or style (like the $4.49 deal I got on an Escada skirt that was old enough to have been made in West Germany). Remember though: you’re almost never going to be given much more than $10 for any one piece of clothing, so don’t go overboard on buying to sell and don’t make a special trip for it.
  2. Dress nicely – I think this is total superstition, but I feel like if I look like I just rolled out of bed, it’s a subtle sign to the buyer that I don’t care about my clothes. I don’t feel that way myself, but I can’t get over the idea that other people must think that, so I try fancy myself up a bit.

Cash or Credit? Most places offer a store credit or cash option, with a lesser amount if you choose cash. This is always a difficult question for me. On the one hand, it’s more money in credit; on the other, cash is more like money than store credit.
I tend to go with cash because, ultimately, I don’t shop in places that I take clothes to sell. I am a super stuck-up thrifter and like the cheaper prices and do-gooder feeling of shopping at charity shops. It’s a fairly personal choice, so go with your gut.

What about you? What tips do you have for selling clothes?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Thrifting in the Fog

You can check out a post by yours truly over on the always charming Thrift Store Confidential. For those of you who don't know why I love the Daly City Goodwill so much or haven't yet had the chance to find out how my parents are the most awesome people who ever awesomed, head on over and learn the answers to your burning questions. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

To Haul or Not to Haul

For this (somewhat late) Thrift Share Monday, I have the best thing to share of all!

Too much stuff!
Nothing. Absolutely nothing. 

No, that pile of stuff above is not from this weekend. It's a batch of ill-fitting and not flattering clothing (with some scattered books) that I plan to get rid of. 

Which is ultimately why nothing is the best thing I could have gotten this weekend. Not because I'm trying to de-clutter or spend less, though those are both lovely things. 

I'm happy I got nothing because none of it fit and, and, and I tried it on. After more than three years of baffling my dear boyfriend by bringing home clothes that don't fit, I've actually made a consistent commitment to trying things on. 

This is not a perfect system. I can still find things that just don't look good once I get them home or that don't look good with anything I own. But it's a good start. 

This post is a part of Apron Thrift Girl's Thrift Share Mondays! Head on over there to check her out and to see all of the fun stuff thrifters got this weekend. 

What are some of your hardest learned thrifting lessons? 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Secondhand Wisdom: Politically Speaking

Good post over on Thrift Store Confidential about the proposed Michigan bill to require foster children who receive state funds to buy all their clothes at secondhand stores. I've been trying to articulate how I feel about this for a while, but this does a much better job than I've done. More.

And while I'm in the political sphere, here is a nifty game that explores the difficulties of losing one's job in this market. More.

What do you think of the proposed Michigan bill?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

By the Book

This weekend was a special edition of the San Francisco Public Library's Friends of the Library book sale. Usually they do a sale in the Fall, but this Spring marks their 50th Anniversary, so a special sale was had. 

The tactile sensation of running a hand across dozens of books while looking for ones that pique my interest is a nice Sunday all by itself. Still, the key part of Sundays at the Friends of the Library book sales is that it's $1 day. 

Excuse me while I say, "Woohoo!" 

Now then, where were we? Growing up, my mom's rule on garage sale/thrift store/antique mall books was anything that was $1 or under. We went to the library not infrequently and $1 books were not uncommon, so I was hardly book-deprived under this rule.

So Sunday I spent $21 to get 21 books: 
We will be hours of fun!

Only two of them were books I'd previously read. Of those, one was Pride and Prejudice, which I still can't believe wasn't on my shelf until today. I made my dear boyfriend (who also alphabetized my bookshelf this weekend!) confirm and reconfirm my astounding discovery that it was missing from the Austen books. So I think that was a good addition to the library. 

All in all, a nice day. 

Saturday was a smaller haul, which is probably good for my space issues anyway (still trying to figure out where I'm going to put the things I brought home from Missouri). 
I am sparkly!
This cute little sterling necklace with a yellow jeweled bead is definitely an unusual one. I'm not quite sure what to wear it with yet. Would black make it to bumblebee-y?

Though books were my first thrift store love, jewelry is quickly coming up to replace them, so this was a nice weekend of thrift thrills. Not quite ready for it to end though.

This post is a part of Apron Thrift Girl's Thrift Share Mondays! Head on over there to check her out and to see all of the fun stuff thrifters got this weekend. 

What are your favorite things to nab at thrift stores? 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Fabulous and Favorite Finds: How I Became Stupid

I have just been home in Missouri for about a week, which, combined with my terminal laziness, will explain the absence of posts. My parents are antique dealers, and my sister is a talented young artist, so I can proudly say that I got quite a haul for next to nothing, unless you're going to count airfare. 

I will soon regale you with stories about "playing jewelry" in my parents' hidden cache of stuff and giggling over our embarrassment of art riches, I promise.* However, I'm always more than faintly sad after leaving home, and this particular time is the first time I've been back to Missouri in the Spring in 5 years (!), so it felt a little like leaving for the first time all over again. 

With that in mind, I was thinking about some of my favorite things to cheer me up, which led me to thinking about some of my favorite thrifted things. Not just the things that saved me money or made me look awesome, but things that were somehow important in my life, like How I Became Stupid

"Don't I look clever and headless?"
I found this book on the shelf at the Daly City Goodwill. It was sitting there, flaunting its sassy orange and black spine, proudly calling out the fact that it is a Penguin Book. I'm a sucker for satin or flat finishes on paperbacks, and this is a rough flat finish that had already picked up a casual coating of grime in its wrinkles. And then there's that title. 

It's a quirky (and invitingly slim) story about Antoine, a Paris academic who is desperate to become stupid because he believes he'll be happier that way. He tries everything he can dream or do, from alcoholism to playing the stock market. In the end, it is a clear-eyed novel with a sense of hope that is somewhat sneaky, but nevertheless intriguing. 

At this point, I have no idea what I paid for it, but likely $2.19. I've since picked up at least 3 more copies (there are 2 living on the bookshelf in the living room right now). And at most recent count, I've bullied 4 people into reading it. 

I'm not certain what it is that appeals to me so much, and I'm equally uncertain that anyone I've forced to read it feels the same way I do. Still, I feel about it the way I feel about songs that are fun to listen to, but don't necessarily suit my philosophies: It's nice to get to live for a little bit in a world I don't want to inhabit permanently. But in this case, Antoine goes ahead and lives out his own disturbed fantasy rather than just, in a completely hypothetical example, listening to a latter-day Fall Out Boy song. 

I also really love the end. And in a world of books that make me say, "It was ok, but I didn't like how it ended," that is something interesting and special indeed. 

*I also do not fail to recognize that I am 2 posts into a proposed 3 part series, which I will soon bring to a breathtaking close.**

**Breathtaking might be a bit generous. 

So, what are some of your important or favorite thrift store finds?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Thrift Store Finds – Trying to be Brave

So I have a definite type of things I like. They are usually black or grey. Usually plain, not patterned. I try for tops that are longer and skinny jeans. 

But . . . a little while ago, I saw this: 
I am a cute vest!
While it is black, it's also patterned and it is a little shorter on me. And it's a vest. This is an article of clothing I've not had in my wardrobe since the 90s! Remember this? 

Still, I thought there must be a way I could wear it. I bought it for $4.49 and worked to figure it out. Here's what I came up with: 
Together with an Express pencil skirt (via Goodwill), a green shirt from Target and my beloved boots. 

I like it, though I think I will have to pace myself wearing it. It is a fairly memorable outfit. 

Are there any pieces you have been a little scared to try that ultimately worked? 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Clothing Swap Numbers

I promised to post a tally of the number of hours of resume preparation that our swap helped generate. So here is a quick recap:

After everyone picked out the things they wanted we had: 

  • Shirts - 14
  • Coats/Jackets - 13 (I am not the only one with too many jackets I see)
  • Dresses - 3
  • Jeans/Pants - 7
  • Shoes (pairs, not individuals) - 5
  • Suits - 1
  • Skirts - 8 
  • Sweaters - 7 
  • Purses - 6
  • As well as an assortment of other accessories, which included belts, jewelry, scarves, etc.

This isn't even everything!

That added up to a total of 10.8 hours of resume preparation through Goodwill (according to their donation impact calculator). 

We will also contribute to the 2.4 billion pounds of usable goods that Goodwill has diverted from land fills since January 1, 2010. 

Yay us!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

So You Cleaned Out Your Closet, Now What? Pt. 1

So if all went as planned, you cleaned out your closet last week. Huzzah!

Some of the remaining items from my clothing swap

But now what? 

Obviously, you can donate your clothing to a number of great places like Goodwill, Salvation Army and others. I'm definitely in favor of completing the circle of thrift store love by sending your fantastically cute clothes (which for whatever reason no longer work for you) back from whence they came. 

There is another option, however, which can practically double your fun: a clothing swap. Because your friends' clothes are super cute too! 

This weekend, I hosted a clothing swap, and I wanted to share some tips. 

How to Host a Clothing Swap:

  • Decide beforehand how you want to handle leftover items that no one wants. I usually decide to bring them to Goodwill myself, but if that's not practical, just know what your plan is. 
  • Invite people. This is pretty key. If you have the space for it, encourage people you invite to invite people. The more the merrier.
  • To help anyone not familiar with the concept, include some basic rules in your invitation. For this weekend's clothing swap, I included this set of instructions:
    • Sort through your clothes
    •  Pick clothes that you don't want anymore
    •  Bring them to the clothing swap, and we will swap clothes. 
    • Tres simple! 
  • Set some basic guidelines. I tend to prefer more people so I tend for inclusive guidelines. Some questions to ask yourself: 
    • Does everyone have to bring clothes to swap? I say, no, but you may disagree. Typically, I find there are lots of clothes left over at the end. If people don't have clothes to swap, maybe they can bring snacks or drinks, which makes it easier on the lovely hostess (that's you). 
    • What if some of the clothes are damaged? If you have lots of friends and guests who are crafty, you might set the bar low here. For example, I am looking for T-shirts to cut up to crochet a rug. So I don't much care if there are stains or small holes. 
  • Before guests arrive, try to sort your items into some basic categories: shirts, skirts and dresses, pants, jackets, accessories. 
    • Pro tip here: Don't worry about sizes! I made this mistake once and tried to sort things out by size. You will be amazed at the ability of different items to look great on different sizes and body types. Anyone who suggests sorting by size should be sniffed at, like so, hmmph!
  • Set out some snacks and you're ready to go! 
You'll find some great stuff and get to share your finds with friends. 

Clothing Swap Finds
Some of my finds, no surprise
they're all black and grey
Next up, how to sell or donate your castoffs and/or clothing swap leftovers. 

I'll also use Goodwill's nifty impact calculator to let you all know how many hours of resume preparation our clothing swap generated. I'm excited to get the tally! 

Do you have any great finds from swapping with friends? 

Friday, March 18, 2011

And that's why you always try things on!

Remember when I said, "Try it on – No buts"? Well, this is why. 
It started with the Goodwill Presidents' Day Sale. I bought two pairs of jeans. A wide leg black Paige Premium Denim and a wide leg Earnest Sewn. 

They looked so cute. They were my size. They were different than the skinny jeans I normally wear. They were designer jeans. They were $3. 

Sadly, not actually my size. Just a little too tight. 

To be fair to me, I couldn't try these on. During sales, Goodwills often close the dressing room. So I knew I was taking a chance. 

But . . . then I bought a Liz Claiborne skirt. Which I thought would come to just above my knees. Not so much. It's about mid-calf, with a cute little slit in the back. Which would indicate that it should come to a little above the knee and that the woman who was intended to wear this was incredibly tall. 

Later, I bought a Mossimo black dress. And the sales woman said, "Did you try everything on?" 

To which I replied, "I think it will be fine."

Clearly, I'm out of control and will have to be watched more carefully in the future. 

So these pieces will go on the clothing swap tomorrow. If no one takes them, they'll go in a pile to be sold at a resale shop. More on both of those later. 

P.S. As the Bluths know, you also always leave a note. 

What items do you tend to not try on?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

It's National Clean Out Your Closet Week!

Today is the first day of National Clean Out Your Closet Week. Yes, there is a holiday for everything. Tomorrow is Send Me Cookies Day (don't go Google it, because today is Be More Trusting Day).

So if your dresser drawers look like this: 
National Clean Out Your Closet Day
Sadly a Before AND After picture for today,
but I'll take my own advice soon.
Read on.

This is the first in a three part series on how to clean out your closet. Today, we'll talk about the nitty gritty of how to, and next we'll talk about what to do with pieces you don't want.

Get started: 

  • Clear off space somewhere (I always use my bed). You'll want to pull everything out of drawers, and you'll need some space to see everything.
  • Look at your current organizational system and decide if it works for you. Yes, I know it's messy now, but does having all of your shirts together work? Or do you want to have your long sleeve and short sleeve shirts separated? Do you want pants with skirts? Or do you want skirts on their own? If you're pulling everything out, take advantage of it. 
  • Sort out clothes that you know you wear frequently from clothes that you're unsure of. 
  • Refold the pieces you frequently wear and set them aside to be put back into drawers in the new (or current if it works) organizational system. 
  • Try on everything you don't wear on a regular basis. There's no point laboring over the decision to keep or toss it if it turns out you don't like the way it fits any more. 
  • Anything that fits and you know you want to keep, refold and place with the keepers. 
  • For everything you're not certain about, here's a nifty checklist to make a decision. 
  • Once everything's sorted and the keepers are folded, place back in drawers. I love this feeling because there's always so much more space afterward. And I know I can buy fun! new (sort of)! things!
For everything else, set it aside. We'll talk about what to do with it next. 
To be continued . . . 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Secondhand Wisdom: Inspiring Volunteer, Secondhand Styling and More

  • 95-year-old Mary Cuckler continues to volunteer at Treasure Trunk Thrift Store in Colorado – More
  • High style from (where else?) Goodwill in this fun personal styling competition More
  • Cool! Contest to win $2,500 in free Hanes clothes. (Who doesn't need more socks, amirite?) To enter, donate to Goodwill, snap a picture and upload to Hanes' Facebook page.  More

Monday, February 28, 2011

Thrift Store Finds – The "Dodged the Snow Bullet" Edition

On Thursday, I was being threatened with snow (in San Francisco, for pete’s sake!). By Sunday, it was sunny. Today? Flipping freezing.

Nevertheless, while I understand the excitement of those who didn’t grow up with snow each winter, I’m glad not to have snow for the moment. So I’m sharing some recent fun finds that won’t be seeing sunlight for a while yet.

Mossimo Cardigan - $4.49 Mossimo Flats - $3.49

A totally Goodwill outfit at that!

  • Gap Black dress - $8.99
  • Mossimo Blue Open Front Cardigan - $4.49
  • Mossimo Black Flats - $3.49 (1/2 price during the Presidents’ Day Sale)

I’m definitely looking forward to weather that lets me wear this! Do you have any fun recent finds?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

How to Sew on a Button

Sadly, not every piece of thrift store clothing is perfect when you buy it. Some items have easy fixes, some not so much.

This is the first in a series of pieces on what to do when a piece that’s to die for isn’t in perfect condition.

What to Do When You’re Missing a Button

Step 1: Gather What You’ll Need
Scissors, needle, thread and button
You will need a needle, thread to match the garment, scissors and, of course, a button.

Hopefully, you’ll be able to recover the button from the garment. Many nicer pieces (particularly for coats and jackets) will have additional buttons sewn on to a tag. You can also check the pockets.

If you can’t find a matching button, you can try to find a button that matches at a local sewing store. You can also consider replacing all buttons, which enables you to give the piece a new look.

Step 2: Prepare your needle.
First, thread your needle. Then, you will want to leave approximately 12 inches on each side of the needle. 
Threaded needle
Knot your thread. A simple granny knot (double knotted) will work best here.

To form a granny knot, create a loop (as above), then thread the ends through the loop and pull tight.

Step 3: Attach your button to the garment.
First, you’ll want to check how the other buttons are attached. For flat buttons with 4 holes, the threads can appear as two straight lines (like so ||) or as an X. You’ll want to match that technique.

My button was attached with two straight lines, so I’ll use that technique. 
Insert your needle from the inside of the garment where the button was previously. (If you can’t tell where the button was previously, place it where the buttonhole meets.

Next, insert your needle through the opposite hole on the button and down through the cloth. Make at least three passes on this side of the button.

You’ll now want to come up through the other side of the button and make 3 passes on this side.
Now you have this: 

Step 4: How to Make the Shank (Not like that!)

Pass the needle through the cloth, but not through the button. Now circle the thread around the button 3 times (so that it rests under the button and creates a space for the buttonhole to lie flat).

Step 5: Finishing up
Pass the needle back through the cloth. Knot the thread on the inside of the garment. Using the needle to create a granny knot, triple knotted, will create a strong knot.

Trim the thread close to the knot and you’re done! 

All finished!

Additional tip:
1.     Now is a good time to check the piece for loose threads and to trim them. If you’re anything like me, you pull on loose threads rather than finding scissors to cut them. That can (as I know from experience) ruin an otherwise perfect piece by causing a snag or ripping a hole.

What kinds of flaws do you typically find on otherwise perfect thrift store finds? 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Secondhand Wisdom: Fashion History Primer, Save on Gas & More

Photo from Of Another Fashion
  • Cintra Wilson writes for the New York Times about the evolution of secondhand shopping and a no-boys-allowed vintage store – More
  • Fantastic history project, Of Another Fashion, chronicles the history of fashion for women of color. The photos Minh-Ha T. Pham has collected are worth a look on their own, but the history lessons in the captions are incredible! – More
  • Good primer from SavvySugar on what to do to curb pain at the pump – More

Monday, February 21, 2011

Thrift Store Finds - Goodwill Presidents' Day Sale

Goodwill was running a sale this weekend for Presidents' Day, 60% off all denim (more on that later), 50% off selected women's tops and bottoms and 50% off shoes. I found some fun stuff that I might not ordinarily have decided to bring home. 

That inspired me to go digging through my recent finds to put together some cute outfits rather than letting them languish. 

I bought the black flats about 2 weeks ago, but hadn't yet tried them out with anything. The sweater is another in my quest to leave no grey sweater unturned. I do rather like it though, and it's just worn enough to be snuggly. 

Xhilaration black 
studded flats - $8.99 
Grey Mossimo Oversize
Cardigan - $2.74 (on a 50% off
sale at Goodwill)

Those two pieces, combined with black skinny jeans and a black cami, put together an outfit not unlike what I wear when Goodwilling, but this should also make a good option for switching into after work to go out. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

How to Buy Thrift Store Denim

Most Americans live in their jeans, but it can take forever to find just the right pair. Whether you’re on a mission for the perfect cut or color or you just want to try something new on the cheap, thrift stores are deal central.

Here are five tips for conquering the overwhelming racks of jeans:
  • By the Numbers – If you are lucky enough to shop at a thrift shop that segments by size, start here. Don’t be afraid to try on a pair that is a size or two larger or smaller than you typically wear. 
  • Which wash? – If your local secondhand emporium doesn’t sort by size, rejoice! Look for  your favorite wash instead. 
    • Do you love saturated indigo washes? Or are you all about the classic denim wash of a vintage pair of 501s? Relax and skim through the blues (or greys or blacks) until a wash catches your eye.
  • The Kindest Cut – Once you’ve found your wash and your size, check for cut. Skinny jeans go well with tunics and looser sweaters, while a wider leg style pairs with a more fitted top. 
  • Try it on – No buts. Especially if you are just starting out, nothing is more important than trying out each piece. Many thrift stores have policies that do not allow for exchanges.
    • Pro tip: As you’re trying each piece on, think about the way it fits on you and how it looks on the rack. Over time, you’ll build a visual understanding of what fits your body. You’ll still need to try each piece on, but you’ll be less likely to take duds into the dressing room.
  • Have fun! – Sometimes, you just have to give the bright red skinny jeans a shot. And at thrift store prices, you’re a lot less likely to regret your walk on the wild side.

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