the fat stylist |

wardrobe inspiration for the non-model

Thrifting for the lady of size

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thrift store

Thrift store shopping (or thrifting) is not as hard as you might think. It’s better than shopping at Wal-Mart (why does Wal-Mart always look like the apocalypse is nigh?). And it’s a really good way to add range to your style.

Here are some basic guidelines to get started and if you’re already a pro read on for more ideas to improve your thrift game.

1. Ignore sizes and at the same time realize that thrift stores actually carry a generous amount of plus and extended sizes. Some sizes you find in thrift stores are marked in an older size range and some may not be marked at all. Your best bet is to pick it up and look at it. Does it look like it’ll fit? Try it, though, I don’t recommend trying it on just yet. I like to wash and dry my thrifty purchase before wearing.

2. Spread the love. Shop multiple thrift stores frequently, because no one thrift store holds all the treasures and you never know when the treasures will roll in.

3. Remember, it only costs a dollar or two. So pick up something you might not usually try. At worse you’re out a few bucks. Of course, that does depend on which store you are shopping since some thrift stores are thriftier than others.

4. Look for the weird, stunning, or the amazing-how-could-anyone-throw-this-out pieces. You can pair your thrift store find with basic items and get an outfit that takes the edge off plain or boring.

5. Shop the men’s department. They have good t-shirts, button-down shirts, sports coats, and overcoats in larger sizes. If you have any sewing skills or know someone else who does, shopping the menswear at a thrift store will yield you project after project. Not to mention cute results once the garments are altered to fit.

6. The cleaners and the washing machine are about to become your BFF! If you feel icky about wearing second-hand clothing, don’t forget there’s little a good wash and dry can’t cure. A natural, low-cost way to help kill bacteria/mold that might be lurking in old clothes is a line-dry in sunny weather. The sun kills many of the microbes in clothes.

7. Avoid holes and tough stains. I wouldn’t buy anything with a stain unless: a.) It was really cute AND b.) The stain was identifiable as ink. Buttons can be repaired, small rips on the seam are worth the short time it takes to repair, but anything beyond basic washing and mending is where I draw the line for most thrifted items.

I’ve bought many charming tops and skirts from thrift stores. I have always enjoyed the compliments my thrift store finds have fetched. And I’ll admit there’s been a coat or scarf I didn’t wash before wearing (yikes!), but I was young and stupid. I’m hoping that with my years of practice I’ve learned a thing or two about thrifting for fun and wearable items.

In the end, thrifting may not be your thing. But don’t be afraid to try it. If you believe that a good find can be made at a garage sale then you know what a little rummaging can do. Extend this thinking to your closet and you’ll get a kick out of the funkier wardrobe you’ve created.


Written by fat stylist

February 13, 2008 at 6:13 pm

One Response

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  1. There are a lot of great thrift stores in Vancouver if anyone comes here for a visit! I tried on a REALLY cute coat, but then realized that there was some really bizarre could have been blood could have been rust stains and I took that jacket off faster than you can say “WINTER!”


    February 22, 2008 at 12:15 pm

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