I did not plan on scoring this thrift haul last week. Nope. My goal was to get in, hopefully find one treasure (or something that could kind of, sort of pass for a treasure of sorts), and get the hell out of there. Instead I found multiple treasures and some fun surprises that I just couldn’t pass up.
I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been on this vintage dish kick, so I was hoping to find a vintage dish on this trip. I’d heard tales though, of people finding some cool vintage clothes in thrift stores so I committed to digging through the clothing racks too while I was there.
I ended up walking out with 9 pieces of clothing, 1 purse and 2 sets of dishes. WTF@“@&$)&! And are you ready for this? All for the price of $60.00! That comes out to $5/pop. Wowza!
Now here’s the thing: what I call a “treasure” might be something someone else might call ugly junk. But I’m going to share why I picked up each piece and what about it I think makes it special. Plus this whole thrift haul inspired me to do some special thrift outfit shoots in the coming months, because I want to share how easy it can actually be to put together cool looks from outdated clothing.
Now most of the time, unless you’re a true vintage clothing wizard and have oodles of experience with studying fabrics, seams, etc of the past, you have to make an educated guess on the true age of the garment. Though it’s more sophisticated than just eyeballing the clothing and making a total gamble on its age, the process is still not something you can always be 100% right on. Here are the ways you can guess the garment’s age:
1. the clothing label
2. the fabric
3. the style
Here are some articles that can educate you on those first two (the clothing label and fabric). But as far as the style goes, this comes down to personal knowledge of era styles which can be totally self-taught. For instance: you might recognize the teal windbreaker of the 90s, the poofy sleeved dress of the 80s, the bell bottom pants of the 70s, or the shift mini dress of the 60s. When you pair this knowledge with the fabric and the clothing label you can make a pretty good educated guess as to what era the clothing is from.
And when all else fails, google is your best friend. Try looking up the clothing label brand or try searching for similar products at Etsy.com or eBay. These are other great resources for getting a handle on what prize you’ve scored.
The same goes for dishes. Most everything I know about vintage dishes I learned by spending hours perusing Etsy and eBay. I now recognize popular dish brands from yesteryear, as well as can spot a lesser known brand by the style.
If you’re unsure of a dish’s age try finding a maker’s mark of some kind that you can google. But again, just educating the eye on what vintage dishes even look like will make a huge difference. Just like knowing vintage clothing styles by era, you can learn all this by spending time online. It’s all about independent learning, my friends. And thank God for the internet! It’s a wealth of knowledge at our fingertips, ripe for the taking!
Now without further ado, here are my scores from last week!
1. Vintage 1970s pleated wool plaid skirt
While the fabric and style scream 1950s, this skirt has a “DRY CLEAN ONLY” label which were attached to fabrics (at least in the U.S.) before the 1970s. While dry cleaning was around before the 70s, typically the average American woman knew her stuff when it came to garment care in the 50s, and of clothing companies did choose to share garment cleaning suggestions, it was on the removable tag of the garment rather than attached permanently. As we all know, retro clothing is a big deal always (retro meaning: inspired by the past instead of from the past), so even in the 70s they were making retro clothing. See how this is all quite the puzzle to piece together? Are you having fun yet?? Hello???
How I plan on wearing it: I think I’ll dress it up 50s style come the winter. This will be fun for the Christmas season, methinks. I never like going 100% any era when dressing vintage, so I’ll probably try finding some modern pieces to breathe some new life into it.
2. 90s Floral dress
This pieces gets me in the 90s gut. Everything about it screams this era of my youth, but the label is also a great dead give-away. Don’t forget to search google for the labels on earlier pieces like 80s and 90s stuff. Many times you’ll find the info you need right on your handy dandy smart phone!
How I plan to wear it: I’ve got an incredible vintage Burberry fedora just begging to be worn with a dress.
3. 80s pastel shirt
Here’s a fun fact: the styles of the 80s were largely inspired by the styles of the 30s. Those poofy sleeves? Totally 30s. Take some time to watch a fun movie from the 30s (I recommend The Thin Man and After the Thin Man, since I just watched both and they’re so good) and you’ll have a blast noticing all the little details that inspired the 80s era. Everything is a remix, no?
The collar on this shirt and the sleeves are so 80s. But the reason we can know this shirt isn’t actually from the 30s is the fabric and the seam. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of owning or handling a piece from the 30s you know that they’re typically more delicate — you can feel the difference in construction. I have a robe that belonged to my great grandmother that she wore in the 30s and it’s far more delicate and carefully constructed than my more recently made pieces.
The seam is a server seam which was very rarely used in clothing dated pre-1960s.
The label would have also told us a thing or two but was cut off the garment, however we didn’t really need it since these other two clues were right there to point us in the correct direction!
How I plan to wear it: jeans and some platform sandals sound about right.
4. Modern snakeskin print skirt by Topshop
This skirt was a fun find. I checked it out online and I’m guessing it might have been from last fall’s collection? With snakeskin print having a moment right now and with the gorgeous green color I just couldn’t wait to snatch it up. Finding almost new stuff is not that uncommon at thrift stores. Sure you might have the energy to list all those clothes in your closet on online resale shops, but a ton of people don’t. And even trying to sell your clothes at brick and mortar resale stores can be a pain. Sometimes they won’t take stuff just because, or perhaps it isn’t seasonal or maybe they don’t like the style etc. So going to all the trouble to sell it can be a bit more trouble than it’s worth for a lot of folks (I clearly have personal experience with this lol). So to the thrift store they go!
How I plan to wear it: with everything!
5. Modern Fun Run t-shirt
Now why would I buy this t-shirt? It’s from 2017! It’s not even a year old yet. Plus it’s got some weird graphic on it from the Humane Society’s charity run. Isn’t it embarrassing wearing some charity run t-shirt you didn’t even participate in?
Maybe, perhaps if you’re trying to masquerade as a runner. But the sole reason I bought this t-shirt was because it matched the snakeskin skirt in color and I’ve been so obsessed with the bright monochromatic trend going on. Sure I could have waited to find a better shirt that would have been more très chic. But I thought this would be a good opportunity to show you guys how even your basic fun run t-shirt can be dressed up in a cool way. Working outside the box is necessary when dressing yourself from the thrift store, and hey! All the fashion greats out there style themselves out of the box so you can’t go wrong! If you wear what you like then you’re always fashionable. That’s my opinion! And I like this shirt for the color, the graphic, the fact that it’s a Halloween shirt (and you know I LOVE halloween), and lastly because it’s a Humane society shirt and gosh I love them animal friends!
How I plan to wear it: with my snakeskin skirt of course!
6. Ugly 80s Natari Nightgown
I have fallen in love with Amy Sedaris’ show At Home with Amy Sedaris. Not only is it hilarious but it’s surprisingly inspiring. The bright colors, kooky vibes, and adorable vintage attire has me swooning. Therefore upon finding this ugly moo moo straight from the 80s I knew I just had to have it. If Amy would wear it then it’s a keeper in my book! I knew this baby was vintage judging by the label and, believe it or not, the never removed tag. Yep! This baby is as unworn as they come. I recognized the brand Natari which has been making sleepwear and lingerie for years, but wasn’t entirely sure its age. I simply googled it and cam across some very similar pieces with the same appliqués and found it to be apparently from an 80s line. It came with some staining. Looks like perhaps it was shoved in a box in an attic or garage. So we will see if I can get it stain free. If so, Amy Sedaris style, here I come!
7. Asian print jacket
I have no idea how old this garment is but it’s absolutely stunning. The label is in Chinese and looks worn. I’m always amazed and in awe of such beautiful pieces like this one. The careful stitching, the deep red color, the buttons — all of it comes together to form a masterpiece. I did some digging online to learn more about vintage Chinese clothing but still don’t feel equipped enough to be able to take even an educated guess. However this piece makes me think of ancient and dignified societies, as well as wisdom and beauty.
How I plan on wearing it: I like the idea of it being the centerpiece, so I’ll probably wear it with some sleek trousers or a simple dress. We will see what ideas strike in the closet!
8. 80s teal suede purse
Talk about a score. This little beauty makes me oh so happy. It’s extremely well constructed and the color is gorgeous. Oh and did I mention it’s the same color as the snakeskin skirt and t-shirt? Hmmmm…
How I plan on wearing it: However, whenever. Purses are meant to be carried! Whether they’re big, small, expensive, cheap, old or new they want to be used so give them a good carry!
9. Vintage 50s silk dress
Talk. About. An effing. Treasure. This piece made my heart skip a beat. The style, the fabric, the label and the construction all scream 50s. And look at that print! Does it not get you in all the atomic era feels??? This baby was found in some dire straights. Poor thing needs some serious love and some of its wounds I’m not sure can be fixed. But it’s worth a try! It’s made out of silk, and has some pretty significant tears here and there. The buttons are falling apart, and the stitching is slowly coming undone. But I still can’t help but sigh at it. I love it forever and I want it to be my friend. I think I’ll name it Deb.
10. 90s button detail top
When I was inside the thrift store I was taken by the incredibly detailed buttons of this shirt. They were giving me all the 90s feels and I decided to buy it on the spot. However when I pulled the top out at home I noticed there was some pilling strewn about it. Lesson learned: pay closer attention to the condition of the garment before getting caught up in the thrill of a possible new score.
I confirmed the age of the top by searching the brand and found several other pieces for sale out there that were also being sold as 90s pieces. And again, though obviously that can’t be a 100% determining factor, it can give you a good clue.
How I plan on wearing it: we will see if I do at all. The pilling makes me like it a lot less. I like my thrifted pieces of good quality. Not need to buy a worn shirt when you can find an almost new one on the same rack. I might try taking my anti-pilling gadget and see if that can help. TBD!
11. 80s Jumpsuit
This number reminds me of Gem and that is cooler than ice cold! OMG I cannot wait to wear this. I know it’s intense. I know it’s loud. But you know what? Life is short! Wear the crazy stuff! It’s fun! Play dress up! It’s a thrill! Get your Gem on, baby! Hey if Bowie would wear it so should we!
12 & 13. 60s Restaurant ware dishes and 70s floral bread plates
These cute little dish sets are going to make fun settings for my food photography project. I can’t wait to see them in action. I’ve grown a real love for restaurant ware with its added durability and the whole romantic idea of people sipping hot coffee and enjoying some bacon and eggs right off these bad boys. I’m also a huge fan of all things 70s botanical so these flowers are right up my alley.
I hope you can be a little inspired by thrifting and see how it might be a fun way to get a cool fashion score or two. I’m just starting to catch the bug and good thing too since I’m trying to find a way to save some money for the remainder of the year. I’m hoping to buy a new trend item every once in a while, but for the most part see if I can’t stick to more thrifted items for now.
Are you a thrifter? What are your favorite tips for scoring big and how do you like to freshen up older pieces?