Preparation! It might seem silly but if you want to have a fun time of your thrifting it's best to be well prepared.
- Be sure to have been drinking and eating correctly in the hours before you go on your adventure, nothing ruins thrifting more then having low blood sugar. It is also reccomended to take a quick chatty fika* preferably with friends in the middle of the escapade. It can also be advisable to bring a fruit and a bottle of water with you for quick snacking if you don't have the time or opportunity to sit down somewhere. Indeed most swedish second hand places will actually sell some fika in a cozy corner of the store.
- Bring a clever amount of clothes, you should have enough to not freeze when making your way between stores but don't bring too many since itmakes the ordeal of getting them off when trying clothes a hassle. They are also heavy to carry around if you indeed become to warm after a while.
- Try to have a reasonable amount of time on your hands when attempting to go thrifting, finding the treasures usually requires some time spent and nothing is more boring then rushing trough the stores.
- If you have a number of stores to visit try to make a brief mental plan of the order to visit them in. Is one more fun than the others? Is one cheaper then the others? It migh be smarter to spenda longer time in the cheaper one to find the better bargains and when not finding anything in the less sorted stores going to a slightly more expensive better sorted store afterwards might save the day.
- Bring a reliable possy of friends if you thrive in social situations while if you feel introverted on the particular day going on your own is reccomended, going on your own is usually more effective. But that being sad, the most fun I had in thriftstores is usally when me and my friends try on outrageous outfits laugh. and in many cases find out it's actually quite perfect for us.
In the store
- The trick of thrifting is usually to not be too specific, not being on the search for something incredibly precise, because the most likely outcome is that you will not find it. What I usually do is that I walk trough all parts of the store and seeing what the store has to offer on this particular day.
- Learn what colours and tectures usually are your preffered ones so you can effectively search trough wide selections. For me usually it is the darker colours and velvety/lacy things I program my mind to find. So for example I will look trough all of the dark clothes and only skim trough the lighter ones to find unlikely likes so to speak.
- Try on the things you find, something might look perfectly lovely on the hanger might not be flattering, have wierd fit or hidden flaws.
- If you are a handy person you can always alter unfitting clothes or pimp them out, so keep this in mind when trying on and looking at clothes - Could this be altered? How? Is it worth the effort and is the price reasonable enbough to consider that?
- If you are particular about not wearing things with holes in or that are slightly ragged, look trough the garments thouroughly. This might be less important for Goth's as myself, I daily wear slightly holey things so for me it's not incredibly important.
- In some stores cashiers will be open to haggle the price with you, especially if you find a hole or something in the garment so you can always politely ask at the desk i that is the case. This also depends largely on what store you visit and in what part of the world you live, in Sweden haggling is very uncommon and might not always be pleasantly received.
- Don't pay too much! You are in a thrift store, if it's not a bargain it's not worth it. In some cases spending slightly more for a very particular item might of course be reccomended, remember it wont stay there for a very long time. But rest assured that you will always find other enjoyable things later on so don't waste money on very expensive items if you are not absoluetly sure you "must have them".
- Dig! Dig that pile of clothes, it migth seem tedious or for some bacteria aversed people out there, uncanitary (you can always bring a bottle of hand sanitizer if it bothers you). But the truth is generally that the best and cheapest things you will find in these kind of piles. Who cares if people look wierdly at you, you're there there to buy things so dig away at the stock.
- If you're into fancy unergarments, rest assured thrift stores will usually have a hidden box somewhere with this, some of them migh be super ugly, but some are usually really cool and people are generally to embarrassed to dig through them so here you could find some nice grabs. It's also usually here you find those unopened packs of stockings and similar that could be a really nice find.
- If there is a rack next to the changing rooms with clothes people tried on but didn't want be sure to check it, here you can also sometimes find gold.
- If you are a woman, don't limit yourself to the womans section, or indeed if you are a man don't limit yourself to the mens section. Look trough all sections - can't tell you how many nice t-shirts and ties I have found this way. If you are slim or short it might also be interesting to go trough the young/kid section where you can also find many cool things for even cheaper prices. These can usually be altered or you can use the fabric for some cool project.
- Accept the will of the trift gods, some days you will find tons of things, some days nothing, it's all part of the game and this is why trifting is usually so interesting, but don't give up just because you didn't find anything on your first try, stay strong!
- Be sure to have adequate transportation, if you find a lot of things, sometimes it migh be advisable to maybe grab the bus home instead of walking or bringing a bike.
- Wash the things you have bought and be careful to look at labels to see what the washing instructions for said garment is, this gets rid of unwanted smells and anything else that could be hiding in the clothes. Admittedly I don't always do this myself, but it's part of a good practice.
Of course mainly I have been referring to thrift stores in this post, but the same general principle applies to flea markets as well, with some small differences as people being slightly more willing to haggle and no availability to changing rooms.
So as a finishing touch I will wish you good luck on your thrifting adventures and hope you have a jolly good time out of it!
Me last weekend, and a link to my instagram,
where I'll be sure to post fun pictures of me thriftshopping in the future!
*The swedish fika is the first thing you learn about when you cross the Swedish border and since it is such a pleasant custom it is often brought back when you go home to your home county again (or so all my exchange student friends claim). The swedish fika is indeed what most people in otehr countries would call "Grabbing a coffe" but what the Swedish fika does in a bigger extent also include something sweet as a side dish, famously the swedish cinnamon bun but it can be anything. The coffe can also be replaced by anything such as tea, lemonade or a soda, the essential part is that it constitutes a pleasant break, something drinkable and something eatable.
The having of the fika is almost sanctified and letting swedes get on with their day without getting their fika break is something that should not be tried unless you want some extremely grumpy swedes on your hands. All workplaces will have scheaduled fika breaks and at the university you excpect a fika break in all lectures if they are longer then one hour.