My recent return to “thrifting” came about because I needed some new shorts to replace a bunch of worn-down ones that I’ve been wearing far past their useful life. Since the styles I like aren’t really around any more, I figured that I’d better hit up the local thrift stores.
My general policy with shopping at thrift stores is not to by truly “used” clothing unless it’s something that I can’t live without (in the shorts example, this would mean styles that I haven’t been able to find in stores for several years (which I recently did, finding a nice pair of Gramicci Quick Dry shorts from circa 2000 or so)). Beyond that, I’ll buy any clothing that feels comfortable when I try it on. And since I’ve recently lost a fair amount (and am still losing it) of weight, my size is going from a large to a medium for modern sizing (one pair of shorts I recently bought was a 32″ size, which is odd since my true waist size is 34″). This also means I have plenty of selection, since I can wear multiple sizes comfortably.
Fortunately, I live in an area that has an abundant variety of thrift stores to check. I have Goodwills, Salvation Army, Savers, and scores of smaller operations. It’s tough to decide where to go… Of course, I’m drawn first to the ones I shopped at with my mom when I was a kid, even though it’s now a Savers and not a Thrift Village. I used to love finding those 25 cent bags of toys along the back wall. Of course, they still have them; they’re just $2.99 these days.
A couple of years ago, I was trying on shirts at a local Macy’s store and really liked this one type of shirt that I had tried. But of course, I wasn’t going to pay $115 for a shirt just because it had a Tommy Bahama label! When I found a brand new TB shirt in my size while looking for shorts, I was hooked on the hunt. I wouldn’t pay $115, but I’d gladly pay $5 for a shirt from the same collection from a year or two earlier… That, and seeing all the aloha shirts they have at these places rekindled my love of Hawaiian shirts. So I started looking for those as well. And I’ve also started looking at the history of the aloha shirts and finding out which brands are worth good money to collectors. So far, I’ve scored a few really nice shirts: a Paradise Found shirt from their Magnum PI collection (retail is $60, I paid $1.50), and a Tori Richard shirt (widely considered to be the finest current maker of aloha shirts. Retail is $80, I paid $2). These two should see some use from me; as I’ve decided to institute an Aloha Fridays policy for 2012 and beyond. Since I only have four aloha shirts, I’ll have to look for a few more to create some variety.
In the past week, I’ve come out of the various thrift stores with 6 pairs of shorts, 5 shirts, 1 pair of chino pants, 1 pair of dress pants, and two pairs of swim shorts (both Tommy Bahama). Total retail price for all these would be somewhere around $1000. I paid roughly $50 for the whole lot. It’s nice to have a sense of fashion that most guys only have when they’re on vacation… I can pick up the stuff super cheap when they’re done with it! And if I find any really cool stuff that I can sell, even better.