The secrets behind finding those hidden gems in Vancouver
By Natalie “Buffy” Aybars, Contributor
Shopping second-hand is not only easy on your wallet, it is also a great way to express your individual style. Gone are the days when hand-me-downs were forced upon you by another, oppressing one’s freedom for personal expression. Today’s hand-me-downs are in fact sought after and create a sense of individuality by wearing something that is limited edition or even a one of a kind piece.
Let’s distinguish the difference between thrift shopping and vintage shopping. Vintage shopping is an easier—yet potentially more expensive—way to finding pre-loved beauties. Vintage stores curate special second-hand finds for consumer convenience and so the price tags are at times unnecessarily marked up. Basically, you pay more for the convenience. Not everyone is willing to spend hours sifting through racks and racks of junk in order to find those hidden gems. So if you’re okay with spending a little extra money (although not much), vintage stores can save you most of the effort. With time you will learn to know a good deal and a great find when you see one. On the other hand, thrift shopping is just that: being thrifty. Finding bargains for great items in places like Value Village, Goodwill, and other thrift stores can be like a treasure hunt. Believe it or not, my best finds have come out of Value Village. Successful thrift shopping requires a keen eye, determination, and patience. Walking into a Value Village as a rookie can be overwhelming and discouraging, but the key is to have the right mind set.
Here are some tips for skilled thrifting:
- Demographic. The nicer the area, the better the finds. Let’s be honest: you’re not going to have much luck finding anything of value at the Value Village on East Hastings—and even if you do, leave it for those in need. Check out thrift stores in the well-to-do areas and you’ll be amazed at how what was another person’s “trash” is just waiting to be claimed as your treasure.
- No expectations are good expectations. Walk in with no expectations or prejudgements. I find that if I go thrifting for a specific item, I’ll never find it, and I end up missing out on something special that I may have overlooked because I’ve been close-minded.
- Materials. Stay clear of polyester, or other cheap looking materials. If I think it’s going to make me itchy wearing it or if I’ll look as cheap as the price tag, then I won’t bother. After going a couple times you will learn to train your eye to look for materials, patterns, and colours that appeal to you. You don’t have to pick out every single item to decide if you’ll like it. Scan through the materials and if something pops out at you, pull it out and take a closer look. Don’t waste your time.
- Always, always, ALWAYS try it on. You never know how something will look until you put it on your body. You don’t want to look frumpy, outdated, or tacky. If it’s not your style or it’s not something you can see in your wardrobe then put it back. If it’s worth altering then make sure the price to alter it doesn’t cost more than the clothing itself, and make sure you’re actually going to do it. It may only be five dollars, but if it’s just going to sit in your closet, what’s the point?
- Bring a buddy. Especially if you’re a newbie. It always helps having a second opinion, specifically from someone who knows your taste and style. Best friends will always be honest if they like something or not.
- Go with your gut. At the end of the day you’re the one who has to wear it and if you don’t feel comfortable or good in something then it’s not for you. Style is 100 per cent about having confidence, which comes from knowing who you are, and staying true to that. Just because something is fashionable or trendy doesn’t mean that it fits for you and your style.
Check out Buffy’s personal style blog, Stripped and Buffed at http://strippedandbuffed.blogspot.ca