Vintage, antique or thrift shopping: what to bring with you


There is a serious strategy to what you bring with you on these kind of shopping trips.

What to wear?

Outfit: the best things to thrift in are comfy, slip on shoes, leggings, some kind of tank, and another layer if needed. Because some shops don’t have fitting rooms, you can throw things on over your leggings and tank top. You don’t want to wear your Sunday best (things can get dusty), and you want to be comfortable.


What to bring with you?

Here’s what I bring in my “thrift kit”:


Cross body purse: for hands free shopping. There’s nothing more annoying that carrying a giant, heavy purse (my default bag is basically giving me back problems) when you’re flipping through the racks.

Small change purse or wallet: downsize to only what you need: ID, cash, and credit cards

Student ID: thrift stores often offer student discounts, just ask. (Luckily for me, this usually includes graduate students!)

Cash: many stores don’t take credit cards, so bring cash. This is helpful when setting a budget for yourself as well- only bring as much as you want to spend. Sometimes the deals can be intoxicating and you’re prone to overspending. A $5 Brooks Brothers top is only a good deal if you actually wear it.

Foot liners: those little things you get for free at shoe stores, for trying on shoes that you won’t want to wear socks with, but don’t want to try on barefoot

Tissues: sometimes these stores can get dusty. Also handy for seeing if a stain will come out (see below).

Antibacterial hand gel: this is KEY. If any stores feel skeevy, this is always nice to have. However, this has a much more important function: helping determine if an ink stain will come out. People often donate clothing if it has a small defect like a hole/tear (great if you have even the most basic sewing skills) or a stain. If you see something that’s otherwise great but has an ink stain, rubbing alcohol-based things will remove most inks. Dab some antibacterial gel on a tissue, press it onto a small part of the ink stain for a few seconds. If the ink lifts off onto the tissue, you’ll be able to get it out in the same manner.

Tide to go pen: same as the antibacterial hand gel- you can determine if a stain is likely to come out by putting some of the stain stick on a small part of a stain and dabbing it with a tissue to see if any of it lifts.

A drink and snacks: this kind of shopping is a marathon, not a sprint. Easy to eat snacks like granola bars and almonds are perfect. There’s nothing worse than getting hangry in the middle of the hunt.

Earbuds: sometimes I like chatting with other shoppers (they can be great resources for info about sales, others places to shop, and they’ll sometimes share great finds they’ve decided not to buy), but other times, I just want to zone out. Podcasts or an upbeat playlist can keep you company while you sift.

Reusable shopping bag: I love these foldable ones that tuck right into your purse.

A few other things that might be helpful…

Hair bands: for fuss free shopping

Measurements: if you’re keeping your eye out for home décor or furniture, write down the measurements of your space. You won’t remember it off the top of your head, trust me.

I actually keep a little zippered case with my “supplies” ready to throw into my bag if I decided to go shopping.


Do you have any strategies for what to bring while bargain hunting?


Church tag sale= gold mine

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After 10 years of living in NYC, most recently Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the hipster capital of the world, the bf and I decided to move to the suburbs and commute into the city (35 minutes on an express commuter train that has a quiet car!). Not only do I have a walk in closet, a spare bedroom, a parking space and the ability to sleep at night without constant noise, I’ve found thrifting to be much more fun than in NYC.

Thrift store shopping is quickly becoming destigmatized, with people realizing the fantastic finds and prices to be had. The downside of that is things in NYC tend to be either picked over or ridiculously priced for thrift. It takes a pro to know where the best spots are in the city these days. (Shout out to fellow thrift bloggers- Looking Fly on a Dime and Tales From the Thrift are two fantastic thrifty fashion blogs that find and report the best thrift spots in NY!)

I recently started to venture past the typical Goodwill shopping trips and look for church tag and rummage sales in Westchester County. SO. GLAD. I. DID. Not only do well-to-do parishioners donate to their churches, but they’re also only held once or twice a year, so the amount of merchandise tends to be huge and not as outrageously priced.

Some of my crowing achievements from 2 visits to a week long clothing sale at a nearby church (St. Barnabas in Irvington, NY for you locals!) :

2014-11-14 14.46.41 Westchester Country= Brooks Brothers capital of the world. A suede blazer, cashmere sweater and a cable knit sweater.

2014-11-14 14.47.45Tap shoes! I’m a dance teacher and take classes for fun and exercise when I can. Can’t hurt to have an extra pair on hand.

2014-11-14 14.55.14An Erdem jersey dress. That retails for $800. I got it for $12. Will be selling it on ebay soon…for much less than $800.

2014-11-14 14.45.11More cashmere, cable knit, some 7 jeans.

2014-11-14 14.48.22Some MK flats.

2014-11-14 14.43.21Those boots are vintage Gucci and sadly, a size 6. I begrudgingly sold them on ebay since my size 9 feet wouldn’t come close to fitting into them.

2014-11-14 14.43.23I was so proud of myself, I had to take photos of all I bought. I wasn’t even planning on starting a blog at that point.

2014-11-14 14.43.08

Here’s everything. It came to $190 all together. I came home with:

  • 3 belts (one was Bottega Venetta with the tags still on it!)
  • Vintage Gucci boots
  • Nearly new tap shoes
  • Character dance shoes (used for ballroom type dancing, or can be turned into tap shoes)
  • Light pink rain coat
  • A brand new in the packaging Nicole Miller bath robe
  • Vintage Diane Von Furstenberg flats
  • 2 pairs of Michael Kors flats
  • Insulated gloves
  • A few dressy tops
  • Cashmere and cable knit sweaters from Talbots, Ann Taylor and Brooks Brothers
  • A black knit circle scarf
  • Bean Boots! That were sold out for months since they’ve become trendy
  • A small coach purse
  • 7 for all Mankind dark wash skinny jeans
  • A colorful, retro looking dress
  • A jersey Erdem dress

One hundred and ninety dollars for all that! The church sale is held yearly and the money goes to support local charities such as the Humane Society. They even had some of the older ladies selling baked goods and lunch! I had so much fun digging and chatting with the lovely people running the sale.

I’m going to stick to haunting my local thrift stores, but now I’m on the lookout for tag/rummage sales.

Here’s some tips for finding similar sales in your area:

  • Check churches, synagogues, or organizations like the Junior League in wealthier parts of town. They’re more likely to receive high-end donations
  • Don’t forget the less-wealthy parts of town too, though- this is where I find the most vintage, funky, and unique clothing and home items
  • Check Craigslist, the local classifieds, or the newspaper
  • Do a Google search for local churches and look on their individual websites for upcoming sales- sometimes they aren’t advertised on Craigslist or in local papers
  • Churches are modern now too- look up their Facebook pages! They tend to post info about sales there
  • Join a local community Facebook group- organizations often post sale info here too
  • A good old Google search with the following key words: church rummage sale, tag sale, attic sale, thrift sale, fundraiser sale, etc [name of your town/area/zip code]

Shopping these sales

  • Bring CASH! Most sales don’t have credit card machines as they can be very expensive
  • Unless there are signs indicating that bargaining is ok, assume the marked price is what you’ll pay
  • Wear a bag or purse with a cross-body strap so your hands are free to rummage.
  • Some people can be really, really pushy. Thrifting is like that unfortunately. Just let them go and don’t push back. It’s not worth getting into a fight with people…there’s plenty of deals to be had.
  • The last day usually has markdowns. The sale I went to marked EVERYTHING down 50% on the last day. If there’s something that’s a little higher in price that you like, it might be wise to wait a bit…
  • …but on the same token, if it’s a busy sale, it might not be there when you go back. If you can’t live without it, snap it up. If you are on the fence, take a chance and check back towards the end of the sale.
  • Bring a big bag. Most sales don’t have carts or baskets, so bringing a big shopping bag, like the notorious big blue bags from Ikea to tote around your finds.
  • Some sales have fitting rooms, but often they don’t. If you want to try things on, I suggest wearing leggings and a tank top with a shirt or sweater over the tank so you can try things on over your pants/tank.
  • Take some time to chat with the people running the sales. They’ll often be great sources of information about when new merchandise will be placed on the floor, when markdowns are, and future sale dates.
  • Don’t be put off if you walk in and the sale looks pretty lame. It doesn’t hurt to take a look around. There might be a few hidden treasures among what seems to be a lot of junk.
  • Sometimes these sales are specifically just clothing, but are often general sales with household items, kids stuff, books, etc.
  • The final rule, which goes for all thrifting, is be patient. The things I bought above were side by side with some pretty ridiculous 80s sweaters, old-lady blazers, and so-not-my-style mom jeans. Plan on spending a while searching and you’ll most likely be rewarded.

xo Jaime