Guestpost: Just Take A Bow

thrifted lace top, black pleated skirt
Hello readers of The Ginger Diaries! My name is Sarah and I’ll be taking care of you today–right, we aren’t at a restaurant. But, seriously, Nikki asked me to whip up a guest post for your entertainment while she is gallivanting around on holiday. And the topic we landed on? Thrifting.

If you read my blog then you already know that, at last count, my closet is about 70% thrifted. If you don’t read my blog, now you know, too. It has gotten to the point that I turn down thrift store items for being too expensive. I know. I’m ridiculous. I fell into the activity by accident (I can’t even remember how) and I can’t imagine my wardrobe without it, now.

If you aspire to be a cheap frugal as I am, then here are a few tips for how I tackle the activity of thrifting!

vintage red JC Penny cardigan

Picking Where to Go
No matter where you go to thrift, keep in mind that thrift stores run almost exclusively on donations and those donations tend to be from locals. So the Goodwill that is in the suburb of the ritzy town is going to have a different host of clothes than the one at the edge of low-cost living. Thrift stores are businesses, too, and will carry merchandise their customers want.

  • Goodwill: While I have scored some interesting things at Goodwill, I can honestly say that they are generally quite overpriced. I prefer to shop at thrift stores that go to charity organizations or are smaller-scale. I do like to check out the tag color that is 50% off and it never hurts to look–sometimes I am surprised what I think is fashionable and Goodwill stockers think is fugly.
  • Outlets/Warehouses: The Goodwill Outlet, however, is kind of one of my best friends. It is basically where unsold Goodwill retail items go to die or be sold for $1.49 BY THE POUND. If you live in the US/Canada you should go check if there’s one near you.
  • Charity Shops: By far my favorite places to shop, they are better priced, the staff are generally nicer, and you know the money is going somewhere deserving. Not only that, but the eclectic mixture of donated items is ALWAYS a blast to look through. Plus they tend to have killer sales!
  • Garage/Estate Sales: Some of the most unique, history-laden, awesome items I’ve come across have been from estate and garage sales.
  • Flea Markets, etc. I don’t know what other kind of sales and markets there are out there, but explore! I have often wandered through estate sales or flea markets and only end up snagging one necklace, but the adventure is worth it, too. Be open–you never know what you’ll find!

billowy top & cream vintage boots

How to Find the Treasure
For me, a perfect find is something unexpected that makes me look and feel great. Just like shopping at your favorite store, though, the hanger can be deceiving–give things a fighting chance.

  • Try Things On: I have almost put things back that I thought would be terrible on my body only to be shocked and awed by the perfection they are on my strange shape. You literally never known until you give it a chance. So dooo iiit.
  •  pastel polka dot dress & perfect little black dress

  • Search Everywhere: Some people only go to one section (ex. Womens’ Medium) or are drawn to one color. I literally scour as much as I have time to from childrens’ to mens’ and from the smallest I could possibly wear on up two sizes or more past mine. Nothing is 100% hung in order and you are thrifting so sizes are not like at the department store. You never know what will fit!
  •  mens’ plaid shirt & plus-size sweater

  • Too Big Isn’t Always Bad: Ask Lea, I generally will ponder things are are obviously not my size because there is absolutely a kind of too big that is the “right kind” of too big. Some of ’em have shown up on my blog.
  •  navy and white striped sweater & gorgeous coral shirt

  • Once Isn’t Enough: Your first trip is not guaranteed to be a winner, so don’t give up after the first time. Give yourself at least three trips and not all to the same place. I swear there is a way to be successful, and it is called luck.

Deciding What Comes Home

  • Does Your Closet Need It? I don’t care how awesome those $1 pants are–if they are almost the same as three pair you already own, you either have to get rid of the ones you have or let the others go. Cluttering your closet isn’t the goal! But if the item is unique or significantly different, I say go for it!
  •  Leopard midi & green embellished waist midi

  • Cheap Doesn’t Mean Buy: Yes, you can probably get eleven items for the price of one jacket at the regular store, but do you NEED those eleven items? Most likely the answer is no. I am incredibly picky when I buy clothes and at this point I only buy things I know will be loved. I occasionally make a mistake and am lured in by something I like at the store and hate at home, but that’s much easier to stomach at $2 a mistake.

    Cheap IS, however, a good excuse to grab that pink JCrew tee you aren’t sure if you’ll wear because it is literally going to cost you a quarter. The photos below this tip are all items I wasn’t sure about and now can’t live without.

  •  silk shirt/cardigan & JCrew tee/Gap cardigan

  • Will You REALLY Alter It? I sometimes buy things that need a little love, but I will have NO MORE THAN five small project items at a time. Until I actually do the work on the previous ones, I do not allow myself to buy more. If I don’t get to the project, the item is useless and I threw that money away. Be realistic with yourself.
  •  Safety-pin embellished blazer & yellow stripe grandma pants

  • Creativity > Trendiness: The thing about most thrift stores (minus Goodwill) is that the majority of the clothes you are about to encounter are not the clothes that are going to grace the pages of your favorite magazine. I love this because it forces you to be the master of your style and create it by finding what feel like one-of-a-kind pieces that capture the look you want.

    So who cares if that jacket you just found is WAY too biker chic and you’re way more into the girly, 70s flower child look? If you love the piece there’s a way to make it work and it belongs in your wardrobe, ya dig?

Beyond the Thrift Shops
Now you’re really thrifty and those skills for singling out a bargain can serve you well ANYWHERE. Because you have an eye for textures, colors, and patterns that catch your attention and you are no longer willing to pay ridiculous prices for things you can get cheaper (and better) elsewhere! I have recently scored some killer deals on jewelry at Claire’s–below is a necklace I got for $3.

Psst–this dress was also thrifted.

The most important thing, really, is that you believe your money is being used to get things of value. I am constantly amazed that I can snag genuine silk or hearty cotton vintage clothes for a fraction of the cost that a thin, synthetic fiber would be at Forever 21 or H&M. Am I saying don’t shop there? Heavens, no. But do realize that it is true: things used to be made to last.

Sometimes that Target dress feels like the right price at $24.99 but more and more I have found myself imagining the 10+ things I could be getting instead and it requires that I freaking love the dress before I drop twenty-five big ones on it. Maybe you’ll come to see what I mean. Whether you do or not, though, everyone’s wardrobe can use that one little thrifted treasure.

Thanks for reading, guys!


  1. 31 August 2011 / 15:04

    These are some great tips! Our local goodwills have a 'color of the week' and all the clothes with that color tag are 1$. All our local charity stores have deals of the week too, like 'Any thing with an animal on it is half off'. It's worth it to pay attention to the sales.

  2. 31 August 2011 / 15:23

    So awesome to see this up, even if the spacing got super weird… haha. Hope you're enjoying your trip and thanks for asking me to post!

  3. 31 August 2011 / 15:33

    Great post! Lots of useful tips 🙂

  4. 31 August 2011 / 16:27

    love the post!
    thx for share


  5. 31 August 2011 / 18:31

    You really have a great sense of style 😀 !

  6. 31 August 2011 / 19:02

    Awesome guest post Sarah 😉 Great tips!

  7. 31 August 2011 / 19:09

    This is such a great and informative post! I love your blog Sarah- you always have such stylish and unique looks! You're so creative! 🙂

  8. 31 August 2011 / 19:20

    Love this post! Thanks for the thrifting tips, I'm not very experieced, but once my shopping ban is over, I will put them to good use!

  9. 31 August 2011 / 20:55

    Love your very top outfit. My favorite thrift store finds are high waisted skirts and tanks just like that!!!

  10. 31 August 2011 / 22:29

    Wow, these tips are amazing and really helpful because I do try to shop at thrift stores when I can. That is so cool that almost 70% of your wardrobe is thrifted, no wonder you have so many amazing unique clothes. I like all your pics, that pleated skirts is SO cute.

    Thanks for stoppin by 🙂

  11. 31 August 2011 / 22:59

    Hi there.)

    Oh, you ve got such a cute blog!! I love it!
    Nice post.))

    I need your help (maybe again) …
    I spend new survey ..
    Have you watched the MTV awards prizes?
    if yes whether you agree with all the awards, or something you think was unfair?

  12. 1 September 2011 / 02:25

    Great tips Sarah, and I love that so much of your wardrobe is thrifted -you always look fantastic!! Thanks for this great feature Nikki, and great job ladies. xo veronika

  13. 1 September 2011 / 09:58

    I like most of the looks! Very nice! The dot dress is charming.

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