When I first started reading style blogs I noticed that some of the best outfits had thrifted or secondhand clothes but I was too terrified to go into secondhand shops on my own. It wasn't until I started university and me and my friends wanted to find some cheap costumes for Halloween that we ventured into all the nearby thrift stores that we could find. In one I found the perfect pirate coat and went as Captain Hook. Ever since then I've been returning regularly.
2) What items do you advise to always thrift (as opposed to buy new)?
The most obvious is statement pieces. Big trends come and go very quickly and there's no knowing how long they'll last. If you thrift the trend (or DIY it) then you're less likely to feel guilty about having spent a lot of money on a statement piece that was only fashionable for a season.
Another item, and this is going to sound odd, is tights. The thrift stores I go to sort though all their items to remove anything old, torn or soiled (even if it smells a little they don't sell it) so their hosiery and underwear are all new or in perfect condition. Often it's brands of a higher quality than I would buy new. For example, I recently bought some children's tights, brand new in their original packaging, with an original price of £26 for only £1. A word of warning though, not all thrift stores are this picky and always examine, test and smell pieces before buying to avoid disappointment.
3) You work at a thrift store--how does it work? Any insider tips?
Thrift stores get a LOT of donations (seriously, mountains of the stuff) but not all of it is fit for sale, so we sort through it all to make sure the stuff on sale doesn't smell, isn't stained or torn and is actually wearable. The stuff that doesn't make it to the shop floor is recycled, it can end up in other shops or end up overseas but only the worst of the worst end up in textile recycling.
The best tip is to make friends with someone that works at your favourite thrift store, or volunteer there yourself! Make a friend who knows your style and they'll be able to hold items for you in the back room so that you get to look over them before they go on sale.
4) What is your favorite "DIY" project you've tried?
My favourite project in terms of the result is the simple adjusting of a dress. It's amazing how quickly a frumpy 80's dress can become cute and chic just by taking off or adjusting the sleeves and bringing up the hem. Other small adjustments such as adding lace or studs adds an air of intrigue to an otherwise boring item.
The most enjoyable project to do is to cover things in glitter. The results can be a little fragile but getting glitter everywhere is priceless.
5) What is something a first-time thrifter should avoid?
Going in to a thrift store with a defined agenda. Keep your mind open, you might not find that sequined maxi dress but you might find something else amazing. Also, if you don't find what it is you want, don't give up! Keep going back regularly and you're more likely to find everything (and more than) you need.