Monday, March 11, 2013

What to Look for While Thrifting

I recently took my intern Darby on her first buying trip.  She was pretty excited to go, and I was pretty excited to see what she had learned from her few months of working at the shop.

Before we started, I gave her a quick run-down on what to look for when quickly going through the racks at the shop:

-Look for decorative tags with fancy writing or pictures on them.
-"Made in USA" proudly displayed on a tag generally indicates it is from the 1980s.
-Check for union labels.

-Does the garment have a metal zipper?  Metal zippers commonly indicate the garment are from the 60s or before.
-How are the seams finished?  Are they surged or left unfinished.  Unfinished generally indicates an older or handmade garment.
-What does the hem look like?  Does it have a facing or is hand finished?

-Polyester indicates from the 70s on up.
-If the garment has a weird material composition, such as a synthetic material you've never heard of, it's probably from the 70s.
-Is there no material tag at all?  That might be an indication of the garment being older or handmade.

-Full skirt dresses could be from the 50s.
-Mod or a-line shaped, knee-length dress could be from the 60s.
-Long, polyester dresses could be from the 70s.
-Shoulder pads and puff sleeves can be from the 80s.

-No matter what era an item is, if it's stained or ripped, it's worthless.
-Look for snags and tears.  Determine if they can be fixed or not.
-If there are stains, do you think they can be easily removed?
-Polyester is usually quite easy to get old stains out of.  Cotton and silk are more difficult.

Darby did a great job with the general guidelines above, but, obviously, these are just guidelines and there are always exceptions to the rules.  However, if you're trying to quickly go through the racks and pull things, these are great guidelines to follow that will help you get a cartful of things before you leave the shop!

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