how to master thrift shopping & stay cool

how to master thrift shopping & stay cool

I always think of vintage and secondhand shopping as treasure hunting: it takes time and energy, it can get overwhelming, you can end up digging out some garbage or leave with nothing because you were looking in the wrong place, but if you do find your treasure you will be generously rewarded. This definitely brings new shopping excitement that is gradually getting replaced by efficiency and easiness of shopping online which allows you to search items by size, trend, colour, style and whatever other parameter is necessary. And don’t get me wrong – online shopping can be also pretty challenging and overwhelming with the amount of choices we get, but it certainly lacks the charm of vintage shopping. 

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Whenever I stop by a store with pre-loved items, I can totally get lost and disappear there for hours – and sometimes the result is oh so worth it!

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So, why do I love so much about vintage and secondhand when there are so many other alternatives for shopping? Let’s dig into it:

Quality & price: if you look hard enough you can find some really nice natural materials like linen, silk, real leather, suede – and for a fraction of the price at a regular store or online.

It’s unique: Even though the pieces from a vintage shop are not unique by their nature – you can obviously find similar items and maybe even same items – the chances are you will not be twinning with a colleague/ friend/ random stranger on the street.

Fashion with history: Another fun part of buying pre-loved clothes is that they have their own history. I like imagining who could have owned a certain item before and how it ended up in a store – makes it quite special to become a new owner 🙂

Brands: You may get lucky and get some branded clothes in those shops as well. If you are extremely lucky, you can get some real gems: Burberry trench coat is one of those.

It challenges your imagination and creativity: It requires some creativity to style pre-loved items  in modern looks (if that’s what you’re after). And it’s super rewarding.

Trends: Fashion repeats itself. It won’t be a surprise for you if I say that many new things are well forgotten old ones. Use this knowledge & abuse it! Vintage shops will help you find not only timeless classics but also modern trends’ predecessors.

Sustainability: By buying secondhand you can make your small contribution to the environment. I know it’s baby steps, but eventually they will have impact.

Fun: I just love the atmosphere in the thrift shops and take every secondhand shopping as a fashion adventure.  

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“So, what is the trick?” – you may ask. If vintage stores are so so amazing why doesn’t everyone just shop there? As everywhere else there are downsides: it takes energy and time, you may end up buying a lot of unnecessary junk that seemed like a good idea at the time, there’s a risk to get a too old-fashioned (not a bad thing, but not for everyone as well)… Or some people just don’t like the idea of wearing clothes that were worn by someone else before. Moral of the story: thrift shopping is not for all – and really nothing personal here! 

If you do want to give it a crack, I’m happy to share some of my tips and tricks.

Not all vintage & secondhand shops are equally good. This is something that you’ll have to find out through trial and error (or skipping trial and error by reading online reviews). 

Pre-visualise what you would like to find there. This is a rule applicable to any type of shopping: decide what you actually need/ want to buy. This will always help you to not get too overwhelmed by the amount of clothes and not to get completely lost. Think of: type of clothing, style, colour, material.

Think of current trends. This will guide you through the shelves and railings of things and allow you to pick the items that are fashionable today. Think of: floral wrap dresses, sailor caps, boucle blazers, polka dot anything, kimonos, and many many more.

Forget about trends – look for classics. It’s always a good idea to check out if the shop has some of timeless classics: LBD, trench coat, structured bags, vintage Levi’s, etc. You may be pleasantly surprised what you are able to find.

Choose natural materials over synthetics. This is one of must-do’s while secondhand shopping. That floral shirt may be super cute, but if it’s full on polyester – you take your own risk here.

Check the stitching and overall quality. A no-brainer: you don’t want to buy something that has holes or will fall apart after one day. End of story.

Take a friend with you. Treat vintage shopping as an adventure and take your friend on it. If neither of you buys anything in the end, you can always go for a coffee & a cake afterwards. 

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All the photos are taken at Penny Lane Vintage in Amsterdam – if you happen to be here, I highly recommend to check it out! This place is definitely one of my personal favourites with an amazing clothes selection, cool interior and great atmosphere. 

Address: 11C Eerste van der Helststraat, Amsterdam

vintage, shopping, retro, store, thrift shopping, Amsterdam