11 Thrift Shopping Tips to Find the Perfect Piece

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MAY, 2016

We all know that second-hand shops are great for the environment (and your wallet), but sometimes finding gems you love in a sea of sequins and shoulder pads can be daunting. To give us some clarity, we interviewed Michelle from Chic Mamas Do Care about her top thrift shopping tips!

1. Know your body shape

Michelle’s first tip: know what looks good on your body shape before you even head out to the store. That way you know what to look for.

2. Know your labels

If you know the label of an item, you’ll have a better idea of its quality and value. Even if you don’t recognize the label off the top of your head, google it and you should get an idea pretty quickly.

3. Pay attention to what the “Made in…”-label says

Clothes made in the USA, Japan, France, Germany, and Italy will generally be of much better quality than those made in places like China.

4. Read the inside labels

Sometimes it can be hard to figure out what’s an item’s material whilst thrift shopping until after you’ve bought it and it begins to fall apart. Always read the inside labels to make sure the item you’re buying is the quality you want.

5. Examine the tailoring and details

Manufacturers won’t waste money on high-quality tailoring unless it’s decorating high-quality material. Even looking at details like whether the inside label is woven or not can give you an idea of the effort that went into making something. (Added bonus: well-tailored seams make an item easier to alter later, meaning it will last longer.)

6. Take big brand items into consideration

Michelle likes to remind people that just because something comes from a big chain store doesn’t mean it’s low-quality. Always take time to inspect the tailoring and fabric before making a decision about it.

7. Make sure your whites are crisp

Be careful when buying white items, and don’t expect to be able to get rid of stains and discoloration.

8. Don’t buy something that can only be dry cleaned

Other than just in general being a hassle, dry cleaning uses a lot of chemicals and isn’t environmentally friendly.

9. Look for classics

“There are two branches,” when thrift shopping, says Michelle “one is your classical items, which you usually pay a little bit more for, and the others are trend related.”

10. Find some fashion items

While classical items are the basics that you’ll still be able to wear 10 years from now, fashion items are those trends that are in for next season and probably not much longer, so quality isn’t as important.

11. Try it on

What was an 8 twenty years ago is probably not an 8 by today’s standards. Looking at the size number won’t tell you anything, so your best bet is to try everything on to make sure you look fab.

Thanks, Michelle for the wonderful tips! If you live in Cape Town, be sure to check out Chic Mamas Do Care for your next thrift shopping tour!

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For this year’s Women’s Day in South Africa, we want to introduce a woman in sustainability who inspires us daily. After earning a Master’s degree in Development Studies, she joined Greenpop in 2014. When she is not heading up programmes across Sub-Saharan Africa, you can find her spending time with her family, tending to her garden, practising Italian, and searching for the best pizza in the Mother City. Get to know Zoë Gauld-Angelucci!

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World Environment Day is organized by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and has been held annually since 1974. The goal of the day of action is to promote environmental awareness and draw attention to crucial concerns around our planet’s survival, that require active engagement and commitment. Today, the day represents one of the largest global platforms for environmental action, with millions of participants from around the world. Each World Environment Day focuses on a specific issue that reflects urgent problems and challenges of our time, such as climate change, biodiversity loss or pollution.

Greenpop Foundation NPC is a registered non-profit organisation. Registration Number (NPO): 151-411 NPO.

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