In terms of 90s floral, 70s trends, and even neon, few things beat waltzing into a Salvation Army and finding the perfect answer to the season’s it-list. However, while we’d like to declare thrift stores as the be-all-and-end-all of second-hand fashion, there are certain pieces it’s wise to invest in. And while you may want an outfit with stories and character, we encourage you to go vintage over thrifted when it comes to these items.
Once in a blue moon, you may be able to take to your Value Village and come out with the perfect piece of 60s couture, but for the most part, the cré¨me de la cré¨me of a long ago time will not find themselves in your average department thrift store. When it comes to the wardrobe of Betty Draper (or more realistically, your young grandmother), you’ll want to head to a vintage boutique, which, yes, will be more expensive, but will offer clean pieces in good condition that you can wear confidently.
If you’ve found a designer handbag or set of shoes among the treasures at your favourite thrift store, pat yourself on the back and offer up a congratulations. Since consignment shops often offer monetary exchange for priority items, most people won’t abandon their worthy goods at any old drop-box, but will opt to earn money for the items they loved. Also, most vintage boutiques will confirm a designer’s legitimacy before pricing it accordingly, while knock-offs are plentiful at cheap stores with high volume. (Though of course there are always exceptions, and if you see one, pick it up!)
Not to slam thrift stores (because let’s be serious, this writer’s wardrobe is courtesy of one), but hats are among the pieces you should probably avoid, since for sanitary purposes, you can’t always be sure about what’s been on somebody’s head (or whose). And while boutiques can’t make any guarantees, for the most part, they’re a relatively surefire place to pick up a vintage hat that’s free of sweat-stains and god-knows-what-else “ just make sure to get some bang for your buck.
When it comes to the likes of boas, leather, and even fur (though this writer doesn’t condone the wearing of it), you’ll have more luck finding quality pieces at a thrift boutique “ especially since they haven’t been thrown into a box and tossed outside for pick-up. The same rules apply to jewelry: unless you want your finger to turn green or to endure a reaction to nickel, you’ll want to ensure that items are in fact gold or sterling as opposed to shelling out two dollars and hoping for the best.