As I really started learning more about menswear, I got exposed to the world of thrifting and quite frankly it is now one of my favorite things to do.
Dramatic as it sounds, like a predator stalking it's prey, I enjoy the hunt. It also helps greatly that the cliche of "they don't make 'em like they used to" tends to stand true when it comes to the quality of the pieces that one can find while thrifting or at second hand stores. You don't always score a home run, so you have to be patient and willing to go back quite frequently as these stores tend to get new stock all the time.
Another cliche that I've found stands true is "you snooze, you lose." Meaning, if you see it and you want it? Buy it! The nature of thrifting means that there is usually just one of each item and if you leave it, odds are, it won't be there when you go back. Especially if its a brand new item that somehow made its way to the store (bitter smile.) I try to make sure I don't fall into the trap of looking for perfection. Afterall, it's a thrift store with pre-owned items, so if it can be tailored, cleaned etc at a reasonable cost, I go for it.
Thrifted: Corduroy Jacket.
One of my favorite thrift store finds thus far. I came across this double breasted corduroy jacket for $10 and walked away from it the first time I saw it because I felt it needed too much work. The wooden buttons were dangling off, there was a stain on the bottom of it and the lining was ripped. Then I walked back to it, tried it on and was sold. Buttons replaced, lining fixed, jacket cleaned and I was in business.
Rule of Thumb - Thrifting Basics
* Get hands on with it. When I find something I'm interested in, I feel it up. Literally. I check out the fabric to see how solid it is and what it's made of. I'm also looking for hole, rips or anything that could make it more hassle than its worth. Afterall you don't want to spend $25 on an item and then have to spend $125 to make it wearable. Sort of defeats the point, you know?
* If the piece has any hardware such as buckles on shoes or zippers etc, try them to make sure they work properly so you don't get stuck with something that falls apart on you. If the zipper jams, leave it where it is on the rack or at least know that you're going to need to replace that.
* Look for any labels or tags identifying the manufacturer. While I firmly believe that style isn't dictated by brand name labels, the name behind an item can be an indicator what kind of quality it's made with. I use my phone to quickly run a Google search on any names I come across that I don't recognize. Of course this can be time consuming and just because something isn't name brand doesn't mean its not good quality but it helps me have a better idea of what I'm getting into.
* Since you'll need to take it to a tailor anyway, you might as well as give it a go. Even if while looking something over, it looks like it may be too big or does not have a size tag, try it on. I've found that there are so many inconsistencies in how menswear has been sized over the years, that the size on the label may not mean anything.
* Finally, don't take it too seriously. You can't go out expecting to hit the proverbial lottery everytime. If it doesn't feel right, then leave it alone. As stated earlier, thrift stores get new stuff in non-stop, so no point in wasting your money on something you'll end up donating right back even if its just ten bucks. Trust me on this one. Happy Hunting!
Thrifted: A. Testoni Begian Loafers
Had my eyes on some Belgians like these for quite some time and kept hitting up the Belgian Shoe website. I figured I would have to suck it up at some point and pop for them. Until e-Bay came through for the kid. Would have been able to snatch em for $49.99 until some vulture came in at the literal last minute and drove them up to $63. But with free shipping, I can't be too mad.
Thrifted: Gant Camel Hair Jacket
The Thrift: 100% Camel Hair by Gant - $3. Even though its almost as old as I am, this jacket is a testament to how timeless certain pieces can be. The production quality and care is really obvious in that despite it’s age, there are no stains or rips.
I really dig when I find an item that has some sort of extra to it that makes it more interesting to me. In this case, in the front pocket of the jacket, I found the original hang tag from Famous Barr and an alterations receipt from 1986.
Thrifted: Brooks Brothers BrooksFlannel Shirt
Picked up this brand new Brooks Brothers BrooksFlannel shirt at one of my local Goodwill stores for $3.
Thrifted: Fly & Skeleton Key Lapel Pins
Being a fan of vintage style, when gentlemen wore flowers in their lapels, I really dig the variety of felt, crochet, paper etc. lapel flowers now available. Even better to me are vintage lapel pins such as this fly and skeleton key that allow me to express my personality and mood even better. They also serve as great conversation starters. Picked up both of these for a song.