Oct 19th, 2016, 12:01 PM

Thrifting for Treasure

By Aalyiah Heath
Image Credit: View Apart, Shutterstock
Best thrift strategies from a true thrift-a-holic

Hi. My name is Aalyiah and I am a  thrift-a-holic; But I wasn't always this way.

Growing up I was always late on trends, not because I did not want the latest clothes, but because I could not afford them. All of my friends had the new Jordan sneakers or designer clothes and bags, even though we wore strict school uniforms. Meanwhile, I was always outdated. I was never keen on fitting in anyway, but I also did not want my appearance to reflect my financial predicament. Yet, my financial barrier enabled my creative side. I began utilizing my outdated clothes and transformed them into real fashion.

One glorious afternoon I went to the Goodwill with my grandmother. As I entered the store the first thing I noticed was the smell. It was a mixture of dust and mothballs. With each step I took came a sneeze. I could not grasp what was causing me to react like this. I became so overwhelmed with the smell, and the clutter, I immediately searched for a chair so I could sit as I waited for my grandmother. As I looked around, I noticed a denim shirt that I had been dreaming about but could not afford at the time. The shirt was brand new and only $3! At that magic moment, I became addicted to the art of thrifting.

Image Credit: Fashion of Goodwill

Over time, I began to evolve as a thrifter. Yes, thrift can be an adjective, or verbit depends on the context. I transitioned from the Goodwill to conventional thrift shops. They fascinated me because the range of people varied from young and edgy to seasoned and stylish. I learned how to maneuver around in these thrift stores. There were guidelines I created because thrifting became a journey that could either be a fabulous adventure or a miserable disaster. 

Image Credit: View Apart, Shutterstock

Every time I walk into a Thrift store I pack my patience in my purse. Patience is so vital for a thrift trip because rushing through will only make you irritated, and you will have no luck finding hidden treasure. Thrift stores are arranged in organized chaos. Thrifters have to go through everything just to find a piece. If you really want to have a successful trip you have to plan out an entire day. When your arms began to get tired because you looked through each rack and legs began to get weak, just remember it is all part of the art of thrifting.

One thing that a devoted thrifter considers while shopping is style and price. Style and price are a package deal, you cannot have one without the other. If you find a piece you have to ask yourself: Do I love it? It is not just about the way it looks but the cost. Some thrift shops will have colorful tags which indicate the deal of the day. Take advantage of those bright labels because they mark the jackpot!

Image Credit: Diana Indiana, Shutterstock

I remember purchasing floods (high water) jeans, but I knew I could modify them. Which goes into the rule of metamorphosis. As an advid thrifter, you have to see potential in the mystery. I was able to cut those undesirable jeans into shorts and they became my most prized possession. People were so fascinated by them asking, "where did I buy them from?" I answered with a smirk of accomplishment and told them about my life as a thrifter.

I knew at that moment I could utilize my imagination to elevate my shopping experience. I transformed a large blouse into a dress, painted on a plain denim jacket and so many other ideas all because I knew how to make innovation my friend in fashion, or shall I say thrifting! I developed an appreciation for the process of mixing and matching. I keep a visual of my closet in my head whenever I thrift. This allows me to see how the clothes I discover will complement my existing attire. While thrifting, never look for an entire outfit but for stand out pieces.

Image Credit: Cozy Home, Shutterstock

My most recent thrift excursion happened before I went back to the U.S. for a week from Paris. My friends thought I looked so "Parisian" because I had on expensive designer clothing. However, everything I wore was found in the clutter of a thrift shop. That proved that it's not about how outrageous the price is but all about how you rock it! Thrifting may not be a part of fashion snobbism but it is now creating its own identity. A great shopping experience is purchasing more than one item for less than $20. One persons trash is one thrifters treasure!