Archive for the ‘Thrift Shopping & Thrift Scores’ Category

Perfect timing (and thrift store mojo)

Sunday, July 11th, 2004

Last week I was complaining to Karsten about being bored with my work wardrobe. Not only bored, but I can’t help noticing that there are interns at my company that are wearing more stylish and interesting work clothes than what I’m making do with. I lamented that it may be time to make the switch from my entirely-thrift-store-bought wardrobe to one where I start buying one good piece at a time and build a real professional wardrobe.

So, with a heavy heart, on Friday I started doing a little research. I checked some of the big retailers online, like,,, and so on. Mind you, I’ve only paid retail prices for, oh, about two garments ever in my life. So I was getting pretty depressed at the prices and what it would mean for my budget if I were to start having to pay a lot of money for each piece. We’re talking pants — on clearance, mind you — for between $40 and $80.

I also took a lunchtime run by a few of the more trendy independent stores in town. I liked some of what they had, but I was very unimpressed with the prices. Even on the clearance rack, we’re still talking about $30 to $50 for a pair of pants.

Then on my way home Friday evening, I stopped in at Goodwill. I don’t know what made me think it would be worthwhile on a Friday at 7:00 PM to bother with a thrift store (my usual approach is not to bother with thrift stores past mid-morning because most of the stylish stuff has usually been cleared out by resellers and other savvy shoppers), but the car just sort of steered itself.

I found five pairs of stylish, professional pants and a perfect blue-gray knee-length Banana Republic skirt that’s destined to become one of my favorite pieces, as well as a very cute knee-length denim skirt (with that sandblast wash with the sort of thin stripey look that’s been so hot for the past year or two) for evenings and weekends which is already one of my favorite pieces and I haven’t even worn it out yet — all for under $30 total.

But far more importantly, I found out that they were having a 50% off of everything sale the next day, and opening at 7:00 AM for the occasion.

So Karsten and I got there yesterday morning right at 7, and we were there until after 10, hunting, trying on clothes, hunting, trying on clothes. And I got 62 articles of name-brand (Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, Benetton, Express, Gap, Limited, etc), stylish clothing, most of them appropriate for work, plus a hip Hawaiian-style shirt for Karsten, plus some children’s books (he uses them for art projects), plus a new Ralph Lauren 100% cotton sheet for our non-bed, for just under $150.

Let’s do the math real quick, shall we? A work wardrobe of five pairs of work-appropriate pants, a skirt, and, let’s just call it 40 shirts and sweaters and such. (Not all of the 62 items were work-appropriate, but definitely more than half were.) Even if I were buying these on deep, deep clearance, and the pants and skirt were, let’s say $15 each and the tops were, let’s say $10 each, that still adds up to $490. And my grand total of $180 for both shopping trips was well under half of that. Whee!

Anyway, I spent the next few hours at home trying things on again, looking for outfits in what I bought and what I already own (there were lots!), and then clearing out the less interesting pieces from my closet.

Now I just have to get to the laundromat and dry cleaner (only three of my new pieces are dry-clean only — I made an effort to avoid those except where it seemed really worth it) and then reorganize my closet.

Oh, and Goodwill is having another one of these big sales next month. :-)