Friday, March 6, 2015

My Top 4 Things to Buy At Thrift Stores

Over the past few years, I have had a change of heart concerning thrift stores.

Previously, walking into a second-hand shop made me grimace. Racks and racks of seen-better-days clothing, aisles of ripped up and possibly flea infested furniture, and shelves of chipped and dirty home wares. Add to that, the good ol' "thrift store smell" -- if you've ever been in one, you know what I'm talking about. It's that general aroma of "used," basically.

But like I said, my whole attitude towards these stores has completely changed.

It started when I found out that one of the thrift stores in my area sold fabric -- for insanely cheap prices. I've said this before, but it's worth saying again: I got the fabric for my Tauriel costume from a thrift store, saving me a fair amount of time and money.

From the opportunity to get inexpensive fabric, my interest in thrift stores only grew...

So, here's my top 4 things to buy at thrift stores!

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1) Formal Dresses

This is one of my favorites. I mean really, who doesn't love getting gorgeous new dresses?? And if you're anything like me, you can't afford the $200-plus formals that you see in most stores.

The dress to the right I bought for $12, and it's in almost new condition, except for some wear on the inside of the bodice (which no one will see anyway). This dress would have been at least $100 new. And as you can see, it is gorgeous.

Another find was a like-new bridesmaid dress (which, with a little dressing up, works for any formal occasion) that fits me like a glove -- for $1. I'm not joking. Our local Goodwill has a sale every Sunday: all clothing marked with a certain color is a buck. Check your Goodwill to see if they do this promotion as well!

2) Jackets

I, personally, adore jackets. I think I've got at least 10, and they're one of my favorite fashion pieces. My two favorites? Both from the thrift. I scored one just the other day that looked brand new, fit me perfectly, and was only five bucks: a black leather motorcycle jacket that screamed "epic."

Another favorite of my jacket collection was a nicely used brown leather button up. I think it might have originally been intended as a shirt, but no one wears leather shirts so that was kind of confusing. However, with some alterations (two quick seams down the sides and arms), it was a daring fashion statement that I've worn countless times -- even for a causal Black Widow cosplay I created for the premiere of Captain America: The Winter Soldier!

3) Fabric

I don't know about you, but my wallet is much too small for my fabric obsession. So, I have to utilize cheap ways to satisfy my fabric cravings, my favorite of which is thrift store fabric!

Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love going to Joann's armed with my 50% off coupons -- but did I mention I got the fabric for Tauriel's dress there (3 yards of 52" wide for $3) and the fabric I'm making Captain America's costume out of (3+ yards of 60" for $3)? Yes, I did. Really no store can beat that price. Also: thrift stores are my #1 tip for cosplaying on a budget. ;)

And don't forget: sheets, blankets, and huge dresses offer loads of fabric as well. Don't limit yourself to just the by-the-yard stuff!

4) Shoes

Now, keep in mind I'm not talking sneakers or flip flops. Unless they've got the tag still on them, those probably aren't the best idea to buy from thrift stores. For obvious foot-related reasons. ;)

However... sometimes you'll find a diamond in the rough. Brand new shoes, like new, and brand name shoes are good to look out for.

I found these Nine West beauties at my local Goodwill for $3.50. They immediately caught my eye because of how unique they are. And my older sister and I kept saying how "medieval princess" they look (and you know how obsessed I am with princesses ;)).
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And that's that! Let me know in the comments what your favorite things to shop for at thrift stores are, and what your favorite thrift-store find was! :)

P.S. This post is my 100th on The Adventures of An Elven Princess!!! 100 more, coming up. ;)


  1. Ah, another great post! Congrats on reaching one hundred!
    Thrift stores are so handy, aren't they? - Well, some more than others, obviously... I've been in a few chaotic wrecks in the guise of thrift stores, but have had more productive and enjoyable experiences at the better ones.

    Formal dresses have been among my favorite thrift store purchases as well. Never for quite as good a bargain as a mere dollar, but still, getting a once-or-twice-worn bridesmaids' dress for ten percent of its original price is pretty nice!
    That white dress looks stunning on you... or rather you look stunning in it... both, actually. :)

    On a separate yet related topic, have you any liking for antique malls? There's usually a lot to sort through (especially if one is hoping to find something in particular), and the prices can be crazily expensive, but I enjoy the experience of going through the place just looking at things all the same - especially perusing the wonderful old books. :)

  2. Very nicely written post, Bethie! I'm glad that you have had a change of heart regarding thrift stores--they're pretty great ;)

  3. Aww congrats on one hundred posts!

    Also, I had no idea they sold fabric at thrift stores. I had never thought to check for that. Ive been dying to cosplay my whole life but Im not creative really and Im broke. but I should check out my thrift store and get my friend to help me sew.

    Plus, I adore that formal dress. its stunning!

    I need to go to Goodwill because I hear its amazing, but the closest one is like twenty minutes away from me. but I do have one thrift store by me that I was actually at yesterday. I got A Walk To Remember and The Breakfast Club on VHS. I was a pretty happy kid yesterday. lol.

  4. I love thrift stores! My top things to buy are books and movies, though:D