By Vicki Alexopoulos
Toronto is a booming mecca of fashion and style, ranging from small, high-end boutique shops to big name brands fighting to secure shops all across the city. On our streets, personal style is diverse, and paints our city like moving street art. One characteristic of many of these Torontonian fashionistas is their ability to thrift shop; i.e., look between the boutiques and name brand stores, and find the second hand stores/venders that normally do not get a second glance. Not only do thrift shoppers find the best deals on trendy items, but they add personality and depth to their wardrobes in innovative and exciting ways.
Perhaps made famous in the past few months from the music duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis in their single "Thrift Shop", thrift shopping has become more popular due to its incorporation into mainstream fashion society. For all you first-time thrift shoppers who cringe at the idea, let me be clear: it can be scary, overwhelming and time consuming, but it is so worth it, and there's so much more than mere junk in the offing. Finding statement necklaces that normally would break the bank, making jean shorts out of 5 dollar high-wasted jeans, snagging a chic wide brimmed hat, or even finding a neon orange desk perfect for that empty space in your front hallway, thrift shops (and yes, this includes garage sales!) are a shopacholic-with-a-tight-budget's dream.
Here are some important tips for first-time thrift shoppers:
1. Be open to fixer-uppers. These pieces have been worn before, and that may mean they need a little TLC. It's not junk! Careful cleaning, polishing and stitching may be the bridge between you and a perfectly original new piece!
2. Be prepared to spend some time in the store. Thrift shopping usually requires shifting through lots of stuff, so bring a friend to catch up with and have fun.
3. Look for insect damage (holes), odor, stains, loose threads or tears, and bring up any concerns to the store clerks or seller.
4. Know your budget, and the store. Some "vintage" shops will charge a small fortune for their items because they are "unique", and could be considered a "collectible". On the other hand, thrift shops and garage sales differ because their items have not come from any notable eras/brands/owners etc.
5. Research where to shop. Some may mix a lot of garbage in with the gems, but there are many great stores in Toronto just waiting to be found!
Not only does thrift shopping save you money, but it recycles clothing that would have normally filled garbage sites, or laid dusty in the depths of someone else's basement. At the end of the day, you have done your own "dirty" work, and turned someone else's trash into your new treasure!
Enjoy, Junk Lovers!