Oh, thrifting! The thrill, the excitement, the reward, the hunt for that perfect treasure.
Thrifting is close to my heart and a substantial part of my fashion. It all started back in college, out of necessity,(hello putting myself through school / poor college student life), but has since evolved into an essential part of achieving my unique everyday style. It has also equally fed my obsession with all things retro. Almost daily I get comments on my pin up / retro / 50’s vibe; thank you bettie bangs and cat eye everything.
While my love of thrifting did not start from a place of sustainability, it has evolved into one of the primary benefits and is a trend I am seeing embraced more and more. Regardless of the reason, thrifting, repurposing and reusing pieces is a huge step forward in our journey towards sustainable lifestyles and finding a new home for the surplus of clothing being purged each year.
Honesty corner: true thrifting is not always the quickest or prettiest process, but it is one of the most rewarding. For those of you not quite ready to spend a full Saturday throwing elbows and searching through hundreds (maybe thousands) of pieces, there are always additional options to get those killer vintage gems from curated vintage stores, like Etsy or Depop. If vintage is not your style, there are similarly endless options for second-hand pieces both online as well as locally.
If you are ready to thrift, here is the nitty-gritty outlined in my how-to-guide:
Clear your day; this ain’t no minute-to-win-it game. Sorry!
Identify what you are in search of / want to accomplish. There are resale shops of all different price points that offer newer fashion and a more organized selection or if you are a treasure hunter (like me) thrift stores can be fun.
Calibrate your mindset. Be ready to strike out; finding the perfect alignment of size, style and fit is unicorn territory when it comes to thrifting.
Map out your plan – and I mean physically. What location / stores / area can you hit while minimizing the amount of miles you have to drive. It is a density game.
Dress in comfortable clothing, wear a very small purse and make sure your biceps are ready. Please also remember your hand sanitizer and mask!
Side note: I do not like to use a cart because it is IMPOSSIBLE to fit down the aisles (especially when other people are present) but totally up to you.
6. Start the shopping extravaganza!
a. Look at what the special of the day is when you go in (or track sales in advance)
b. Tackle by section (pants, dresses, etc). Then if you have a specific color or pattern you like, zero in on that.
§ Pro tip: I scan very quickly for shapes / silhouettes, and colors / patterns I like. I look at as much detail as possible to not miss my favorite treasure, while at the same time moving quickly, otherwise you will be there for days. Find your balance!
c. Search for items one or two sizes up and one size down. You never know the gold you may find. I often buy small shirts and repurpose them as crop tops or similarly, turn oversized tops into dresses.
d. Try it on! And hope they have a dressing room, which is not always the case. Always come prepared with nice undergarments to facilitate public try on. You just never know how fit will be (especially with vintage) and often the return policy is naught. Plus, you may be surprised about what you love!
e. Resist the “it’s cheap, I might as well buy it” and instead focus on pieces you LOVE
f. Inspect the garment in detail (armpits, seams, buttons). Small updates may be manageable but ask yourself if you will actually make the improvements or if the item is going to just take up space in your closet.
g. Check out, celebrate, and note how achieved you feel for getting SO MANY AMAZING pieces for so few dollars, while also giving pieces another life that is not in the landfill.
So how does this all come together? What type of items can you actually find for a steal? Below are three looks I styled from recently thrifted pieces in my closet!
Vintage Alfred Dunner Blazer: $12 (thrift store)
Vintage Blouse: $8 (thrift store)
Secondhand jeans: $0 (from my sister, lol)
Vintage Cardigan: $28 (From BORO Resale)
Vintage Velvet Skirt: $10 (thrift store)
Leopard duster / dress: $8 (thrift store)
Not ready to enter into the world yet but in search of new pieces for when you are? Head on over to @shopjonnellebird on Instagram or find me on Depop to see the treasures I have for sale (+ adding new items weekly!)
Or maybe not sure where to start?
Below is a list of my favorite vintage and resale shops, I have visited, where you can get inspiration + get your fix now. This is definitely not all-inclusive to all the amazing spots in Metro Detroit, so if you have a favorite not on this list, drop it in the comments below!
Flamingo Vintage (Detroit)
Mama Coo’s (Detroit)
Eldorado General Store (Detroit)
Old Soul Vintage (Detroit)
Leah’s Closet (Royal Oak)
Lost & Found Vintage (Royal Oak)
The Get up Vintage (Ann Arbor)
Dear Golden (Ann Arbor)
Finders Keepers Vintage & Vinyl (Plymouth)
Resale / Upcycle:
Not Sorry Apparel (Detroit)
FOUND (Ann Arbor)
Regeneration (Multiple Locations, Metro Detroit)
St Vincent de Paul (Multiple Locations, Metro Detroit)
Value World (Multiple Locations, Metro Detroit)
Volunteers of America (Multiple Locations, Metro Detroit)
Goodwill (Multiple Locations, Metro Detroit)