I Bought My Clothes for BlogHer '11 at Goodwill

6 years ago

I have done almost all my BlogHer '11 shopping this year at Goodwill. And no, I'm not making that up.

I don't typically just go trolling thrift stores. It's been a recent development since I discovered that different parts of town have different kinds of charity stores. The Goodwill in Midtown Kansas City was terrible. It smelled bad, the clothes were stained, no way was I ever going to shop there. But the suburban Goodwill, especially the one over by the lakefront properties, now we're talking.

Rita's Tips for Finding Good Stuff at Goodwill

  • Drive to wherever rich people live and go to the Goodwill closest to their neighborhoods. Every city has rich people. If you live in a small town, you might have to go to the closest larger city. It's probably worth your time. You find those rich people!

  • Think about when you change your clothes over. You probably start going through your winter clothes after the first frost. You haul out your summer tanks on the first seventy-degree day. Go to your Goodwill about three weeks after you would've changed your closet out. People go through their closets and take unwanted items to Goodwill when the seasons change and at the end of the year so they can shove in the tax donation, then it takes the Goodwill folks a few weeks to sort through all the new stuff, tag it, and get it on the shelves.

  • Get a cart. You're going to need to try everything on.

  • Make sure you have time. You might need to wait in line for a dressing room. Since all sales are final, you can't bring anything back if it doesn't fit, and even if it's cheap, you don't want to buy anything you don't need and be paying to donate it back six months from now.

  • Forget your normal size and aim a size up. Remember everything is preshrunk and has been worn before. Unless it's dry clean only, it's probably been through a hot washer and dryer a time or two. I almost always wear a size up in Goodwill clothes. Get over your ego.

  • Check labels. It's Goodwill. Don't pay even $3 for anything that will probably cost $3 new at Target at some point. I'm all for being green and recycling, but seriously: Don't buy your t-shirts at Goodwill.

  • Look for stains, holes and broken zippers. I'm always surprised at how many severe clothing flaws do make it onto the racks at the Goodwill store. That's another reason you need to try everything on. I found an adorable summer dress at Goodwill recently but didn't buy it because the zipper stuck.

  • Broaden your horizons about where you might wear your loot. I recently bought a cute t-shirt dress to use as a swimsuit cover-up. I love being all, "What? This old thing?" when the designer dress I'm wearing as a nightgown cost $3.99.

  • Really examine formal wear and outerwear. Hidden amidst the bad bridesmaid dresses, I found a sleek, summer little black dress for $5 that I'll wear to a friends fancy cocktail party this summer with a pair of strappy sandals and a shit-eating grin. I also have a great spring coat and a lined corduroy jacket from The Gap that I found for less than $5 each at Goodwill.

  • Be a brand snob. It's Goodwill! Why not? My Goodwill stuff is all BCBG and Ann Taylor. My new clothes are from Gordman's and T.J. Maxx with brands like Lollipop Land.

  • Give before you receive. When clothes are this cheap, it's tempting to go overboard, and an overstuffed closet is not part of my mission no matter how much I paid for the stuff. Before I go in the front door, I always head for the back door and drop off anything from the little angel's and my wardrobe that is too small or just not getting worn. Let someone else enjoy it and don't forget the tax receipt.

Have you ever had luck with thrift stores? Designer consignment?

Rita Arens authors Surrender Dorothy and is the editor of Sleep is for the Weak. She is BlogHer's assignment and syndication editor.

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