Pictured above is vintage men's dressing gown made of heavy but butter soft wool, made in England by Welch Margetson and Sons for Dunhill of New York, likely 1940s. I found this garment hidden in a rack of women's overcoats. As I passed by the rack, something about the finish of the cuffs and the piping at the lapel caught my eye, so I stopped to look. That extra minute was all it took. I might not have looked through an entire rack of women's coats, but practice has trained my eye to rest on little details that might yield a surprise result. Conversely, a rack of men's sleepwear is likely to have mostly, if not all, cheap flannel pyjama bottoms from Target and Old Navy. I'd love to keep it, and wear it with silk pyjamas and velvet slippers, but fancy house clothes and I don't mix, since I'm likely to be washing dishes, doing laundry, or some other mundane and potentially dirty task in them. Still, I hope it finds a lovely home (auction info here).
Not too much later I found this vintage flannel rowing blazer. I saw this hanging at the end of a rack of business suits in the women's department of another store. It's buttons had been replaced with some awful fake jewel buttons, and the sleeves had been "altered" by having the cuffs turned up and under about two inches and badly stitched on the inside. I took out the stitches, steamed the cuffs and sewed on some gold buttons I had laying around, which is what this jacket should have in the first place. I'm sad to see this one go, but I'm about two inches short for it and I don't think I'll be spending much time on a boat, or near one, any time soon. (auction info here).
I'm not suggesting that there's no organization in thrift shops, and certainly some are better than others, but it tends to be the more unusual garments, the ones with details that most normal people would assume are effeminate these days, that might wind up in the ladies clothes. The robe may look masculine enough in the photos I took, but its set in a very masculine context. The piping on the rowing blazer is not something common in menswear anymore, except in the most rarefied circles, and many of those folks aren't haunting the thrift shops. By the same token, brightly colored bits of silk may seem to most people like a women's accessory, but I find most of pocket squares in bins full of ladies scarves. For that matter, women's jacket styled like menswear often mix with the men's clothing in these places too.
The point here is to keep an open mind, and do what you can to develop a sharp eye for detail and imaginative shopping techniques. Sometimes the best garments are hidden in plain sight if you only just look for them.