14 June 2011

Secrets of Thrifting

Successful thrift shopping is a matter of perseverance. This doesn't just mean frequently hunting, or in my case constantly hunting. It also means having the stamina not to quit until every piece of cloth has been picked over. Them you look in the unsuspected spots.

Don't forget the ladies department. Now, I'm not suggesting that you start digging through the dresses looking for men's suits from the Andover Shop, or that neckties of exquisite quality will be found among the nighties. It does mean that if you find yourself in a thrift store well organised enough to have women's accessories separately merchandised, this little corner is well worth a prowl. Each one of the silk pocket squares pictures above was found among women's silk scarves, most for no more than a dollar or two. Truthfully, a couple of them may really be women's scarves, but who cares? Stuffed in a breast pocket with only a pinch showing, it's all the same to me. Oddly enough, almost every surcingle and ribbon belt I own was found this way too. Guess those things just look girly to the un-initiated, or something.

This hat provides an extreme example. I found it like this, looking like one of those sort of 1930s things that were popular with women in the early 1990s. What caught my eye was the material. It's an extremely luxurious black fur felt, so soft to the touch you want to sleep on it. These photos are bad, I know, just take my word for it.
After a small amount of pinching and denting on the crown, and a flip of the brim in back, it revealed itself to be a downright stunning vintage men's hat. I wasn't forcing it, either. This thing literally fell right into this shape, its true one, with ease.
Lined in white satin, from Saks Fifth Avenue,
A damn good piece for $9.99,

and a far more suitable hat should the opportunity for black tie present itself again.

Man Up, and look through the ladies pretty things. You might be glad you did.


mistermidwester said...

I've found nearly all my pocket squares using this exact method, as well as a bunch of great, colorful ribbon and surcingle belts (as you mentioned). One of my most recent finds was also my best; a lovely silk-on-one-side, wool-on-the-other evening scarf that's peacock as heck but rather dashing as well.

Oh, and if you're really lucky (like me), you can find an Hermes scarf to bring home to your wife and get yourself some brownie points. :)

Yankee-Whisky-Papa said...

Dead on! Cuff links will be in the women's jewelry case as well.

WSTKS-FM Worldwide said...

Yep, I've discovered the same thing with regard to pocket squares and have found some really nice "vintage" (an overused term?) ones inexpensively. Great looking hat by the way.

Best Regards. . .

David V said...

I found a very nice man's overcoat comfortable nestled among the women's coats and a pair of patten leather opera pumps lodged with the women's shoes.

Conversely, I've found plenty of women's clothing tucked in with the men's.

Young Fogey said...

I keep finding women's tweed jackets mixed in amongst the men's at one thrift store I frequent; this is a cause for occasional disappointment (like the Harris tweed I had to throw back because the buttons were on the wrong side).

On the other hand, I, too, have found some great pocket squares and even an ascot (i.e., scarf) in the women's section. Clothing is sometimes miscategorized by the volunteers at thrift stores. They're wonderful people, giving of their time, but they don't have in-depth knowledge of clothes.

In a similar vein, I hear some eBay shoppers look for misspelled words and end up being the only bidders on some very nice things.

Donald said...

I much enjoy your blog. That model hat for a woman is called a "Cloche" hat; they were quite popular in the 1920s.


Thomas said...

I always wonder if I'm buying a pocket square or scarf, but like you said, it doesn't really matter.

I first started doing this because there was so much women's clothing in the men's section--why wouldn't it happen the other way?

Giosue said...

Ciao, Giuseppe!

Still waiting for your preferred method of ironing a shirt.

WSTKS-FM Worldwide said...

Yep, confirming/reiterating my previous comment here. I have finally visited our local Goodwill Store and the other thrift shop in town, affiliated with one of our local hospitals, and have augmented my pocket square collection with six new like-new ones with the women's scarves (plus 16 new tastefully subdued silk, wool, and linen neckties) for lest than $35 all told. Why in the heck didn't I think to shop like this before? Thanks for the tip. I'm thoroughly enjoying reading your older posts here too. Great stuff!

Best Regards. . .