Posts belonging to Category How I Thrift

How I Thrift: Patrice J. Williams

looking-fly-on-a-dime-thrifty-threads-midi-skirt-with-a-split-606x1024I was thrilled to get an interview with today’s subject, Patrice J. Williams, whose thrifting advice book, Looking Fly on A Dime, is available from Amazon. I found her through her blog of the same name, which features thrifty fashion tips as well as pics of great outfits she’s thrifted in her home base, New York City. She always looks great, so you know she knows what she’s talking about. If you want to start thrifting but aren’t sure how, pick up a copy of her book!

1. When did you first start thrifting, and why?

My mom tells me I loved thrifting as a child, but I don’t remember that. My first recollection of thrift shopping was my sophomore year of college at Temple University. I needed an outfit for an induction ceremony but had nothing to wear and I was too broke to buy something at a department store. I stumbled across a thrift shop and immediately found a brown top and faux suede pencil skirt that was perfect. Since then, I’ve been hooked.

2. Where do you thrift shop? Specific recommendations in your area would be great!

photo-7-1024x969I love thrifting throughout NYC, including at the Salvation Army on 46th street, which is super organized and a place I always find cute dresses and vintage blouses. My go-to for serious bang for my buck is Housing Works’ Buy the Bag in Brooklyn, which sells an entire bag of clothing for $25 per bag. I also recommend Udelco’s vintage warehouse in New Jersey where the clothes are organized in bins based on decades and styles.

3. What are some of your best finds?

photo-5-1024x892One of my favorite finds is an emerald pleated vintage dress. It was less than $10 and I found it in a small town in Ohio, which proves you don’t need to live in a big city to find amazing secondhand goods. My all time favorite piece is a Christian Dior vintage double breasted coat I bought for $23 last year. It’s a statement making piece that’s perfect for cold New York winters.

4. What kinds of things do you try to buy used?

looking-fly-on-a-dime-christian-dior-red-coat-682x1024I try to buy most things thrifted, besides underwear, of course!  Some of my favorite pieces include dresses, vintage blouses and jumpsuits. Also, if there’s a trend I’m on the fence about, I try to find it at a thrift shop and play around with making it work before investing too much in a trend I might not love or wear for years to come.

5. Are there any items that are a particularly good deal in your area?

thrift-shop-style-what-i-wore-vintage-dior-1024x945I’ve always found a mixture of everything in the New York tri-state area. But I’ve always found amazing deals on vintage secretary and pussybow blouses.

6. Do you have any general tips for anyone without much thrifting experience? Any warnings?

My best tip for new thrifters would be to have realistic expectations. You’re most likely not going to find the garment of your dreams during the first 10 minutes of your first thrifting trip. But with a bit of patience and repeat visits, you’ll find what you want and need. The only warning would be to avoid buying something just because it’s quirky and/or cheap. You’ll come across a lot of stuff like that but if you don’t really love it, leave it behind because you’ll end up with a closet full of garments you don’t really want and it’s easy to overspend.

7. Anything else you’d like to add?

I love thrifting so much I wrote the book on it. Looking Fly on a Dime: How to Find Fabulous Fashion at Any Thrift Shop & Make the Cheap Look Chic breaks down the do’s and don’ts of secondhand style. I really wanted to debunk the myth that thrift shopping is dirty or hard to do. Anyone can thrift!

Thanks so much, Patrice, and happy thrifting!


How I Thrift: Katie Papp, Chicago

How I Thrift is a brand new feature where I interview experienced thrifters from throughout the United States to get their insights and local IMG_1740tips. Katie Papp, my very first interview, is a friend and former co-worker who lives in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood (three blocks from the Obamas) and runs Always Hungry Chicago. You can follow Always Hungry Chicago and her personally on Instagram.

When did you start thrifting, and why?

I’ve been thrifting with my mom since I was a little girl, and started going on my own when I was in college in 2001. I was really interested in vintage purses, and at one time I had a collection of over thirty-five from the ’70s pic4and ’80s. Currently I hit the thrift store for home furnishings. Mid-century modern design is my favorite and thrift stores are the best place to find pieces from that period at a reasonable price. It also makes me feel better about my personal carbon footprint when I buy used.

Where do you thrift shop?

pic3I grew up in Waukegan, a suburb of Chicago about thirty-five miles north of the city.  Even though I live in Chicago now, I still thrift up there. The prices are way better and there is less competition for the good furniture. My two favorite places to go are Community Thrift Store and B-Thrifty, located only a few blocks from each other.

What kind of things do you try and buy used?

Pic2I go for homewares these days. If you’ve ever had to furnish an entire apartment from scratch like I have, you know that it can cost a lot of money for everyday necessities like forks and spoons if you buy new. I have a collection of vintage drinking glasses and I’m always looking for unique designs. Right now I’m also on the hunt for Mid-century modern furniture pieces, specifically dressers for our bedroom and a new coffee table. My last pick up was a vintage radio that we keep in the kitchen.

Do you have any general tips for anyone without much thrifting experience? Any warnings?

Pic1My biggest tip is to not be turned off by the smell and the dust. I suggest going for items made out of glass, wood or metal if you’re looking for homewares because they’re super simple to clean. If you’re looking at chairs, reupholstering usually can be done pretty easily and totally transforms the look of the piece. Keep in mind that not everything at a thrift store is old or junky. Oftentimes you can find brand new items there.

I’m not only a frequent thrift store purchaser but I am a frequent thrift store donator. Every few months I go through my own and donate items, mostly clothes, that I don’t use anymore.


A few notes from Katie on the pics:


#1 Mid-century modern Dresser. This dresser is my pride and joy. We use it as a TV stand and to store random things. The best part is I only spent $30 on it.

#2 Couch and record cabinet. I purchased the couch off Craigslist for $250. I usually wouldn’t buy a used couch, but the seller had used it to stage apartments so it was never in a home where people lived. I bought the record cabinet a few days after Christmas last year after my boyfriend gave me a new record player as a gift. We stopped in the thrift store on a whim on our way home from my parents house and got it for $13!

#3 Panasonic radio. Purchased at an antique store in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, this summer. I almost bought a brand new vintage-inspired radio for three times the price. So glad I waited!

#4 Plant stand and books. This is an old wire reel that I purchased at a thrift store for $1. I painted it light gray and use it as a plant stand. On top of the radiator are various books purchased at a used book stores. I never buy new books, always used. (Even when I purchase books on Amazon!)