Sunday, July 11, 2010

Shhhh! Top Secret (L O N G)

I dare say that there may be NOTHING in my closet that I paid full price for. I just do not think that is necessary. Hardly ever. And, if I can manage it, I usually try to only buy clearance items at TJMAXX and consignment stores, too. Might as well have a sale on a sale, huh?

Many people over the years have responded with surprise when I confess that nearly all of my wardrobe is from Goodwill, TJ MAXX, consignment stores and garage sales. Maybe they are just being polite. Maybe they think I am a freak (my adult children certainly do-ha!). I am not sure and I am past the stage in life, where I seek to impress others with the size of my clothing budget. (shrugs)

People also usually tell me that I am 'lucky'; that when they attempt to shop at Goodwill, they never find anything. I will admit, there are times I leave Goodwill, consignment stores or TJMAXX, with no purchase to show for my time. But this does not happen very often.

So, here are some of my Top Tips for shopping at Goodwill.

First, the things you will need: hand sanitizer, cash or debit card (or both), time, a shopping cart (especially if you have fibro) and open mind.

Next, it is important to realize that it takes time (and a plan) to find "the good stuff". Depending on how MUCH time I have, there are two ways I approach the store.

If my time is limited, I use one of these two method, depending on what I am shopping for.If I am NOT clothing shopping, I will take my cart and scan the perimeter of the store (usually books, household, electronics, games and toys).

Anything I see that I like, I will examine thoroughly. Check for chips, cracks, missing pieces and plug the item in (if indicated). There is usually a 'no return' policy for items at Goodwill and consignment stores, so buyer beware.

If I am in the mood for wardrobe shopping, I will zero in on items that I can quickly browse through, without having to get a dressing room: shoes/boots, jewelry, hats (don't try on and don't purchase, unless machine washable), belts, purses/bags, scarves, etc. I also may hit up the jackets/blazers and outerwear, since I can quickly slip things on, to check the fit.

If I find an item that appeals to me, I will usually buy it, even if I currently do not have an outfit it will match. I have learned over the years that the 'match' will come later. That happens to me allll the time.

If I have all the time in the world, I get a CART and fill it!!

I enter the store, grab a cart, put the heavy purse in the cart and off I go. If I am looking for something in particular (a dress, jacket, boots, etc.) usually go straight to those racks. There is usually no rhyme or reason to the way items are displayed (size, color, style), so dig in. Remember, this ain't a department store, so don't let the work of the 'hunt' discourage you.

I look at everything, at least by glancing at color, fabric and decade (ha!!). If I am not drawn to those things, I just keep flipping through the racks. By this stage in my life, I am aware of what colors and styles work for me. I am not usually able to pull off certain colors. I don't bother with those things. I also know what styles are most flattering on me. I avoid things I know I will not look good in.

If something catches my eye, I pull it off the rack and check the size. Not my size? Back it goes.

If the size might work and I like the color and fabric, I throw it in my cart. Remember, sizes can vary greatly. If the size on the tag looks too small or large, but the item itself looks like it might work, I hold it against myself to check. If it looks like a possible fit, I throw it in the cart. Lather, rinse, repeat, as I make my way through the racks.

By the time I have filled my cart with potentials, it is usually full of at least 20-25 items. Then, I head to the dressing room. I take my whole cart into the dressing room (if possible) and hang things according to what they are: dresses, jackets, tops, pants. Off come my clothes and the trying on process begins.

My Number One Rule is this...if I don't LOVE it, I will not buy it.

If the fit is not right, no go. If the color is not good on me, back it goes. If I am on the fence about an item, I will not take it home with me. My experience has been that if I don't love it, I will not wear it and since I cannot return it, I cannot recoup the money spent. Not. cool. Even if I only invest $3.50.

By following my Number One Rule, I usually weed out most of the items in the cart. This is ok with me, as I truly do not have a "need" for more clothes, bags, shoes, etc. I have 'wants' and as such, these acquisitions are completely optional. If I only leave the store with an item or two, that is perfect, especially since I know I already "LOVE" the few things I will purchase.

When it is time to check out, I may have spent an hour or more in the store. I consider this time well-spent, since I know I love the things I found and I know they fit me. I know that I will not have to waste time returning things. I also know that by shopping at Goodwill, that I can 'afford myself' and therefore, suffer no post-shopping guilt.


And now, some never before seen scenes from my closet. ::coughcough::

Remember, purses at Goodwill are $1.25, shoes are $2.50 and shirts and dresses and blazers are usually $3.95. And I have acquired these things over YEARS of shopping.


Joani said...

IMELDA MARCOS!!! :) When are YOU having a sale, girl, because I am there! :) :)

Joani said...

And btw, I shop the EXACT same way- almost never pay full price. :) I once waited a YEAR for the duvet cover I liked to go on the (moment of silence) clearance end cap at Target. :)

Invisible Hands said...

I love to shop like you. I used to tell my children we were going on "a Grand Adventure". The past few years I haven't been able to do it as much and I know my endurance has dropped. Had to laugh at your shoes. Would you believe I only own 3 pair!!!!!

eureka1951 said...

I can't wait to go to Goodwill!!!!