How to get the most out of your secondhand purchases.
Whether you are a seasoned thrift-a-holic or someone who just likes to dabble in the odd eBay purchase there is no denying that buying secondhand can be pretty thrilling! The best bit about secondhand shopping is that you get to recycle in a way that benefits the planet, makes you look and feel good, and saves money. If you have been following the theme for the week you might have noticed that this week is all about recycling for National Recycling Week! When you shop secondhand you run the risk of finding items that aren’t quite right. These might need a little TLC or a few changes. The following are some tips and tricks for getting the most out of your thrifted items and reach your thrifted nirvana.
Secondhand denim can’t be beat! It’s soft, worn in, comfy and usually shows signs of wear in all the right places. While you can go out and find pre-torn denim in any shop I can vouch for the fact that the pre-torn stuff just isn’t as comfy as a pair that’s been really worn in (my ten year old jeans ripped beyond repair and I replaced them with as-new secondhand Awesome Baggies and the rips really don’t meet with my actual wear patterns… not all that comfy). The only crappy thing about pre-worn denim is that sometimes it can already be REALLY worn in and prone to indecent holes. While there are plenty of DIY’s out there one of my faves is the Free People Blog one pictured above and linked here. I love it because it really shows a beautiful and bohemian way to patch what was a totally denim-destroying rip (ass out is only ok in some situations).
Alterations don’t have to be difficult.
Sometimes the thought of alterations can be enough to turn you off thrifting all-together. The thought of scissors, needles, thread and sewing machines can all be a little bit too much. What if there were some easy no-sew ways to alter your thrift? Probably the easiest way to change the fit of your thrifted buys is to add a belt. Slung low, at the hips or waisted you can change the look of any item by adding some shape with a belt. It also means that you don’t have to shop your size for success. Feel free to buy bigger and looser fit items and add a belt. Just check the shoulders of your garment. If shoulders are matching with yours (not hanging half way down your arms) then cinching it in can be an alteration cinch. You can also do the same by adding knots in the front or the back of a garment (like a tee or a shirt) of casually tie a shirt around your waist or hips to add an air of nonchalance to your thrifted style. If you feel brave you can take a pair of scissors to an item to alter it. I cut the ring neck off mens tees and chop the sleeves a little shorter. This works with cotton jersey (or poly cotton) because the fabric doesn’t fray. You might have to take a sewing machine or needle and thread to wovens you want to chop of you don’t like frayed edges.
Dye it don’t doubt it.
If you find something that’s nearly right but not quite the right colour for you then have a think about dying it! You can go the synthetic route and pick up plastic wrapped dyes from most craft supplies stores. It’s important to realise that while these dyes are non-toxic they aren’t natural and do sometimes come with lots of packaging. You will have to take this route if you have decided to buy a polyester and attempt to dye is because synthetics don’t readily dye. While there are some products available for dying polyester and synthetics it’s generally a good idea to avoid these fibre types if you are wanting to do a dye job. Natural fibre types generally work best but colour rules apply. White can go all colours. But if you want to dye something yellow to a blue it will likely end up green. Follow the instructions on the packet of the dye you choose. Natural dyes are even more of an adventure. If you choose to do it yourself with natural dye stuffs be prepared for exciting and unique results. Check out India Flint (picture of her work above) for SO MUCH eco dying inspo (her book is beautiful). Be brave and adventurous with your dye jobs.
Wash and Dry Naturally!
Because many thrifted and vintage finds have had a little bit of love and wear they can sometimes be a bit more fragile. Often they won’t have any care labels or tags attached to let you know what they require when it comes to washing. Often the kindest way to wash your secondhand (and most) goodies is to hand wash or cool machine wash with an eco friendly detergent. I used to make my detergent for a little while but worked out it was easier, cheaper, less packaging intensive and more effective to refill my liquid eco-washing liquid at my local bulk food store. After washing hang your goodies in a breezy airy spot. Keep items out of the sun to maintain their colour. If you want them to fade stick them in the bright sun. This also works wonders for whites with minor stains. The sun can bleach the stains out naturally.