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Get Designer Looks Secondhand

The Gift of Thrift: Tips for Getting Designer Looks Secondhand

The Gift of Thrift: Get Designer Looks Secondhand

Take an image like this one (from Real Simple), pick out the elements you like and then try to find similar pieces at a thrift store. You'll be surprised what you can find!

Some people love the hunt. For others, sifting through secondhand stores is plain overwhelming. Wherever you fall, here are some tips for getting great looks at a great price.

I’ll come right out and admit it: I love thrift stores … OK, I adore them. There’s just something about the feeling of cheating the system that makes all the digging worthwhile. Don’t get me wrong; I love a designer store as well as the next gal. I just prefer visiting them to see what I like so I can find that look elsewhere.

I know I’m not alone in this. There are others like me out there — those who end up with (whoops!) three sets of dishes because Goodwill had a sale, and they look just like something I saw at Anthropologie last week. OK, so we have flaws. But the positive side of possessing what I like to call the “gift of thrift” is that you get the satisfaction of scoring great finds for almost nothing. So, what are the secrets that make the hunt worthwhile? I’m so glad you asked:

1. Know what you like: Before you ever set foot in that thrift store, you have to know a thing or two about your personal style when it comes to your clothes and accessories as well as your home. It helps to browse magazines (I love Real Simple) or websites and intentionally pick out styles you like. Then, you can either mimic those styles with things you find at the thrift store, or you will just be more apt to know something good when you find it.

2. Have an idea of what you’d like to find: Of course you can’t walk into your local Goodwill with a set of specifications on exactly what you want to find (“I’m looking for a silver lamp with a square black shade …”), but you can have an idea about what you want (“I’m looking for a new lamp for my nightstand that wille complement my room.”) Holding loosely to your specifications allows you to see what’s there and let something jump out at you.

3. Look for the potential in everything: This is one of the tricks of the trade. When you’re shopping, surroundings are everything, and this is why expensive stores spend so much time and money on staging. When you see a colorful, vintage dish at a high-end store, it’s surrounded by other beautiful dishes and perhaps set on a tablecloth with a to-die-for pattern. When you see that same dish at your local thrift dive, it will be surrounded by a myriad of old and chipped dishes, and it’s up to you to fill in the blanks and see what it could be.

4. Don’t buy it unless it has a purpose: This is the downfall of every avid thrifter. It might be the most beautiful, amazing and inexpensive find, but if you don’t have a place for it, it will become the most beautiful, amazing and inexpensive piece of clutter sitting in your basement. Exhibit self-control and only buy those things you can actually use.

5. Be realistic: This is another trap of the thrifter. Sometimes we see too much potential in something and we’re not realistic. It’s when I buy a hipster top that I just know is in style … it’s just not my style. With clothes, ask yourself if it’s something you would want to wear today, right now. If not, do what’s tantamount to treason in the thrifting world and simply walk away.

Parents magazine's January 2012 issue

When to Get the Best Deals on Your Family’s Purchases

Parents magazine's January 2012 issue

Parents magazine's January 2012 issue

A helpful article in Parents magazine breaks down the best time of the year for your family’s purchases.

If I don’t get a vacuum soon, we might drown in dust. An older house full of hard wood floors means I’m constantly sweeping and vacuuming floors and rugs. But according to Parents magazine, I need to wait until May for a new vacuum. A helpful article in the January 2012 issue breaks down the best time of the year for your family’s purchases. With newer models of everything from televisions to grills being released at different times through the year, you can plan your purchases to save the most money.

This is one of those articles I’m tearing out and filing away for future reference. Before you buy something for your home or family, check out this list:

January: If you can afford anything right after the holidays, the beginning of the new year is a good time for big deals on items like luggage, sports equipment, exercise equipment (New Year’s resolutions!) and linens. New furniture styles hit the floor in February, so many retailers put stuff on sale to clear space.

February: Get great deals on televisions leading up to the Super Bowl. Cameras and camcorders are deeply discounted after newer models are released in January. And you’ll start seeing markdowns on winter clothes as spring items hit stores. If you’re able to guess on coat and boot sizes for kids, now is a great time to stock up for next winter.

March: Even if it’s too cold to cook outside, consider buying a grill now since retailers are trying to unload last year’s model before the grilling season really heats up.

April: Save your cash this month! Since retailers know that tax rebates are arriving in mailboxes, they’re less likely to put many things on sale.

May: Here’s when I can get my much-needed vacuum for a good price!

June: If your dad is handy, you’re in luck. Tools go on sale just in time for Father’s Day.

July: If you didn’t redecorate earlier in the year, you have another chance in July. The year’s second set of models arrives this month and deep discounts take effect on older selections.

August: Back-to-school season is a great time to purchase computers and small appliances (think dorm rooms!) like toasters and microwaves. You can also get great deals on summer clothes for next year.

September: If you need a new car, this is the best time to look. Dealers are ready to clear the way for newer models. And as the weather changes, stores start discounting lawn mowers and patio furniture to make way for leaf and snow blowers.

October: If you don’t mind floor models, now’s a great time to buy big appliances like washers, dryers and refrigerators. Newer models are about to be released and stores start putting floor models on sale. Who cares about a little dent here or there if it means big savings?

November: Televisions are on sale again just as football season kicks into high gear.

December: This is the best time of year to find deals on toys, which is great considering this is when most families purchase the most!