A Thrifter’s Manifesto Vol 4: Recalibrating your expectations
One critical aspect of thrift shopping is understanding things like price and trendiness in a more academic way. I’m at a point where I don’t really pay full price for anything. I can understand where that $500 goes in a nice sport coat, but having acquired many $500-$1000 items for 1/100 the price has recalibrated my expectations. You need a navy blazer, a charcoal suit, but these things are the “classic-est” of “classic”. They’ve been made, largely unchanged for 100+ years. So which one is right for you? Here are some things to remember.
Price is what people are willing to pay for something – Price does not equal worth. There’s no inherent law or system for figuring out what something is worth. The only reason that a Polo tie or a Hermes tie cost more than a Sam Hober tie is that they can charge more and people will pay the extra money. It is not equivalent to quality.
Spend Less, Spend Better – The price point in a thrift store is largely negligible, if you’re spending $5 on a shirt or $20 on a suit you can afford to look at the inexpensive along with the expensive. A hand-made Italian shirt is certainly worth $10 and far far more, but a Made in China, lasts-for-2-years-then-disintigrates shirt is still worth $5 if it looks good. As you get better things you can leave the lesser behind. Buy less, buy better tells you to spend your time on the earning, Thrifting tells you spend it on the shopping. Be choosy with your spending, and choosier when you have more things to spend it on.
Know when you’re chasing trends — Look, dub monks, cutaway collars, quilted jackets and camo are hot shit right now. But you know what? In a few years, they won’t be. That’s just the sad fact of the product life-cycle. Maybe you really do love them, maybe they really do speak to you. If that’s true they still will in a few months when early adopters start pitching their trendiest things in favor of the newest most bleeding edge stuff. Wait. Take real stock. See if there are 5 quilted DB sport coats on the racks in a couple months because people realized they looked silly. They’ll speak to you just as much if they’re $8 as if they’re $400, (plus they’ll be 98% off).
You’re the one who wears it – It’s great to have e-shopping, but it’s a crutch for many people. The ability to see a lookbook and shop a look deprives you of having to see what else is out there. It makes it easy to look like the internet thinks you should look, but they won’t be wearing your clothes. Thrifting makes you take stock of the real tangible world in front of you, not a virtual perfection with soft focus and dramatic lighting. It forces you to define your style instead of having your style defined by someone else and sold to you.
Guilt free shopping – It may be a sidenote, but there’s something to be said for the ability to just get rid of something and not feel guilty because you spent too much money and it didn’t work for whatever reason. Besides, everything basic will always be in style, and if you buy something out of style you can just pretend it was never there, after all, you only spent $5 on it.
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