The phrase “Don’t you just love a bargain?” may have been made popular by Christmas Tree Shops in the early 2000s but its power is undiminished. Unfortunately, bargains have become few and far between in this time of soaring inflation and high prices caused by post-COVID supply chain disruptions.
But fear not, budget-conscious curvinistas! There are more ways than ever to save a buck if you’re smart, especially in thrift stores and consignment shops. Here are some of the best!
CURVY BUDGET REMINDERS
Before you start shopping, though, here are some tips to get the most bang for your buck:
- Ditch the Dry Cleaning: Scored a great deal on that thrift store work dress that’s dry clean only? Well, it won’t be such a great deal when those monthly cleaning bills come in! Choose items that are machine washable, especially if you have a packed schedule that won’t allow for hand-washing instead.
- Know your Needs: Does your job require you to be on your feet all day? If so, earmark a larger part of your budget for shoes than someone who sits at a desk.
- Be Coupon Conscious: Coupon codes can be your budget’s best friend! Besides sales throughout the year, many companies offer a discount for signing up for email newsletters, text alerts, etc. Don’t worry, you can always unsubscribe if they get annoying. Utilize sites such as retailmenot.com and rakuten.com for discount listings and saving for retailers.
Side note: Double-check that you’re getting the advertised discount before hitting the Place Order button. Some sites do not automatically add the code and you may have to manually enter it.
- The Power of 5: While, of course, everyone has a different income and expenses, spending no more than 5% of your monthly income on clothes, shoes, and accessories is a good rule of thumb.
- Be Season Savvy: The best time to buy summer clothes is in winter and vice versa because the demand for these items is lower. End-of-season sales are especially great for finding fabulous deals.
- Time-honored vs Trends: In this era of social media, fashion fads come and go at the speed of light and will likely be out of style before you even get the bill for them. Invest the majority of your budget instead in good quality classic pieces like blazers, jeans, a little black dress, and accessories like hoop earrings. These items will never go out of style and can be paired with almost anything.
- Rent vs Buy: Are you really going to wear that evening gown after your daughter’s wedding? If not, sites like Nuuly and Rent the Runway can literally save you thousands of dollars on special occasions dresses. You can even rent everyday outfits through companies like Gwynnie Bee!
THRIFT SPECIFIC TIPS
- Dress for success: Some thrift stores don’t have changing rooms, so wear a bathing suit or leotard under easy-to-remove clothes so you can try on items without hosting a peep show.
- Make friends with your neighborhood tailor: Thrift and consignment stores will usually only have 1 or 2 sizes available in each item, not a huge selection like retail stores, but your tailor can easily hem a too-long dress or take in a too-big blouse.
- Timing is everything: Weekends are the busiest times, which means there’s less of a chance of finding what you want. Ask the store when they typically restock and plan your shopping trip for soon afterwards.
- Check those impulses: It’s so easy to get caught up in the low prices of each item that you don’t realize how much you’re spending all together. A good rule of thumb is to decide how much you want to spend beforehand and take only that amount in cash, leaving your cards at home to avoid giving in to temptation. As an added incentive, some stores offer lower prices if you pay in cash because they won’t have to pay a credit card processing fee!
- Choose quality over quantity: Designer labels, vintage items, or other high-end items can be found at rock-bottom prices if you know what to look for. Natural fabrics are usually of higher quality than synthetic ones. For example, jackets with linen linings and coats made of wool are definitely worth the investment.
- Don’t get tunnel vision: Start with a walk-through of the entire store, making note of where the different sections are located and certain items that catch your eye. This will help you stay focused while still not missing out on hidden gems.
- Bargain: Don’t be afraid to offer a lower price for an item that is slightly damaged (but still fixable). This works best in privately owned stores, not big chains like Savers or Goodwill.
- Be season savvy: Like in retail stores, the best time to buy summer clothes is in winter and vice versa because the demand for these items is lower.
Most thrift stores sell secondhand clothes and other household goods, typically to raise funds for a charitable institution. Plus sizes are notoriously hard to find at them, so we say a giant thank you to:
Audacity Thriftique: Not just a thrift store! Audacity Boutique also offers a personal shopper service providing a very easy and affordable experience in creating your own unique looks.
Get Up and Go Divas Thrift Shop Boutique: Combining ministry, self-love, and thrift fashion, Get Up and Go Divas keeps “our eyes on what the trend makers are wearing and work to offer the hottest styles for women and mom-to-be of all shapes and sizes.”
Shop here: https://getupandgodivas.com/
Plus Thrift JC: Curated by fat activist Megan Ixim and influencer Julie Khiry Monge, PlusThriftJC is the only plus-size thrift store in Jersey City.
Consignment stores differ from thrift shops in that they are usually for-profit. Shoppers can also sell their gently used clothes at the store. Once the item sells, the person typically gets 30%-50% of the final price or sometimes a higher percentage in store credit. Everybody wins!
Curve Conscious: Voted one of the best thrift/consignment stores in the Delaware Valley by ABC6 Action News and a Best of Philly 2019 winner, Curve Conscious offers trendy and stylish apparel, shoes, and accessories for sizes 14 to 28+. Purchase items are chosen based on condition, trend, style, and brand. See https://www.curveconscious.com/pages/about for a full consignment guide.
Start consigning: https://www.curveconscious.com/
Curvy Encore: Curvy Encore is a contemporary plus size consignment boutique with luxury brand name items that also offer free personalized fitting sessions to ensure every woman leaves feeling like a million dollars while spending a lot less!
Diva Davidson’s Dressing Room: Diva Davidson’s Dressing Room caters to the “Curvy Elite” and is owned by former plus model Kym Davidson, who has a “passion for fashion with a mandate from God to put ‘Real Curves on The Fashion Runways!’”
Diva Plus Consignment: The bargains come to you with this mobile consignment boutique! Diva Plus Consignment even carries fabulous $5 Paparazzi jewelry.
I Want Seconds: Portland’s only 100% plus size resale store, I Want Seconds is owned by Kelsey Conser who says, “I Want Seconds is my love letter to the fat community. The plus-size clothing struggle is real and so damaging to plus-size folks. Not only are we seen as lesser than others for our appearance but we cannot access basic needs like clothing. When we can find clothing most times it is cost-prohibitive or nothing we want to wear. This is why I want to bring resale to the plus size folks of Portland, like those who came before (Fat Fancy and Savvy Plus) our goal is to make fun, fashionable plus size clothing accessible to all!
It’s So You. It’s So You Consignment shop in Willoughby Hills features high-end secondhand clothing & accessories up to size 4x, plus home decor & furniture. Finds include designer handbags and shoes.
Plus Bklyn: Located at 490 Metropolitan Avenue in Brooklyn, NY, Plus BKLYN is New York City’s only plus size boutique selling new, vintage & resale fashions. Consignors can choose between 25% of the resale value of their goods in cash or 40% in store credit.
Go to: https://plusbklyn.com/
Two Big Blondes: With both an online and brick-and-mortar presence in the Central District of Seattle, Two Big Blondes first opened in Georgetown in 1997 and “is much more than just a store to buy & sell used clothing. With its focus on plus-size women’s clothing, it offers a welcoming place for people who often have difficulty finding quality items in their size and style at other retail and resale stores.”
Two Big Blondes passionately believes in supporting their local community and is a monthly contributor to Real Rent Duwamish (https://www.realrentduwamish.org/) and Africatown Community Land Trust Black Business Fund (https://www.africatownlandtrust.org/)
Start consigning: https://twobigblondes.com/
Not sure how to style your thrift or consignment store scores? Ask Linda in the comments section!
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