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3/27/12

Thrifting Tips for Plus Size Clothing

This is revised from an earlier post with new tips added!


If you wear size 12 or higher you may find thrifting for clothing intimidating or near impossible. I used to feel the same way! I used to go to the big plus size clothing stores each season and drop upwards of $300. I didn't think that I had any other choice. Since the change in economy and our tighter budget, I stopped doing this. But I still want to be fashionable and enjoy shopping for clothing. The clearance racks can be helpful but there is something much more satisfying about thrifting for clothing. Here are some tips that might help you.


Browse all the sections
Our local thrift stores usually have 2-4 aisles of clothing labelled as plus. I look there first but I also check the sweater section for cardigans, and the dress section for tunics. I almost always find plus size clothing in the sections not labelled as plus. They were most likely put there by an employee by mistake, mislabeled in the first place or dropped off by an indecisive customer. 

Check for "new" items
Most of the clothing I find at thrift stores are from Target. They donate returns and old items that I may have seen at Target just a few weeks before. The tags are still on and sometimes I can compare the clearance price to the thrift store price to make sure I am getting a good deal. Most of the unpopular items end up in the aisles of Goodwill and this can be to my advantage because I am not usually looking for anything super trendy. If there is a shirt with stripes or orange and purple geometric shapes, I will want it and not a lot of other people will.


Try it on...or don't
99% of the time, I don't try anything on. Get to know your body and the size that you are. I know that I will fit for sure in a size 3 (plus) but a size 2 may or may not fit. If I don't feel like going to the fitting rooms, I only pick out things I know for sure will fit me. I don't waste time trying to squeeze into size 12 jeans. This will only discourage you and keep you from buying clothes. And you certainly can't wander around naked!

Build your wardrobe
I don't go to the thrift store to find the perfect pair of jeggings or a warm winter coat. Those things still probably need to be purchased at a new store or plus size vintage store, like Fat Fancy. There may be the rare luck of finding a wool cape coat in size 26 but chances are pretty low. I go thrifting to look for clothing that I can build up my wardrobe with. I am looking for items that I can layer or similar clothing that I might already own but would like in different colors and patterns. I am on the look-out for long shirts, tunics, short dresses, cardigans and accessories. These are things I can wear with the leggings and jeans that I already have at home.


Dress to thrift
Go shopping in your favorite pair of skinny jeans so you can see how tops will look. I do best trying things on when I am wearing leggings because I can try on dresses and if I try on a top, I still have an idea of how it will look with pants. Plus, I am comfortable and don't have to take on and off a complicated dress that zips from the back or tights that require 15 minutes of pulling to get back on. This is important when you may need to take multiple trips into the dressing room. I also pile on clothing so that I don't have to keep dressing and undressing.

Experiment
Wish you could try a new look but don't want to invest your next paycheck into it? Thrifting is a great way to switch up your look a little bit without going broke. You can go home with a bag of clothing and new possibilities for only $30. Or you can add a zero to that number and get limited options.

 

Choose wisely
But wait! You just told me to experiment! You will quickly be overwhelmed with clothes if you don't discriminate a little bit when thrifting for clothing. I don't go crazy every time or my closet would burst at the seams more than it really is. If a sweater isn't exactly what you are looking for because it is a little baggy and not your favorite style, then pass it up.

Accessorize!
I also take a glance at the purses and scarves to see if I might find a style that I have been eyeing. The thrift store offers great prices on bags. Check for wear and tear first though. Make sure the straps are strong and not going to break when you pack it with 10 pounds of makeup, notepads and cameras. We are LARGE, people has some great tips for cleaning a smelly used bag.

 

Keep your eye on the prize
Get to know your style and favorite pieces and look for clothes that are similar. I know that I like long shirts, tunics, empire waists, vintage patterns, sparkly accents and earthy colors and am not too keen on frills, modern prints and short shirts. I won't spend time looking at clothes in that style and cut, trying them on or taking them home only to never wear them. This strategy also makes my shopping faster because I can scan through a rack quickly. Can we please send a memo out to the plus size clothing designers about their awful choices they make? I really don't want a sheer peasant shirt with a ruffly bottom and huge purple butterflies all over. It isn't in style and I don't think it ever was. But for some reason there are loads of similar tops that have been cast away by some unsatisfied fatty to the thrift store. I can spot one a mile away and it is quickly eliminated as an option.


Make it work
Keep in mind that you can repair and alter some things, even if you don't have sewing skills. I am known to cut off collars and sleeves. I cut off sleeves when they are too bulky and I know I am just going to wear it with a cardigan. Another tip to the plus size clothing industry: we don't need big ole' baggy sleeves to cover up our plump arms. A lot of us want things that fit and are tailored! Anyway, you can also see where I modified my Red Velvet dress in the bust. This can also be done with items you have thrifted.

Check the fitting rooms for close times
Our local thrift stores shut down their fitting rooms half an hour before they close. This could be alarming if you gathered all your beautiful finds to only discover that you can't try them on. They also usually let you take in a certain amount of items. Unlike Torrid, where I can go in with half the store and spend all night trying everything on, the thrift store only allows 6 items. I start to organize and separate what I want to take in.

Go often
You aren't going to discover all your thrifting dreams in one trip. You have to go often. Some trips will yield absolutely nothing and then other times you will strike gold. Give the thrifting Gods a chance to shine on you and for the store to restock. Plus, you will have new energy and ideas to attack those racks!


Wearing plus sizes doesn't mean you are limited to the mall or online shopping. You can become a thrifting pro instead! Be careful, you may get so addicted that the smell of musty clothing gets your heart racing. Check out your local thrift store and you will be surprised at the options! I hope my experience and tips will help you make the jump.
- Rachele

33 ♥ COMMENTS ♥:

samantha hall said...

This is a great post.  I don't wear a plus size but always find cute stuff at the thrift store in plus sizes and wish I could dress someone else.  All the tips can be used by everyone and I have picked up some duds that get donated pretty quickly.

Marilyn said...

Love this post! My problem (living in NY) is finding a "real" thrift store. And what I mean is, I get super jealous when I read blog posts of thrift finds like an amazing dress for $3, that doesn't seem to exist in NYC that I have found. A lot of thrift stores are not very thrifty.  I will continue my search, I'm not giving up! :)

Danielle said...

Great tips for gals of all sizes.  So many of my friends don't thrift & it is such a mystery to me.  Once you start it is hard to shop for anything but the essentials in the retail environment.  Like you said... you have the opportunity to play & take risks on items you might not have given a go.  I laughed when you said to not bring home things unless you love them or your closet will explode... even sticking to this golden rule I have so many dresses that I feel like the Queen... wear it once and never again.  Well not quite... but when you love it and it is $3 you just have to adopt it.  ;-)

Blackcatmagic said...

My friends and I also have the habit of snagging stuff for pals we know that have a hard time finding things that fit b/c  while someone is size 14 they are very blessed in the hips.  Or a smaller size but larger bosom, etc.  Or they just have a really funky style and I know they just can't go on without it!

mari said...

So my question is, do you think your favorite thrifting spots are the norm or unique? I've never been much for thrift shopping, mostly because I don't have the patience to look through everything.  But I also often wonder if people who love thrifting either are close to some amazing place or just have a superhero power for finding cool stuff.  Either way, I don't think I got it.

Mother Mopher said...

Gosh I needed this post to kick my butt into going thrifting. I was starting to feel like it was only for skinny Minnie's!! So thank you bunches for the tips!!!!

WittyMoniker said...

Hey, fellow New Yorker here.  If you go to Salvation Army thrift stores on Wednesdays (Family Day) you can get most things for 50% off.  So, while you won't get dresses for $3, you'll get them for $6-7.  The other problem is *finding* plus size dresses in NYC thrift stores! :)

Rachele said...

Believe, it isn't magic every time! I go to Goodwill mostly but I also visit Value Village and Salvation Army. There isnt a unique to Portland place that I go to but our Goodwills could be different than other areas, etc.

Rachele said...

How awesome of you! Sometimes I see really neat things that aren't my size and wish I knew someone I could buy them for.

Rachele said...

Exactly! Clothes wear out so quicky sometimes but I don't feel so bad about it when it was $5 haha. We will never go naked!

Rachele said...

Thank you! It doesn't seem quite as tricky here. I also strike gold because we get all the target overstock at our thrift store. I wish you the best of luck!

Rachele said...

Thank you! I am glad my tips can help all sizes :) I just went through my closet and donated back some things that still had the tags on them....so yeah...duds!

Merel - De Groene Meisjes said...

Love your post! You're so right about the "butterflies-shirt"!

Blackcatmagic said...

I will say the one thing I find frustrating is that there are no places that take only plus-size clothing donations....as in for people in need.  Shelters, etc.  Many of those folks are starting out from scratch trying to find jobs and need interview clothes.  I don't mind taking my stuff to Goodwill and those types of places but I would love to start some sort donation center (as in free) for plus-size folks getting on their feet.

Rachel said...

I thrift because I can't find anything to fit my very short, small frame but larger bosom. I'm five two and buying an extra large in a store means I end up wearing the shirt as a dress, almost every time.

Rebecca Brown said...

thanks for the shout-out!

I've also found that, for especially smelly bags, putting one of those fridge-versions of the baking soda box (the kind with the permeable sides) inside the bag for a few days really helps too.

Sarah said...

Another tip, if your thrift store doesn't segregate plus size, scan the bottom of the tops and look for ones that hang longer. Often, these are plus size tops. Also be sure to check out the men's section...they misplace plus size women's stuff in there all the time.

Lizabeth Roadman said...

I just found your blog about 20 minutes ago and can't stop reading!!! You are beautiful and you inspire me. I wear plus size clothing, size 20-22 depending on the maker. I have a larger bust/waist line and narrower hips. I have a hard time finding clothes that I think look flattering on me.

I've also recently had a horrible haircut experience...a few days ago my hair went from just past my shoulders to just above my ears...same length all the way around, my neck hairline was shaved 2inches up! :( I have decided to go back and get it re-cut in the style of Ginnifer Goodwin (the post that brought me here to begin with.)

I'm just mumbling, but I am so glad I came across your blog and have inspired me to love me for ME. My husband loves my fluffiness...and it's about time that I love it too.

Thank you, Rachele, you have been my saving grace today.

Yadira said...

I've actually found really cute plus size clothes while thrifting only they were not exactly my size so I can't wear them. :S The materials were awesome so I bought them to use the fabric instead.

Rachele said...

Oh wow! Having sewing skills must be awesome :)

Rachele said...

Thank you! You are too sweet. I love that Ginnifer haircut...do you have photos of yours? I would love to see!

Rachele said...

Ooo, that's a smart idea too!

Rachele said...

That would be really cool. We have free clothes for job seekers in our area but I wonder if they have enough plus sizes.

Rachele said...

Thanks! I know, I just have such a hard time imagining it look good on someone. Maybe someone out there can rock it.

preeti prakash said...

Thank you for sharing these nice tips. In today’s fashion market,
there are many options for plus sized women. From stand-alone stores, to
department stores to online fashion websites; women with curvier figures can
easily find stylish apparel to fit their lifestyle.


plus size bathing suits

Mindy~ said...

I love to thrift, but the plus sized section is always sooooooooooo lame.  It is frustrating but I suppose as the average size gets bigger, so will the thrift supply.  My only tip is to really try it on if possible, but don't get upset if you need to go up a size when thrifting. OFten thrifted clothing have been worn, and dried, many times and have shrunk at least a size.  I wear a solid 18 but I will buy 3x in a thrift store due to shrinkage.  Great post!

Susan Plus Size said...

Thrift stores require a lot of patience, but I've found some great outfits there too.

Plus Size Dorita said...

Beautiful pics! I love the green sweater.

SamanthaJoy said...

I find it kinda funny that plus size people feel like they can only go to malls to find clothing. I'm the opposite. Malls make me feel more self conscious, and I also have a harder time finding clothing that fits me because the only stores that stock plus size are plus size stores and they tend to be hideous. Seriously people, I may be fat, but I don't want to look like I'm wearing a fucking tent. 

Also, I'd say my best tip is to not go expecting. I always know which parts of my closet need extra padding, but I don't go looking for that perfect winter coat, cos odds are, you won't find it that trip. But that doesn't mean that you won't find it. I have found so many of those perfect items, I just stopped limiting myself. Thrifting is unpredictable. 

Hope you enjoyed my ranting. I have always loved you and your blog and have recently just been browsing your tumblr and found one post on this post and although I did read it when you published (I am a dedicated reader) I just felt the urge to comment now.

XO Samantha

Johnna LaFaith said...

First, let me say I JUST found your blog and I adore you. Or at least, so far I do ;) right.  You have a great idea and I love the way you write.

Now, these thrifting tips are perfect. As a fellow thrifting queen I find myself using a lot of these tricks to help me out while I'm there, and most of the clothes I find are from target as well... crazy times. I love what you said about cutting the sleeves out of something I know I will only wear with a cardigan. I have only done that once but... Now I feel liberated to do it! And you encouraged my size 12 frame to keep looking for the perfect dresses and skirts. It's easy to get bummed when there are racks of size 6 dresses and nothing for me.

Anyway, thanks. Very Much! I'm sure I'll be posting comments a lot on here :D

Anonymous said...

Thank for the tips. I've never been one to do the plus size mall or online shopping. Thrifting has made finding clothes for me easier but sometimes even going through some of the thrift store racks with the cute stuff in skinny chick sizes can be discouraging. Your tips inspire me to keep on thriftin'. Thanx

TAjii MARiE' said...

This was a great article, I went thrifting once and was not impressed by what I found. Now after reading this on your blog I will go with a whole new attitude and a new set of guidelines to follow. Thank you so much !

brittbre said...

I started thrifting because im young and only have a little bit of babysitting money but i feel so happy i found a thrift store that specializes in plus size clothing called curvy consignments its so awsome but i love your tips thx

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