Thrifting for work wear is something I really enjoy! It’s amazing how many well made and tailored blazers and dresses you can find. Jen of Fashionably Employed is a whiz when it comes to thrifting for work wear. I’ve been following her blog for a while and I really admire her “Thrift Eye”. Loft, J. Crew and Banana Republic are just a few labels Jen has found and thrifted at her local thrift stores. She’s great at mixing thrift and non-thrift items and she even re-fashion’s some her clothing. A thrift master and a skilled DIYer? Genius! Jen’s enthusiasm about thrifting is refreshing and her knack for sewing is something I’d love posses. Enjoy her thrifty interview below and be sure to stop by and check out her style blog!
Name, Blog Name & Location?
Jen, Fashionably Employed, from Chicago, IL.
How long have you been a thrifter?
I started thrifting about three years ago.
What are 3 words to describe your style?
Conservative, classic, and colorful
How did you get into thrifting?
Hmmm. That’s a really good question to which I’m not sure I exactly remember the answer. I think it evolved over time. A few years back I started reading lots of blogs in various niches, but personal style blogs and minimalist blogs certainly topped the list of topics about which I enjoyed reading. I appreciated the aspect of considering and attempting to minimize the impact our lives have on the world around us. So as my style developed, I dabbled in secondhand shopping to not only find more unique pieces that I wouldn’t see all my co-workers wearing but also to be more conscientious about the sustainability of my style choices. Not being impulsive or wasteful in my purchasing habits at thrift stores when low prices can be so tempting to indulge took some practice, but I think I’ve developed some discipline in my three years or so of thrifting.
How often do you thrift?
Not as often as I’d like, but that’s probably good for my bank account. Ha. I stop in a thrift store in my hometown of Chicago about 5 – 6 times per year. I like the selections at the stores near me, but they aren’t always my favorite. However, I ALWAYS make plans to stop at both of the thrift stores near my parents house when I am home to visit them. I love the selection and make it a priority to stop in and check out what’s new. I visit them 2 – 3 times per year, so consider that another 4 – 6 visits to stores. Finally, I look forward to stopping at a local thrift store when I travel in order to explore a collection outside of my standard stomping grounds.
What are some of your favorite Thrift Stores in your area?
Savers and Goodwill are my favorites. There is a Salvation Army near me that’s alright, but the selection doesn’t seem to be quite as great. However, I think the true ticket to a great thrift store really depends on the neighborhood in which it’s located. The quality of the selection (the real selling point for me in a good thrift store) is highly dependent on the donors. So I often favor thrift stores in neighborhoods with residents who I expect would have similar shopping habits to me (or shop at stores I’d like).
What would you say to someone who wants to try thrifting but has no idea where to start?
Start slowly and be disciplined. It’s very easy to fall into a trap that something is cheap so why not buy it. Chances are that mentality will leave one with a closet full of cheap things only a few of which they love and wear. Also, plan to commit plenty of time (at least an hour or two) when stopping into the store. Thrifting is a long-winded exploration through racks and racks of miscellaneous items. Finding a diamond in the rough brings so many shoppers back to thrifting, but they likely spent many hours sifting through stacks before landing on that perfect piece. It’s a far different experience than walking into a well-organized chain store with a selection of styles in current colors and trends.
What items do you look for most when you thrift?
Clothing, Accessories, Home Decor or a little bit of everything? Definitely clothing. I occasionally stop in the accessory or home decor section if I have something specific in mind, but I spend the majority of time in search of clothing. More specifically, I head straight for the dress section. Dresses tend to be pieces that are unique and fun but also have less wear and tear than some other types of items. I may stop in the blazer section and then the skirt section. I don’t spend as much time in the casual knits (t-shirts, light sweaters, etc..) because these items tend to be a bit more worn. And basics can be tough to find. Most people exhaust the lives of their basics before donating them. So if these pieces do make it onto the thrift store shelves, they likely are a bit tired or worn by the time I consider them as secondhand purchases.
Are there certain items you will not thrift? If so, what?
Socks and undergarments, for sure. Also, I have never looked for a pair of jeans at a thrift store. I’m certainly not afraid to buy them. But considering the difficulty in finding a perfectly fitting pair of jeans coupled with the various sizing uncertainties inherent in thrifting, I think I have just shied away from the challenge so far. Maybe one of these days when I have good chunk of time and energy on my hands to try on a boatload of pairs, I’ll give it a shot.
Any fashion/style inspirations? Celeb or non-celeb?
Boring as it may be, none are top of mind. I gather most of my style inspiration walking down the street checking out what others are wearing and perusing Pinterest. I avidly check my Pinterest feed and pin regularly to keep track of all the inspiration I love.
What’s the biggest misconception, in your opinion, you think people have about thrifting?
That it’s gross. I understand the clothes have been worn by someone else, but I always wash or dry clean the clothes before wearing them. (Sidenote: If a piece needs to be dry cleaned before being worn, consider that in the total cost of the item. It really is just part of the effective purchase price.) Maybe thrifting being gross is an opinion and not a misconception, I suppose. But I have found plenty of high-quality pieces at budget prices that have been well-worth a little wonder about where they have been before landing in my closet.
How can we keep up with you?