Con: Vintage stuff runs small, and thrift stores can have a more limited selection of sizes.
Pro: While the above is certainly true, I actually find thrift store are more conducive to finding things that fit my real-lady body. The secrets here are these:
- Go to thrift-y thrift stores, as opposed to specialized vintage stores: the Salvation Armys and the Goodwills and the Lutheran Thrift Stores and the Savers and the Outlets. Real people have donated clothes there, and so there’s a variety of sizes to be found. Really: anything from size sub-zero to XXXXL.
- It takes the pressure off. Because of the immense variety of crap at thrift stores, I find the atmosphere much less judge-y of my body. At a store that sells new clothes, there’s a range of sizes…and that’s it. I remember almost having a panic attack while shopping for designer jeans: I sort of fit into the largest size on offer, leading to this thought running on repeat in my brain: MY ASS IS BIGGER THAN ANY OF THESE DESIGNERS CAN EVEN CONCEIVE OF AN ASS BEING. That’s a terrible feeling. But thrift stores? Well, hecko, maybe you don’t fit into those pants you like, but they’re sandwiched between triple-XL hot-pink stretch pants and weirdly spangled, oddly tiny booty shorts. It’s a reassuring reminder of the range of bodies that exist in the world.
- Start with the accessories. The selection of shoes, handbags, and jewelry is going to be more limited than the clothing, and it requires less commitment to sort through them and try them out.
- Develop a triage attitude to the ugly stuff. Only stop for the truly remarkably weird and/or unnattractive. An old puffy prom dress ain’t worth it, guys. There’ll be more. Keep looking. Don’t call your friend over. Which brings me to:
- Separate from your friend. Going with a friend is half the fun, yes. But you don’t need to page through every rack together. There’s lots of stuff and lots of is mildly giggle-worthy. So separate: one of you can start on the first rack of shirts, and the other can start on the second. Look through the rack quickly, with what I called the “thrift store snap”: a quick and snappy shopping style that’s like sort sort sort sort sort oooohnonevermind sort sort sort huh sort sort sort maybe sort sort sort sort maybe sort sort sort ohahahahahahahahakeepingthat sort sort sort sort. In mere minutes, you’ll have looked through a large rack, have collected a reasonable pile of maybes on your arm, and at the point you can compare notes with your friend.