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The Broke-Ass Girl’s Guide to Fall Thrifting

Updated: Sep 23, 2012 16:55
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Happy Fall!  The days of fighting humidity, basking in the sun, and ignoring obligations to hit the beach are behind us. Fall, and a new job, arrived just in time for me to occupy my sunless free time and finally be able to afford more than ramen noodles.  That being said, cool weather brings the opportunity for a whole new outlook on style.  I packed up my sundresses and began rummaging through my overfilled closet.  It was finally time to say goodbye to some things I’ve held on to for far too long.  Since I’ve been living off of change from a $50 bill, I decided I needed to hustle and find out a way to make some extra cash before receiving my first paycheck.

Sure, I entertained submitting a few writing pieces, making some unique jewelry and creating an Etsy store, or start framing my Instagram “art,” but those probably weren’t realistic goals for making a quick dime.  My heart was heavy and I suffered some inner turmoil while gazing at ruffled shirts I have never worn and dresses that were too tight when originally purchased.  Clearly I have a history of impulse shopping to sooth my soul.  I learned quickly that getting rid of stuff gives me the exact same peace- especially when knowing my neglected treasures would be enjoyed by someone who appreciates them more than I did.

I had two destinations in mind to drop off my duds.  One consignment store was much more selective than the other, so I figured I’d hit that one first.  Everything was beautifully organized and color coordinated, feeling more like an upscale vintage shop than a thrift store.  While I waited for a determination on my clothes, I roamed around as if I had the cash to spend.  My eyes were immediately drawn to the necklaces hanging on an accessory tree.  The sign above read, “All Red Dot items: Two for $5.”  Two for $5?!  My reasoning was simple- I had a $5 bill in my wallet and visions of wearing these necklaces with an all-black ensemble for work, a white tank and jeans for the weekend, or a dress to an evening affair. $5 was practically free in comparison to the memories I would make in these gems.

It’s true: I shop with hopes and dreams.  I often picture myself wearing these items and laughing with friends or strutting the streets before even leaving a store.  I’m pretty sure this is normal behavior.  After receiving a drop-off slip showing the items they had selected and purchasing my new necklaces, I cruised over to shop number two wide-eyed with optimism.

Store number two had a drop-off limit of 6 items per day, so the lady recommended I go to their sister store across the street where I could earn store credit on the spot for everything they took.  Score!  I wandered around and found the perfect black casual jacket.  It was Gap, nevertheless, about as classic as one can get.  With a perfect fit and a price tag of $8, I bought the like-new jacket with my $36 store credit and ventured back across the street.

From these consignment adventures, I learned a few things:

Say yes to the staples.  I had second thoughts about the black jacket since I already have so much black in my closet, but realized two things: 1) it’s basically free since I was using store credit, and 2) you can always use more staples.  Dress it up, dress it down, wear it with fun accessories.  Staples are key.

• Since everything is relatively inexpensive at thrift stores, go ahead and get those quirky pieces and prints.  You’ll leave without regrets, even if your new pieces end up being something you take in next year to the consignment store.  Trends are fleeting, so never pay a pretty penny for these items.

While some consignment stores wait for your items to sell, others provide cash or credit on the spot.  Be sure to ask whether or not they’ll mail you a check or if you will need to go in to see if your items have sold.  Since dropping off my things at consignment store number one, two things have sold and I’ve earned $13.  They just handed me cash, which rocked.  Be sure to get clarification so you don’t miss anything!

Now that I had a few extra dollars and ample store credit for some fun finds, I had my eye out for a few of my fall favorites.  No matter what your style, I’m a firm believer that every girl needs these things in her closet:

Umbrellas!  Weeks ago I was complaining about how it was too hot and sunny, and now it’s raining every single day.  I turn this problem into potential by finding printed umbrellas that make storms fun.  Umbrellas can be pretty cheap, so keep your eye out for bright colors and sales.

Scarves!  Layer, layer, layer.  You can never go wrong with a scarf.  I use it around my neck, as a blanket, or on my head if I forgot my umbrella in a rain storm.  Plus, if it gets too warm, you can easily throw your scarf in one of your…

Oversized Totes!  Guys always ask me, “what do you keep in there?”  The other day I actually presented the contents of my oversized tote, itemizing everything from my Pouchee wallet to my daily agenda.  Not only do large totes double as conversation pieces, they prevent extra trips to go back and get things from your car, apartment, etc.  My friends are forever thankful I carry inappropriately large handbags so I can hold their keys or phone.

Headbands!  A girl’s got to keep her hair in check from time to time during those blustery fall days.  With wind, rain, and hail, headbands are cute and keep hair in place.  They’re great for bad hair days, add some flair to an outfit, and look professional when heading to work.

Colored Coats!  Nothing is brighter than someone walking up to you in a radiant red.  I love colored coats since they doll up any basic outfit and add some shine to a cloudy day.

Boots!  Rain boots, boots with heels, flat boots, booties.  One of the highlights of the season is getting out my favorite suede boots to keep my feet warm AND look chic.

Sweater Dresses!  They’re cozy and a huge step up from wearing a robe in public.  That’s just how much I love sweater dresses.

Fun Tights!  I have a maroon pair of tights with dots that I can’t wait to finally wear.  Add some pizzazz to a plain sweater dress or skirt with a pattern that nobody would expect.

This is how I picture myself on a fall day:

So, what are some of your key items for fall?  I have to use up some of my remaining store credit on something I haven’t already thought of!

Photo Credit: Kristin Fehrman (AKA me. All items are my own)

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Kristin Fehrman - Diva of Deals

Kristin Fehrman - Diva of Deals

A Midwest born serial city hopper with a pesky shopping habit, I strive to live the good life. It's all worth finagling and the hustle as long as I can enjoy awesome restaurants, travel to new places and fill my closet.