There are 2 thrift stores within walking distance of my office. One is the common Salvation Army thrift store and the other benefits a local charity.
Yesterday I walked to the closest one (the local charity). My mission is to find some new shorts. I bought my current ones in 2003 and they're really showing the wear (I have 3 pairs that I rotate, which was fine when summer was about 3 months long, not so great now that summer is 9+ months long). I know exactly what I want and I've seen them at the outlet mall, but I: 1) don't want to pay full price and 2) don't want to buy new for environmental reasons.
My rules of thrift store shopping are simple:
1) It doesn't matter how cheap it is, if it is missing a button, leave it behind;
2) It must match at least one other item in my closet;
3) Dry clean only items must be really cheap so that it won't be a great loss if they are ruined when I wash them in the regular washer (which I will do); and
4) Always check for stains, holes and other imperfections.
So yesterday I was sort of successful. No shorts (they were all from the 80s - high waisted, pleated fronts, tapered legs). I found 2 blouses I liked and would definitely have worked in my wardrobe. Unfortunately both were too small (thank goodness for dressing rooms). I did end up buying a tank top with a shelf bra. These I use when I bike instead of a sports bra.
Today, I prepared to go to the Salvation Army thrift. I knew they didn't have a dressing room, so I wore a form fitting, thin top under my tunic so I could try on blouses (yes, I'm looking for shorts, but blouses never hurt). I learned a trick from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy - take the waist band of the shorts/skirt/pants and wrap it around your neck, if it wraps fully around your neck, it should fit your waist.
I found a pair of shorts that aren't perfect, but are pretty good. I also found the cutest skirt, which I knew would be tight based on the neck test, but it is just a tad bit too small - I think if I lose this 5-10 pounds I'm working on, it will fit fine. Then I found 2 blouses - fitted, vertical stripes and mostly match something in my closet (if jeans count).
The only problem I have is that I need to figure out how to shorten the long sleeves of one blouse to be 3/4 sleeves. I have, apparently, freakishly long arms. It hits just above my wrist bone and just looks country bumpkin. So, if you know how to do this, let me know.
I gifted 2 dresses from my closet to a coworker. I never wear them and indeed am not even sure they would fit. She tried them on and they look 5000 times better on her than they did on me even when they did fit. I do have a hard time letting go of things. My mom bought me these dresses and I wore one of them once and never wore the other one. She got them on sale, so it wasn't something she was wanting to get me for sentimental reasons. Yet, I feel the slightest bit guilty giving away something that she bought for me.