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April 12

THRIFT-SHOPPING FOR THE DISCERNING HOARDER

By Sister Wolf

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As a compulsive thrift-shopper, I feel qualified to lend my expertise to both beginners and pros alike, so pay attention, there may be a short quiz at the end of the lesson. The number one tenet of successful thrift-shopping is patience. Not the patience of a saint, but more like the patience of someone who once found an $800 La Perla chemise for six dollars at a Goodwill store. 
So, prepare to spend time if you're serious about finding something good. Often, it's only after an hour of sifting through ten million pieces of shit from H&M and Forever 21 that you find your treasure. Be thorough and methodical. There may be a vintage Vivienne Westwood skirt among those tragic cast-offs that look like old Halloween costumes designed by blind people.

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Your brand awareness is another key factor as well. Now you can justify hours spent online, looking at Net-a-Porter, Browns, Matches, ssense, and, of course, Farfetch. You need to know that Y's is a line by Yohji Yamamoto and that Fuzzi is an offshoot of Jean Paul Gaultier. You need to see if that silk shirt is just Banana Republic, or Equipment. You want to be able to run home and shout, "Look how much money I just saved!" 

The savings are theoretical but again, you can justify your labors as being lucrative instead of time-wasting. Brandishing a Prada jacket like a Cherokee warrior holding up a scalp is the triumph you're looking for. Anyone can find a used cashmere sweater, but the one made in Scotland or Italy will last forever. Jeans that look good but whose brand is a mystery are liable to dye your laundry blue. Levi's without the red tag on the back are probably fake, and the fit will be completely off. If your heart is set on making a big score, look up the brand on eBay.

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If you don't care about imaginary savings, buy what you love. Just make sure it isn't stained, and make sure it isn't polyester. Polyester is the devil. It's not biodegradable and it doesn't breathe. Stay away from it. Also, if it's made in a country known for sweatshops, don't expect high quality. It's kind of a lose-lose. Silently apologize to it and move on.

 Here's a rule borrowed from Marie Kondo, whose other rules you need to ignore for the time being. Never buy anything because you'll "wear it around the house." If you're thinking that, you already know it's crap. You have enough crap! That's why you're shopping. If you want to see crap, you could look in your own closet. Remember that if it isn't a prize, you're not taking it home. If it's not good for you but it might be good for a friend, forget about it. Unless a friend has specifically asked you to find a dubious second-hand garment that might not fit, move on.

 If you really want something but it's priced too high, don't be afraid to negotiate. Bring your item to the counter and ask nicely if you can get a better price. If the answer is no, stare at the item with a skeptical expression to see if that gets you anywhere. Or, try for a look of inconsolable disappointment. Both of these techniques have worked for me. It's worth a shot.

Finally, if you already have dozens of something, think twice before buying yet another one. Clearly, you have trouble saying no. If you're convinced that this is the version you've been looking for, buy it, and get rid of an old one. Purging is the only way you can keep hoarding without ending up on a sordid TV show.

Remember, you are not some it-girl amassing a huge wardrobe you will describe in an interview as "curated." You don't need twenty vintage fur coats. You just want the frisson of pleasure that comes from scoring a bargain that fits you perfectly and fills a hole in your wardrobe. Try not to be greedy, because it's a trait you shouldn't want to cultivate. Unless it's an alligator handbag, in which case buy it no matter what, and insist that you're a collector, not a hoarder.

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