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12 Thrifting Hacks or How to Score an Amazing Velvet Coat

Tips for thrift store shopping

Christmas time is here. Happiness and cheer. You know how the song goes.

But there's nothing cheery about a giant credit card bill in January. One of the best shopping strategies for saving a few bucks during the holiday season is thrift and consignment shopping. I know, I know what you're thinking ... "You want me to give my fashionable pals stuff other people have worn?" But hear me out -- there is a cornucopia of beautiful items out there (many new with tags) that have been donated to your local thrift store. If you open your mind a little, you can score some really unique stuff for pennies.

To help us all along with this process, I asked two of the savviest L.A. thrift shoppers I know (and my personal pals) to share some of their shopping wisdom with you all. They were hesitant to spill their secrets, but hey, it's the giving season.

My pal Marykay is the reason I am wearing this amazing vintage velvet and ostrich feather coat in these photos. This coat was one of those moments when all of the fashion stars aligned. Backstory: Marykay found this coat in one of her super-secret thrift stores. She says that it reminded her of me. Planning on listing it for sale (Poshmark username: Mkaay), she brought it over to my house to show it to me. MK took it out of the bag and I gasped. Literally, gasped. Then the angels sang. Then I put it on with this dark floral maxi dress (which I happened to be wearing that night. Weird). It fit perfectly. At that point I would have paid anything. I had to have it. She sold it to me and the rest is Cursing Ballerina fashion history. It was kismet.

My pal Celina is what I would call a Los Angeles "power thrifter." She's genius at scoring legit designer items for nothing. I won't get into the Prada shoes she found for next to nothing. Hurts too much. Jealous much? You can check out some of her treasures on her Insta account: @celinamariala.

This holiday shopping season I encourage you to trust fate and think outside the fashion box. Whether it's a special occasion dress or a gift for that bff who is obsessed with vintage, consignment stores and thrifting can make you look like a gift-giving hero without breaking the bank.

MK's Thrifting Hacks:

  • The last two weeks of December and just about the whole month of January are great thrift times, people are clearing out for the holidays, and after Christmas as they put new things away, they are giving up old. Also, in January everyone says they're going to lose weight and they get rid of all the sizes they don't want to be anymore!

  • This one would seem obvious, but just like real estate, location, location, LOCATION!! The more affluent areas have awesome thrift shops. I've gotten many designer pieces with tags still on them from thrift shops in upper-income areas.

  • Some peeps say get to know the help. I say, nay. They see you too often and buying all size, so believe me, they're onto to you and know you're reselling. But sometimes this can be used to your advantage. For example, on one thrift store visit I overheard one salesperson say to another, “She's probably selling it somewhere.” When I got to the counter to pay I sweetly said, 'I overheard what you said, but let me tell you what I'm doing.... etc…” They ended up giving me a discount. I never haggle over price. Most are thrift shops operated to benefit a charity, and I don't want that bad karma.

  • Hospital thrift shops are one of my favorite places to get amazing clothes. Their hours are always odd, but worth going to. They are usually staffed with the cutest little old ladies who are thrilled when you stop in, and I always give a few extra bucks over what I spent, that's the BEST karma!!

Celina's 'The Jedi Mind Trick' and Other Thrift Shopping Tips:

  • The first thing you need to know about shopping at thrift stores and vintage shops is that you probably will not find exactly what you are looking for unless you have mastered the Jedi Mind Trick (to be explained later). Thrift stores are a far cry from retail stores where their wares are somewhat predictable, organized, and available in your size. Once we get that retail mentality out of the way, the fun begins.

  • Most thrift shoppers I know like fashion. You don’t have to have a degree in fashion design, but some knowledge about what a cropped versus a bootcut jean would be helpful.

  • The element of surprise is key in shopping at second-hand stores. You never know what you are going to find. And once you find that chartreuse green 1950’s dress, you might not have known that you really needed it. But, um, you do.

  • One thing I like to do to make my visits to thrift shops more fun and productive is to get inspired. I look for fashion inspiration in magazines and the Anthropologie website. There are few things that bring me as much satisfaction as buying a black velvet blazer at a thrift store for $6 like the one I saw in the Anthropologie catalog for $148. True story.

  • Do some research. Smartphones are a quick and easy way to look up brands of items you find. You can find some real treasures at thrift and consignment shops. Like the pair of brand new blue suede high heeled sandals I found at Goodwill. I looked up the brand, which was Paul Green. I immediately learned that the shoes were an excellent purchase at the price of $7.99 since they retailed for approximately $300. Again, true story.

  • Thrift stores happen to be my happy place. You don’t always find something good or something at all when you go into a thrift store. I’ve left many a trip empty handed but I always drop in to a thrift shop for a quick browse.

  • Location, location, location. Try going to thrift shops in different cities, states, or neighborhoods. There are all kinds of treasures waiting for you out there.

  • Finally, the "Jedi Mind Trick." People sometimes call it visualization or manifesting. You picture the perfect pair of jeans or a long pleated skirt, or whatever strikes your fancy. You walk into a thrift store and find it in your size. Voila!

Thrift shopping tips

Outfit details:

Sunglasses: Kate Spade

Floral Maxi Dress: Forever 21

Velvet Coat: Consignment/Vintage

THRIFTING TIP: Strike while the iron is hot -- End of December/beginning of January are prime thrifting time. People are clearing out their closets!

How to score a vintage coat

Outfit details:

Velvet Dress: For Love and Lemons (available in my Poshmark closet:

Velvet Coat: Vintage/Consignment

Necklace: Express

Aviators: Forever 21

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