Sunday, October 18, 2015

How to Thrift for a Guy

Sheldon always has incredible visual appeal to me, but right now it is overpowering. His is, in the words of Zoolander, "really, really, really ridiculously good looking". Why? Because I chose his outfit for him at Salvation Army.

I need to be blunt. I really care about clothing and grooming on my man. I like to feel maximum attraction to him and if he is wearing well-fitting clothing in flattering colours then it automatically ups his attractiveness levels by several degrees. Is this making sense or is it sounding incredibly vain and shallow? Sometimes I make the defence of being an artist who values aesthetics. I am not saying that there aren't days when I don't bum around in sweatpants and an old T-shirt or when Sheldon needs to wear work clothes to his lawn care job. And sometimes I just need to give it a rest and let Sheldon wear whatever he wants. 

But lately I have vetoed so many of Sheldon has been in need of new clothes. There are a number of reasons for this:
- I have forbidden him to wear a lot of them. 
- He wears them out fast at his new job, which is physically demanding and dirty. 
- He has a really hard time finding pants and shirts that fit both his extremely long limbs and extremely slender body. 

We had been planning to go to a thrift store together to hunt for clothing for a long time. But I am always busy with school and he with work. Finally I am on Fall Break and I got to help him out. We ended up finding a couple of wool blazers that I liked and approximately two shirts, but ultimately it was really hard to find good things for him. I never realised that buying clothes for another person, especially a guy, could be so hard. I am so used to buying thrifted garments for myself. I know what I like, I know what looks good within a few seconds and I have a pretty good idea of what will fit me even if I only see it on the hanger. With Sheldon it was a whole new ball game. I had to tell Sheldon that I was sorry for ever being frustrated at his inability to find clothes before. 

Reasons it is harder for a guy to find clothes:

1. There are fewer options of styles. Guys are pretty much confined to pants, shirts and outer garments. So there are not a whole lot of combinations available to them. 

2. Guys tend to buy fewer clothes. The clothing industry purposefully makes women's clothing both less durable and trendier. That means that more women get rid of clothing than men, because they need to keep up with styles and because of minor flaws. That makes women's thrifting better, because there are higher quality things and more of them to choose from. 

3. It is hard to find the right pants size. Sheldon's pants size of a 31 waist and 32 leg length is extremely rare. The people who do wear this size don't hardly ever get rid of their pants and give them to Salvation Army, because they know how hard it is to find ones that fit! 

4. Guys wear tend to wear their clothes out more. They are more hard on their clothing and hold on to them for longer, so the ones that you can find in thrift stores tend to be baggy or saggy. They have pills on them if they are sweaters and other general wear and tear. Not always, but often. 

I want to share some of the tactics that I used with Sheldon today. Granted, we were not entirely successful, because the main thing we needed was pants and the only ones we found that remotely fit were light orange and sagged int he bottom region. But I still have plenty of tricks up my sleeve that helped us to get our job done in about an hour and fifteen minutes. There were no tears, no snapping and no headaches from lack of food. 

Here are some tips for successful thrifting from my wealth of thrifting experience: 

1. Have loose goals. I have found that when you set out to shop for something ultra specific you end up becoming highly frustrated and discouraged because it is nigh impossible to find a thing that perfectly matches a your vision. Hold your goals loosely rather than tightly. This will help you to keep an open mind while thrifting and come out of it feeling less rotten if you heven't found the exact item you were hoping for. Being willing to change your "goal" half way through the trip is also an asset. With Sheldon this meant that while we really wanted pants, we decided to be excited about finding nice blazers instead. In fact, we found that when he was wearing a nice shirt and blazer, his old pants didn't look as ragged. So it helped a lot anyway!

2. Try everything. A lot of people see things on the rack and say, "I could never wear that." Then they just put it back. But the truth is, sometimes the best things are ones that look rotten on the rack but actually work when they are on your body. You have to give everything a shot. Does this mean you end up trying on a bunch of terrible things in order to find three good ones? Yes. I would say that I purchase about 5-10% of the things I try on. If its a good day then I buy 20%. Sometimes I buy things that I am on the fence about. If I don't end up wearing them very often, then I am not too disappointed, because I only paid a few dollars for them and I can put them right back in the donations box. With Sheldon this meant that he tried on 10 blazers and bought two. 

3. Be quick. If you are too slow about choosing, then you will get tired and cranky. Then you will hate your time at the thrift store. With Sheldon we got a system working in which He would pull on a blazer and while he was doing that I would be putting the previous one back on the hanger and onto the rack. We got quite quick at this. Another time-saving device we used was in searching for pants of the right size. We would each grab one end of a rack of pants (they are not organised by size at Salvation Army) and flip through glancing at the sizes. Then we would meet in the middle after combing the entire thing. Together it only took us a minute to search an entire rack.

4. You can pull anything off. People often ask the question, "Do you think I can pull this off?" I have a friend that had a very good response to this question. She said, "You can pull anything off if you have enough confidence. If you chose it and you chose to be confident wearing it, then you can pull it off." I agree with this. I think that there are definitely some thins that no one should be wearing, but I also think that with confidence people could "pull off" a great many more things than they think they can. For instance I found a blazer that was made of a shiny, blue fabric. I liked how it fit Sheldon and I even liked the blue on him. I thought that he could make it work if paired with the right things. But he did not think it matched his aesthetic. That was OK, but I thought he could totally rock it if he so desired. 

5. Buy the things that you love. This one seems very obvious. But I have often found myself buying things because I think I need them, not because they genuinely make me glad to look at and wear on my body. It is the things that you love that you will end up actually wearing later. It is quite rare that I ever wear the things I don't love but think I need. These tend to be things like, "Oh, I need a plain T-shirt. I guess I should buy this blue one, even though it does not inspire joy." One of my favourite fashion gurus, Angie from the website You Look Fab, says something like, "Does it spark joy?" I love that as a guiding thrift principle. Sheldon and I found a forest-green blazer that looked lovely on him, but the sleeves were too short, as usual. But we decided that it sparked enough joy in both of us that for 6$ we thought it might be worth spending 20$ for tailoring form a friend of mine. 

I hope these have been helpful. I enjoyed including Sheldon in one of my favourite pastimes today. I think he also enjoyed it although I was a little apprehensive about shopping for clothes together for the first time. The two of us have been dating for two years, but we have never once been clothing shopping together! 

Sheldon, I think you will read this eventually, so I have a message for you: I love you to pieces. If you only wore the same things for the rest of your life I would still love you to pieces. If you wore your horrible "adventure" cargo pants for the rest of your life I would still love you to pieces. 

Lucy Rose

1 comment:

  1. This makes me want to go thrifting with you. You are fun.