Shopping second-hand for men poses its own special challenges. Here's how to thrift for the guys, and what you should be on the lookout for at your favorite thrift and/or consignment store.
1. What are the challenges when thrifting for men? What items are harder to buy second-hand?
I asked Laurel Hansen from ARC Value Village in Richfield for her take. According to Laurel, when men donate clothing, their items are either like-new or worn out. There's very little in between, which makes it easier to find high quality items in good condition.
When it comes to business or formal wear, be sure to try everything on. Don't just assume the sizing on the label is correct. If men are going to have anything tailored, it's going to be suit coats and dress pants, so check to see if the sleeves or hem lengths have been shortened.
Speaking of dress pants, you'll now find more current silhouettes at thrift stores – namely flat front pants. You'll still see plenty of pleated pants (which some men like), but nowadays you'll find the trendier styles as well – which was not the case a few years ago.
2. What are the biggest and best sellers for men's second-hand clothing?
Laurel said men can get the biggest bang for their buck by thrifting ties and belts. The mark-up at department stores on these two accessories is insane. Men can save anywhere from $20 to $50 per item just by buying second-hand ties and belts. And since tie trends don't change as quickly as women's clothing, your item might BE thrifted, but it won't LOOK thrifted. Plus, men tend to have a higher comfort level thrifting accessories than they would a shirt or pair of shoes.
Blazers are also a great deal at thrift stores. Men usually take good care of their dress clothes, and these items are typically in good condition. You'll find 1 to 2 to 3 button styles, so you can get the cut that best fits your shape.
Denim – men's premium denim is as overpriced as women's! Search for higher end brands, such as Calvin Klein or Lucky Brand in a good dark-wash finish.
3. Additional tips and tricks:
a. Don't forget to factor in the cost of dry-cleaning when thrifting dress pants and blazers. Pants can occasionally be machine-washed, but suit coats MUST go to the cleaners.
b. Look for the classics. Men's clothing tends to be less susceptible to trends, so you'll have more options at the thrift store.
c. If you do want to be trendy – for example, layering tops or sporting a waistcoat – thrifting lets you try the trend without breaking the bank.
d. If you fall in love with the perfect white dress shirt, and it has yellowed a bit, try one of the following. One, soak the shirt in Oxyclean. Two, "cook" it in Rit Color Remover. Then wash as normal.
e. Some thrift stores have personal shopping services, like ARC Value Village in Richfield. Set up an appointment, tell them your sizes, and they'll pull entire outfits for you. For more information, log on to http://www.arcsvaluevillage.org/shop/
f. Mark your calendar! The ARC Value Village in Brooklyn Park is having a 50% off Sale this Thursday June 14, in honor of their 12th anniversary and their recently completed renovation. Also, please remember that your favorite thrift stores start rolling out their fall clothing in July, so stock up for the cold months early and save.