Kate Waters, 20, is a student at the University of Iowa who has turned to buying second hand clothes to save money to pay off her student debt. Waters is a sophomore studying French and Business and has been passionate about thifting since a young age. Waters shares her insight on thrifting, tips to start, and how it’s an easy way to save money.
Now that it’s officially the second day of fall I’ve started looking for warm thrifty finds to add to my closet. I love this time of year because you get to layer and layer yourself up and not look ridiculous. It’s also fun to take two different prints and layer those to get a retro- unusual outfit.
These two shirts I adore. Both were purchased at White Rabbit in Iowa City, the store is an absolute treasure chest of goods. I find the quirkiest clothes there but it’s sort of boutique-y so you aren’t paying the dirt cheap second hand price. These two shirts cost me 25 dollars together. The first shirt reminds me of something that Lisa Frank would create after drawing unicorns and rainbows. It’s very MIU MIU meets Marc By Marc chic.
The second shirt is GINGHAM. For some odd reason, I obsess over gingham (& polka dots). The burnt orange gingham shirt is a button up with a straight panel covering the buttons and only exposing a large vintage button on the color. It’s just the right amount of detail to compliment the already loud print. This shirt is over-sized so I plan to wear it with distressed leather boots over black skinnys for a causal but polished look.
And this is what fall has brought me so far…
Todd Thelen is very successful at what he does. Todd is the owner of Artifacts in Iowa City, nestled on the corner of N. Market and Gilbert. It is a visual treat walking into Artifacts on a grey day in Iowa City. The walls are covered inch to inch with various works of art. Furniture, toys, and trinkets tower around the store competing for your attention. It takes a careful eye and patience to not miss something great.
Artifacts is a phenomenon among the pickers, thrift store lovers, and collectors. Todd has customers travel from all over the country to pack up their trucks with his vintage goods. Todd even has a customer fly in from Japan three times a year. He’s always on the lookout for items that his customers will want. In order to be successful at this he’s set standards for the items his store sells. He’s looking for mid-century products and leaving behind the antiques. The once thriving antique market is dead and Todd is ahead of the game picking modern products of the Eames generation.
Besides the overwhelming amount of items in the store, one thing that’s hard to miss is the overall atmosphere. As if Iowa City wasn’t small enough, Artifacts feels like its own community. People walk in and around, exploring each nook for a treasure someone missed. Todd greets almost every person by name and a warm welcome before showing off his latest thrift find.
Todd has a strong customer base and a few regulars that come in every day checking in to see what’s new. Steve is one of Todd’s serious pickers. He travels hundreds of miles across the Midwest each day looking for that great buy among the junk. Today he’s come to the store with news that the infamous “marshmallow” sofa is rumored to be for sale nearby. Steve and Todd marvel over the sheer possibility of Artifacts hosting this one of a kind sofa, or modern work of art. In anticipation, Todd already plans to put the marshmallow sofa in the display window. The marshmallow sofa is considered to be the most iconic of the modernist sofas.
With a steady rise in the thrift store market, Todd is holding on tight and trying to not get burned out. The stores motto is, “If it’s boring, we don’t have it.” His niche is that he has cool stuff and it doesn’t cost a fortune. He has something for everyone, whether its 50 cent vintage stamps, Prada shoes, or modern sofas, there will be something that fits your budget. Last week I found a vintage Christian Dior sweater for 12 dollars. It’s safe to say that I almost fainted.
80 percent of the items in the store are consigned from the people who shop there. Before consignment Todd spent his time searching for the one of a kind items at antique shows and now they come to him. Todd thinks that the trend for thrift stores and second hand items can be correlated with the recession and consumers wanting to save money. People have realized that they can get a product of higher quality for half the price. Artifacts is growing rapidly and successfully with each year in business. Their only obstacle is space. Todd finds that the location of Artifacts is a critical factor to its success and doesn’t plan on moving despite the need for more room. Margaret Roberts, one of Todd’s full time employees, tells me that it can get tight but the merchandise goes out as fast as it comes in.
As I finished up my interview with Todd, Steve let me in on a secret. From his many travels across the Midwest to find the greatest of thrift, vintage, and antiques. There is no place out there like Artifacts. It has the furniture that New Yorkers will spend tens of thousands for and the charm of a small town community of genuine thrifters. Not to be confused with those personalities you see scripted on TV. Margaret tells me that it’s the best job she’s ever had.
It’s definitely worth a visit.
While the ombre trend is dying, I think a more subtle gradient will transition better into fall with a modern feel. I love that denim shirts are coming back & this is a great way to take something casual and add a little jazz. Admit it, you still love the ombre.
1.) Hang the shirt on a hanger upside down. Make sure the shirt is buttoned and that the collar is popped for even results.
2.) Find a wide bucket and fill it with 2 cups of bleach and 4 cups of water. Evenly submerge the shirt into the bleach and have it sit there for an hour. Bleaching effects change between different types of fabric.
4.) TA–DA! After the shirt is completely dry, add some gems to the pocket with super glue. I also dipped the cuffs into the remaining bleach for some jazzy detail.
I have a weakness for bracelets. ANYTHING Everything bold, shiny, and detailed. Whenever I drive through a town or big city I love to stop and check out what their thrift stores have to offer. I always buy a bracelet. … Continue reading
During my 8 hour visit to Des Moines today I was lucky enough to spare 30 minutes to visit the annual Valley Junction vintage fiesta. My major weakness is vintage jewelry so my eyes lit up when I saw the 5 dollar table. After much scrambling, looking over, and trying on…
I fell in love with this necklace. It’s timeless and adds the perfect touch to a casual outfit.
Another Sartorially Cheap steal.
Thirfting can be an overwhelming experience for all your 5 senses. The store could resemble a neglected warehouse with low yellow ceilings and the distinguished smell of old cardboard boxes might even discourage you. Most stores do us the favor of color coordinating which will save you from going blind. I always have to remind myself to not go overboard with the patterns, cue my love for miu miu. These are my tips to savvy thrifting, that will hopefully save you from that impulse buy with red and white unicorns all over it.
1. Be patient There will be plenty of gadgets, shirts, cardigans, and velvet to observe. I always start with the printed items then go to basics that are DIY worthy. Sometimes you will find something excellent and ridiculously cheap. Other times you’ll end up with nothing.
2. Always try it on I don’t care if it costs a dollar. Please try everything on. Chances are there might be holes, stains, and odd flaws that go unnoticed on a hanger. Keep in mind that you are trying on old clothes with old designs, sometimes the fit is too 90’s for our own good.
3. Buy prints with caution I understand that you want to be bold and different, maybe even a man repeller. Some prints can turn out disastrous when they come home with you and your roommate see’s your newest find. I always ask myself how I can style the shirt/skirt/pant, and if so, what combinations can I make with my current closet.
4. Shop in small doses It’s very easy to go overboard. It’s cheap, it fits, you are inspired by Pinterest. I get it. Just remember, quality not quantity.
5. Smell it A wise woman will check the armpits of a used shirt before buying it. My sister once reminded me that dead people wore these clothes.
Till next time,
If you have any smart or funny tips, please share them with us!
Photo cred: Thrift store Polaroid