For a lot of people, buying clothing at a thrift store can be…weird. Someone else wore this sweater, this shirt was someone’s favorite, those pants were someone else’s pants!
But then there are those of us who don’t care at all. And kudos to us.
Shoes seem to be an exception. I hear people say, “I shop at thrift stores, but I would
never buy shoes at them!” all the time, and it sort of makes sense…I guess…I mean, you can’t wash
shoes the way you can wash a dress. And the act of washing seems to assure us that the clothes are now ours. Or at least that they’re clean. I’ve honestly never cared about buying second hand shoes. All it means to me is that someone else got the blisters I would have inevitably wound up with had I bought them new.
So, if you’re wondering how to shop for shoes at thrift stores, read on!
1. Find your size
I think this can be the most intimidating part to people, but a lot of thrift stores actually size their shoes, which makes our lives much easier! If they’re not sized, then just pick out styles you like and try them on. But don’t fall in love until you try them on. Also, we’ve all put shoes back where they didn’t belong…so check in other sections because you never know.
2. Keep an eye out for designer or high end brands
Since breaking my foot a few years ago, I’ve pretty much stopped wearing crappy Forever21 type shoes all together. Your feet hold up hundreds of pounds of pressure all day long (right? I didn’t take physics in college), and they deserve something that’s made a little more nicely! Designer or high end brands put more work into their shoes- proper soles, better materials (leather or suede vs. plastic), sturdy heels…the list goes on. I would (typically) pass on Forever21 etc. type shoes at thrift stores since they’re cheaply made anyway and opt for better made ones.
3. Check the condition of the shoe
Obviously you don’t want to buy a totally worn out shoe, and one of the best ways to make sure is to check the sole. If the soles are super worn out, the shoes were worn a lot and are possibly not worth it. There are exceptions in my opinion: awesome vintage finds, amazing designer finds, or when you’re looking for something specific for a costume or party and don’t really care that they hold up. Also, check that the actual sole is not coming off, check the material for holes, make sure boots have their linings, and obviously check for any crazy stains. And on a side note, rubbing suede with a toothbrush is a great way to get rid of stains…
4. Don’t buy them if they don’t fit
I know. I recently found these adorable Seychelles, normally retailing at $80, at a Goodwill for only $6. But, they were a size too big and not at all passable. It killed me to leave them, but what are you going to do with them? Hope your feet grow in the next
few days? Another time I found a pair of Allen Edmonds that retailed for $375 in a men’s 11. So obviously I bought them. And obviously what the hell was I ever going to do with them. Leave them and know that their future owner is coming for them.
5. Clean them up
I have to be honest that I don’t always follow this step, but it’s probably for the best. Spray some bleach and water on them, rub them down with rubbing alcohol, or I’ve even heard of putting them in ziplock bags and freezing them for 24 hours to kill anything. Or some soap and water. Also, although old-fashioned sounding, cobblers are seriously amazing. You should find one near you asap! They can put heel caps on, fix soles, etc. etc. etc. It’s really cool.
My list of shoes to not buy at thrift stores would include:
Cheaply made F21 or Charlotte Russe type shoes
Running shoes (they really have to have enough support and you just don’t know how much someone used them/even for me it’s a little ick)
Crappy flip flops (just, no)
Slippers (this is just a personal opinion, not sure why it irks me)
Anyone else have a say on secondhand shoes? Leave a comment!