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Teacher Feature Get thrifty with back-to-school shopping

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Posted: Monday, October 17, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 9:49 am, Tue Oct 18, 2011.

There is so much that I love about back-to-school shopping! After all, it’s shopping — and what woman with a credit card doesn’t love to shop?

But to make it more exciting, every summer I head out the door with coupons in hand ... and a desire to acquire those treasures that will complete my wardrobe for the coming school year. Move over, thrift store patrons — here I come!

About 10 years ago I discovered thrift shopping. I have always loved a bargain, and I “repurposed” items long before I knew it was the proper thing to do. I bought a Christmas tree for my college apartment at a garage sale, and my favorite place when I was a little girl was my grandmother’s fabric closet. I loved making doll clothes from her scraps.

But nothing is as exciting as unearthing a prize at a thrift shop. And when I became a teacher, I discovered it paid not to pay too much for my clothes.

Now, it does pay to be picky, and you must do your homework. It’s important to know your labels: Jones, Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, just to name a few. Carry your cellphone so you can search the Internet for other brands that might be of designer quality.

And you have to know your size. The less you have to take to the dressing room, the better; take advantage of the mirrors on the sales floor. (It is helpful if you wear a simple tee so you can try on tops in front of the mirror).

Set a price limit, and stick to it. Your item has to be really special and one-of-a-kind if it is priced over $5. Look for flaws: holes, stains, weak seams, missing buttons and the like. If you have to spend too much money cleaning or replacing zippers, it isn’t worth it.

Be brave, mix patterns and textures, try a new color (it’s $2.99, why not?), a different style. Don’t forget the belts, scarves, purses and jewelry. Beware of shoes and hats.

I have a lot of school clothes, and very few items cost more than my limit. On many occasions, my whole outfit totals less than $10: khaki capris, a patterned tee, a fun cardigan or jean jacket, a jeweled belt, and a shoulder book bag.

I know what you’re thinking — so let’s just say I receive a compliment or two, now and then.

Give it a try. Remember the old saying: “Someone’s junk may be your treasure.” You never know what you’ll find or who you’ll see when you shop at thrift stores, but you can be sure you will see me!

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Stephanie Hiatt

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