We wanted to know what types of secondhand items you could shop for and use for holiday occasions. We asked a couple secondhand shopping experts, here are their tips and insights:
What kinds of garage sale or flea market items/props can you use for Halloween Costumes?
“Some of the best things to use for Halloween costumes are the amazing secondhand accessories you can find–hats, gloves, umbrellas, scarves, glasses, sunglasses, and brooches,” says Natasha Malinsky, Shopping and Lifestyle Consolidator of Shop NYC Tours. You can also find some beautiful lace garments, especially slips and nightgowns, which can be easily used for flapper costumes and as undergarments for Victorian-era costumes and For more recent consignment looks, you can find a great deal of 80’s attire in consignment shops including neon shirts, striped leg warmers and plastic bracelets and sunglasses–perfect for the Cindi Lauper or Madonna looks. 70’s disco is another easy find as often times you’ll come across some cool psychedelic printed dresses and one-piece jumpers.
Stacey Johnson from the Mile High Marketplace in Denver, Colorado says, “When I’m invited to a Halloween Bash, I don’t consider a costume that is scary, witch-like, ghoulish, or anything remotely hair-raising.” She sees an opportunity to channel my favorite decade; hers is the 50’s! What other day of the year, can I actually get away dressed like a roller skating carhop? While she doesn’t live thru the decade that spawned the birth of rock n roll, she loves everything about it, including the Beatles, rolled cuff jeans, leather jackets, the move Grease, “the Fonze,” and of course Mrs. Cleaver! Stacey suggests when shopping to find the necessary accouterment to pull together a costume that screams “the 50’s,” spend a couple of hours at your local flea market. Whether you are starting from scratch, or simply need to add a couple of decade specific accessories to your party attire, you’ll be able to greet those trick-or-treaters decked out as your favorite 50’s icon! A Poodle skirt, leather biking jacket, bobby socks, cat-eye glasses, saddle shoes, red and white polka dot housewife dress, bubbly blond ponytail wig, pink satin jacket, or for the more daring – a sexy “Sandra Dee-esque” black off the shoulder top with skin tight Capri pants − all can be found at good flea markets.
Barbara DesChamps of Chteau Publishing is a designer of houses and clothing, an image consultant and author of two books in sig block below. The Custom Wardrobe book has a long chapter titled “Shop or Sew?” It analyses the pros and cons of different types of stores, including consignment and thrift, for different items and will save your readers much money. I see many people shopping in such stores for Halloween costumes. “You can often get a big head start over sewing costumes from scratch,” Barbara says.
What kinds of secondhand items are appropriate to give as gifts during the holidays?
Natasha Malinsky suggests the most appropriate second-hand items to give during the holidays is old estate jewelry (as it can look very expensive and sometimes even antique), unique handbags, wallets and clutches for women. For men, the same goes for cuff links, magnifying glasses, pipes and money clips. The older the era the article is from, chances are, the more expensive it will look.
Stacey Johnson says “I would never want to gift used clothing, shoes, or small household appliances (no used espresso machines!), but anytime I have someone on my gift list who is an avid collector I head to the local flea market for something unique and personal!” Her sister collects anything related to dachshunds and her mother-in-law has a fetish for vintage paperweights. Her husband loves anything even remotely associated with the Boston Red Sox! With a nice sunny day, a comfortable pair of walking shoes, and a little bit of luck she can usually have these gifts crossed off her Holiday list in a couple of hours. Recently at Mile High Marketplace Antique Alley in Denver, Colorado, she scored an adorable dachshund salt and peppershaker set still in the box, and in mint condition! Next, she found a very dusty but beautiful souvenir paperweight containing an image of an old lighthouse. Double score as her mother-in-law grew up on the coast in New England and is fascinated by images of lighthouses! And last, she heads to the more permanent indoor retailers where she finds a brand new Boston Red Sox baseball cap sporting the 2007 World Series Champion logo!
Barbara DesChamps says, “The only gift I can remember giving that came from a second-hand store was a lighting fixture.” She was in a store that sold antique plumbing and electrical fixtures and saw a craftsman-style lighting fixture that was perfect for her neighbors’ covered porch. It was only a few dollars and I had seen similar new ones for much more. She has refurbished and rewired many antique fixtures but this one was already in good condition. “My opinion is that true antiques make good gifts if you know the value of them and they are stylistically appropriate for the recipient’s home, the fixture looks fine in place but if it had not, risking a few bucks was not a big deal.” Somebody once found an antique chandelier at a rummage sale for her stairwell and bought it just on the chance that it would work for her, it did and we were happy to get it for $75.
Special thanks to our contributors for this piece!
Stacey Johnson from Mile High Market Place in Denver, Colorado is a secondhand expert and treasure hunter as the “Artful Upcycling” pro at the Marketplace.
Natasha Malinsky is a Shopping and Lifestyle Coordinator. She is the owner of Shop-NYC-Tours and offers a Vintage and Consignment Tour, and is a self-proclaimed “consignment junkie.”
Barbara DesChamps of Chteau Publishing has two books:
It’s In The Bag: The Complete Guide to Lightweight Travel
It’s In The Bag: Your Custom Business and Travel Wardrobe