Hi friends, I am Kari Montgomery, a thirty-something wife, mom of two, middle school social studies teacher and bargain hunter. You can find me making the most out of life + style on my Instagram blog @kari.montgomery – Small Budget Big Style
Why I thrift and love thrifting
The better question is why aren’t more people thrifting!?! I absolutely love the thrill of a good deal and the treasure hunt aspect of shopping at Goodwill. Not only do I save a ton of money dressing myself and my family from Goodwill, but I’m able to find unique items and not get lost in the sea of trends and fads you find shopping retail. I can experiment with different styles and am exposed to lots of different labels and items I most likely wouldn’t find in a retail setting.
Favorite thrifted item
I honestly don’t know how I can pick just one, it’s like asking which of my kids is my favorite! The thrifted item I wear the most is a perfectly distressed and worn in pair of Joe’s Jeans I’ve had for years. Over the years I’ve scored many high-end brands and left many on the racks for others such as – Tory Burch, DVF, Kate Spade, Jimmy Choo and Prada!
Favorite Goodwill and Why
My favorite Goodwill is the Elk Grove store off of East Stockton Boulevard. I love the friendly, helpful staff, cleanliness and the organization of the store.
Do you feel thrifting enhances your style and why?
Thrifting has absolutely enhanced my personal style. Through thrifting I have been able to try-on and buy items I most likely would have never even come into contact with shopping retail. Thrifting has helped me look beyond labels and size tags. I’ve gained a lot of confidence and learned what cuts and styles work best with my body type. Thrifting has helped me look for more versatile and classic pieces that are timeless, not trendy. I view style and clothing as an investment and I want to get the most bang for my buck.
When did you start thrifting?
I thrifted occasionally in high school and college, but became a “serious” thrifter when I became a mom seven years ago. I have always loved clothes, shoes, accessories and shopping, but realized my new budget that included diapers and childcare was not going to permit me to shop how I had before I had kids. I started thrifting out of necessity and found the experience to be very fun, rewarding and budget friendly. There is something very satisfying knowing you paid a few dollars for something that retails for 10-20x that amount.
I love autumn and winter for fashion. Northern California’s autumn tends to be warm and short lived, so I combined the two. Cozy layers, sweaters, jackets, scarves and boots are my absolute favorite! Adding a scarf or hat to an outfit can completely change and pull together an entire look.
This is a hard one. I would describe m style as casual with a dash of minimalist and a bit of glam. I gravitate towards wardrobe staples and neutrals – items I will be able to wear in multiple ways, settings, and seasons. I like to add a bit of bling and sparkle to my outfits and in my opinion leopard is always a neutral!
Thrift Store Strategy Tips and How I Avoid buying the wrong size, etc.
I keep in the notes on my phone, my thrift wish/needs list to help me stay focused. I will admit it is very easy to get off track or overspend when everything is such a good deal. I tend to bring cash so that I have to stick to my budget. My strategy is to always grab a cart and if you are remotely interested in an item, put it in your cart. I start at the counter with locked items, then go through house wares. I find tons of great decor at Goodwill, then I look at furniture, purses and shoes. Then depending on my time, I go into the racks. My kids are growing and going through clothing so quickly, that I always start in the kids department. If you have children, you need to be thrifting. I then move on to the men’s section to look for my husband. When shopping for myself, I tend to focus on one or two racks. I go through every single item. I look at the labels, feel the material and even when thrifting, I check the price tags. Items can be mis-tagged or are donated because the sizing is off. If I like something, I put it in my cart, regardless of the size. I’ve learned not to get hung up on brands and labels. We are not defined by the size and price of our clothes. I try on everything and carefully inspect each item before deciding to buy it or return it to the racks. If the item is at all uncomfortable, the fit is off or similar to an item I already own, I put it back.
Wear what makes you happy. Don’t worry about what everyone else is wearing or try to force trends and styles that don’t suit you. When you feel good about your appearance, you exude confidence and that goodness trickles into all aspects of your life. I tend to stick to neutrals and add pops of color or interest with my accessories, textures, bags and shoes. I’m a big fan of print mixing. It can be a bit daunting at first, but a good starting point is mixing stripes with florals or my favorite stripes or plaid with leopard!