Thrift Tips with Sick Jacket
By Bailey Stefan-Houle
⇨ Julie Ethier is the woman behind the vintage resale shop Sick Jacket. Vintage clothing and thrifting has been a life-long love and hobby, but after making the decision to not return to her corporate job after her maternity leave three years ago, she decided to turn her hobby into her job. Three years later, Sick Jacket is a mainstay on Edmonton’s vintage resale market.
I sat down with Julie to chat about her hot tips for making sure your pre-loved purchases make you feel good and look good.
BSH: How do you find the wicked clothes Sick Jacket sells?
SJ: When I go to a thrift store, I pretty much look through every single piece in the entire store. Even when I think I’m going to be here for like 30 minutes, I end up being there for an hour, an hour and a half, two hours. Because I literally go through each piece. The first thing that I'll notice about a piece is the texture of the fabric. My brain is trained to know what old fabric feels like, and like to look for quality. If it's on trend, then I'll pick it up. I mean trendy as in the vintage version of a modern trend. Like corduroy. Corduroy is now sold like Urban Outfitters, American Eagle, every single place in the world. But originally, it was a 90s trend. So I'm looking for the 90s version of the modern trend.
BSH: Do you ever upcycle your finds before selling them?
SJ: Everything that I buy, I wash it, I make sure that it's clean. I do check it over and replace buttons and fix holes. I also go to a tailor. Her name is Judy at Capital Tailors 2000 off Whyte Ave. Her family has been tailors for like 43 years or something. I bring most of my mending to Judy. We have a nice little relationship now. Sometimes I get a little energy and I sew my own buttons on, but for the most part I outsource my mending. After a garment is fixed, it's like a brand new piece of clothing. It just has a little bit more character now.
BSH: What are your biggest tips for people who are looking to get more into shopping vintage?
SJ: When you go in, try and have something specific in mind. Like you say, “I want to find a sweater vest.” Go on Pinterest and get an idea of what you're looking for. Then go to that section of the thrift store and look through everything. You have to go in expecting that you maybe won't find it. I will go to a lot of thrift stores before I find one cool thing. It takes a lot of time and patience. But you can do it. Also, look above your size range, and below the size range, it's always usually mixed in anyways, so don't give up hope. Just keep going for it.
BSH: Speaking of sizes, sizing in fashion has notoriously not been regulated over the decades. How do you recommend finding clothing in your size at thrift shops?
SJ: When you're out thrifting it's good to look in the size above your size and the size below your size because the thrift stores just go off of the tag on the shirt, or the pants or whatever. One thing about buying vintage or second hand pieces that have already been worn is they'll fit differently. So like if the jeans say size 29, they might be a size 31 because somebody wore them and now the jeans fit to their body. Or they put a XL t-shirt in the dryer so it's no longer an XL. It's a large. Resellers or people who have shops like mine, a lot of the time they'll put the measurements and estimated size on their website to make it easier for you to shop. You can always ask somebody to send you the measurements because they'll be willing to do that. If you have a t-shirt that fits really well, measure it and compare it to the measurements on the vintage clothes listings.
On December 11th and 18th, head to The Aviary to catch Sick Jacket and a host of other vintage shops at The Vintage Mini-Mall. Entry is free so you can spend those coins on the sickest vintage clothing instead!
In the meantime, follow Sick Jacket on Instagram at @sickjacket and never miss a drop by signing up for her newsletter at sickjacket.com.