5 thrifty finds: J.Crew, Gap, and how to tell the difference in outlet vs. retail tags

With all this house building/moving business, my thrift shopping days have naturally been on hold since last summer... until the other day when I had a midwife appointment and had the chance to run into our local Clothes Mentor. {all alone!! what?} :D

I don't know about you but the last two-three years of fashion/trends have been quite profitable for my wallet. Even when I try, I can't find anything at Target or any retail store I actually want to buy! :) Even my old go-to stores like Gap outlet and the Loft have failed me again and again. It's super hard to find flattering, classic {not too trendy anyway} clothes that I won't hate wearing next season. Picky much, Mandy?  I know, hahah! I have an hourglass shape that doesn't fit well in the popular flowy shirts and kimonos, though I love them on other people. And I {probably like everyone else} really don't want to spend money on clothes I will only wear a few times or less.

Retail fashion may have failed me, but thrifting finally delivered once again! I scored three classic J. Crew tops, a Lou & Grey sweatshirt and a Merona tank! It was a very unusual trip for me, but I was so glad to find a few longer shirts to fit my growing belly and hopefully the ever-changing postpartum body that is to come. :)

My total for these 5 shirts was not exactly a GW price-  somewhere around $43 for all of them. Crazy but true- the J.Crew shirts on the top row would be nearly that price each, or more at the outlet store. I found myself surprisingly willing to spend $2- $14 on good quality shirts that actually fit me. :D I was very excited!

I noticed something I thought I would pass on in case you're like me and have thrifted and never paid a bit of attention: if you want to tell if something is from the J.Crew, Gap, or Banana Republic outlet store- look at the difference in these two tags:

The one on the left with two dots under it is from the J. Crew outlet, and the one on the right is J. Crew retail. Though the outlet clothes are sometimes last year's retail leftovers, often the outlet stores make their own clothing line, and the quality of their clothing can be lower compared to that of the retail store. When you're out thrifting it's helpful to know the difference because a retail item might be worth more than an outlet store item- especially if you're reselling. 

p.s. I personally like the more classic style of most outlets more than the trendier retail stores. :)

Here's another example up close- I snagged a pic of a Gap tag from an item I purchased myself at a retail store:

And here is an outlet tag from an item I also purchased directly- it has three dots on the right side. :D

Maybe you already knew all of this special tag business, but I never connected the dots. ;)

Outlet or not though, I didn't care in the slightest on this trip. My belly was just happy to fit in the bottom of a shirt again. :D

Do you have any thrifting finds lately? I'd love to hear!! 
{I'm not sure our GW will ever be a good place to shop again, so I need to live vicariously through you!}

Any other tips/tricks you've found when buying from the big chain stores?
oh- did you know the season the clothes were made is on the inside? I could take a pic for you next time!