PHANEROO \fan-er-o-oo\Greek: to manifest in word or deed.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Thrift Store Fashion

One of my favorite memories from college was going thrift shopping with BJ at local thrift stores such as Goodwill, Salvation Army, and AmVets. Sometimes we found nothing on these adventures, and sometimes we racked up. Back in my college days I worked about 20-30 hours per week waiting tables to earn enough money to pay for college tuition, books, car payment ($175/mo), and gas. I lived at home with my parents which saved me from having to pay room/board and meals. I went the entire 4.5 years to school without acquiring student loans. Yay for me! But after all those expenses on a server's income, I had very little left over for clothing, shoes, and accessories. And since I was a young college girl, afterall, clothing, shoes and accessories were still a necessity. On top of it, I hadn't completely snagged my husband yet. BJ and I were just dating so I still had to be on my best behavior and look cute.

The only way I could afford to go clothing shopping was to buy things on the clearance rack at Walmart (not so fun) or find unique stuff at thrift stores (much more fun and creative). On our thrift store outings, I remember finding cute, comfy, broken-in Levi jeans (I was in college from 1994-1998). I also found some funky jackets and coats in plaid tweed. One of my best finds was a like-new Kelty backpack which I used all through college to haul my 500-pound textbooks. Occasionally, I would find cute tops, skirts, dresses, shorts, purses, etc. It always brought me joy to load up a grocery bag or two with fun finds for only $10. Just a few years ago BJ finally tossed out a pair of pants he purchased while thrifting. The pants were definitely worn out by then, but it was one of his favorite pairs to wear around the house. Honestly he would probably still have those pants if he hadn't have lost 50 pounds and could still wear them.

I miss my thrifting days. It's difficult to do thrift shopping with little ones because it requires patience as you dig through racks and racks of clothes and stuff. And you have to keep an open mind about what you hope to find. You probably cannot go with a shopping list. I akin thrift shopping to oil painting - you know what end result you are trying to acheive, but you may not get there without being open-minded and creative. And then in the end what you acheive may be quite different than what you imagined but you feel good about it when it all comes together. And, you can be assured it will be a one-of-a-kind. For instance, you may head out trying to find a floral skirt or dress, but instead you find a cute jacket that inspires you to go searching for some vintage jewelry and accessories to make it work with a shirt and pair of pants you already own. The end result is fabulous but totally different than your original plan.

Recently I've heard a lot about re-styling, re-purposing, re-using, re-ducing, and re-cycling to be a better steward of our environment. I'm not against being a good steward, but back in the days when I did thrifting, there wasn't a lot of media chatter about "going green." Now thrifting seems to be a political statement. For me thrifting is about getting stuff for cheap and knowing that I am helping some charities in the meantime. One day I hope to do more thrift shopping. I like the creativity it unlocks in my head.


Staci said...

LOVE me some thrift shopping - found the cutest boutique dress for the girls last week $1.99 - took the monogram out and will redo it with ours!
Found 4 private school uniforms for a friend of mines daughter and she was SO excited!!

The Moody Newlyweds said...

I found a children's resale shop here in the Chicago area that has gorgeous clothes, toys, and furniture. They have tons of everything. I bought four pairs of pants for James (3-6 month size) and stretchy ones to fit over his cloth diapers. I was shocked when the cashier said that will be $1.89. Turns out that two pants were $.50 and the other two were $.30!! If I was in Knoxville, I would be at Repeat Boutique every other day!