While many are trying to convince themselves that the end of the recession is drawing near, the truth of the matter is there are many people still being affected by the absence of an extensive disposable income. As a recent college graduate, I have grown quite skilled in the art of functioning while broke; living, partying, eating, and of course shopping on a budget.
It is not as difficult as one would think to achieve style while being economically conscious. Many high profile designers are being recruited to design diluted versions of their clothes and accessories for retailers such as K-Mart, Khol's, and Payless. When Missoni introduced their line for Target on September 13th, their website crashed, and everything on the site and in the store was sold out. While Target is benefitting handsomely from their venture with Missoni, each and every consumer considered lucky enough to snag one of the coveted designs in the signature Missoni zigzag print will be among many sporting the carbon copies. I may be alone here, but compromising my fashion individuality is oftentimes non-negotiable. It irks me to see that someone else has chosen the same color scheme as me, let alone the exact same outfit. My solution for obtaining style, originality, and for keeping a few extra dollars in my slim leatherDooney and Bourke wallet consists of turning to the thrift store to find my own original items.
I am not opposed to mainstream shopping, stores like TJ Maxx, Urban Outfitters, and American Apparel are among my favorite retail establishments, but I mix pieces from these stores with treasures obtained from thrift stores and consignment shops to achieve a unique look and take proud ownership of my style. Shopping at thrift stores, often referred to as ‘Thrifting’ is not an original concept. However, with the onslaught of the vintage fascination, the thrift store is a treasure trove, in which certain diamonds in the rough can be unearthed with just a little bit of time and patience.
The trend for this fall and this upcoming spring is inspired by a more glamorous time period than past seasons. Long flowing skirts paired with a structured jacket, delicate ballerina skirts paired with chunky sweaters. Beautiful, opulent costume jewelry, and well formed blazers with an exaggerated, cinched-in waist are all key pieces that make up the trends for this upcoming year. Decadent colors of black, navy, and jewel tones, paired with nude shades make up the ironic color schemes every fashion conscious individual should be on high alert for. The thrift store is the perfect place to find these fashion concepts from decades past. Thrifting is also a great way to find vintage luxury fashion for less. In the last year I have found a Dior sorbet colored cashmere sweater, cream Ralph Lauren slacks, a tan vintage leather Coach bag, a metallic Diane von Furstenberg dress, and a NOir cocktail ring. Much of these vintage finds would amount to a total original retail price of over $1,000, but most thrift stores receive items as donations and offer a more than reasonable purchasing price for them.
For those who may be new to the Thrifting phenomenon, the best way to go about finding a thrift store in your area is to Google them or check the yellow pages. Odds are there is more than one store in the same area. Consignment shops are similar to thrift stores and are prone to have more designer brands available, but they are also likely to be more expensive.
A large thrift store can sometimes be a little intimidating; the best way to go about navigating a thrift store is to determine what your personal style is and what kind of things you are looking for. Are you in search of a cocktail dress, a cozy flannel shirt, a bow tie? Arriving with a goal in mind normally minimizes the stress of wading through an entire second-hand store and will eliminate some impulsive buys that may not be overly expensive, but can lead to many purchases that you will not realistically wear.
It is best to shop in clothes that are comfortable but can easily be worn when trying other clothes on over them, as many thrift stores do not offer a fitting room. For hygienic purposes, every Thrifter should wash or sanitize their purchases before wearing. They should also try to avoid buying lingerie, swimwear, underwear, or stockings. Other things to keep in mind when Thriftinginclude, making sure the items you truly want have tags on them! If they do not have the tags, most stores will not sell them to you, so avoid the disappointment and drama and make sure the tags are visible and attached to the article of your desire. Oftentimes, Mondays are the best days to go Thrifting, along with holidays like Labor Day and Memorial Day, because most thrift stores take off an extra 50% from the original, already minimal prices.
It may be fun to take a little Thrifting trip while traveling. When in New York, the country’s fashion haven, some of the best Thrifting can be found throughout the entire city, you absolutely must stop by Buffalo Exchange, found in Brooklyn and the East Village on East 11th street, and the NYC Opera Thrift Shop on East 23rd street. When in Washington DC, make sure you try and visit Annie Creamcheese on M street. And whilst in Chicago, please do schedule some time to shop the Buffalo Exchange on north Milwaukee Avenue, as well as theVillage Thrift and Unique Thrift Stores that can be found quite abundantly throughout the city. Happy Thrifting!