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Confessions of a thrift store junkie

24 Feb 2005

I recently learned that a co-worker of mine described me as a “very fashion-conscious girl.” I laughed at the absurdity of the statement. I consider myself to be the antithesis of a fashion-conscious girl. I don’t spend a lot of money on clothes, I hate the mall, and I refuse to look at skinny models in your average fashion magazine. However, the most obvious reason why that particular description of me was completely off the mark is ……I HATE SHOPPING!

Well, that’s not entirely true. I do despise going to the local mall and dealing with pushy crowds, but I absolutely love to go vintage shopping. Vintage shopping is essentially what it is. It is going to secondhand stores (Goodwill, Salvation Army, Value Village etc.) and buying gently used clothing at a very reasonable price. My personal style is of an old skool nature, so I feel right at home retro shopping.

I’m not going to lie to you. In the beginning, I didn’t like the idea of wearing other people’s clothing. I thought that it was unsanitary, depressing and just plain nasty. But when my ultra-stylish cousin assured me that all I had to do was launder the clothes (at that time, she had been shopping at secondhand stores for years), it didn’t take long for me to warm up to the idea. It also didn’t hurt that a friend of mine confessed to frequenting Goodwill to buy all of her trendy clothing.

When I entered university, my friends and I spent the majority of our free time at secondhand stores. We didn’t have much money, so spending just a few dollars on clothes worked well with our pockets.

We were obsessed with finding funky clothes to wear to school. We were tired of the uninspiring attire that we saw draped over mannequins in department stores; so we looked to thrift shops for vintage t-shirts, leather jackets and bell-bottom jeans. Being first year students, we wanted our clothes to represent our eccentric personalities.

I enjoyed looking different from everyone else. I liked knowing that no one else had the same outfit as me. Secondhand stores weren’t as popular back then as they are today, so we would revel in knowing that our secret shopping place was hidden from everyone.

It has been many years since I’ve been in university, but I have continued to shop at secondhand stores throughout the years. Most of the time it was out of necessity. When I graduated from university I didn’t land a great job, so going to the mall to buy the latest fashions was not my reality. I had no choice but to go back to my trusty thrift store and look for clothes to wear to interviews.

During my years in university, I only dressed in retro fashions, so it felt a little odd for me to look for good pieces that would be appropriate to wear to interviews. I didn’t think that I would be able to find anything. Luckily, I was able to buy jackets and skirts that were suitable for an office. I was amazed that you could unearth such gems in vintages stores.

Fortunately, I have since found a job and I am financially able to shop in “regular stores,” but I still choose to visit secondhand stores on a regular basis. I get such satisfaction from discovering a great find. It is not just the price of the item that gets me excited (believe me, the great prices will draw you in!), it is the multitude of amazing fashions that I have at my fingertips. Some of my favourite articles of clothing have been purchased there. I have bought many leather jackets, skirts, and mint condition vintage handbags. Since the merchandise changes very quickly, I feel compelled to go at least once a week.

Every so often when I go out with my friends or I dress for work, they’ll ask me where I bought my outfit. I unashamedly tell that I bought it at a secondhand store. The usual response is a gasp and then a very shocked look will creep on their face. More often than not, the next response will be them asking if I could take them on one of my shopping adventures.

As I end this article, I have to admit that my co-worker wasn’t completely wrong. Maybe I am not a fashion-conscious girl but a “ghetto-fab” fashion conscious girl. I do like fashion and I do try to follow the trends, it’s just that I don’t need to spend a lot of money to do so. I truly believe that you don’t need to spend a million bucks to look good. All you need is some patience and imagination. Have fun shopping!

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