For some time now, I’ve been fighting the scourge of Thrift Envy. This disease is a side effect of reading too many fashion blogs. So many of my favorite bloggers are champion thrifters. They go into real thrift stores — the Goodwills, the Salvation Armies — and emerge with amazing items that can be effortlessly incorporated into their wardrobes.
True confession: I haven’t visited a “real” thrift store in over 20 years. I just don’t think they’re a good place for me. I’m easily overwhelmed by too much stuff. Even in a fairly well-organized department store, my strategic shopping plan flies out the window almost immediately upon entry. It’s like I’m blinded by the sea of racks, the weird lighting, the lack of oxygen. Everything becomes a blur, and I just pinball around the place. I can’t stay long.
Everybody says that, to be an effective thrifter, you must be focused and purposeful. Disciplined. Vigilant. Methodical and strategic as you tackle rack upon rack of not-exactly-organized items of varying quality. I shudder to think what would happen to me in a place like this.
However, I do love a good consignment store. Sure, the prices are a little higher, but you still get a unique selection at prices much lower than retail. Your conscience is soothed because you are reducing waste rather than just consuming more. The clothes are usually quite well-organized, the collection small enough so as not to overwhelm.
I also worry less about quality, simply because consignment stores have the reputation for being more particular about what they accept. In theory, somebody has already done the quality control for us. (In practice, though, I must admit that I’ve found damaged items in more than one consignment store. I’ve learned to conduct a thorough investigation before leaving the premises).
If any consignment stores existed along my route to and from work, I would visit them weekly. Unfortunately, the closest one is 25 minutes in the wrong direction. And my very favorite consignment stores are over an hour away, located in various college and tourist towns that I might visit on day trips. Now, I’m not generally one who enjoys shopping when there is sightseeing, recreation, or fine dining to enjoy. But for a bit of consignment shopping, I will make an exception.
Awhile back, in a lovely coastal town, I came across this top:
It has no tags, so the origin of this top is completely unknown. (I wonder if any of my readers might recognize it?) The fabric is synthetic, but very soft and light and somewhat breathable.
It doesn’t seem to me like a super-expensive or high-end item, but it has a uniqueness that is pleasantly surprising to me. I don’t know if you can see how the pattern seems to almost “bleed” through from the reverse side (if that makes sense):
I’ve worn the top a few times now, and it plays nicely with both jeans and dressier slacks. It also looks good with my favorite brown, knee-length, ruffled skirt and boots.
For some reason, though, I really enjoyed what happened when I paired it with my classic, work-appropriate trousers and a jacket:
Now, my style has changed a lot since then. I love tailored shapes now; I would never walk around in body-engulfing tents of fabric like I did then. But isn’t it great how you can have both? Hippie chic can mix with tailored classics. And that’ s just one of the many things I love about fashion.
Happy Visible Monday, everybody. I encourage you to visit Not Dead Yet Style to see what all the other Visible Monday participants are wearing. There is no greater inspiration for women who, at middle age or later, are still just hitting their stride when it comes to personal style. I’m on my way there now!