Written by Juliane Torczon
I’ve always had a personal struggle with “vintage clothing” and “thrift stores.”
I feel like the word “vintage” is severely overused, mainly due to the fact that there is no clear definition. If you think about it, if all vintage means is secondhand clothing from a different era, then anything pre-2000 can technically be vintage. I’m okay with that as long as people don’t use it as an excuse to wear hideous clothing.
“Well, this sweater is vintage.” Uh, no, that sweater is ugly and you calling it vintage doesn’t make it any cuter. Also, I hate when stores have a “vintage” section. I’m sorry, but last time I checked this store doesn’t have a thrift section, so unless you want to charge me a thrift store, secondhand wear price, you should probably not be advertising that. For me, vintage is something not to be used lightly. I love it when the piece of clothing has a story or memory attached to it. For example, when my great-grandmother passed away she was 102 years old. She had clothing from every era. I got to take amazing pieces like hats, scarves, purses, etc.
Obviously, if you don’t have an older person’s closet to raid then your next viable option would be a secondhand store. I don’t go to secondhand/thrift stores very often because it kicks my OCD into overdrive. I get overwhelmed and feel like I’m going to have a panic attack and fall over into the fetal position. I don’t deal with clutter very well and whenever I walk into one of those stores I immediately want to start reorganizing for them. I’ve been approached at least three times before by customers asking me where they can find certain sections—just because I’m cleaning the store doesn’t mean I’m an employee.
However, with spring in swing, summer fast approaching, and me wanting to pinch pennies, I don’t see any harm in entering a few secondhand stores (with a paper bag in hand in case of hyperventilating). If you feel the same as I do about sifting through racks after racks, then I would recommend doing what I did and make a list of things you would like to find to add into your spring/summer wardrobe. For example, I wouldn’t dare go into a grocery store on an empty stomach without a list in hand.
Here is my list of items to keep an eye out for and that will be an easy way to bring color into your wardrobe:
Maxi dresses and skirts were really “in” back in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s and they’ve made a comeback. They were made in many different patterns and colors, so finding one of these in a secondhand store would really make a good spring/summer wardrobe addition.
There’s so many different ways to wear these:
• Monochromatic—wear the same color top as the skirt
• Color Block—if the skirt is all one color, for example, orange, try pairing it with a dark blue or green blouse
• Texturize—try wearing leather, faux fur, or lace with your skirt
• Layer—add multiple layers with vests, scarves, long sleeves, etc.
• Sheer—if you find a sheer maxi skirt, don’t feel like you have to find a slip in order to wear it. Body suits and spandex shorts can be an option.
Any and every secondhand/thrift store is going to have belts in all colors and all sizes. This is an easy and inexpensive way to add in color to your wardrobe—especially if your wardrobe is like mine and tends to be more monochromatic. Use a bright colored belt to bring in color to a cute summer dress, shorts, or a skirt!
Look for anything with lace: shirts, skirts, dresses, etc. Lace is still very in and is a quick way to add a feminine texture to any outfit. Plus, lace is breathable and will help to keep you cool during the “warm” summer months Bakersfield is known for. Lace is one of those fabrics that have lasted through many generations, so there is bound to be lots of unique lace articles of clothing in a thrift store.
T-shirts are an inexpensive way to add color into your casual wardrobe. In addition, you can customize them by cutting them up to fit your fancy. For me, personally, I love to cut the arms off the shirt and make it into a tank top. With all the colorful bandeaus that are in, I would wear one under the shirts so it shows, tuck the shirt into a pair of cut off shorts and belt it with one of the fab belts I picked up from a thrift store. You can probably find some great old concert T’s at these kinds of stores!
Don’t you hate how it seems like all shorts in the stores seems to be way too short? It’s always best to leave something to the imagination and with shorts these days it’s almost impossible.
The great thing about finding inexpensive jeans at a secondhand store is that you can cut them off into shorts at whatever length you want!
And, if you mess it up, you most likely only paid $5-$10 for them.
With all that said, go out there and hunt! It’s a great way to spend a Saturday with a friend. Saving money always makes you feel good and you can get a lot of bang for your buck!
Challenge yourself, be inventive and see how creative you can be with pieces you find. Oh, and for those of you reading that don’t want to go to the secondhand stores—spring clean your closet and give your stuff away so that I can find it.
Article appeared in our 29-1 Issue - April 2012