Thursday, October 29, 2009

On Thrift: Musings and Motivations

barely there braid

Normally I wouldn’t post such a decidedly unthrifted outfit, buuuut I was wearing those newly thrifted boots, so here you go:

New Boots

I realized that it’s been well over a year now that I've been thrifting/buying second hand all of my clothes (excluding underwear, socks, and tights, though I have had some luck with thrifting new tights). There are still enough stragglers though, like this Forever 21 sweater and cardi and my trusty GAP skinny jeans, left over from my days of mall shopping, that I will still occasionally find myself in a completely non-thrifted outfit.

I started thrifting as a kid. We didn’t have much money growing up and at the end of each summer my sisters and I would get a small amount that we could spend on new clothes for school. Then my mom would take us to the thrift stores.

At the time, I probably would have rather been going hog wild at the ESPRIT or Benneton stores, ah the 80’s, but I think this is when I first began trying to recreate designer or whatever looks using thrifted finds, I‘ve always enjoyed that challenge. With so many vintage-inspired designs out there these days too, it only seems to be getting easier!

Into junior high and highschool, I became interested in various “alternative” styles… punk, hippie, grunge, what have you, and thrift stores became less of a necessity and more of a choice.

As for the present, I never consciously decided to do a retail shopping ban, it was something that just sort of happened naturally for me. I don’t have any rules set for myself that I can’t go and buy something new if I choose, though I have become more conscious of the ramifications of feeding into the “mass market machine” and I’m all for re-use as a consumption alternative.

I will admit though that my motives have been mostly selfish: I like shopping for clothes and the cheaper the clothes, the more of them I can afford to shop for (with me at home and the majority of our extra cash going toward home improvement these days this is important), I love vintage and find the unique types of pieces that can’t be found in the mall more aesthetically pleasing and interesting to work with, and perhaps most importantly I thrive on the thrill of the hunt and the high one gets from a really excellent find…

New Loves

… like these for example : )

More fun with Rollip for the braid wednesday flickr group.

*BTW, Frankie Magazine has some fun free wallpapers to spice up your desktop, including the two images I posted here. Found via Loveology.*


anne said...

i love the socks with the boots. what an awesome find!
i have been thrifting since high school and always enjoyed the uniquness of buying used/vintage clothes. there's nothing like it. and the thrill of an awesome deal...well, you know how exciting that is.

p.s.-did you ever post pics of the kill bill costume? i can totally see you in that, i know you must have looked so rad!

Eyeliah said...

Oh yes thrifting! I was introduced around 13 I suppose. I would buy all the 70s polo shirts (sometimes with the alligator) and mens beige and brown trousers, old mens striped sweaters sometimes too - yup thats how I dressed?. I don't mall shop anymore either, the only new would be the same as you - maybe one pair and jeans and a couple pair of shoes also a year. 2nd hand and clothing swaps are the way to go!

muchlove said...

I love your boots!
I guess my love for thrifting has only been in the past 3-4 years. Not that I had anything against it before, I just didn't KNOW it then. First of all, growing up in a southeast asian country, secondhand shops are virtually unheard of. Then once I moved to Australia, I started to explore the local thrift shops, and now I'm hooked! The thrill of finding cheap, vintage wonders is fantastic. Plus having done work related to environment issues recently, I'm also motivated to choose thrift shopping because of the eco-friendly reason.

wow, sorry about the long ramble!

Pretty Pirate said...

those boots are a epic find! Yea!!! Your whole outfit looks so fun and cozy!

B.K. said...

First of all,
They look warm. Also, I love leg warmers.

When I was really young and didn't experience peer pressure, I enjoyed thrift shopping, probably because I was more likely to get something there, then at a regular store.
But that initial innocence passed and I decided that it would be better to stay away from those stores for 'poor people' lest I be seen by an acquaintance.
Then about 5 years ago, in my mid teens, I started working at a store at the mall, which lasted a little under 8 months. I don't know exactly what happened to me there, but a few month after quitting I had this idea of challenging myself to only buy second hand clothes for a whole year.

Well, about 4 years ago, and I just can't seem to go back.

Okay, I'll stop typing now.

Ashlee said...

i have been a pretty avid thrifter since age 15.
i just love the whole experience, it's like a treasure hunt.and i also like that it is an environmentally friendly practice.

it's just all around amazing really.

Andrea said...

Interesting to read about this. I love vintage too. Partly it's an aesthetic thing, beautiful styles and fabrics which is my self-serving reason I guess! The other reason is of course, remake, remodel, recycle. When it comes to new stuff I try and support local designers as I love what they are doing and the clothes last for years. Buy less and wear more is kind of a motto - but actually I have far too many clothes!

Oranges And Apples said...

I grew up with a lot of second hand clothes and hand me downs, and have always visisted the charity shops every now and then. But my proper obsession with charity shops started maybe 5 years ago. I love the element of surprise and the feeling of saying 'its from a charity shop' when someone really likes my clothes.

I kind of find myself going off it just a little recently. I found that the constant thrifting meant my wardrobe was full to bursting with lots and lots of stuff - thrifting does encourage reckless buying because all the money is for a good cause. Which was why I put myself on a four month shopping ban which goes on until christmas. I am allowing myself three trips to the charity shops for the months of October, November and December, but I actually haven't used my October one yet. Once I got over the urge to go out every weekend, I don't miss thrifting (or shopping generally) too much. At the moment I'm focussing more on crafting and researching long term investment clothes that are *just right*. Which may be thrifted or bought new, if I can find the right thing in either the charity shops or from shops/websites.

Hubbub said...

I agree with you it's so nice to find clothes and when they fit perfectly it just seems that it was made for us!I also like to mix and match old and new. Just like you I really enjoy thrifting because it's so cheap and I can get more clothes but then I need a huge closet!nice blog and outfits!

Karen/Small Earth Vintage said...

This was beautifully put! I love your reasoning; it makes perfect sense. I grew up wearing lots of hand-me-downs from older cousins, and my mother also made a lot of my clothing. I also wore new, store-bought clothing, but both of my parents were brought up in families (one middle class, one poor) that believed strongly in thrift and making the most with the least--whether that was out of necessity or just a general philosophy. As a teenager in the 1980s I was totally into punk rock, and that pretty much changed my sense of style and way of looking at the world. That's when I really started to get into thrifting my clothing.

I do still buy new now and then. I like the idea of spending more on something very well-made and less on cheap disposable clothing whenever possible--but admit to occasionally falling prey to a cheap thrill at Target! But I try not to.

Those boots are an *excellent* find. I've been enjoying your blog for many months now, but this is my first comment. :)

Sal said...

Thanks for sharing your thrifting evolution with us, lady!

Manja said...

That's so neat! I wish I had been introduced to 'thrifting' that long ago. Where I live in germany, there are just not that many option to buy secondhand as in the United States. There are really only a couple of stores and you are lucky if you find something there, other than that you pretty much have to rely on flea markets which are only in the summer time :(
Anyway, here in the Netherlands is different - there are lots of thrift stores and even thought they are not as cheap as the salvation army, you can still get good deals there. It is rather hard to thrift nice shoes here and so I most of the time have no choice but to buy new ones. I don't spend that much money on new shoes though. I'm a pretty frugal person :)

polaris said...

There's those boots and they are fab!

I grew up with my mom sewing & knitting my clothes. It wasn't until I neared my teenage years that I got much store-bought clothes. It was around then that I discovered thrift stores, mainly for making costumes. But I soon saw lots of clothes I could wear to school and that started my thrift shopping in earnest. That was well over 30 years ago. I never told my friends where I got the items as I felt a stigma at that age to be wearing "someone else's discards", and today I tell only a few friends where I get them as I don't want to increase the competition for the goodies! LOL. But when I go to a friend's house for dinner or a party they always ask me how much of my outfit was thrifted. And usually it's 95-100%! I buy maybe one thing new a year: this summer a couple pairs of wool socks, Aug. '08 a bra, and prior to that was a pair of shoes in fall of '06.

Alexa said...

I loved hearing how you came to thrift. There are so many reasons to! Being able to afford more, the environment...but I really find that vintage clothes have more of a soul, you know?

elena-lu said...

still have yet to find my awesome thrifted (first) shoe purchase but i always do look (i never thought id buy used shoes before) but the money issue of thrifting is whats really keeping me at it right now i must admit!it wasnt like that before actually it was just cause i didnt like what was inthe mall and found that thrifting had so manu more options!

A Thought Is The Blossom said...

i love those boots and your braid!

i think i kinda went through the same process as you. i never really made the decision to quit mall shopping, it just kind of happened. i was finding such unique and affordable things at thrift store and started getting really good at it. i think shopping is more about the impulse of buying something, so the cheaper that something is the better. not only that, but i started to develop an interest or a hobby in the hunt! i will occasionally go to the mall and pick something up, i just don't do it like i used to. i feel more creative when i don't!

Mars said...

yeah, thrifting is like addicting or something haha. i tend to get bored with things pretty quickly and like to sell/donate and replace with new (well, old) stuff - i'm a recycle rat or something haha :D

and i agree, it's all about the hunt! in fact those boots you found are goooorgeous and the outfit you're wearing them with is adorable, too :)!

Diana said...

Thanks for the link on the Frankie Magazine!

I love your braid! mine would look like a big dread lock, haha

yours looks so soft and pretty!

The Queen of Fifty Cents said...

Once you start buying clothes for next to nothing, I don't see how you could go back to buying in retail stores. Who wouldn't rather have several high quality, interesting items for the same price as one discount store thingie? But for the me best reason of all to thrift's fun!

Love those boots, btw. I want some too!

Milla said...

Truer words were never spoken. While I was in Vancouver I ambled through a couple of chain stores and was surprised to find myself completely bored with them. They seem so pricey and tacky now and the cute things you find look so much less cute when you know that anybody could just pick one up.

I do also think that the human and environmental price of also a concern. Once you consider the issue, it feels so wrong to buy a T-shirt that you know used up 50 gallons of water in the making and was sown together by a woman (or possibly even a child) on the other side of the world for pittance.

Mamushka Marie said...

who would ever want to go to a big box store when you can find boots like those thrifting!? great post, i concur 100%.

leah said...

i can't even remember now how i fell upon your blog last week. no matter, i suppose. i am just pleased as punch that i did. love these thoughts....and i love your thoughts on vintage shopping, i think my last 'mall purchase' was over 2 years ago. Maegan said...

You look adorable! ...I have that sweater tunic ;) ...the rose/brown one as well. love it.

Thrifted Treasure said...

LOVE your boots! I really enjoyed reading how the whole thrifting bug started for you. My weakness is definitely thrifting vintage decor, I find the ornaments, glassware etc in chain stores so same-ish and boring!! I don't get as many chances to thrift clothes as I'd like cos I usually have my little men with me and bringing them into the changing room is not an option!!! My Mum is a charity shop addict and brought us along when we were kids and it's stayed with me since! As a college student I always used to pick up the coolest clothes in second-hand shops, suede jackets, leather jackets, velvet blazers! Where are they now I wonder?

Sam said...

Thrifting - or op shopping as we call it down here - is so much more fun than retail shopping! You find real treasures - rather than more of the same. While I'm not a 100% thrifter anymore (I used to be) I still can't walk past an op shop without having a look see! Your boots are fab! I remember them from a previous post!

Peldyn said...

I didn't do a lot of thrift shopping as a child. My entire wardrobe was handmade by my mother and grandmother who were expert seamstresses. I didn't realise then how lucky I was! I have a few pieces still that are from those times. I started thrifting when my husband was out of work many years ago. It helped to dress my children when I couldn't afford to buy at the stores and trying to sew complete wardrobes for three girls is very hard! Now I thrift because it is fun and I love the clothes I find.