Two friends, both a Ms. D, have brought to mind the subject of shopping second-hand, one that resonates with many people in this time of too-much and too-poorly-made.
For many years fashion trends whizzed by at the speed of light. We're now in a traffic jam where anything goes. Who's to say it isn't fashion when no one plays by rules that don't even exist? Common sense would be the only one left. Sometimes even that seems in short supply.
"They just don't make them like they used to" can apply to anything from houses to Hot Wheels. This was never so true when high-end brands began selling polyester (at their high end prices). Where have silk and wool and cotton garments gone? To the thrift shop.
|The Etro T|
The for-profit thrift shop (more properly called resale) is where I usually take my cast-offs. I wait anxiously, like Scrooge's housekeeper, while a millennial rummages through my stuff, looking for a brand she recognizes, only to receive pennies on the dollar for what that cost.
But I've found some gems at the thrift shop. For a time someone regularly dropped off Marc Jacobs in my size. I've bought brands I could never afford at full prince, like Vince. I've splurged on some sparkly stuff that, frankly, is still sitting unworn in my closet and some wonderful vintage pieces (a leopard wool swing coat, Pendelton high-waisted plaid pants) that I wear often.
|Ms. D wearing a find. Photo by Richard Lewin|
Now the first Ms. D not only has a thrift picker's eye herself, she volunteers in her local Village Improvement Society Thrift Shop. She says it's to get a first look at the donations, but she also coordinates the displays on the level of a professional visual merchandiser, AND she shops for me. I look forward to the box she sends on my birthday, full of personal picks, including—one year—a beautiful Etro dress.
|Ms. D's new dress|
The next Ms. D recently discovered her local church thrift shop and realizes her style is very much suited to the classic, well made pieces the local grandes dames are donating. She wrote me about the dress she just found—a dark floral shirt dress in a soft fabric that fits like a dream and somehow looks very Today. It's perfect for her office Christmas party and cost $14. She's not a grab-and-go kind of shopper and ultimately rejected a number of dreamy finds, but she'll be back.
So we've established thrift shopping is good for the planet and good for the wallet, and can be as much fun as Robinson Crusoe finding Friday. There's something else no one has yet to mention.
When you bring something home that has never been worn, it essentially has no life until you give it one. Your secondhand piece has gone places and seen things before you plucked it from the rack. I find myself thinking of that.
I wonder, "Why would someone donate this?", especially true of clothes that still carry original price tags. After the initial excitement of finding something brand-new in a secondhand store, I start to feel bad for the person who made the mistake. I understand; I've been there. It must have hurt to admit, but I'm proud of her for clearing it out, whether Marie Kondo told her or she came to that conclusion herself.
|Did BB wear my coat?|
I think about where my previously worn piece went. What was her life in that leopard coat? Did she live in Houston? It must have been a very different city then. She might have worn it one evening downtown, a place that barely exists today but once did. I've seen pictures. She wore it to death; the pocket lining was ripped when I got it. Why did she finally let go?
My previously worn clothes have stories I wish I knew.
the only one
who wants to