Friday, July 8, 2011

01. It's A Thrifty Life For Me.

I absolutely adore thrifting, however, this wasn't always the case. Since I intend to be writing a lot about thrifting (perhaps something like 'Thrifting 101'), I thought I'd share my story of how I got into it

Now to begin with, where I live a ‘thrift store’ is usually known as a ‘second-hand store’ or an ‘op shop’, very few people I know seem to use the term thrift (or even know of it). When I first heard the term, it immediately became part of my vocabulary. I'm not sure why I find it so appealing, perhaps because it appears to be spared the negative connotations sometimes associated with second-hand stores.

'Negative connotations?' I hear you ask, well yes, I believe that some do exist. For example, everything is ugly / stained / gross, only old people shop there, if you buy second-hand clothing you must be poor, you obviously must shop for your underwear / other ‘private’ gear there.

As a child, my mother often went to chain thrift stores, something inspired by her mother who adores going to them, always in hope of finding that amazing antique or special English china. I have a distinct memory of her purchasing me something from there and being so ashamed that it was second-hand that I did not want to wear it purely for that reason. I was certain all the children at school would make fun of me for it, because in my little head they clearly had the power to automatically tell whether something was brand new or second hand. Thus I bucked at the idea of wearing this second hand gear, something that continued for quite some time.

Slowly I begun to gain more acceptance for the concept and by high school I was frequenting second hand books stores (which may I add are a wonderland in themselves). Somewhere in my early years of high school while in a thrift store with my mother, I made a Find*.

Yes, the above picture is my Find*, I still have them and they've served me faithfully over many years. Ignore my messing room, it's sheet washing day so my bed isn't made. Anyway, back to the story, I had to have these shoes, regardless of the fact that they were second hand. To my surprise, they were a hit with my friends and I guess in a way, they (and similar shoes) became part of my 'signature look'. At the time when asked about their origin I tended to be rather vague, but was amazed at the disappointment people showed when they realised that they couldn't just run down to their local Payless Shoes and pick up the same shoe in their size.

Still, even after this find I would not consider myself a real 'thrifter', that didn't happen to much later. Usually I haunted thrift stores coming away with handfuls of X-files videos or books. I had the desire to thrift, but lacked confidence in myself to purchase second hand items and wear them out. Let's face in, it's quite unlikely that you're going to go into a second hand store and find something that's incredibly in fashion at the moment, and I was at that awkward stage where I even wanted to be incredibly fashionable or not fashionable at all (and pretend that it didn't bother me). This stage was not helped by my boyfriend (now ex, or rather the ex) who was with for essentially two years. I felt embarrassed about second hand clothing around him and always felt he would be disgusted in the concept.

After that relationship came to an end I set out to 'find myself' in a way and reclaim the sense of individuality I had allowed him to rob me of. I turned my eyes to thrifting in hope of another Find*, however, this time it was different - instead of idly wandering through the racks, waiting for things to come to me, I decided to actually open my eyes and look. Once this started I was amazed at what I found and now many of my favourite pieces are thrifted.

These days a thrift store is my first thought when decided I want a new item of clothing (or really anything). My current boyfriend of a year is nothing but supportive of this habit (although sometimes finds my taste in clothing rather poor) and I feel that this has fuelled the fire of my love for thrifting. In fact, he now often accompanies me in hope that one day he will make a Find* (plus, he’s dreadfully good at carrying around things for me while I push through the racks).

Up to very recently I still feel somewhat uncomfortable when asked where a thrifted item came from and sometimes just state the brand that the item. This year I have been come incredibly close to a friend and while we were out a few months ago couldn't help but notice his amazing jacket. After spending the entire night commenting on how amazing it was, how I wanted one like it, I asked wear he brought it from and he told me that his father had actually got it from a second hand store. I was impressed by his casualness about the topic and realised how silly I had been being about the whole thing (although, if I had been a different person I wonder if he might have just told me he borrowed it off his dad and didn't know where it was from). Later when I explained my dress from that night was thrifted and listed a few of my recent thrifted items and the price tag with them, he seemed honestly impressed.

Thrifted from Salvation Army, Bondi, $6.

TL;DR I like thrifting. A lot. Would like to write a few ‘Thrifting 101’ and ‘What not to thrift’ style articles (that said, you can thrift whatever the hell you want!).

* Anyone who frequents thrift stores knows what a ‘Find’ is as opposed to a ‘find’, it’s that item you pick up, that catches your eye that you know you have to have and is utterly too good to be true.

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