Part of “stealing fashion from the rich” has to be buying clothes on the cheap, right? I mean, I can preach all I want about how fashion is universal and democratic, but I also can’t afford a $1,700 Valentino sweater this fall.
To be clear, if I could afford that or any other Valentino piece, I would be shamelessly buying them all (Pierpaolo Piccioli, call me!).
Anyway, while we wait for Signor Piccioli to give us the hook up, we have to make due with the budgets we have. For many of us, this means discount “fast fashion” chains. While I’m definitely not immune to the siren call of the $7 sundress, lately I’ve been trying to stay away from some fast fashion brands in favor of thrift stores. I’m just getting tired of feeling guilty for shopping in stores with well-publicized histories of unfair labor practices and then having to replace or throw away the clothes that I buy because they fall apart within six months. (I’m not claiming that everything — or even anything — that I buy is fair trade or ethical, but wouldn’t it be nice to aim that way?)
Thrift stores feel like a good solution to these problems because, on a good trip, I can buy higher quality, sometimes designer clothes for very little money. Plus, thrifting is fun! To me, it always feels like treasure hunting. Maybe it’s not the most rewarding strategy when you’re looking for something specific and you’re pressed for time, but plundering the bargain bins and finding something you’ve been wanting that costs $5 is so satisfying.
A couple of weeks ago, I went to Boomerangs and Goodwill with my friend N, and I definitely found some treasure.
I needed to replace a cheap grey sweater because it was falling apart, and I found this guy in Goodwill:
I also found this camel Polo by Ralph Lauren sweater:
I’m working to reduce my closet to a neutral minimalist wardrobe (more on what that is and if it’s possible in a post coming soon). A nice neutral sweater like this fits right in to my minimalist fantasy.
These two came from Boomerangs, and they’re real, 100%, itchy British wool:
The grey pullover was probably an unnecessary purchase given my current grey sweater collection, but it’s vintage and I have a weird thing for speckled wool. It was also being sold as a men’s top, but I don’t gender my sweaters.
I got all four of these sweaters for under $25. That’s like the price of one sweater at a lot of fast fashion stores, and these are all made of higher quality fabrics and (probably) won’t fall apart in less than a year — they’re built to last.
Obviously you can find some really gross, falling-apart garbage in thrift shops, and something nice from a fast fashion brand can last you a long time if you take good care of it and have a little luck on your side, but I think that lately thrift shopping has served my closet and my wallet much better than buying cheap new stuff.
If you hit up a secondhand shop, thrift store, flea market, yard sale, or any other treasure troves and you strike gold, let me know! Send some of your thrift store finds to email@example.com and maybe I’ll include some submissions in the next Thrift Store Thieves post.