It's like Sex and the Suburbs and 30 Rock all rolled into one…
Thrifty people shop sale. I remember being a young girl and my mother would march us to the back of a store and start with SALE and CLEARANCE. At the time I was furious with her, as the things that my friends were wearing were towards the front of the store, mostly in the display windows. But my parents had priorities, and they weren’t clothes. They were taking two weeks to go to Cape Cod, sailing on our boat, and driving safe and reliable cars. Eating out from time to time. Drinking good scotch and good wine. You know, things that we could do as a family. It’s perfectly reasonable to accept the fact that some of my happiest memories are because my mom found a similar t-shirt at half off.
But then I grew up and started buying my own things and decided that I wanted to dress well. I wanted to buy nice things – the more expensive jeans that fit just better, the good panties from Victoria Secret, the BCBG dress for the big event… And when I was living at home, supposedly trying to save money for a house, I could go and splurge on a designer dress or an expensive winter coat. The problem was when I moved out and had to pay my own bills. Suddenly that Christian Dior blazer was out of the picture.
But I found two places to shop.
I am in love with The Goodwill, specifically the one of Hoosick St in Troy. The other day I was able to grab two suit coats – both from Ralph Lauren – at about $8 a piece. I love wearing a wool sports coat in the fall rather than a jacket. With a sweater and scarf it just looks classier. But to make things even better, I found a fabulous rose dress from Ann Taylor. The fit is perfection. But even better was a pair of completely unworn purple pumps, the exact same color as my favorite dress, the one I go to when I want to look a little sexy.
And then there’s the Talbot’s outfit on Wolf Road. I’m not a big fan of the line itself, often it’s classic, but in the stuffy sense. The cuts aren’t as slim and pleasing as J Crew or Banana Republic. Things there tend to be a little boxy. A little stiff. A little like what my 60 year old high school math teacher wore. However, if you’re willing to go through the racks item by item, you can find some gems… like a linen suit for under $30! (Okay, so it’s sized for boys. A boys size 18 is plenty big for me.) Or a pair of pink ballet flats for $12. My personal favorite is a black bubble skirt that comes to the knee for $2.99.
And I’m not afraid to yard sale it. One time I found a complete set of Andrew Lloyd Webber on vinyl for $5. Another yard sale yielded one of my favorite sweaters ever – a long white cable knit that I can wear as a dress (because it’s a triple XL). Or some fun and funky vintage costume jewelry.
The thing of it is, one man’s trash is quite possibly another’s treasure. When I lost some weight, I pulled things out of my closet that just didn’t fit any more. Some of my friends, my sister and my mother all dug into the shopping bags and got some great pieces. When my friend moved to Chicago, I picked up a great sweater skirt, a pair of red heels straight from Italy and a Christian Dior suit coat. I’m in absolute love of the china I took when my aunt moved – it reminds me of the place settings Don Draper had in Mad Men. (Those old fashioned champagne glasses are just amazing!) All of it trash, and all of it beloved by me.
I may splurge for jeans, and for good comfortable shoes, but sometimes I take a peek at thrift stores and yard sales. You never know what someone is going to throw away.