Op-Ed

Thrift Store Chic

Hipster Girl

Hipster Girl

NEW YORK, Oct 15, 2008 / FW/ — Secondhand clothing generally has a bad rap. All too often when we think of clothes bought at a thrift store we think of poorly-made, tattered, mismatched garments that do not completely work. The truth is, for the last few years, the people who shop at thrift stores are the ones who are considered the most stylish at the best parties and coolest events.

If you had brothers or sisters you had to deal with hand-me-downs. It was just part of growing up. Well your sibling always had that one item that they would never let go of; at a secondhand store, you may just be able to find that special something.

Another great part is that often when you shop at thrift stores you are supporting non-profit organizations that help out communities (e.g. the Salvation Army). Thrift store shopping is popular among college students who lack extra funds for new clothes, hipsters who are searching for the latest ironic look, and skateboarders and bikers who need clothes they don’t mind destroying.

Thrift Store

The whole business model of American Apparel is to recreate clothes that resemble clothes someone would find in a thrift store. Skip the imitators and go for the real deal.

One thing that many people have not considered is that you can often find more than just cool clothes; you can find furniture, cooking products and good old fashion jewelry.

The best part is that unlike the unnerving feeling a person gets when they go to an estate sale or the possibility of being arrested for the possession of stolen goods after going to a pawn shop.

There are certain rules, though, when it comes to shopping at a thrift store: do not buy underwear, shoes or bike helmets. If you do not know where the item comes from (e.g. who wore it or how much damage it sustained). It is great though if you want a coloring book that has been finished or old Sega genesis video games.

Ripped Jeans

Ripped Jeans

One aspect about clothes or jewelry bought at a thrift store is that because they cost less than items bought new, they tend to be viewed as more disposable. When it doesn’t cost much to replace a found item from value village what does it matter if it gets torn a little or stained with red wine? If you lose your ring, what does it matter? It isn’t like you just lost an actual diamond engagement ring.

In contrast with the disposability of the clothes is that you can often find rare or vintage clothes that will be impossible to find anywhere else.

A friend of mine guarantees that the best thrift stores are always located in small towns. Apparently, you can find the best button up shirts in those stores because there is less competition from the local populace to snatch up the gems.

Essentially, there are two types of thrift store. There is the larger chain thrift store such as Salvation Army and value village but there are also any number of smaller mom and pop establishments that offer their own charm.

Chain stores offer larger selections while the smaller stores often reflect the local color.

One final appeal of second hand stores is that when we consider that there is a finite supply of natural resources on this planet, reusing and recycling helps take some of the load off the environment. When you shop at a second hand shop you help reduce over all carbon emissions. There is less transport, less cost of manufacturing, less garbage in a landfill.

Vintage Clothes

Vintage Clothes

What makes thrift stores so appealing to many is that it feels like a treasure hunt or when you open up a bag of cracker jacks. There is always a prize in there; it just requires a little effort and a lot of patience in order to find it.

Thrift store shopping is a more involved experience than just aimlessly going from store to store, it requires a greater amount of thought and creativity when compared to just going to the Gap or American Eagle.