Sunday, May 7, 2017

Queens of the Thrift Age

In the past several years, thrift shopping has become popular across all ages and income brackets.  Something that used to be practiced only by people with very little money has become a recreational activity, a creative challenge, and even a competitive sport for people who can afford to shop retail.   If you've followed my blog for a while, you know how much I enjoy thrift shopping.  I've been scoping out the Goodwill and Salvation Army Thrift Stores since I moved to London to attend university in 1980, when you could find beautiful vintage pieces for inexpensive prices.   As a student, I didn't have much money to spend, so I was thrilled to find a butter-soft suede jacket and like-new army boots for under $10.  Now that I am an adult (in theory)with a full-time job, I could buy more things retail if I wanted to, but the majority of my wardrobe comes from consignment, vintage and thrift shops, and I consider myself to be an excellent secondhand shopper.

I never go to a secondhand store with something specific in mind and that way I'm open to whatever treasure presents itself.  I can usually scan a rack and tell within a minute or two if there is anything worth a closer look.  The more you shop at thrift stores, the more discerning your eye becomes, and with practice I've learned to distinguish good quality fabric by sight and/or touch.  I will plan on spending least 2 hours if I am heading to a large thrift store because I like to look through the entire store.   I will do a "serious" thrifting trip at least once a month but I know people who visit their favourite stores several times a week.

Some of my outfits made of thrifted pieces....

Black and red checked short sleeved top - Talize, tulle skirt - Goodwill Thrift Store

top and pants both from Talize

As you can tell from the sidebar on my page, Talize is my favourite thrift store (they have recently invited me to be a Brand Ambassador) .   The store here in London, Ontario is large, bright, and clean with lots of space between racks to move around.  It has a good turnover of stock, the racks are always full, and rarely have I ever left the store empty handed.  Prices are very reasonable for most items, although, like many other thrift stores, they charge what I think are high prices for secondhand items from cheap fast fashion brands such as Joe Fresh, H & M and Forever 21.  For me, Talize wins over Value Village and Goodwill because of the variety of unique clothing brands I have found there.  The outfit above is a perfect example.  The top is an Asian brand I can't decipher, and made from a thick fabric that feels like neoprene.  The print is a designer knock off and it has a built-in necklace.  I believe it was around $8.  I found the pants a couple of years ago, in the skirt section (which is why I look through all the sections) and they are by Toronto designer Annie Thompson.  Judging from the prices on her website, they were most likely between $300 - $400 new, and I got these for $8.  I had them shortened as they were a bit overwhelming when full-length, and they have become a staple in my wardrobe. 

 denim jacket - The Sentimentalist,  embellished t-shirt - Goodwill Thrift Store, skirt - Mesh Consignment Boutique. Even my eyeglass frames are secondhand, and are also from The Sentimentalist.  The denim jacket gets worn an average of once a week, all year round.

My love of thrift shopping is one of the things I share with several of the women in my blogging community....

Melanie purchases almost all of her clothing secondhand and she has the ability to mix and match pieces that would intimidate less adventurous women.  Her eclectic style has recently been featured in a number of online publications including AARP and Marie Claire Brazil.  She is wearing the jacket from an Emporio Armani suit she found at a secondhand store in the photo above, with a thrifted blouse and pants.

Another outfit created from thrift-store finds, made into something uniquely "Melanie"

Sheila is as hardcore a thrift shopper as they come - her entire outfit, including the shoes, was purchased secondhand.   I love the colour of those pants!

Everything is this very Spring-like outfit was purchased from thrift stores except for the shoes.  Each  piece is a quality brand and it looks like she spent a lot of money.

For Vix, secondhand shopping is a way of life.  Her house, and her wardrobe, are full of secondhand finds and she is also a vintage seller (see her Kinky Melon boutique here).   Her colourful maxi dresses, skirts and jackets come from charity shops, car boot and jumble sales, and other vintage sellers.  Staff at her local charity shops (or "chazzas" as she calls them) will put items aside for her if they think they would suit her.   I'm hoping she leaves the black and white dress in the right hand photo to me in her will (and perhaps I'll be small enough to wear it by then).

Four different women with very different styles,  all wearing items that have been previously owned and enjoyed by other people.   I know many bloggers who shop secondhand, and one of them, Bella, created the Shop Secondhand First badge you see on my front page.   If you're already a thrift shopper, what's the best thing you've ever found?   If you don't thrift shop, why not?  Leave your answer in the comments...


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  2. lovely thrifted outfits, love how you created some edgy ensembles, so cool and stylish, I think you're really an expert shopper!
    And I love this post particularly, as I feel encouraged to keep shopping second hand and making new finds!

  3. Yay! Thanks for the shout-out and including me amongst these fabulous women (you, especially).
    How exciting to be a brand ambassador for a thrift shop. I can't think of a better choice. You've got such enviable style and I can't think of a better woman to inspire others to look at buying second-hand first rather than following the rest of the pack.
    Those designer trousers are especially wonderful. I can't imagine them full length, they make far more of an impact at the length you've cleverly decided to have them shortened to. xxx

  4. I agree with Vix. I would have passed those pants right by at full length and never given a thought to shortening them. The silhouette is wonderful.

    Of course I buy pretty much all thrifted, vintage or consignment and also resell vintage like Vix.

    I was shocked to see on my last visit to Value Village that they had raised the prices of their dresses to $25, no matter the condition or brand of the item. Pieces with massive holes and stains are selling for that price. Higher end brands went up as high as $40 or $60. I left shaking my head. Now the only days I will be shopping there is when it is 50% off.

    I'm with you, Talize is by far my favourite thrift store to shop.


  5. I love the photo of you by the fence, Shelley, among all those lawn flowers. You are striking in all your bold and unique pieces, made possible because you have the magic thrift eye.

    Yes, Talize is my store of choice as well - I just wish it were closer. When I do go, I make it count! You are a perfect Brand Ambassador. I often go to a charity shop downtown, My Sister's Closet, not only because it is nearby and proceeds go to a great cause, but I sometimes find great pieces on its $5 rack. VV used to be cool; not so much anymore.

    Thanks for the shout-out too! Heh. Vix, Sheila, you, and many more - what a cool community I have found in blogging. Mwah!

  6. Thank you so much for featuring me and giving me a shout-out, Shelley! I'm proud to be among you and these other vintage foxy ladies. My best thrifted items have been high-end couture: Andres Courreges, Etro, Armani, Dolce & Gabbana - every one of them under $10. I love the thrill of the hunt, and like you, I can usually tell at a glance what's a quality piece.

    I am sure I have not been in a VV in over a year (we don't have Talize here) - I so rarely go there. I prefer the smaller stores, and try to rotate through them on a regular basis.

  7. Shelley, I know exactly what you mean about being able to glance at a rack and immediately pick out the quality item. Comes from many years of trawling the thrift racks. These days, I can even be across the store and see something peeking out from a rack and know that it's good :)

    You have all my style heroines here, including yourself!!

    One of my favorite thrifts is what I call "the cat thrift store". It's basically a cat rescue charity thrift. I shop there frequently and also donate all my best stuff there.

  8. Congratulations on your Talize Brand Ambassadorship! You have a great eye, as evidenced by the above fabulous photos. Mel, Sheila and Vix are role models as well. Shopping secondhand is where it's at, as far as I'm concerned. It's also sustainable, which is another reason it's my favorite way to find interesting pieces. Great post!

  9. Hm, trying to pick a best thing would be hard for me since the majority of my wardrobe is thrifted. Rather than clothing, I will opt for artwork, a small Maxfield Parrish print for $40.

  10. Somehow I had missed this post. Mercy me. With all my fav bloggesses. And all their grand, one-of-a-kind ensembles. I can't imagine a shop like Talize with all the amenities. Congrats on your promotion.

  11. Thrifting is the best! I also visit consignment shops, but always prefer thrift store prices.

  12. Love your photography and writing and sure hope when you come to Vancouver to visit Mel, that you come to the closet to shop and that we can all get out for a day. Cheers, Colleen Tsoukalas