My introduction to the world of thrifting happened when I was 13 years old. My best friend Chiyo made her older sister drive us around the greater Sacramento area, or we would take the bus. We were bound and determined to look like Eddie Vedder and Billy Joe Armstrong, and those flannels and army pants at Miller’s Outpost
were too expensive/our moms wouldn’t buy us boy clothes didn’t have enough authenticity for us. If it puts it into perspective for you, I was one of the first customers at Crossroads, way before it was pretty much Contempo Casuals 2.0 with Nordstrom prices (I mean, who are they kidding??).
It was a match made in heaven, me and thrifting. I could buy Grandpa sweaters for $0.79, and find cool home stuff for super cheap. Plus, I’m all about recycling and reusing, and I’ve always had a thing for styles from the past. Shag carpetm avocado appliances and grasscloth wallpaper make me happy, not repulsed.
It took a long time for me to figure out how to thrift “smartly”, meaning, not going crazy and buying anything and everything just because it’s cheap. OR- getting overwhelmed with the rifling through crap. It’s also helpful to be able to spot the things that will always be at thrift stores so you don’t feel like you’d be missing out if you didn’t buy it rightthissecond. It trained me to be a bargain hunter though, so I almost never pay full price for anything- I will pretty much only buy something if it’s 50% off, minimum, and I have a coupon on top of it. Most good bargain hunters have a creed they go by, which is to only pay a lot for staple pieces of high quality, and buy trendy items for cheap (H&M, Forever 21, Target, Old Navy, etc.).
So although I’m not a fashionista by any means, I think I’ve found my own individual way of dressing that works for me, and I have a varied closet of quality pieces, thrifted items, and accessories galore. So I thought I would start a series on my treasure hunting experiences. I can also talk about what I’ve bought for home decor and photo props, and rate the discount and thrift stores in the greater Sacramento area. Because believe me, I’ve had a 17 year history with them, and I know my stuff.
This first outfit I got all at the Goodwill on Arden, which is definitely in the top 5. I went there with friends to buy clothes for this photoshoot in particular, which is the only reason I got everything in one stop- that pretty much never happens. Usually I’ll put together an outfit with a mix of stuff from my closet from all different places. The jacket I saw immediately in the blazer section because I noticed the pattern and I’m a sucker for anything plaid or striped that doesn’t make me want to throw up, and if I see the color gray I have to immediately check it out. I think I paid something like $4.99 for it.
The dress I’m wearing underneath is long sleeved and patterned, which is like finding a needle in a haystack (when you consider it has to be the appropriate size). I got the necklace there too. The dress was $4.99 too, and the necklace was around $3. I got the belt from Forever21.com for $3.99.
The outfit below I found at a Freestyle Clothing Exchange in Midtown right when it first opened. I was in love with the skirt immediately because it had polka dots, and this was another freakish moment when I found the coordinating shirt at the same time. I saw gray, loose, patterned, and high necked sleeveless ( that I can wear a bra with), and I was sold. I actually remember that I paid $11 for each piece, because it was more than I’d ever paid for anything consignment before. But it was a clothing exchange, so that’s to be expected.
Now that I prefer to spend my money on camera equipment or photoshoot materials, I don’t go shopping anymore unless it’s at a thrift store, or super discounted at a regular store if it’s an absolute necessity. I must say, I’m glad I’ve honed these skills over the years or else I’d probably be running up an enormous amount of debt to maintain my shopping habit.