Everyone who knows me—perhaps including the readers of my little corner of the blogosphere—knows that I love thrift stores. Although many cities have thrifts filled with bedraggled clothing, cracked plastic furniture, and yellowing romance novels circa 1976—all at ridiculously high prices, I have been lucky to live mostly in places that have excellent and reasonably priced thrifts.
Of course, every silver lining has a cloud. Because of my outstanding abilities at thrift shopping, I find too much. Everyone who knows me also knows I have a clutter problem. These fabulous bargains are too hard to resist, which is why I have a Geoffrey Beene jacket, a Karl Lagerfeld blazer, John Fluevog shoes (new, but a bit too small), just to name a few. I know I will never wear these. So I have to impose rules on myself.
Here are my rules:
Sweaters: cashmere only, no holes, or nice ones from Banana Republic or the like only if from the last two years (Banana, Gap, and Old Navy clothes are dated under the tags!).
Blazers: very expensive brands only; MUST FIT ME!
Shoes: FLATS only, must be new or close to it, must FIT. I have smallish feet and so find a lot of great shoes, including my best find of all time, new Chanel loafers.
As for the rest, pants (too lazy to try on, plus I wear only jeans now), don’t wear skirts or dresses, shirts/tanks cost the same as sweaters, so are too expensive in my thrift universe.
What about men’s stuff? I’m only allowed to buy cashmere sweaters, Hermes ties (not that anyone wears them in my house), and that’s about it.
Really, I should stay away from thrift stores. But today I needed milk and salt, and it just so happens that a thrift store is RIGHT NEXT to the grocery. So I ventured in, for a quick spin. Honestly, I get out fast and look in the most desultory fashion. I hope NOT to find things, truly.
Women’s Department: Lots of nice things, but only two cashmere sweaters jumped into my hands. One was a new with tags George brand, from Walmart. That disqualified it. I did buy a Prive brand ivory cashmere cardigan. Prive can be found at Dillards, and a similar sweater is available on sale for about $35.00, marked down from $115.00. The Ecstasy!
Men’s Department: This about killed me. I saw several Zegna shirts (newly drycleaned), a Robert Talbott shirt (ditto), and other pricy brands. All in Dr. Mr. FS’s very size. Then I checked out the ties, which are all 99 cents: a Ferragamo, a Zegna, several high-level Polo numbers, several Robert Talbotts, other Italian silk ties from makers I didn’t recognize. I had to tear myself away. These were new looking ties, sufficiently au courant. But Mr. DFS has enough and will be very sharp with me if I buy these. The Agony!
Total purchases: sweater plus 5 books, including Austerlitz , which I’ve been meaning to read. Total spent $4.00 minus my 15% senior discount.
All I have to say is:
Men, get thee to a thrift store! Not too many men go to thrift shops, so the field will be yours!
And, to remind myself that I need not buy everything nice that I see, here is a picture of a Hermes tie that I found a while ago.
Dear Readers, do tell. Are thrift stores agony or ecstasy? And, of course, share your best finds.