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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

In Praise of Thrift Stores, Kind Of, with Babette and DejaPseu

Anyone who has read more than, say, two of my posts knows that I am blissfully happy in thrift stores. In fact, I may have a wee bit of an addiction to the experience.

One GOOD thing about thrift shopping is that you can try things that are outside your comfort zone. For instance, I decided I wanted a linen shirt for summer. The only one available after several tries was coral, so I bought it. I had read somewhere that coral was a universally flattering color.

Miss Em made me donate it back. I wore it once. So that makes it $3.00 per wear, not great, but not misery-making.

A few weeks ago, Deja Pseu, style blogger, fearless writer, world traveler, and other good things, wrote a few posts on a line of clothing one of her readers recommended: Babette: here and here. Once I discovered how much this stuff cost, I decided it was not for me. Even though I aspire to be one of those European-type shoppers--with three expensive but perfect for me items hanging in the closet, Andree Putman-style--I know that I don't have whatever it takes to pull it off. Not least--my propensity for spilling. It's one thing to ruin a thrift store item, quite another your expensive item.

You know where this is heading. I had never heard of Babette. Then within 2 weeks, I found a long jacket/tunic in her signature microfiber pleats in the thrift store. In my size. In--shades of coral shirt--a color I have never worn--bronze--but whatever.

Needless to say, I LOVE it. I have worn it at least ten times, so we're down to 30 cents per wear.

Here is my review. People have different responses, depending on the context. At Goodwill, my fellow-shoppers were baffled: Miss Frugal, why are you buying that???? At a gallery-opening, Are you an artist? At a musical performance, That's nice! In the waning days of the semester at school, What's that? Why are you so dressed up?

What could be bad? Well, now I'd like another one. Check out the website for the scary (for me) prices.

I've had to wash the item a few times, because of food spilling: at the art opening, the musical event, and, yesterday, while tasting a sample at Whole Foods.

And for Andree Putman, chic and severe architect, here is a famous quotation: There is but one thing that deeply shocks me: American closets. I cannot believe one can dress well when you have so much.

At the musical event, a wealthy 85 year old attendee loved my Babette shirt. I twisted the top to show her the label. I knew it would make her happy. Her name is Bobette.


Shelley said...

I think thrift stores have both positive and negative aspects: on the positive side, all that you have written: find bargans, buy clothes you wouldn't buy new, mistakes aren't tragedies, a ruined bargan is sad, but not sickening. On the negative side: we buy what we don't need and I have been guilty in the past of buying something because it's a good price, not because I love it. It's one of the reasons my closets are so full. I am not familiar with all the really upscale brand names - and I'm not likely to become so - so I wouldn't buy something for the brand, only because it stood out because of the colour, the texture or the design. I'm sure Babette stands out at least in the latter two categories. Not sure how well it would go with the rest of my 'downscale' wardrobe though! Glad you're enjoying a bronze top. Sounds lovely.

Shelley said...

PS I really do know how to spell 'bargain', my fingers just don't type it any more...

SewingLibrarian said...

I must be going to the wrong thrift store. I never see the quality stuff that you find. The only thing I've ever bought is a nice jewelry box.

Duchesse said...

You have the gift! (If one can wear it well, Babette is worth buying full price if one hasn't your luck.) I like Babette but the poly fabric used for most of it does not breathe, so is uncomfortable in our hot summers and too cold in our frigid winters. (Line originated in San Francisco and that tells you something about optimal temps for wearing it.)

Putnam (and I have seen that quote attributed to someone else, too) is right: people buy too many indifferent clothes whether they get them at thrifts or Saks.

"Bobette" is French Canadian slang for underpants: "Mes (pe)'tites bobettes". So someone named bobette here- you can imagine the jokes.

Frugal Scholar said...

@shelley--We are certainly guilty of overaccumulation here. My daughter and I just took a bunch of stuff to Buffalo exchange.

@sewing--There are a couple of demographic reasons I find so much around here. Other places I've lived/visited--not so good and too expensive anyway.

@Duchesse--Bobette is married to a French person==I'll have to ask her if the slang is the same in Paris (though her husband came to the US after the War, so his French may not be current).