I discovered thrifting as a high school student back in the late 80's. Back then, thrifting didn't have the appeal it does now. Shopping at thrift stores was a secret activity, born from necessity. You thrifted because you could not afford to pay retail price for clothes. You didn't brag about it; you didn't bring friends along; and you certainly didn't gloat about your finest score (as I am likely to do.) I was drawn to thrifting because it was a cheap way to buy clothes, and it made me feel unique. I loved knowing I was wearing something no one else had.
There is no doubt that our culture had become much more accepting of thrifting. According to the National Association of Resale and Thrift Shops, the industry is growing at a rate of 5 percent a year. The association estimates that there are 25,000 such stores in the United States. Furthermore, Britt Beemer, the founder and chief executive of America’s Research Group, a consumer behavior research firm, stated that 16 to 18 percent of Americans shop in thrift stores, while 12 to 15 percent visit consignment stores. Thrifting is so popular that it has it's own Wikipedia page, StumbleUpon category, and an infinite number of blogs devoted to the art of scoring and wearing thrifted items.
The recent popularity of thrifting is most likely due to the tough financial conditions our country has faced in recent years. More people have turned to thrifting since the economic shift, as The New York Times noted back in April of 2008. However, the popularity of the vintage movement has had a certain amount of impact on the thrifting trend as well. The resurgence in the interest of vintage is due mostly to celebrities' desire for the glamorous, classic styles of bygone eras. Julia Roberts' choice to wear a vintage Valentino dress for the 2001 Oscars signaled the love of vintage clothing among celebrities. And since celebrities are today's biggest trendsetters, their support of vintage clothing has also infiltrated the mainstream, encouraging women to consider incorporating vintage clothing into their daily wardrobes.
A key component of the vintage movement is creativity - specifically, the mixing of vintage pieces along with modern-day accessories and garments. It takes thought and planning to wear thrifted clothes without looking as though you're dressed for a theme party. It's a fun, affordable way to play with fashion, and mold it to express your individuality. And it's a great way to exercise your creative muscles.
So thrifting is about affordability, creativity, and personal style. But my favorite reason to thrift is for the adventure. Pulling up to a store always gets my blood pumping, because I have no clue what to expect. Maybe I'll unearth a 1980's peach velour jumpsuit discarded from the set of the Golden Girls. Perhaps a 1940's vintage bathing suit will beckon. I might uncover a selection of vintage hats, or gold lame lounge wear, or vintage sequined blouses. I might leave with armloads of clothes, or nothing at all. I love that moment when I spy an employee rolling out a rack of new-to-me merchandise, and I stalk it like a famished cheetah circles a herd of axis deer. Thrifting makes me unbelievably, gleefully happy.
My entire outfit today (aside from my shoes) is from thrift stores. And I couldn't be more proud. For the other parts of my extensive thrifting 101 series, which covers everything from fashion history to cleaning tips to styling advice, search my blog using the label thrifting 101.
|Thrifted vintage Wrangler top; thrifted vintage skirt; vintage Buffalo Exchange bag; Lucky Brand wedges; Dolly Python leather cuff; TIKKR watch; thrifted turquoise and silver bracelet|