Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Style Out of Time

I don’t know if I’ve ever shared this about myself: I am an inveterate second-hand shopper. I have been haunting thrift stores, flea markets, consignment shops and rummage sales since I pocketed my first babysitting money over forty years ago.

Buying second-hand has been the perfect solution for one as addicted to clothing, shopping, and changing jobs as I have been all my life. My closet is always packed; and if something loses its appeal or goes out of style or “shrinks,” it simply falls off the hanger and into the “donate” bag, making room for the fantastic finds from the next trip to Goodwill.

I don’t know how other cities rank on the “resale bonanza” scale, but for my money, Eugene is right there at the top of the list. There are eight Goodwill stores and probably as many St. Vincent DePaul’s (resale shops run by a Catholic charity) in a metro area with slightly more than 200,000 folks. And it seems that there is a privately owned second-hand or consignment shop in every strip mall or on every other street corner. I don’t know if my fondness for thrift stores blossomed into a full-blown love affair because I lived in Eugene for thirteen years, or if I fell in love with Eugene because I love thrift stores. Either way, we are a perfect match, Eugene and I; even though I no longer live there, I have family that does. So I visit often enough to get my resale fix.

This past weekend, I was in Lane County to attend the Coburg Antique Fair (a nearly rapturous assemblage of peddlers of old stuff which takes over the entire town of Coburg, just north of Eugene, on one Sunday every September.) And, of course, I managed to squeeze in a visit to one Goodwill Store. And I did something that, now that I look back on it, is becoming more indicative of my current incarnation of “used stuff” addiction:

Flipping through the sweaters on a well-stuffed rack, I came upon one that I knew I had owned. Now, I have taken bags to the donation site on Monday only to visit my local Goodwill Store on Friday and find my own (former) clothes tagged and ready for their next adventure. That is kind of a surreal experience. But in this instance, this wasn’t a sweater that I had personally donated. But it was an exact carbon copy of one I had worn and loved—one of my special favorites, in fact—back in the 90’s.

I have no idea how long ago I sent MY sweater away. I’m not sure if it got too small, went out of style, shrank, got holes in it… Or maybe it was during one of my mourning periods, when I tend to divest myself of anything that reminds me of a person, time or place no longer part of my life.

But I looked at that sweater, and I thought:

Wow! I used to have this!

And I still really like it!

And I have two or three of similar style in my closet right now that I bought new within the last year. (You know the old adage… “everything old is yada yada yada.”)

So guess what? I’m buying this!

I have to wonder if my second-hand habit is now enabling me to pick a part of my past and live in it.

But, no… I think it’s more the case that, if you’re around long enough, anything and everything comes back into style. At my age, I know what I like and I’ve figured out what looks good on me. I’ve earned the right to choose whatever I want and just rock it, regardless of what decade it’s from.

Haute couture is for the young. Or the rich.

Take that, Heidi Klum…

1 comment:

  1. I've always shopped like a man; know what I want, go get it, go home. Part of it has always been the challenge of the proper fit. The womanchild got me hooked on thrift stores, and I've come to love finding that special thing. When I was still in WW, I promised myself a big treat when I hit the 100 pound mark. I had seen a hot pink leather jacket in my favorite consignment store. It still had the tags and tissue around the buttons, and I snagged it and a yellow one (also unworn) as soon as I hit my goal. Those two items keep me going back to thrifts and consignments, and the sheer pleasure I find in shops like that surpasses any shopping experience I've had anywhere else. I also picked up a black skirt that was straight to the hips and then pleated that was identical to one I had twenty years ago. It always made me feel trim and pretty, and its replacement does now.