Monday, October 24, 2011

Tales of a Thriftaholic

After Steve Jobs died, I watched a speech that he gave at Stanford University’s 2005 graduation ceremony. It was a beautiful speech and one of the things that he discussed was finding your passion. Passion, passion, passion. That’s all I keep hearing these days and for the most part, it has frustrated me because I do not think that mine is clear cut. I mean, there are things that I enjoy doing, but nothing really keeps me up at night.

So, I was telling my friend how everyone always speaks on passion, and I wonder if I will ever find mine. She was “Err…you are into fashion and thrifting”. Fashion? Not really. Contrary to popular belief, I really don’t be checking for fashion like that. When I think of fashion, I don’t think of Fashion Week and all its cousins, the latest trends, what is in this season, and what will be out next season, and brand names. I’m not interested in any of the above. Now, on the other hand, I enjoy seeing good style. I peruse Tumblr for constant style candy, I read street style blogs whenever I get a chance (love, love street style…it’s as real time as it gets), and I selectively check some fashion blogger’s websites because I like their style. So yeah, I like style. But, when it comes to thrifting…yes Lawddd! As soon as my friend put this in perspective, I said ah, thrifting is indeed something that I have a serious love for…it might not keep me up at night, but it is something that I really enjoy doing and I figured, why not dedicate a post to it?

See, I have never turned my nose up at the “bend down select”, second hand wearing lifestyle…even going back to my days in PH, when babes would sneak into Oil Mill market on Wednesday mornings to charter the latest baffs straight from Cotonou (or so the traders claimed). I would drop N500 for a cute top and be feeling as funky as the next girl who got her own top from boutiques like Collectibles where tops were priced at N2000 +. A girl has never been ashamed of her game. It has never been about where I bought it from, but more about how I could put an outfit together. Coming over to Yanks, I fell off that life because I had not discovered thrift stores and didn’t know about the endless possibilities, so I resorted to the same ol’ same ol’ mall shopping runs. Then, I moved off to a college town and discovered a consignment store named Plato’s Closet (google it, they probably have one in your city). For those of you, who aren’t familiar with Plato’s, it is pretty much a buy-and-sell store where you buy clothes that someone else got tired of wearing and sold to the store, or you can sell your own clothes that you are tired of wearing…after all, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Plato’s pretty much turned my College style game around. I went from dry baffs to straight up killin’ em :-D. I would walk into our college African Student Association meetings and folks would be like “damn, Mgbeke you no gree for us o”. I mean, the store was hooking me up with brands like Steve Madden, Nine West, H&M, Urban Outfitters, Bebe etc etc for $10 or less. I still have pieces that I copped from Platos dominating my closet today, including a pair of Leopard print pumps that I got for $10 that are currently a form of every day Jesus these days…

Unfortunately, after graduation, I moved away from my College town and missed the hell out of Plato’s. But, one day while running errands, I discovered a lonely looking Salvation Army store in my hood, and so I ventured in there and walked out with a sequin bandeau, a red mini skirt, and a black knee length leather skirt – all for less than $10. And that’s pretty much how I started thrifting. Shortly after that, my friends introduced me to the wonders of Value Village* thrift store and it was officially a wrap.
*If you’re into the thrifting lifestyle, Value Village always has way more cute finds than your typical Salvation Army/Goodwill (as I’ve noticed in the MD area). I think that all the stylish people donate to VV :-D.

Since then, thrifting has been a way of life…almost an addiction even (okay, who am I kidding? It’s addicting and I am an addict). Value Village has 25% off Thursdays, and back in the day, I was at VV like almost every single Thursday. You buy a huge bag full of clothes for less than $30? Hellooo, sign me up! Now, I’ve seriously calmed the heck down…but I still feel that rush of excitement every time I’m about to walk into a Thrift store…like “what am I going to find today?”, and trust me, I have found plenty. Gorgeous jumpsuits, dresses, tops, pants, skirts, coats and accessories that ranged from $2 to $20 max (with $20 being the priciest items). Absolutely winning on all levels. I do everything from high end thrifting (read: Organized consignment stores like Buffalo Exchange and Mustard Seed) to low end (taking it to Salvation Army, Goodwill, and Value Village)…all na thrifting.
I’m such a thriftaholic that I google thrift stores in every city that I visit, and swing by to see what I can find in that city. On that note, I still maintain that so far in my experience, California has the best thrift and vintage finds. Unparalleled.

All in all, thrifting has been good to me. I think that at this point, my closet is primarily composed of (a) Thrift store finds (b) Urban Outfitters attire (my 2nd great love...but let's not deviate from this topic). I get more bang for my buck...$20 can get me 4-5 items on a good day. I'm out there wearing $5 dresses, $3 tops and carrying $4 bags and feeling like a G6 while I'm at it. Plus, when you thrift you are primarily guaranteed to have one unique item that no one else will have...note that primarily is the key word. I will say though, that I do not buy into the whole idea of tagging everything that you thrift as "vintage". I've seen Forever21 attire at thrift stores, and last time I checked, that is far from vintage...but moving on...

On a final note, thrifting is definitely not for everyone. Not everyone can get with the idea of wearing something that was previously owned, and not brand new and shiny from a store in the Mall. Plus, not everyone has the patience to dig through thrift stores…and in the game of thrifting, you have to be patient. But hey, if you need help and wanna pay me…I will gladly thrift for you :-D.


PS:- 48, what happened to your blog?