I was thinking more about thrift store shopping and my experiences of it, after my post last week and this conversation at Already Pretty. The town closest to where I grew up didn’t have a thrift store, but the church we went to did sponsor a used clothing ‘shop’. My mother used to volunteer there when I was a kid, and I hung around and played hide and seek around the racks. From my childhood recollections, the selection was pretty dire. Perhaps it was because it was a rural area, but people didn’t donate perfectly good clothes; they wore them till they wore out, or until they were hopelessly out of date. So there was a lot of 70s polyester doubleknit and bell bottoms happening during my 80s childhood.
Nowadays, there’s more disposable fashion, and in my area there are up-to-date thrift stores, including those who get new unsold merchandise straight from the retail stores. When I first moved to the San Francisco area I was really surprised at what was available in the secondhand shops, including the consignment places (most of which have gone belly-ups since, thanks to the economic downturn, except the ones that only sell pricey designer stuff in the wealthy suburbs).
I know there are plenty of folks who prefer to shop secondhand only for designer or vintage items. Me, I tend to dress more practically and I am perfectly willing to buy something originally from a mall store at the thrift store, as long as it’s in good shape, flatters me, and is reasonably priced. I figure that these donated clothes are going to be shipped overseas or used for fiber recycling if they’re not worn until they’re worn out, and I might as well extend the useful lifetime of a garment if I can. As a result, a lot of my ‘regular’ clothes are thrifted, particularly as I’ve been self-employed recently and I have the flexible structure and time to spend going to the thrift stores and searching through the racks.