Something Old, Something New: My Love Affair with Thrift Shopping

As Macklemore says, “Second hand and I’ll rock that mother f*$#er.” Oh yeah! I’ve been rockin’ thrift store bargains since well before it was cool to shop at thrift stores. This was back in the early 90’s before it was coined vintage fashion.

Bought this Vintage Skirt Thrift Shopping with @HotCocoaVintage
This vintage skirt from @HotCocoaVintage is a timeless piece I can rely on year after year. Linen is a great breathable fabric and I felt lucky to find such a complimentary A-line skirt for $25…no way I could ever buy a new similar skirt for that price!

My first thrift store experience was in Ventura when I was about 11 years old. I remember being drawn to the uniqueness of a store filled with odds & ends, knick-knacks, and odd smelling old knitted sweaters. When I was 14 my family moved to LA and that’s when I really began to scour thrift shops for clothes. Trust me, wearing other peoples’ old clothes was not cool, but it didn’t matter to me. There was a definite “look” I was going for and I figured I’d be saving my Dad loads of money.

And so my love affair with thrift shopping began. I always found the BEST clothes – pants for $3 or a sweet Peter Pan collared wool coat for $10!!  When thrift shopping I was on the lookout for old men’s flat front trousers, mini wool pleated skirts, knit pullovers, pea coats, and oxford button ups.  My aesthetic was far from the flannel grunge or the cross color hip-hop dress of my peers.  I’d describe my style as a tailored school girl, rather prim and proper.  I favored classic cuts and basic colors.  I stood out to say the least, but I was actually praised for my style.  It felt amazing to dress as myself and not be chastised for it.

Vintage Skirt Alternations: To give my vintage skirt a makeover, I changed the buttons from mother of pearl to simple black; purchased buttons from International Silks and Woolens…my favorite notions shop in Los Angeles. I also had the waist taken in about 1 ½”
To give my vintage skirt a makeover, I changed the buttons from mother of pearl to simple black; purchased buttons from International Silks and Woolens…my favorite notions shop in Los Angeles. I also had the waist taken in about 1 ½”

Customizing Thrift Store Treasures is a MUST!

Along the way l had to learn about tailoring and making the necessary alterations to customize thrifted treasures to fit my then bony 5’6” 98 lbs. frame. I didn’t do the alterations myself, but thanks to Joy’s Cleaners on the corner of Crenshaw and Rodeo – they took kindly to the wisp of a little black girl.  I routinely added 1 ½” cuffs to slacks or had skirts taken in.  Sometimes, when I’d buy a coat, I’d have the lining replaced to match the exact color of the outer wool.  Thinking back on it, I must have seemed odd, fussing over the preciseness of my clothes. I was even particular about my shoes: black rubber soled square heeled loafers by Two Lips or classic suede low-top Pumas either in grey, blue, and burgundy…again precise.

This new feature on the blog is a return to my thrift shopping roots. With “Something Old, Something New” I hope to encourage and inspire you darlings AND myself to sprinkle in a few well-chosen second hand garments.  Along the way I can share my tips on pricing, sourcing, and altering thrifted treasures.

Vintage Skirt from HotCocoaVintage at Pasadena Flea Market
Top: Asos | Yellow Slides: Tony Bianco

And if you already love vintage shopping, I want to hear about your favorite thrift shops in the comments below!

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