Thrifting & Character

You know that hobby you have where you casually start it at noon on Saturday and all the sudden its 8pm and you forgot where you were and you haven’t eaten all day and have 15 missed calls because you were just SO INTO IT? Yeah, that’s thrift shopping for me.

If you did not already realize from this blog, let me break it down for you.

I. Love. Thrift shopping.

I love the way old clothes smell. I love that no two items are the same. I love finding a Milly shirt for $5.00 and wearing culottes that are actually from the seventies. I’m not too proud to admit that I even love the smugness I feel when my anthro-clad friends ask me where I got that “amazing dress”, and I get to smile sweetly and say “oh this? Goodwill.”

But here’s the thing I love the most about it: the clothes have character. They have a story to tell.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a normal clothes hater. I will buy the crap out of some non-thrift clothes. No discrimination here. But lets be honest, when is last time you went to Gap and thought, “wow! I bet that neutral colored sweater has really been places”? Chances are never. Because while new clothes can be bold and beautiful and inspiring, they really can’t tell their story yet. And it’s not their fault; they can’t help it.

It’s just that character needs time to develop.

Every time I buy an article of clothing from a thrift store, I can’t help but wonder about its journey to the rack. Was this the shirt someone fell in love in? Where was this dress when Kennedy was shot? What have you seen? Who did you belong to?

And maybe a lot of these clothes just sat in a closet and collected dust and smelled like mothballs. Maybe their story was short and brutal, small and ordinary. Maybe. But I like to think that’s not the case. I like to think the small stains, missing buttons, and unraveling threads are clues to the extraordinary lives they lived; little snippets of who they were before they ended up here.

And when I think about what’s come before me, it makes me really, really excited to be a part of their story, to contribute what I can to whatever life they’ve already lived.

So I urge you, go find a thrift store and listen to the stories being told. Maybe that scarf attended the march on Washington. Maybe that purse rubbed elbows with celebrities at Studio 54. Maybe that shirt lived a beatifully quiet life in Muncy, Indiana. Who knows. Point is, they all have something to say. And if you are lucky enough to have something speak to you, buy it. Live in it. Reincarnate it. Give it the best damn life you possibly can, because who knows? In 20 years it might be back on the shelf with someone else trying to listen to its story.

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