Monday, October 14, 2013

My Thrift Story

Hey there everyone!
I hope that you all had a wonderful weekend. My little fall break was pretty swell: getting to see family and friends, sleep in a little, and go shopping. 

However, I did have all these grandiose plans to do a photo-shoot everyday, so that I would have a bunch of photos for the busy weeks coming up.

Yeahhhh, well, the massive amounts of rain that we had pretty much prevented that from happening. 

However, I had a really long and stressful day with the promise of a taxing week to come. So, I decided to just relax for a half an hour and blog. 

I was talking to one of the gals in my office and showing off one of my new thrift finds (a gorgeous PA Dutch spoon ring for 50 cents!) and I had mentioned that my mom was with me when I got it. And she asked, "oh, does your mom thrift too?" And I while I was answering her it gave me the idea to share my thrift history. I honestly can't believe that I haven't shared it already and I have been blogging for almost 2 years (now that is crazy). 

I actually dug in the archives to find a paper that I wrote my freshman year of college (which was four years ago- even more crazy). I had to write a paper about something that we "believed in" and I wrote about second-hand shopping. I read it and a lot of it still applies so, if what you are about to read sounds a little essay-ish, that's because it is. I did fix it up a little bit because my writing has improved in 4 years - thank goodness!

I believe in secondhand shopping. Whether it is going to the local Goodwill, a bazaar in the basement of a local church, or waking up extra early on a Saturday morning to race to that yard sale down the street, secondhand shopping is something that I have always found challenging, but extremely enjoyable. It is like going on a treasure hunt, but instead of finding gold at the end, you instead find a beautiful vintage dress that is only $4. 

I was raised by a wonderful and cheap mother. If my clothing was not extremely on-sale from a department store or hand-me-downs, then they were probably from a thrift store. Before I was too old to protest, I was put into “Mennonite” dresses, cotton turtlenecks, and jumpers, and other equally heinous things to put on an elementary school girl living in an age when low-rise jeans, crop tops, and any other Lizzie McGuire inspired clothes were in style. (Ironically, I would probably love some of those things, now - oh, the floral print I had!). In my pre-teen world, there was only so long a girl could dress like this and not be ridiculed to the point where her self-esteem disappears altogether. When I was probably about 16, I reconnected with a long lost childhood playmate - she admitted that she thought I was Amish because of the way that I dressed. 

            I took matters into my own hands. There was no way that my mother was going to even consider buying $50 jeans from American Eagle, no matter how much I begged. Although, I didn’t want to keep looking like an Amish girl either. I remember being around seven years old and shopping with my mother and aunt - thrift shopping is a family affair- at a church’s bazaar. I had grabbed some really crazy 1980’s secretary-style dress and fell in love with it. I rushed to show it to my mom. My mother, who is not a fashion expert, looked at me like I had lost my mind. The dress was probably about ten sizes too big for me. She had rolled her eyes and told me to put it back. I protested, saying that if she could just cut it off for me and throw a belt on it I would have a really cute dress. As much I begged I did not get that dress, but it did not matter: That was the point when I became hooked. 

The picture above is the Whitman siblings circa 1995: I'm the teeny blonde one, but the outfit that my sister is wearing showed up in my closet about five or six years later - when it was definitely not in style anymore. (Side note: isn't my brother's sweater THE best?) P.S. Let's hope that my sibs don't murder me for posting this - love you, guys!  

My “fashion rebellion” started in middle school. It was supported by my cousin; she understood the horrors of what I wore - some of my clothes were probably once hers. She would give me different fashion magazines and I would scour them fully, learning about Betsey Johnson, Ralph Lauren, Chanel, and Michael Kors, about a world I never knew existed. Instead of being jealous of the beautiful purse in Lucky that was $520, I would go hunting at a bazaar or Goodwill until I found something similar that was in my budget- a budget that was $500 less than the bag in the magazine. 

In high school, I would thrift to find those Hollister shirts and jeans that had some fancy label on the back. I thrifted to fit in. I did this despite the fact that even then I knew that I didn't love those clothes - I wanted to be wearing things inspired by Jackie Kennedy and Audrey Hepburn, my fashion gurus. I wanted to wear vintage dresses and blouses on the daily. But high school, especially in hindsight, can be a cruel place. So, I bought my Aeropostale at Salvation Army for 75% less than in the stores. 

Then I went to college, a liberal arts college at that. Suddenly, I was surrounded by people who didn't care what I wore because there was probably someone who was wearing something more "out there" than me - my friend Sharon dressed up like the Pope once, but that's another story for another time. Anyway, I made friends who didn't care that I thrifted - in fact, they usually would join me on the trips. I started dressing for me - whether I stood out or not. And I realized that I loved it. And I wanted to share my love - and that's when I started my blog. 

I finished that paper four years ago with words that I still 100% believe today: "The true reason I believe that I love secondhand stores so much is because it makes me proud of what I am wearing. It feels more creative and expressive than the cookie cutter things in the display windows at the mall. That’s what fashion is supposed to be about: expression of your true self."

Sheesh, sorry that got a little long there - if you stuck through it and read that all, thanks! 

If you have any further questions about my love of the thrift, leave a comment or send me an email! 

Have a fabulous night!



P.S. I copy and pasted a lot of this - so the size and the fonts became really funky. I finally got it into one font and size - but the size was a little smaller than normal; my apologizes


Anonymous said...

I love your blog! Love your style! Love your confidence!

The Dragonfruit said...

Aww, this was so awesome to read! I love your paper and how you mentioned thrifting to fit in. That's something I did before too. I'd see a brand name on the tag and think "This is what everyone's wearing, I must have it!" without even thinking whether I liked it for myself. I've learned since then a lot, but it's definitely a journey worth taking. You learn so much more!

The Dragonfruit Diaries

Sofie said...

Great story! This story proves that you have such a strong personality and creative mind! I really really love your style! You are very inspirational.

Sofie x

Unknown said...

I LOVE this story :D

Unknown said...

I'm so glad you shared this. A) because I got to know you a whole lot more and B) I learned that we have a lot in common in terms of how we grew up. It was pretty much the same for me, mainly because we didn't have a whole lot of money. That's usually the way it is, right? Hehe. I mean now, thrifting is seen as kind of cool and trendy, but for a lot of folks, it really is just a means of getting by. I learned the value of money and of making every dollar spent count for something. Sure, I looked like a mix matched freak when I was in school, but apparently that style is all the rage now, so there. ;D <3

- Anna

Unknown said...

I love how you took your style into your own hands at such a young age! And your story makes me so glad my mom always dressed me in clothes that were in style haha. Although middle school was a horrendous time for clothes and just for me in general. It's the way of the world.

SomeoneLikeYou said...

Beautiful story! <3 So similar to my own so I know your struggle! x

Lalaine H said...

read all of it and love the story! thank you so much for sharing this such an inspiration especially having that im going to have a teenager soon!

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The Braided Bandit said...

Loved reading you thriftory! (Thrift-history? I don't know I just made it up)!
That picture of you with your siblings is the best, love your little bros sweater and your darling white dress :) Hope you're having a wonderful day!
xo Hannah

Anonymous said...

Wow, this post is amazing. I feel like I've learned so much about you, your style, and your thrifting history!

Xo, Hannah

Marisa Noelle said...

Really enjoyed reading this Laura. I feel like I nearly know you in real life...hehe. I love reading about how your style has evolved :-) Such a cute photo of all of you too! Will you be at the Eastern Pa Blogger event tomorrow?

Kristian said...

Oh, it is really interesting to see how people get "into" thrifting, and this is very informative.

Ester DurĂ£es said...

aww your story is amazing! It's great that thrifting allowed you to keep within a budget and develop your style at the same time! :)
Ester @ Drawing Dreaming

Annika Victoria said...

Heeeeeeecccccccck yeah!

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