I Am Not Macklemore But I Am Still Effing Awesome: Confessions Of A Thrift Store Diva

Yes, I'll admit it.  I shop at thrift stores.

I don't have any problem saying so because I don't give a shit if anyone has anything to say about it.

My best clothing pieces have come from second hand stores.  A beautiful pair of Jimmy Choo heels for the low, low price of $29.00.  Possibly, the Salvation Army didn't know what they had because I definitely should have paid more for them.  A pretty Louis Vuitton carry-on bag cost me $40.  I checked the serial number online and even took it to a Louis Vuitton retailer, and it is the truth, Ruth.

You might think I am lucky, but it isn't the case, I just take my time to really dig through the racks and bins to find my treasures.

My love affair with thrift store shopping was introduced to me by my mother, the self-proclaimed "Queen of Used Shit". My mother would create a mission to find one spectacular item and would accomplish that mission like a boutique bounty hunter in less than 24 hours.  She is the best bargain finder I have ever known.

In high school, I was going through an awkward period of being built like a wrought iron fence:  No boobs and all of the clothes I wanted to wear required some form of bee stings in the chestal (made-up word) area.   I turned to glossy magazines like Vogue and fell in love with the European design of ensembles and pieces that screamed originality and fashion.

I did some modeling in hopes that I would be able to keep the clothes that I presented on the runway.   Yet, I just didn't luck out with a Chanel outfit or a Hermes bag.

Instead, I received poorly made pieces courtesy of struggling resident designers.


Of course, my paycheck wouldn't allow me to even look at a price tag on any of the items I salivated over in Vogue:  So, my mom suggested we go on a thrift safari.  At first I was skeptical but I was sold when my mom gave me an unlimited spending budget to use at the thrift.

We would go as far as Aurora and even the streets of Wisconsin.  Yet, we found out that the closer we were to the Gold Coast, the better the finds.  I scored lovely Chanel blouses with entricate buttons and stitching.  A-Line skirts bearing gold buckled tri-tired belts made of python embossed leather: I was in heaven.

We made a day of it, going through every rack carefully, item by item until an Escada sweater peeked out with a $3 price tag hanging from the sleeve. Jackpot!

Now, I still favor thrift stores for one of a kind items and usually never become disappointed with what I find.  I always get compliments and people wonder how I stay impeccably dressed.

It's no secret really...I share the wealth (of knowledge).

The 3 most important people you need to know as a thrift shopper are...

A Decent Tailor

An Accomplished Cobbler (or Shoe guy)

A Reputable Cleaner

A decent tailor is ideal because having one on standby could mean you really being able to utilize clothing you find that isn't a perfect fit.

The Cobbler will correct any issues with heels or soles you may have with shoes you've picked up at unbelievable prices.

Lastly, taking your items to a good cleaner really put a crisp new feel to the items you find. Believe it or not, your local cleaners may have unclaimed goodies for sale that you may want to peruse.  I've found Coach purses at $50 a pop at my local cleaners.

If you've never shopped at a thrift store before; the Village Discount is a great place to start.  Also, the Goodwill Stores offer a great variety of clothing with nice jewelry too.

Thanks for stopping by.

Feel free to leave your favorite thrift stores in the comments below and while you're at it, follow me on Twitter @TheRealJoyRene.

Yep, you're welcome!

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Tags: chicago, diva, thrift store

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