The first time I visited Goodwill, I was about seven years old and my mom brought me. She had always been a deal-finder and bargain-hunter and she frequented second-hand stores since her teenage years. However this was 2007, before vintage shopping was considered to be “cool.” I first felt embarrassed buying used clothes. I felt as if their used nature lessened their value, their coolness. Though with each thrifted treasure I found, my shame diminished further and further.
When I hit high school and really started developing my individuality, thrift stores played a key role in testing out and forming my personal style. I could buy an entire outfit filled with “risky” items for less than $12 and not feel terrible if I later discovered that a certain piece didn’t quite fit into my personal vision. I bought black high-waisted mom jeans for $3, long woolen cardigans for $4, and lace-up suede comfort boots for $10. My wardrobe grew and grew, filled with pieces no one had seen before in stores (or since 1983, for that matter). I learned to navigate the endless racks of clothing like a pro, carefully selecting items based off of material, color, print, and shape. Brand names lost their significance. I learned I would rather spend money, no matter how little, on a well-fitting dress without a tag than a just-too-small dress with an Alexander Wang label. No one can see that label but me anyways, so who cares? Although if I find an A Wang dress in my size for $12, there’s no way I’m turning that down.
Thus, the lesson I’ve learned from thrifting is this: you don’t have to spend a whole lot of dough to look amazing. Instead of getting caught up in labels and trends, focus on fit, focus on flattering cuts, and focus on quality.
Looking for a place to score some deals? Here are a few of my favorite thrift stores around Boston:
- Second Time Around (multiple locations on Newbury Street): Look out for specials when the entire store is between 30-70% off.
- Boomerangs (Central Square, Cambridge): Proceeds go to AIDS research, plus 20% student discount on Wednesdays and half price books on Thursdays!
- Goodwill (Central Square, Cambridge): A thrift store classic where you can build an entire outfit for less than $20.
- Garment District (Kendall Square, Cambridge): If you love vintage clothing, this is your place. Find entire racks of denim jackets from the 90s, vintage concert tees, and 1940s shift dresses. It also is never in a short supply of Halloween Costumes.
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