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Filtering by Tag: exploring

Cindy Rangel

Day 3:

Thrift your heart out: 17 tips to your treasure

Why Change? Everyone has their style. When you found it you should stick to it.
— Audrey Hepburn

My thrift story or at least I thought it was... 

My thrift experiences began during my high school years in Chicago during the 90s. It all began on the L train from the burbs to boy's town or the north side of Chicago on the purple line.  I did not know what I was getting myself into nor did I even care.  All I ever wanted to do is explore really....that word pretty much sums my desire in life.  Explore.  And explore the world more.  It's how I tick and I can remember as far as back since grade school. Explore and never stop exploring.  It was like it was a never-ending hunger.  And so I went with my friend Andrea. 

So here I was with my twin sister and this classmate of ours, Andrea exploring the city. Who was this Andrea character anyway? She is Yugoslavian, tall, badass, smart, cocky, Birkenstock boot loving classmate you could never forget. She would always complain of going to one of the top suburban high schools in Chicago.  And you would pronounce her name like you would in Spanish, just like it sounds. But of course, we all called her with the American pronunciation.  Only when she was annoying and going boy crazy we probably called her ANDREA like the way her family called her.

Well, I went to the high school that felt like the U.N. in terms of student population. I've never felt so in my element.  In fact, going to such a homogeneous and high achieving high school was very comforting as my parents were immigrants with high standards for me to go to college and beyond.  I am first generation Ecuadorian-American and my parents wanted me to succeed and the pressure was on, or maybe they thought so... 

Even though I was athlete, loner, bookworm (I was a reporter on the high school paper) wannabe member of the dark crowd but not really and all these other social clubs, I always went on my own but this time it was different.  I got on this city train without my parents knowledge but of course, with my twin, Vero. It was going to be fine.  We went during the day and it was on a Saturday so all is well right? Well, maybe...

Well, I was 14 with a taste for exploring Chicago culture and today Andrea decided that the ALLEY store on Belmont would be the place to experience the culture of "thrifting."  I didn't exactly know what the Alley store was so I believed her.   We went on the purple line from Lincolnwood and we got lost or at least we missed the stop.  All turned out ok. It was the 90s and the north side of Chicago so nothing historic happened.   Later we figured out how to hop on the purple line, then hop onto the famous urine infested red line and get off on the Belmont stop. Who cared?  No one really knew where we were and we were teenagers embracing our freedom and braking away at least for the afternoon.  Freedom, we were always chasing it.  

Then we arrived but it was more of a punk rock store than a thrift store. But in my innocent mind, I was introduced to thrifting this way.  But it really wasn't friend Andrea lied to me.  She was a badass and I really wanted to go to a cool thrift store and this was the only way she was going to get me there.  But it was a cool store anyways and it's still there.  But I think they are moving to make way for more condos and developments as usual.  The Alley was cool but not thrift store. So I went about my way wondering the store.

Anyways, it was an awesome store with t-shirts, Alchemy gothic jewelry everywhere, and it's still in business today.  I mean it was awesome because in the 90s going to explore the city as young person everything seems so new and eye opening.  We left  soon after because we had to catch the purple line back to Lincolnwood. It was great but it left me feeling like I really wanted to go thrifting.  I had to get to a real store. Enter friend number 2, Jenny.

Jenny was Andrea's competition or rather Andrea hated Jenny for being more gothic than her.  Either way both of them would always talk to me about each other and all I ever wanted was to go experience more worldly things like an actual thrift store. So in the end, she was able to stop gossiping and take me there.  Okay, I was use to strip mall fashion discount stores because well I am one of four sisters so when Jenny finally took me there I was finally okay here we go.  She was probably thinking this girl needs some style help.  Discount small suburban malls do that...void any style you may have.  So we went and it was epic.  

We went to an actual store and there WAS SO MUCH stuff.  It was a bit overwhelming but I learned quickly from her who was quite the an avid thrifter.  It was a chain thrift store in the northside of Chicago in Uptown. 

So here's what I learned about THRIFTING:

  1. You never know what you are going to find so be open-minded.
  2. You have to look hard because there can be stuff that's not your style or perhaps not the cleanest....but there's a solution to all of that one of them being don't buy it. 
  3. Reusing a piece of clothing if it's in decent shape and your style can last you longer and the point is your REUSING!
  4. You have to continue to look a lot.  
  5. Look for staple wardrobes. For example, my friend wore black a lot. So lot of black skirts, black tees. black pants, etc. 
  6. Always look for jackets or belts while thrifting.  They can be easily repaired and restored.
  7. Keep looking.
  8. Worn clothes or holes doesn't mean its bad or larger sizes; Consider tailor adjustments too.
  9. Think of your colors wisely. If you like a lot of color great! If you like a few consider the pallet.
  10. Try different types of thrift stores.  Some are basic like the Salvation Army while there are more smaller boutique vintage stores with higher prices.
  11. Don't get cocky with prices.  I use to be baffled when I would see a more higher priced item.  But pricing is so good considering this is reused piece of clothing.
  12. Think overall wear of the pieces across 4 seasons For example, jackets or sweater.
  13. Buy what you will need within next 6 month to a year.
  14. Consider a capsule wardrobe where you consider 5-15 pieces in your thrifting.
  15. Research your area with thrift stores here: Thrift search
  16. If you don't like anything that's okay, move on to next store.
  17. Trust your gut on your finds.  

So it's more about exploring your style was my take away.  Thrifting is a journey that everyone should take.  It's a historic journey into what people didn't want and those people may be anyone.  So looking this into this route is probably the best investment in your wardrobe because you never know what you are going to find in a thrift store.  

Everyone on earth has a treasure that awaits him.
— Paulo Coelho


What have you found at your fave thrift store?  What was the best treasure? How did it change your outlook on shopping and your style?   Tell me your thrift story. I can't wait to teach you more about living sustainably and feature more women in sustainable living.  I am interviewing women leading the way in sustainability and change makers on my e~newsletter.  Make sure you sign up below.  No spamming.  Hope to hear from you soon.