I love to shop, always have. Clothes, shoes, make-up, decor…I love it all. Some of my earliest memories involve “shopping” through my mom’s nightgown drawer, making gauzey, flowy, belted (with scarves) dresses for myself. I was three when my first sibling came along. Sadly, my most vivid memory surrounding my younger brother’s entrance into the world was not me holding him or oohing and ahhing over his sweet newborn face. No, nothing noble or sentimental like that. I remember the brand-new Sesame Street sneakers that I got and so gloriously displayed through the hospital. Big Bird graced the bottom of my sneakers and I took giant, exaggerated heel-to-toe steps through the lobby to make sure everyone saw my accessorized sneaker soles. Yes, I can recall every major milestone of my life…and exactly what I wore to mark each of them.
Lest you think I was born into privilege, let me state that I come from humble beginnings. My dad was a minister and my mom stayed at home for 13 years until the youngest was school-age (then she went back into teaching). I am the oldest of four children. I had an immensely happy childhood! Lots of love, lots of friends, big families, and my mom’s great cooking. What I did not have, however, was a closet full of the latest fashion trends like most of my relatively wealthy friends had. Remember Guess jeans? Yeah, I didn’t have those. I survived from hand-me-downs and department store clearance racks. I started babysitting when I was 12 and from then on, bought most of my own clothes. I learned to be creative and resourceful, traits that serve me well now. My mom laughs about seeing me walk out the door for school as a teenager, with an oversized v-neck sweater of my dad’s (remember, this was the 80’s…oversized anything was soooo “in”), belted with a paisley scarf from her winter coat, and my size 6 feet shod in cream-colored flats from Target…into which I strategically placed Liz Claiborne labels I ripped out of my mother’s church pumps. Cut me some slack, I was 15…image was everything.
We are all products of our past to a certain extent. And while I thought God was less than merciful in placing me, a full-of-potential fashionista, in a barely middle-class home, I now see His sovereignty in the seemingly inconsequential aspects of my upbringing. Clearance racks and shopping family members’ closets made me who I am today.
Luckily, I am now privileged enough to shop at Nordstrom’s and my favorite store, Anthropologie. asfjaw#@!!!uer09q823q/jpo. Sorry, that was just me darting out of the way because lightning struck. Truth is, I would LOVE to shop at those chi-chi stores. My reality, however, starkly contrasts. Technically, I guess I could buy those amazing $468 Anthropologie Button Brigade Boots (not that I’ve looked at them on-line and coveted) but then my family would be forced to eat peanut butter and boots for a month and that would just end badly. You know, me resenting the children because they ate the boots, the children resenting me because it’s “boots for supper…again?” So, I love thrift stores. I shop them almost once a week, usually on my way to get groceries or drop off stuff at the library (which is also a cool place because you get stuff for free…unless you’re me and you have a daughter with a wayward foot who accidentally stepped on the Thumbelina dvd and broke it in half…then it’s not free.) And while I know that many of you may not have a penchant for second-hand clothing and cast-off furniture, keep an open mind. I like to think of my favorite thrift excursions as treasure hunting. You know, an opportunity to find a diamond in the rough. So, I thought I’d take this opportunity to boast about some of my more recent gems. In so doing, maybe I’ll inspire some of you to venture into second-hand heaven and see what you come out with. Oh, and for those of you who are trying to go green, think of thrifting as the best kind of recycling. Here it goes:
*fabric to make bookshelf curtains for just $1 (to hide all my homeschool mess behind)
I am especially proud of this bookshelf “mistreatment.” You see, I do not sew…but I am armed and creative with some remnant fabric, trim, and a glue gun. I put these together in an hour and while they are rather unsightly from the back, from the front I am totally Martha Stewart (except I haven’t gone to jail.) Thank you, Nester, for showing me how to mistreat.
* a fantastic old sewing table that I painted red and put in the nursery for $5
* a set of 3 brand new Ikea pillow covers for $1.50
* some super-cute and trendy black flats (like new) for $3
* a Barbie pool, complete with slide and resort deck for $1.50
* a faux Bamboo plant that looks totally real and graces my mantle for $3
* Ralph Lauren dress pants (like new) for my handsome hubby for $2.50
* 3 like new Banana Republic dress shirts for handsome hubby, also $2.50
* a JoS A Bank new with tags beautiful dress shirt for handsome hubby, $4
I could go on but maybe I’ll save some of my other treasures for another blog post. What’s my point? Actually, I’m not sure but something to the effect of: Never pay retail, work a weekly thrift store jaunt into your regular errands, and be willing to see the potential in things that may look a little ho-hum surrounded by junk, dust, and porcelain kitties. The thing about thrifting: it’s hit or miss. Sometimes I hit the jackpot. But for every one of those, I may have three excursions that yield little to nothing. Either way, I’m still getting out of the house and getting a break from laundry, diapers, and children. Thrifting allows me, a consummate shopper, to still be able to shop. Because right now, even a rendezvous with some of my former discount lovers like ROSS and T.J. Maxx are out of the question. (I love you R and T.J…please don’t hate me.)