I know. The title seems fairly self-explanatory. But in order to even begin my approach I’ve got to tell you a story. My personal journey to this post is so much more than just the concept of ‘thrifting’.
I grew up in the countryside with no sisters, only a sprinkling of girlfriends, relatively censored tv and a mum with minimal interest in fashion. None of these being a bad thing in themselves. But it did dictate that for the majority of my adolescence I had hair that still haunts me, a wardrobe full of mis-matched leisure wear, ill-fitted linen slacks and a selection of Reebok Classics. After they were cool and before they were cool again, that is. In the interest of full disclosure see below. Insert cringe emoji and run for the hills.
Still with me? Thanks. The fifteen year old me truly appreciates it. Alongside this sort of bubbled existence was a fervent desire to ‘get out’. To leave, explore and discover. What exactly I wasn’t sure but at eighteen I did all of the above. It was like a sensory explosion. I lived in California, Birmingham and finally Belfast. I met a lot of people, every encounter a new revelation. The realisation that I could be anybody, look any way and wear anything I wanted. It was then that I discovered thrifting and vintage stores in a big way.
And as explosive as the revelation so was its execution. I mean we’re talking Man Repelling before it was an acceptable thing. There was glitter, garish 80s jackets, sixties sailor dresses and two different shoes. All in one outfit. I drew on my face, wore ridiculous fake lashes and had Amy Winehouse hair. I found incredible pieces for an absolute steal and threw them on without ever wondering if they actually suited me. I had fun and I didn’t care less. Fortunately most of the photographic documentation of this period died with Myspace.
Then I met Papa P and probably, more key, stopped partying and started paying a mortgage. Got the memo to begin adulting and sold everything I owned on eBay. No exaggeration. Twenty-five bin bags later and I was a new human. Materialistically a lot lighter but, honestly, a little lost.
Over the next few years I phased out all colour, wore black and white, turned blonde and went from desperately wanting to stand out to just being happy to blend in. At the same time we bought a house and my love for everything fashion started to cross over into interiors.
After nearly a decade circling styles, making mistakes in the quest to ‘find myself’, only now does it feel like I’ve hit my stride. With a clear vision for both our home and me personally, I’ve found myself curiously back at the thrift circuit starting line. It’s amazing what a little perspective and ten years can do.
It had been so long that I had almost forgotten the thrill of it. Walking into a store and spying something that immediately makes your heart skip a beat. Or an hour rifling through no’s only to stumble across the ultimate yes. Followed by the twitchy eyed check around to see if you’re about to get tackled for it and then the quickstep towards the till.
Just last week I scored this beauty of a bar cart in my local thrift spot for under £5. I’d called in on a whim and spotted it straight away. Cue palpitations. I’m not ashamed to say I abandoned the pram in the doorway and pushed the cart behind the counter with a slightly too enthusiastic ‘I’LL TAKE IT!’.
Some of my favourite thrift and vintage Instagram accounts are based in SoCal so you can imagine how excited I was for our latest trip. When you know you’re looking for 70s inspired pieces, embroidered tunics and anything relaxed & bohemian is there anywhere more perfect than the Californian coast?! It was probably my most successful venture in recent years. I came away with a capsule of statement pieces and wardrobe staples including a hoard of dresses, boots and this incredible kimono.
So, thrifties. I’m sorry. We were on a break. But I never forgot you. It’ll take a bit of time to cut ties with a few of those fast fashion flings I’ve been having. But it’s safe to say I’m happy to back in the arms of my musty true love.
And what would I say to any thrifting novices?
Have fun, look a bit weird, fill your house with all the nik naks. As with anything, if you choose craftsmanship and you choose carefully, you can’t go too wrong. In the end some things will stay, some things will go, some things along with the photographic evidence will be burnt in a furnace. But through it all you’ll learn about yourself, your taste and you’ll be better off for it.
I would also say take a beat and don’t rush your purchases, but then who am I, the bar cart assailant, to talk?! When you know, you know.
Come find me on Instagram @kittylarouxx and show me your steals!