Most of my wardrobe comes from thrift stores, vintage stores, and eBay. I do buy new clothing from time to time (jeans, for example, since vintage ones just don’t fit me properly) but avoid it when I can. The items in my closet that I fall out of love with get recycled: resold, traded, or donated.
Beacon’s Closet is awesome. I shouldn’t even call it a thrift shop because it’s nothing like the anachronistic thrift shops I grew up with: it’s actually a shop that has a modern approach to buying and selling used clothing. You bring them a bag of clothing you don’t want anymore, they give you a store credit and then you get to shop for free. The pieces they don’t want you can leave behind for donation. This method of guilt-free shopping thrills me. You spend zero money, go home with “new” clothing, responsibly recycle and donate to a good cause.Those extravagant afternoons at Barneys have become a distant memory (and I don’t miss them.)
Ruby, my 17-year-old daughter, was actually the one who turned me on to Beacon’s Closet. It thrills me that she’s passionate about thrifting because it’s really fun to do it together. She’s committed to the whole thrifting lifestyle: she belongs to an online clothing swap at her school, searches for (discounted) designer jeans on eBay and won’t even buy a new book. Maybe growing up in mommy’s vintage clothing store had something to do with it.
Yesterday Ruby and I brought a bag of old stuff to Beacon’s, got a $75 credit, and with it bought a gorgeous puff-sleeved 70s blazer ($17), a Christopher Fischer cashmere sweater ($24) with a hand-embroidered owl on it (I have a thing for owls), a white crochet sweater ($15) and a pair of Sigerson Morrison shoes ($25). Ok, so I ended up spending $17, but in New York there’s not even tax on items under $55!
Luckily Ruby has the same shopping philosophy as me (shopping requires concentration and is best done alone) so once inside we split up and remind each other to “look for stuff for me, too!” (Grunge dresses for me, oversized cashmere cardigans for her.) True, like any thrift shop, you have to look through lots of other people’s fashion faux pas to find a gem, but Beacon’s is curated so it seems that you always do.
I couldn’t help but notice that 90% of the items I looked at were made in China (even those from my beloved DVF, who manufactured her iconic wrap dresses in Italy in the 70s.) A whopping 1/3 of all apparel imports in the U.S. come from China, and unfortunately it’s impossible to know the details of how responsibly these items are manufactured. I hope people will become more aware of the benefits (financial, environmental, and social) of purchasing vintage and used clothing, especially when there are stores like Beacon’s Closet that make “thrift” shopping such a pleasant experience.