Monday, February 21, 2011

Dealing with Post-traumatic Thrifting Syndrome

I experienced a wide range of emotions on Friday and, no, it's not just because I am on my period (I am). It is because after taking a few weeks off from thrifting, I embarked on the roller coaster that is thrift store shopping with my fabulous friend Jake Thompson who writes the brilliant blog Fashionasty. Even though I have known of Jake's nasty thrifted style for some time (and even had the pleasure of him coming into Everyday People and purchasing some of the most wild pieces we have stocked), we have never thrifted together until last Friday.

And I have to say, it was just the sort of experience to get my thrifting excitement to threat level orange because, holy crap, I just put about $200 on my credit card. Thrifting. Right after Laurie and I have been talking about the importance of me saving money so I can come visit NYC this summer and we can take an East Coast thrifting trip.

So, you might be able to see where this "range of emotions" I refer to comes in—on one hand, I had an amazing time hanging out with Jake, finding immense pleasure in the fact that I have found someone to thrift with that likes even crazier stuff than me (among other things, he came away with thigh-high patent leather boots and a framed 50 Cent poster). Plus, as a life long thrifter, Jake understands the ins and outs of thrifting and is patient and helpful during the editing process—all marks of an excellent thrifting wingman. We stumbled upon an all-u-can-eat Mexican buffet, which is pretty much the most genius idea in the world (and probably the only reason why I would ever consider moving to the suburbs), and found some of the most amazing pieces I have found in ages. Not only that, but due to Jake's insistence, we checked out the Unique in Roseville which I had only been to once and had an extremely disappointing experience. As he promised, my second trip was a million times more successful, as I found true thrifting gold.

Jake with Chic Record

Here is Jake with what is quite possibly the best album cover I have ever seen.

On the other hand, I encountered some extreme post-traumatic thrifting syndrome, the kind that happens when you might be a little (or a lot) tight on money, closet space and have what some may call a thrifting addiction, and then you find yourself in the thrifting frenzy where you blow tons of money you don't have on stuff that is fabulous, but when it comes down to it, you don't need.

So how does one even begin to reconcile these conflicting feelings?

Well, through a little bit of what I like to call "retail therapy."*

How does one go about undertaking retail therapy? Well here is one possible scenario:

The PTTS might even start setting in on your drive home, when you realize that the backseat of your car reminds you of a Hoarders episode. You try to block out these negative thoughts starting to rear their ugly heads by focusing on chit chat reminiscing about your excellent thrifting trip or by memorizing the lyrics to every Lady Gaga song on your ipod.**

After your drive, you've arrived home with your bags and bags of thrifted treasures, probably a little hungry and sweaty and most likely, you have forgotten everything that you have bought. If someone is at home, you start showing them your finds, trying to ignore that little voice in your head that asks if you really needed a crushed velvet mock-turtleneck long sleeved dress in silver, as well as the fact that in your line of eye sight you can see two unwashed piles of thrifted treasures taking up space in your dining room.

Be aware of this voice and these feelings. It is the guilt settling in. Own the guilt.

After the initial show and tell of your new goods, you might try to distance yourself from the guilt by partaking in some household chores you ignored earlier in the day so that you could thrift. You might wash the dishes, take the dog for a walk, or even make the bed. During these mundane tasks, your guilt is building into full on panic. Suddenly, you haven't just spent $200 buying leopard print booties—you've ruined your entire life.

Let the breakdown happen. Cry. Scream about how you are the reason why America is in ruins and how you are poster child for credit card debt. Sob into a pillow about how you decided to go shopping instead of being responsible and applying for health insurance. Call your treasures "PILES OF SHIT!" if that makes you feel better. Let it all out. Don't hold anything in.

After this period of extreme self hate passes, you will begin to feel a bit silly for losing your head, and more calm. Look over at your just denounced piles of shit and run your hands along the smooth silk texture of the capped sleeved button-down top that is going to look great with a high waisted vintage skirt. Admire the striking bold colors of the Navajo print jacket you got for a price so low it was practically the same as stealing it. Put on your new gray suede and shearling boots with little arrow ties on the back. Become one with your new clothing. Accept your decision to have purchased what you did.

Maybe there are some duds that despite careful editing, made it home with you. DO NOT HATE these pieces—sure they might not be major winners, but not all is lost. Don't give up hope, just get creative! Maybe you have a friend who would look great in this long vintage print skirt. Maybe someone on etsy would love a pair of Sperry topsiders that are a size too small for you. Maybe you could sell that too-small, vintage, gray hat at a shop, like Everyday People or a similarly awesome, independently owned and operated local resale shop in your own town. Perhaps the cut of the crazy print top you bought is all wrong but the fabric is so good that you can cut it up and make something new with it. The sky is the limit!

And finally, if you have a thrifting blog, like we do, post pictures of your most awesome finds. Nothing is more exciting than sharing the thrifting excitement—and it is really the best way to get beyond your post-traumatic thrifting syndrome!

So to get past my own PTTS, here are some of my best finds! Per Laurie's suggestion, I am breaking them up by rough categories, as to not overwhelm you, the reader, with all of my fabulous finds ($200 gets you a lot of fabulous finds). For the first installment of my extreme shopping spree, I present you with my best outdoor looks!

Vintage Grey Hat with Bow
Vintage Brown Hat with Bow

As I may have mentioned in the past, I am big fan of hats (the most extreme of fashion accessories) and have been working on building a collection of vintage ones. The huge selection of vintage hats at the Unique was just one reason why the store has redeemed itself in my eyes—these two were just a fraction of the ones I initially grabbed. I am most likely going to remove the top bow of the brown one, as I think it screams "scrapbooker," but other than that, I am totally digging the bows on these pieces.

Vintage Cropped Jacket with Fur Collar
Vintage Cropped Jacket with Fur Collar (detail)

At $15.99, this was, by far, my most expensive purchase. The second I put on this adorable cropped, vintage coat I knew I had to have it. It is simply the cutest thing I have ever put on my body. Jake supported this purchase wholeheartedly.

Oversized Navajo Print Coat
Oversized Navajo Print Coat (detail)

Slightly similar to my best coat ever, this oversized Navajo print coat was begging to be taken home. I love the bold colors and amazing button detail.

Grey Suede and Shearling Boots
Grey Suede and Shearling Boots (back)

I am always in the market for cute winter boots, which are rather difficult to find, thrifted or new. I am absolutely in love with these grey suede and shearling ones—have to say I have never seen a pair quite like them, from the color to the materials to the little walkable heel to the amazing hanging arrow detail on the back (can't decide if I like the arrows tied up or free and swinging—thoughts?).

Stay tuned for more of my great finds from the extreme trip of 2011!

*As I explored in a post the day after the disastrous 2010 fall elections (for real, I leave Wisconsin for five years and suddenly they are trying to make unions illegal?), retail therapy also extends to soothing your internal pain with a good thrift session. Thrifting heals all wounds.
** I kid. Of course you already knew all of them.

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