Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Personality Crisis: When Your Finds Defy Your Self

I have been left somewhat disturbed by the findings of my most recent thrifting trip. Not because I blew my wad, or because I destroyed something beautiful, or because I contracted an STD. Neither is it for me to say whether what happened is either bigger, or smaller, than any of those things. My inner turmoil is provoked by the fact that I do not see myself in my finds. My finds are not me-but something that I was magnetically attracted to-and now I am both attracted and repulsed by them.

What does it all mean? What am I to make of this? I do not mean to get too psychoanalytical about my thrifting habits, but I have been doing this for a long time, and I do know myself well. To look through my bag at the end of this trip would never indicate that I was the one who selected these things. For example, and most probably most notably, not a SINGLE thing I bought that day was black. Or even mostly black. In fact, as an overall group, my haul could be described as light colored. Also, all but one of the pieces were monochromatic, without a print or pattern in sight. I am a surface design junkie, and often times I barely notice the monochromes (except the black ones, of course). Nt that either of these things are cause for alarm. Although they are out of character, it is a rather welcome change of pace, but still unusual.

The thing that really has me creeped out about my selections was their age and probable origin. With the exception of two pieces which were decidedly "me" (and will be featured later this week), all of the things that I purchased that day were nearly new. As in, contemporary, being at the most, a year or two old. This is something that has NEVER happened to me before. To say such a thing would generally point to a greatest hits collection of Christopher & Banks cut and sew knits. In this case, it means a random assemblage of what seem to be pseudo indie clothing lines. I will illustrate.

First up is a tank that I am very excited about, and is definitely one of my Top Five Out of Season Finds that I can't wait to wear. A tent shaped crinkle cotton tank with ruffle hem:

How cute IS this!?! With patterned short shorts? Or a mini skirt? Or as a swimsuit coverup? Once again, I LOVE me a jacked-up hemline.

But hold on, what is this label? "Slick"? It seems to be nearly google-proof, assuming that ruffly tanks don't qualify as suitable apparel for the "discerning petrolhead". I would venture to say, "no".

Next is something that has been on my wish list for a little while now, and despite it being more or less brand new, and not terribly adventurous, am extremely happy with. It is a light wash snap front denim shirt:

Assuredly there are nine million denim shirts at every thrift store you walk in to. But 99.9% of those 9 million denim shirts are crap. This find is thrilling because it is EVERYTHING I was hoping to find in a denim shirt. It is a light wash, it is buttery soft, has snap closures, and it is long; even butt-covering long, and fits like a dream. I have a very strong feeling that this is going to be my go-to piece of summertime outerwear.

But again, the brand? The label looks very contemporary, dare I say edgy, with the upside down text spelling the brand name "fei". But unless the world leader in electron microscopy technologies and applications* also makes denim Western wear, this brand is also off the grid.

Last but not least in the weirdo train, is this sweet and innocuous grey heather short sleeved sweater with inserted ruffles:

My own description of this one has me dumbfounded, and somewhat ashamed. Perhaps it was the biz casual potential of it that got me. But to be honest, I think it was the fact that I recognized the brand, ecote, as being an Urban Outfitters brand. And like most things from UO, it is kind of cute and would be worth buying if it was $3. In this case, it actually was $3. Such a scenario had far too many trappings of "beating the system" for me to pass up.

Perhaps that is the moral of all this. I am not losing hold of my self identity, but instead, have found a brand new channel through which to beat the system through thrifting. I will take that diagnosis and save myself the personality crisis.

*I highly recommend the article "Don't Bump My Atoms!"


  1. Thanks to my work knowledge, I can tell you that Fei is an Anthropologie brand, but an upside down tag? Where is the attention to detail in the construction of a shirt that surely was at least $60?!