Malls. Home to more stores than one person can take in on a single visit. And you’re not even supposed visit them all, really. The tweens find their tight tees and tighter jeans in Hollister and Forever 21. More mature shoppers stick to places like Cleo and Mexx, and everybody else hovers around Zara and H&M. Malls specialize in catering to these specific demographics. But those strategically-designed storefronts and prohibitive pricing structures can prove quite confining to those of us with a broader approach to style. And to those people I say: come thrift with me. The thrift store doesn’t care how old you are. They don’t care if you’re a Joe Fresh or J. Crew kind of girl. They don’t care if you want fine leather or cheap pleather. They simply want you to enjoy their offerings. The Gucci is next to the Guess. The Dynamite next to Dior. And you can mix and mingle amongst these labels as you please.
Today’s all-black ensemble is the end result of this multi-generational mingling. The three main players (jacket, dress, shoes) in this outfit make a pretty stellar team, but only in the thrift store can they transcend their ageist restraints. Allow me to explain:
I’ll begin by contrasting my pleather jacket with my leather booties. The jacket originally came from Sirens. Sirens specializes in terribly cheap club wear for teenagers and college girls. Their clothing is essentially disposable, and rarely survives more than two or three washes. I outgrew that store around the same time I outgrew Bacardi Breezers and the Black Eyed Peas. BUT when I saw this pleather jacket in nearly-new condition at the thrift store for a meager $12, it came home with me. I’ll certainly get $12 worth of wear out of it, and my $12 isn’t going to the sweatshop that manufactured it for pennies in the first place. On the very same Talize visit, and for a very similar price, I found these black ankle boots. Contrarily, these boots are real leather, and manufactured by a company called Rieker. Rieker uses words like “sensible”, “long-lasting” and “orthopedic” to describe their product. Their target market? The parents (and grandparents) of the girls shopping at Sirens.
Smack dab in the middle of this leather-pleather sampler is my Zara dress, thrifted for $7 from the Salvation Army a few years ago. If Sirens is the teenager, and Rieker the middle-aged parent, then Zara is the late-twenty something with more discerning tastes and a slightly larger disposable income. Basically, it’s me. So, if we break this look down by age, I’m 19 on the top, 45 on the bottom, and 26 in the middle. But when I put all these items all together, they just look like me. I’m not a teenager anymore, nor am I ready for mom jeans and minivans, but the thrift store allows me to pull from both of these worlds as I choose.
If I limited myself to shopping at the stores that are aimed at my age group as opposed to the thrift store, I still might have found this dress on clearance, but I certainly wouldn’t have found this jacket or these shoes. And what’s a basic black turtleneck without a bomber and booties? I’ll tell you: very, very boring.