Friday, February 3, 2012

Shopper's Guide: Why Shop Recycled [Thrift]?

 Recycled clothing. Is this a phrase that turns you off or fills you with joy?

I grew up in a home that often didn't know where the next meal was coming from, but we did not shop at secondhand clothing stores. We were dressed from gift bundles or my mother sewed what we needed.

There were two secondhand clothing shops in my small town, and in my teenage opinion, only desperate people shopped there. The selection was small and the quality was poor. Just how desperate people could be was demonstrated to me by a friend who excitedly modelled her 'bargains' for me. She had found two tee shirts for 50 cents each. They were so thin that she had to wear both of them at once. To my mind, they were still too thin.

I was therefore of the opinion that ladies couldn't shop at secondhand clothing stores. However, I began to doubt this theory on my 21st birthday when my aunt came up from the capital with a navy blue wool suit for me. It was beautiful, expensive-looking, tailored, modest, in fact everything that a lady would delight to wear. My aunt had been given first pick of a new shipment at a secondhand store, and this is what she found. It cost about NZ$10.

About 3 years later, I took a trip to Mount Maunganui with a friend to meet up with my sister for a long weekend. We explored this fairly exclusive beach destination, and my friend pointed out a chain store I didn't know about: SaveMart Recycled Clothing. I was dubious about wasting time in such a barn, but her enthusiasm convinced me to give it a chance.

An hour later, I was converted. I came out with several dresses which became closet staples. One in particular has been a consistent, adaptable favourite, my Red Roses Dress (worn below at an English Country Dance) which has drawn many admiring comments and has continued to adapt to my shape without complaint. Carrying the label American Weekender, it cost me just NZ$8.99, even though prices on the Mount were higher than at any other SaveMart I visited in the couple of years following.

Following our Mt. Maunganui adventure, I explored SaveMarts in Wanganui (huge and excellent), Nelson (wasn't impressed with the selection available that day), and Palmerston North (closest to where I live). I hadn't been for several years, so recently took my camera along to see what I could see.

The Plastic Bag Says It All...except for the website:

Although I always keep an eye out for modest tops and skirts, my specific wish list was short: warm corduroy or moleskin jeans (not tight between hip and knee).

Did you laugh? Yes, these are few and hard to come by. Once or twice a fortnight, trousers are required apparel, but I've lost weight in the past year and the trousers I've been wearing don't have belt loops. I've been using a pink plastic clothes peg to keep them up.

I figured I could improve on this solution, but the cost of new jeans from mail order companies like Victoria Hill (NZ$70) and Ezibuy (NZ$50) was more than I felt was justified. The local Postie store has corduroy jeans but they are low riders and have that peculiar bleached wash that draws attention to butt and thighs.

What's the difference between these 2 Ezibuy styles: Capture bootleg corduroy jeans (above) and Emerge bootleg corduroy jeans (below)?

Notice the leg width at the thigh and knee. If you need to wear trousers but are worried about modesty, choose a style that doesn't hug your upper legs. Try before you buy and CHECK YOUR REAR VIEW!

Ogden Nash wrote, and my dad frequently quotes this quatrain:

Sure, deck your limbs in pants.
Yours are the limbs, my sweeting.
You look divine as you advance.
Have you seen yourself retreating?

My haul from that trip was six garments. Lessons learned were twice that number. For Boutique Narelle's Top 12 Tips for Thrift Store Shopping, click here:

Note: We are sorry about the missing images. They were tragically and irreversibly gobbled by Google+.


Suzannah said...

This is the best post I have ever read which combines op shopping, modesty, and OGDEN NASH.

I have been a confirmed op shopper for most of my life, although I admit that normally I bypass the clothes section altogether (yawn) for the bookshelves, old sewing patterns, cloth stash, yarn basket...

Narelle Worboys said...

lol Glad you like it, Suzannah. ;)

Anonymous said...

Really good collection from SaveMart Recycled Clothing. Yes many times we don't even imagine that good things also get from somewhere which is considered as lower one.

Store Hours

Unknown said...

Was the 6th last one at one of Charmagne's dances?

Narelle Worboys said...

Hi Kaitlyn! The red roses dress? Yes. Was it the wall background that gave it away, or Charmagne's hairstyling finesse? =)