As many of you know by now, I am a frequent shopper at the Goodwill, Thrift Store, etc. all. I have points cards and rewards cards and punch cards and…..good gravy, when did we start needing all of these cards? I’m starting to look like a janitor with all this crap on my key chain. No offense to the janitors out there.
Obviously I shop to find fabulous vintageness to incorporate in to my jewelry, but I also buy domestics, furniture, a few far too many books and clothing.
I have run in to some people who find the idea of buying clothes from a thrift store disgusting (that’s where poor people shop, right?), but my ability to purchase a Michael Kors jacket for $10 somehow super cedes my need to shop at Macy’s. It’s not like I’m buying used panties for cripes sake. Besides, if you think you’re the only person to have tried that garment on in the fitting room at your local swanky department store, think again. Marilyn Monroe once got kicked out of a store for trying clothing on, sans under gotchies. Ahem. Your washing machine and / or a trip to your friendly neighborhood dry cleaner should alleviate these issues for you. If you still want to puke, you may want to consider learning how to sew your own clothes.
As my cheapness outweighs my threshold for puking, I buy my clothes second hand. Not just my clothes, but clothes for the kids as well. Kids grow fast. Justice stinks and is expensive.
On one recent shopping excursion, I was perusing the rack of pants when I spotted the most delicious vermillion corduroy cargo pants you have ever laid eyes upon. In to the cart they went.
I should take a break here and share my second hand clothes shopping strategies with you.
- Always, always, always look at least one size up and one size down. There are no standards in women’s clothing design and manufacture, so one designer’s 8 may be another designer’s 6 and yet another’s 10. If you have even more time, look through 2 sizes up or down, or in the complete opposite size, say XS instead of XL…some people are sneaky and like to hide amazing finds in the wrong size, hoping no one will find them. Silly people.
- Throw everything in your cart that looks to be remotely your size. Yes, you will at times look like a homeless person pushing their worldly goods around in a cart….go with it. It adds to the experience.
- Try everything on, and don’t get married to a clothing size. If it fits, it is your size, dig? It’s a percentages game, folks. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Mostly I have found that when you have very little disposable cash, this is the time everything will fit perfectly, as if it were tailored for you. That’s called Murphy’s Law. Or irony. Whichever.
- Leave the kiddos at home, if at all possible. Unless your children are seasoned thrift store shoppers, they will either throw a tantrum after about 30 minutes, or monopolize your time by insisting upon lingering in the toy section far too long. You could employ the bargaining chip of allowing them to choose a toy, and I suggest mindless electronics. They keep them busy far longer than any lame books ever could.
- Bring snacks and water. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Low blood sugar leads to passing out leads to a really bad day. Nobody looks fabulous on stretcher being put in to an ambulance. Besides, if you pass out, someone could steal something out of your cart.
This is not shopping for the faint of heart, dear reader. You need time and patience, with no expectations of going in and finding that little black dress you need for Saturday evening’s cocktail party. This will do nothing but drive you insane and incite anxiety. Not fun.
Back to the vermillion corduroy deliciousness.
I went to the fitting room with a level of excited anticipation not experienced since I found those drool-worthy pink camo Hard Tail yoga pants. I was practically salivating, imaging myself taking leisurely strolls in the fall, my outfit complete with some type of chunky, cozy turtleneck sweater and some swell hiking boots, looking as if I had just jumped off the pages of an LL Bean catalog, ready to harvest cranberries from the bog.
Have I mentioned my active fantasy life?
So I tried on the pants. All I have to say is “zhut, zhut, zhut.”
If you are a woman with thighs, you know this sound. If you are amongst the 1% whose inner thighs don’t touch or you are a man, please allow me to educate you. “Zhut, zhut, zhut…” that is the sound corduroy makes when it rubs together while one is walking. It is a noise, not a word…but I’ve done my best to create the word for you, spelled phonetically. I wanted to include a sound clip for educational purposes, but no dice.
It is my firm belief that no garment ever be so loud that it makes you conscious of your every move. The only item of clothing I can conceive of being noisier would be a suit constructed entirely of Sun Chips bags. Now I don’t know a lot about biodegradable snack chips bags, but of this I am certain: The individual who developed the Sun Chips bag was definitely more concerned with conserving their stash of chips than conserving the environment, because it is impossible to quietly steal Sun Chips. I am also certain that the heat and energy generated from the friction of rubbing corduroy could be the answer to our alternative energy needs, but that’s just my theory.
As I was looking at myself in the mirror, the above thoughts and more racing through my mind, I was desperately trying to figure out how to get away with wearing these pants without attracting attention to myself….simultaneously, the song “We Didn’t Start the Fire” was playing on the internal soundtrack in my head that sadly doesn’t seem to have an off switch.
After a bit of contemplation, it occurs to me that unless I stand in one place all day long and never move (sort of creepy unless you’re in to performance art and not at all conducive to child rearing) or decide that today is the day I start getting around by hopping about in a potato sack ( a la Field Day from your elementary school days) these probably weren’t going to work. One last glimmer of hope enters my mind. These could become my go-to Chuck E. Cheese pants. No one could possibly hear me above the ear piercing, deafening screech of toddlers sharing communicable diseases with one another.
I could test fate and try to avoid starting a fire with these pants (who needs sticks to rub together when you’ve got corduroy?!) but in the end I admit to myself that these pants will end up with bald patches on the inner thighs. This admission then reminds me of the kid in the 3rd grade who used to eat paste while ripping his hair out in clumps, and the way my grandfather’s legs were hairless from the shin down due to the friction of wearing polyester dress socks for 50 straight years. The latter may well become an experiment in how I can get away with not shaving my legs even more so than I do now (sorry Kevin Bacon), but neither of these options are fabulous.
My dream of looking like an outdoorsy New Englander crushed, I left the store empty handed. Zhut.
Friends, these pants still haunt my dreams, and I think about them far more often than is reasonably sane.
Someday, somehow, my dream of silent corduroy will come true.
Either that or me and my thigh sisters will join forces to create a cheap, renewable energy source. Either way.
Peace, love and blessings to all….