A Second Chance Choice
Second chances have been on my brain lately. Whether it is reigniting a lost relationship or hobby, allowing someone back into your daily life who has wronged you or giving broccoli one more try (thank you to Nourish + Flourish podcast for that one), second chances are "... actually... all around." More often than not, the second chance scenarios go heavy. They become topics surrounded by ample emotion. But, I want to keep it light this Sunday evening. There is one place second chances are a playful hunt: the thrift and consignment shops of the world, particularly in the backyard of the 'burgh.
My admiration for vintage will never die. It is ingrained in me like the idea of standing up straight. Lately, I have been dabbling in the thrift and consignment scene. Wait, I am ready for it... go ahead, ask it. (I am rubbing my hands together in anticipation) What's the difference between vintage, thrift and consignment shops?
Vintage shops, such as juju, Mello & Sons, Royal Pittsburgh (the list goes on) are curated. The grunt work has been done for you. Merchandise can come from a variety of sources: estate sales, flea markets, individual closets (closets of rad individuals), swaps with other dealers, etc. The point to remember is it's carefully crafted and presented for us admirers.
Consignment shops provide an avenue in which folks can sell their used clothing. In the case of my two favorite Pittsburgh examples, Buffalo Exchange and Avalon Exchange, each allow folks to buy, sell and trade recycled pieces.
Thrift shops, such as Goodwill or Wearwoof, sell donated, used clothes. Most of the profits from selling these donated items are tied in with a charity or the charity actually owns the shop.
From a consumer's point of view, the biggest difference between all three is going to be time. I find thrift and consignment setups lean toward a more drawn out process. What may seem like a negative quality is what makes it the most fun. The fun of the hunt, that is. One of my latest consignment adventures, Avalon Exchange produced some mighty fine finds: a Levi's striped jean vest, a denim button down covered with a southwestern pattern and this midi skirt.
Outside of offering seasonal wear, there are really no limits to what one can find when consignment shopping. My number one piece of advice is no expectations. This place is where exercising no expectations is expected. Having an idea of an item does not work; it narrows my scope and hinders the hunt. If I entered AE that day just looking for denim someone else would be hiking around the muddy paths of Frick Park in this midi beauty.
As surprising as it may seem, the floral plaid pattern did not catch my eye at first. I walked past it several times. This brings me to my second tip of conquering consignment shopping, always take a second glance. It can be a bit overwhelming shifting through various clothing racks. I start at one then a pattern catches my eye and I jump to the next. There is no plan, just the purity of the hunt. It's like Thanksgiving dinner - a little mash potatoes here, then move onto some turkey, a kernel of corn and then back to the mash potatoes until my entire plate is consumed. Keep going back for more until you have reached that critical moment where the pants are unbuttoned.
Because you cannot have two tips without rounding it out with a third... fit, fit fit is crucial. This rule applies to shopping in general, but makes or breaks your finds in the vintage/thrift/consignment community. Think outside of just fit on your body, we known that is crucial. Think of fit with your personality, your style, and within your life. When I saw this skirt, the tartan-ish print made me think of Carnegie Mellon University. Carnegie Mellon has a football team. My husband coaches for that football team. This could be a fun, not-too literal (but kind of literal), outfit when paired with a CMU football shirt on those first game days in September when the weather still warms. How about those degrees of separation? See fashion and sports meet again. Once I tied this skirt into my life story and the physical fit was there, there was no turning back.
Once you punch through this advice, ultimately, the coolest thing about consignment shopping is the connectedness. Breathing new life into a garment becomes an unspoken link, an invisible thread (great book by the way) to someone you've never met. PSA: If you owned this skirt in the greater Pittsburgh area prior to me discovering it at Avalon; pIease know it is in good hands.