In order to thrift-shop and rummage-sail effectively, it is generally a good idea to have a starting point. For some, this is a color scheme. As they browse through seemingly endless racks of cardigans and t-shirts, it is useful to the brain and eyes to have specific colors to focus onto. A skilled thrifter’s eyes will also begin to search for certain textures, which can indicate fabric type and the amount of wear and tear. But for me, I reached a point where I didn’t need any more pink cotton vintage dresses or silky soft brown t-shirts. My lust for the hunt was still strong, so I turned to collecting other things. The purses were always picked-over and under-inspiring, and socks were rarely worth the effort. When I started giving the accessories a really good look, suspenders were on the verge of coming back in style. The one person I knew who wore them was like a Fashion Goddess to me, and unsurprisingly teen-agers and hipsters quickly followed her example.
Sometime shortly later, I discovered a colorful fifties apron nestled among pillow cases, bath mats, and curtains. I had a few already, given to me by my mother and grandmothers. One was separate from the costumes, being used for its practical purpose in the kitchen.
And recently I added another forgotten wardrobe element to my list of must-haves: clip-on ties. I usually find these among the children’s accessories, since the people in charge of organizing merchandise seem to think nobody wears these except young kids in Sunday School.
Now, I am just as fond as the next person for Bakelite clip-on earrings and aviator sun glasses. And these days it is difficult to name any decade that isn’t being reinterpreted by current fashion trends. Literally anything goes. In many magazines you can see clear evidence of the bottom-up approach: high culture takes what low culture makes and “legitimizes” it with money. So, let’s see some imagination. Let’s push the boundaries of our hyper modern, multi-media culture. Let’s say “take this!” to the man by investing in some ironic, unnecessary accessories. I think Salvador Dali would be proud.