I have mentioned Jacob Tobia here before. Jacob is an author and also one of the people that remind us that gender is a construct and that being who we are is more important than conforming with societal norms. Shopping while gender non-conforming (as doing most things when not fitting on the binary idea that people have of how other people should look and act) is basically an act of defiance for many people. Gender non-conforming people really show how all of us to give ourselves permission to create our own narrative by crafting our own niche and going against the super-coded spaces that retail shops impose on us. That can be achieved by choosing and picking exactly what it is that makes us happy. Here's when thrifting comes handy.
I remember the first time I went to a thrift store as if it were yesterday: we were looking for something to wear on Halloween and I had literally only a few bucks to my name. One of my friends, who was a very talented florist, took a whole group of us to a thrift store to get a costume but I ended up not buying anything for that Halloween. What I did was that I bought two pairs of vintage 501's (button zipper and already shrunk to fit!!) two oversized white button down Oxfords and three bow ties from the fifties. And a long-term romance with thrifting was born, because for many years I supplemented my wardrobe with thrift store treasures that nobody else would have.
Nowadays I don't buy thrifted clothes as much as I used to (hey, graduating from college does have one or two advantages) but I still indulge when I find something I like. One of my finds is a cozy WWII, below-the-knee olive green trench coat. I found it in a state sale and paid $25 for it and it is my go-to during the super cold winters we have here in Chi. I love that coat. It looks pristine because it was probably hanging in a closet for years before I stepped in and found it in an attic in a house that was being sold after its last owner has passed away. Her great-granddaughter was selling everything in the house. She was the one who told me the story of that coat and how she had known about it forever. I had it dry cleaned the same day I bought it and have worn it ever since.
So next time you plan a weekend, or just in a spur of whimsy, try and go to a thrift store. Alone or with someone else. And just let yourself explore one of those treasure troves and see if there's something that awakens memories or just simply tickles your fancy. As I mentioned, I don't go thrifting for clothes much anymore but I do go hunting for vinyl records and stupid things like one of those old fashioned View-Masters or a 1950's portable radio. A few weeks ago I found in an awesome thrift store in Milwaukee an old portable Underwood typewriter that I have if full display in one of my bookcases. I also found a 1940's black rotary phone (!!). I snatched it right away.
And always remember: one person's trash is another person's treasure.