Fashion Forever

At a writers conference last weekend, a perky young woman bounced up to me and said, “What a cute outfit!”  I cannot tell you how proud I was.  My trousers had come off a sale rack ($8), I found my chocolate brown shirt at an outlet clearance sale ($3.50), and my snazzy sweater/jacket I discovered at the Goodwill store  ($2.25).   Actually, the jacket was priced at $4.50, but it had a blue tag and I got to the store on blue tag day which meant it was half off. 

Okay, I’ll admit that no one has ever accused me of being a fashionista.  A fashion-disasta, maybe…   But the thing is, I love bargains.  It feels like beating the system, and beating the system these days is a terrific feeling.  

Just over a year ago, my husband and I moved to a whole new area.  One very pleasant feature here is the super thrift stores.  They are so clean and orderly, and except for the price tags, I can feel as though I’m shopping in a regular store.  I moved from a one-season-fits-all part of the country to an area that enjoys hot summer days, brisk autumn weather, snow-on-the-ground-shivery winters, and non-stop-rainy springs.  Which meant shopping was a must.  I now have two mover’s wardrobe boxes filled with my “new” seasonal wardrobe.  Such fun!

Not everyone shares my second-hand shopping passion.  Several years ago, a friend and I were in Austria and we decided to search out second-hand stores over there.  Guess what?  We couldn’t find any.  Well, we finally found one in Vienna.  I bought a Loden green wool coat and a Tyrolian hat for $7.  When I modeled it for my friend’s family, they looked at me as though I had lost my mind.  My friend said they asked her later why anyone would wear someone else’s castoff clothes.

I once got an outfit at an Assistance League shop that I liked so much I wore it when I gave a speech at an upscale women’s club.  Afterward, a lady came up and said, “That’s my old skirt and jacket.  I threw them out last year.” 

I just smiled and said, “You have impeccable taste, Madam.”


SKIRT– Ross Sale, $6.99

TOP–Outlet Rack, $2.99

SHIRT–Thrift Store, 75 cents





 “If you are all wrapped up in yourself, you are overdressed.”

Kate Halverson


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8 responses to “Fashion Forever

  1. Kay, the ladies in our church recently held a fashion show fundraiser. All of the lovely outfits came from Goodwill or another thrift store.

    One of fashion show organizers purchases all her clothes at Goodwill, and you’d *never* guess it. Now, every Sunday I check out her clothes. 🙂 Amazing.

    BTW, Kay, you always look like a $1,000,000.

  2. Kay, you’re a woman after my own heart. Gwen Ellis wrote a book several years ago about how to shop at thrift stores and still look like a million bucks. The Grand Rapids Press printed a full-page article, including Mike and I as models, along with Gwen and a couple of children. Of course, we got a few peculiar looks at work after that, but where else could you buy a $200 Saks Fifth Avenue skirt for $3.99?


  3. Oh, I would love to see that book–not to mention the full-page article with pictures!

  4. Marilyn Rhoads


    You are one amazing woman! Guess what? I saw an agent you know shopping at one of your super discount stores!

    I’ve also seen a decorator from one of the most upscale stores in the area buying display pieces there.

    Who knew? You’re a woman after my own heart.

    My goal is to be the best bargain hunter in the world! Or at least Eugene.

  5. You and I, Kay? Kindred spirits…secondhand-shopping kindred spirits.

    I’m a Goodwill prowler too, seeking attractive bargains and nearly always decked out from head to toe in other ladies’ castoffs. I don’t know if I look cute or sharp, but I feel good enough to go out in public. I even went to an event in Washington, D.C., wearing a cream suit (originally Ann Taylor) from Goodwill, and someone actually complimented my outfit (probably because I was the only person there not in a navy or black suit–D.C. people dress in dark colors).

    It’s a pretty fun way to recycle.

    Just two days ago I found a pair of white pants at Goodwill to complete a spring outfit. I’d scoured Kohl’s, Target, and Stein Mart for white pants, but none fit. Finally, after giving up on retail, Goodwill came through for me yet again!

    Love that place.

    And I love that you love that place (and places like it), too.

    And I *really* loved your snappy comeback to the lady who came up to you and said, “That’s my old skirt and jacket. I threw them out last year.”

    “Impeccable taste.”

    Now *that’s* priceless.

    So nice to get to know you better–LL Barkat recommended I slip over and say hello.

  6. I really like your style, Ann. So glad you came by. (I don’t even mind the Goodwill comptetition!)

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