I started thrifting late in life. Before my best friend took me on my first Value Village excursion, I was embarrassingly terrified of wearing other peoples’ clothes. “The germs!” I would claim, as if in 2008 washing machines hadn’t been invented. (Shameful.) But I got over it on one spring day when we skipped class to drink Big Gulps and buy cheap clothes. After that, there was no turning back. I liked old, used garments, and if anybody had a problem with it, they could just step off.
Fortunately, this worked out for a number of reasons: 1) my world opened up to different styles from different eras, and 2) I got super, super poor over the next few years and still needed to dress myself. Thankfully, because I lived near four Value Villages, I was set. Now, I am still set, so in celebration of what you can find with $150, I went to all four and bought as much clothes as I could that are perfect for your summer fashion 2014 wardrobe.
Here’s what I found. (With a 30% discount having been applied thanks to those wonderful stamp cards.)
1. Button-Up Sleeveless Plaid
The ‘90s are back (as if they went anywhere), and to prove it, I bought what 11-year-old me would’ve killed for in 1996: a button-up, sleeveless, pink plaid number that, yes, I will absolutely pair with the highest rise jeans and shorts I own. Joey Potter meets Jennifer Lindley. (It’s all I ever wanted to be.) $5.99.
2. Floral Romper
I have one rule about rompers: I will buy and wear one only if it’s actually from the 1990s. (First, they’re so readily available, and also there’s no way I’m paying $30 or more for something my Mom wore.) So behold: a floral masterpiece, ideal for any summer occasion including but not limited to going to work or attending a Hootie and the Blowfish concert. $7.99.
3. Shania Twain Dress Of My Dreams
It’s important to tell you that this dress is ankle length. It’s even more important to tell you that in my mind, it’s straight out of the Shania Twain music video for "Twister" when she sings on the porch as a tornado approaches. So thankfully, you can now dress every day like you’re singing on a porch as a tornado approaches. (Well, not every day. This dress deserves to be washed sometimes.) $12.99.
4. "Practical Magic"-Approved Ensemble
I know one thing about summer: all of us feel too warm all the time. So that’s why I channeled the great sisters of "Practical Magic" who are just as renowned for their ankle-length aesthetic as they are for killing Jimmy Angelov and having to cast out his evil spirit. Summer: a season in which clothes can feel like the enemy. Well NOT WHEN I’M HERE, YOU GUYS. Lace t-shirt, $9.99; skirt, $5.99.
5. The Most Ridiculous Shirt In The World
It’s simple: this is the most ridiculous shirt I’ve ever seen. But I needed it. I needed to wear it with shorts, and pants, and all the time, everywhere. It’s ridiculous, but it’s also a style straight out of the Joey Gladstone “Cut It Out: How to Dress For Success” handbook. So I will, and so can you. (Just roll up the sleeves or you will feel like you’re hiding under a very bright blanket.) $7.99.
6. The ‘90s Mini-Dress We All Deserve
And then there are the summer days when if someone suggests you wear pants, you add them to your enemy list because no person should ever suggest that. Fortunately, a ‘90s mini-dress goes a long way, establishing itself as a go-to piece when you want to throw something on as you mentally count down until autumn. $9.99.
7. Sister-Wife Ankle Length Floral
Clearly, I have a lot of feeling for the 1990s, and for good reason: they haven’t gone anywhere. So yes, I picked up something else from the book of "Practical Magic." Or more specifically, from the book of "Sister Wives" because let’s face it: that show is exactly where this dress looks like it’s from. (And there’s nothing wrong with that.) Plus, it’s just a longer version of a ‘90s mini, so it’s another go-to for days in which shorts and pants seem like the enemy. $12.99.
8. Fancy Knee-Length Floral Dress
Now when I say “fancy” I mean “you can wear this knee-length number with a gold bangle, and, say, sunglasses embellished with gold, and successfully go to work without being read the dress code riot act.” (BUT, it’s also casual enough to wear to any other place or occasion.) Plus, it ties up around the waist! Just like all 1990s dresses should. Sunglasses, $5.99; dress, $9.99; bracelet, $1.99.
9. Options! (Volume I)
I know shorteralls are controversial, but when you see them for $7.99 you find a way to make them work. And actually, to prove how much they do work, I found: a short-sleeved ‘90s lace t-shirt (for days of channeling "Singles"), a short-sleeved ‘70s sweater (for days of channeling "Dazed and Confused") and a long-sleeved polyester print blouse from the late ‘60s/early ‘70s (for days of channeling "American Hustle" if shorteralls were involved). See? Options. And you only ever need to change your tops, so yes, you are welcome (don’t doubt me again). ‘90s floral, $4.99; sweater, $5.99; blouse, $4.99.
10. Options! (Volume II)
“But Anne!” you say. “What about work clothes?” Fear not, for I’ve got you covered (literally, because that’s how clothes work). I picked up a black mini skirt ($9.99) and then paired it with a sleeveless linen ‘90s button-up ($7.99), a bright vintage mod-era tank ($5.99) and a ‘70s polka dot blouse ($5.99). Three outfits, and three eras because that’s what we deserve.
11. That ‘70s Outfit
Frankly, I saw this ‘70s floral overlay, thought about my hero, Rhoda Morgenstern, and felt that if I didn’t pick it up, I was a disgrace to everything I held dear. So then I justified it by pairing it with a handmade ‘70s tank that is actually one of the lightest pieces to exist, ever, and hello, we have ourselves an outfit. Wearable with pants, shorts, a skirt, or whatever you’d see Rhoda in. (Bell bottoms, probably.) Overlay, $4.99; tank, $2.99.
12. Today I Am Peggy Bundy
We don’t give enough style credit to Peggy Bundy, and that’s why I’m here. I tried this button-up dress on a whim and realized it was my new favourite thing in the history of button-up dresses. Is it loud? And out of control? And so ‘90s it seems almost directly out of a "Kids in the Hall" sketch? Absolutely. But if you’re not going to have fun when you dress up, then why are any of us even here? $12.99.
13. A purse From Dorothy Zbornak To All Of Us
Here’s a bag that can be described in three words: Miami, retiree, Dorothy (from "Golden Girls"). And now here are three more words: give me it. Let’s be honest, please: a wicker-like shoulder bag with gold? That’s powerful. $7.99.
14. The Stevie Nicks Shawl Of Our Dreams
For days you convince yourself that if you channel Stevie Nicks enough, she will visit and play music for you just like in "American Horror Story." No more, no less. $4.99.
15. A Swimsuit Cover For Everyone
And to close on a 1970s note, I found an ankle-length swimsuit cover that could also arguably double as a vest or overlay, depending on what you pair it with. And I say “pair it with” because it’s completely sheer, which probably explains why my cat loves it so much. (He’s a bit of an exhibitionist.) $5.99.
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