The Occasional Woman — Halloween and Thrift Shops

| Aug 6, 2018

How about a custom custom costume for a Happy Halloween!

Hi, there! And I hope you are all enjoying summer. I have a combined column today-two pertinent topics! The first — HALLOWEEN. I know, you’re saying “Halloween? It’s only August!” My reply would be. . .ONLY? It’s never too early to start thinking about one of the best days and nights of the whole year! And yes, I have two forward-thinking clients already ON it.  

But Lorraine — what’s the other topic? It’s Thrift and Resale Shops! When I used to work straight jobs, a co-worker asked about my dress; I replied that I got it in a thrift shop. She was horrified and said “You wear clothes from DEAD PEOPLE?” I had to shake my head and put a tack on her chair. Pointy-side up.

In case you too have this kind of misapprehension about thrifting, and are not a Rockefeller, let me set your mind at ease. What have some of my recent purchases been? Two Coach purses — perfect condition, $15.00 each. A beautiful, matched necklace and earrings set of Murano glass, $30.00. 20 multi-colored bangle bracelets — $6.00.

Got your attention, eh? So, how to achieve success at thrift shopping? First, your best choice for clothes and books is an AIDS-centered thrift shop. People donate really great stuff to these fine places, and they are in most cities. And they are a premium source for items of Halloweenage! Boas for days, vintage clothing, campy shoes, capes, all kinds of odd items. And they ALWAYS are cool about gender-fluid people trying things on.

Your next fine choice has one rule; shop where the rich ladies live. Junior League Shops, hospital auxiliary re-sale shops, and purveyors of “gently used clothing.” Many of these are consignment stores, and their garments are top-drawer classy and CLEAN items. Labels for days, scarcely-worn shoes, lovely jewelry and accessories.

Goodwill Stores are now almost always neatly categorized, color-coordinated, and have customer bathrooms. Most also have non-gender specific changing rooms, so you can feel free to try things on. While I can’t totally vouch for clothing quality or cleanliness, I always wash anything I buy before wearing it. My rule is this: if it smells funny, pass on it. And check for broken zippers, missing buttons and the dreadful Polyester Pit Stain.

There are also some fabulous vintage thrift stores; this can be difficult, as people used to be smaller than the average bear is now. Also, fabric does wear out, but jewelry doesn’t.

So I heartily urge some selective thrifting, even if it is just to get ideas for a bumptious Halloween costume-you might find a swell Marilyn Monroe dress, or an awe-inspiring cape, or just something slinky and devastating.  

Halloween will sneak up on us sooner than we think. . . .

Lorraine Anderson is the woman behind The Occasional Woman seamstress and custom costume service. Contact her with your sewing needs via email.

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Category: Fashion, How To, Opinion, Style

About the Author ()

I am a native Californian who has been based in the Philadelphia area since 1984. My first CD fashion creation was a gold lamé dress for the now esteemed editor of this publication. Since then I have made tons of fabulous frocks and other fashion apparel for the crossdressing and transgender community. Contact me for custom clothing or alterations via email: [email protected]

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