We’ve been all too profligate lately, so we decided it was time to buckle down and get thrifty again, sartorially speaking. There are a few places in town where, if you play your cards right, you can find some fabulous new-to-you threads that come with a price tag that not even a Wal-Mart clearance rack can beat. And besides, thrifting is currently very cool, with celebrities getting in the game just so they can rub elbows with those who are looking for the same things they are — wardrobe items with a bit of flair that not everybody else has.
The first celebrity that comes to mind is Macklemore, of course, who sings the thrifter’s anthem with his chart-topping single, “Thrift Shop,” plus the man thrifts for real, and has been ever since he was a kid. Jada Pinkett Smith has also been known to seek out a stylish bargain. And a source no less reliable than The National Enquirer reports that Julia Roberts loves to go thrifting with her kids.
I set out on this adventure to find what I could find on a budget that, true enough, exceeded Macklemore’s, who does it all with only $20 in his pocket. But this is Wellesley, and allowances must be made. Purists will tell you that our stores don’t cut it as true thrift stores because they’re just not gritty enough. Nonsense, it’s all in the attitude, and one simply must make do, so purists be damned, it’s thrifting because I say it is. So please, no lectures in the comments section about Swellesley-ites not truly understanding the concept, or accusations of appropriation.
Here’s a handy list of the places I checked out:
I started out at the Newton-Wellesley Hospital campus to check out The Thrift Shop in the Alan-Riddle building at 574 Washington St. that, while technically not in Wellesley, seemed close enough. The shop, which sells clothing for the whole family and household odds and ends, depends entirely on tax-deductible donations and is run by the Newton-Wellesley Auxillary. Proceeds are used for the development of Hospital services and facilities. Which is all very well and good, but my quibble with The Thrift Shop is their lack of parking. They offer only a few spaces and if they’re taken, as they always are, then it’s off to the parking garage where you must pay for parking and then face a healthy walk to the shop. I’m on this 10,000 steps per day kick right now anyway, so the walk was all to the good. But I seriously resent having to pay to park at a thrift shop. It’s incongruous. It rankles. I can’t bear it. In case you’re not quite such a drama queen about it all, regular hours during the fall are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, 10 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Elan Fine Consignments 402 Washington St. Open since last winter, Elan carries women’s apparel, shoes, and accessories. Similar in feel and merchandise to Second Time Around, the shop takes consignments of high-end items. In other words, they’re not here to sell last year’s Gap t-shirts. An Elizabeth & James t-shirt is ok though, and you know the difference, right?
If you’re buying, expect to pay about half of what the item sold for new, so a strong background in The Price is Right is helpful, but not essential. If you’re selling on consignment, you get 45% of what the store ultimately sells the item for.
I brought some companions along to Elan, and all five of us came away with something. I found a casual skirt for $29, and since skirts are what got me into this crazy thrifting lifestyle in the first place, I can’t see myself leaving the life any time soon. The thing is, pants are a challenge for the short-legged fashionista, and skirts are fun and forgiving. But it’s hard to find the right skirt in a department store, or anywhere, really. Go into a second-hand store, however, and bam. There are at least 20 skirts right there in my size. That finding the right size thing is another miracle, but we’ll save the challenges of navigating the fashion industry’s ideas about geometry of women’s bodies for another post.
One of my shopping pals found a beautiful classic tailored Escada blazer perfect for work. It took the rest of us some time and a cost-benefit analysis to convince her that the $89.10 price was worth it given the dress-code demands of her job, but what are friends for? In the end, the great fit won her over and the blazer found its new home. A good thing, too, since a later web search revealed that similar blazers on the Escada site were going for $1,200.
Second Time Around, located at 574 Washington St. Similar to Elan, only a bit bigger. Open Monday – Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Sundays noon – 6:00 p.m. Always a good selection of designer bags and a solid showing of all things preppy, including lots of Lily Pulitzer and Tory Burch.
The Schofield Elementary School PTO-run thrift store, Shoppers’ Corner, is the closest thing we have to true thrifting here in town. I once found a fabulous pair of Tory Burch white jeans in pristine condition for $3.00, which I wore until dinginess set in. Located in the basement of the school at 27 Cedar St, they get their inventory of clothing for the whole family through either straight-out donations, which are tax-deductible, or by consignment. Shoppers’ Corner is open during the school year Wednesdays, 8:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. and the first Saturday of each month, 10:00 a.m. – noon.
The Turnabout Shoppe, located at 30 Grove St., in no way counts as thrifting, not even for Paris Hilton. But it’s second-hand goods, and it’s here in Wellesley, so I paid a visit. Not shopped, mind you. Paid a visit. Sort of like to a museum, where you know full well you won’t be buying anything. While browsing, I tried to imagine what would lead me to actually purchase the $1,000 Chanel dress or the Prada boots for $550. All I could concoct was a fantasy in which I was an intensely driven young attorney who needed designer threads to be taken seriously in court. Sort of me as a (brunette), less bubbly version of Legally Blonde. For those of you actually living that dream, the clothes you need to carry (Bradshaw) through on it are here. Store hours are 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 pm. Monday – Saturday. Closed Sunday.
Wellesley Recycling and Disposal Facility This isn’t the place for clothing, but it’s the go-to place in town for household odds and ends. Best of all, it’s all free, as long as you’re a Wellesley resident. That’s right, just buy a house in town for the median price of about a million, and you can have all the salt-and-pepper shakers, holiday decorations, and stuffed animals you want, absolutely free.
It’s not at all unusual to find something that’s a cut above tchotchke, however. Best find by far this fall at the Give and Take was the pair of Brown Jordan outdoor chairs I loaded into my station wagon a couple of weeks ago. A quick look at this luxury outdoor furniture’s website listed the price of chairs similar to those I scored at around $400 each. And to think, I’m just keeping them outside by the fire pit, dripping toasted marshmallow goop all over them. Hours are Monday – Wednesday, 7:00 a.m. – noon; Thursday and Friday, 7:00 a.m. – 3:45 p.m.; Saturday, 7:00 a.m. – 4:45 p.m. Closed Sunday (see here for why).
Before you set out on your own, you might want to expand your research with this outside reading: Thrifting, the Master Class
Feeling ready to take it beyond the border? Here are some thrifting spots beyond Wellesley:
The Salvation Army, 215 Worcester Rd., Framingham
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul’s, 44 Franklin St., Framingham
Boston Consignment, 238 Highland Ave, Needham
The Closet Exchange, 906, 935, and 931 Great Plain Ave., Needham
Lemon Tree Goods, 325 North Main St., Natick