Thrift shop treasures

When I was growing up, our family got a lot of its clothes from second-hand stores. At the time, I was embarrassed thinking it marked me a poor.

Now I realize the wisdom in my mom’s shopping habits. Buying from thrift stores not only saves money, it also helps the environment.

But more than that, I have now learned to appreciate the thrill of the hunt, scouring these outlets for hidden treasure. If you know what you are looking for, you can uncover unique items that will give your wardrobe a completely individual look at a fraction of designer prices.

There are different kinds of second-hand shops, and there are steals to find at each type.

Thrift shops are typically large stores that accept donations of used goods, like Value Village, Goodwill, and those run by churches.

Thrift stores are definitely my go-to for denim. On a recent trip to Value Village I found hundreds of pairs of jeans in all sizes, colours, and styles, including high end brands.

The great thing about jeans from thrift stores is that they are already broken in, and you don’t have to worry about shrinkage or dye loss from a first wash (although I did even spy some pairs that still had brand new tags on).

Furthermore denim is one of the most environmentally damaging materials to produce, so buying used vs new is good karma.

Look beyond the jeans section for other denim - dresses, jackets, shorts, and overalls. I found my classic Gap jean jacket at a Goodwill for $6.

Also don’t forget to check the men’s section. “Boyfriend” jeans are produced by all the denim makes, supposedly to mimic the comfy looseness of well-worn jeans. Why buy these new when there are tons of pants out there already broken in by guys?

This is where one of my favourite pairs came from, featuring an embroidered koi fish on the leg. I only had to cut off some length to make them fit me perfectly.

Beyond denim, I also find large thrift shops great for finding costume jewellery and unique vintage handbags.

Straw and raffia bags are having a huge moment in the fashion world right now, with top designers crafting woven totes costing hundreds or even thousands of dollars. You can find the exact same thing at Value Village for $3.

There are lots of summer-perfect straw hats at thrift shops too.

The other main type of second-hand store is based on a consignment model, with people bringing in their gently-used items for a return upon sale.

Several consignment stores operate in the Kelowna area catering to different types of clientele.

If you are looking for professional suiting and special occasion dresses, your best bets are to visit LC Fashions on Springfield and Rosebuds on Kirschner.

When I was starting out in my career and couldn’t afford new suits, these shops saved my budget.

Fancy occasion dresses are another thing I couldn’t justify spending lots of money on, and still can’t, especially when it’s likely I’ll only wear it once or twice.

Though some of the styles may not be completely current, minor alterations can ensure the items fit and look stylish. I took a flowy chiffon print dress that cost $10 and altered it into a very on-trend high neck jumpsuit.

For more current looks and designer goods, check out Frock and Fellow on Bernard Avenue. This store carries curated consignment, only accepting modern styles with some retro items thrown in.

On a recent visit I found an array of gorgeous designer shoes including Jimmy Choo pumps. While some may turn their nose up at pre-owned shoes, often these pairs are given up for consignment after only a few wears and are practically new.

They also carry a good supply of Lululemon for those who want high quality workout gear without the high price tag. 

Frock and Fellow is one of the only consignment shops carrying men’s clothes (the other being Second Tyme Around on Spall) so if you are searching for affordable on-trend looks for your man, check here.

If you are a true vintage aficionado, Georgie Girl on Ellis is your place. Every day they add to their stock of retro designer clothes and accessories. 

Think colourful paisley fabrics, pin-up dresses, and kisslock bags.

Additionally they stock earth-friendly new lines such as Triarchy, a Vancouver-based company that specializes in sustainably produced denim, and organic cotton by Groceries Apparel.

Today’s thrift and consignment stores are the antithesis of fast fashion consumerism and are truly changing the way we look at style. With ever-revolving stock, visit your favourite second-hand shops often.

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About the Author

Marla is best known for her 19-year career in the local charitable sector as a fund development and marketing manager with the Okanagan Regional Library, United Way, UBC Okanagan, and Kelowna Community Resources. 

In 2014, Marla and her husband decided to take a break from the work world, and, four years, later they are still enjoying Okanagan summers, winters in Mexico, and extensive travel. 

Marla has had a life-long passion for fashion, designing her own graduation dress and formal gown for the 1990 Miss Interior competition before age 20.

In 2014, she was named one of nine Style Ambassadors for a year-long marketing campaign at Orchard Park Mall. Her motto is “Life is short...you might as well go through it looking good."

If you have a style question or topic you’d like Marla to cover in this column, contact her at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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