Because I write this column, I suspect people mistakenly believe I’m all about “high fashion.” While I love Walnut Street shopping as much as the next girl, the truth is I spend more time drooling over window displays than actually spending time in the store and buying something.
I understand that sometimes you just must have those ridiculously priced 7 For All Mankind jeans (it’s true they make any girl’s butt look good) or a Lacoste polo (it’s also true that guys get extra hot points while wearing polo shirts), but on the whole I encourage cheap and chic over pricey and trendy.
It’s amazing what perfectly fun and hip things people will toss from their closets and give to charity stores like Salvation Army and Goodwill Industries. After discovering the beauty of thrift store shopping in high school, I spent four years experimenting with an array of other people’s styles, and my chameleon-like looks landed me the distinction second most unique dresser of my graduating class, runner up to a girl who handmade most of her outfits. I, on the other hand, can’t sew a button to save my life.
There’s no need to sew your own clothes to save your style and save your cash. With the warm weather upon us, it’s the perfect time to go for a thrifty-walking tour of the city, picking up some key pieces along the way.
When prom season rolled around, girls and guys at my high school would drop hundreds of dollars on their outfits. My proudest fashion moment is when I wore a $40, Cyndi Lauper-esque red dress with a big bow and all the frills of the 1980s to my senior prom. While my friends sought the latest Jessica McClintock dress at King of Prussia, I scoured the local vintage shops for my standout piece.
Vagabond at 37 N. Third St. is my favorite Old City shop for the looks of decades past for guys and girls. The store carries dressier vintage fashion priced much less and worth much more than its department store counterparts. Guys can spice up their suit with a Rat Pack-era blazer or a psychedelic tie. Since most of today’s trends take inspiration from the past, girls will have no trouble finding a look-at-me dress for a Greek formal or a club’s banquet.
Vintage Instruments on 16th and Pine streets, and ME & Blue Boutique at 311 Market St. sell stuff last seen on your parent’s when they were your age, but in great condition. Also check out Lucy’s Hat Shop at 1118 Pine St. for hats, coats, men’s blazers and ladies’ dresses.
Avoid South Street vintage shops if you can. I often wonder whether the clothes are truly vintage or just cheap replicas from the early ’90s. Plus, despite their scarcity, vintage is supposed to be relatively inexpensive-don’t settle for anything more unless the item is an absolute must. The most popular vintage hot spots on the strip are Retrospect on Fifth and South streets, Philly Vintage on Fourth and South streets and Hope on 7th located off of South Street at Seventh and Bainbridge streets.
Ah, God bless Sal Val. Nothing makes me happier than clothes organized by color. I walk into a Salvation Army store and the rainbow just calls to me. I used to pick up shirts from my rival high school and local college sorority letters for fun at my local store. When a friend was in search of the ’70s classic “Members Only” jacket once, we turned to Sal Val and found the perfect fit.
I recently scored a form-fitting baby blue BCBG for Bloomingdale’s dress from the Salvation Army at 20th and Market streets for $6.99. The equivalent of one meal at the Student Center for a hot dress? The deals don’t get any sweeter than that.
If you want to avoid the “let’s all dress the same and shop at Abercrombie” mentality, thrift-store shopping is your best route. But regardless of where you shop, remember that in the end, the best fashion accessory is simply to be yourself.
Sammy Davis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.