It happens every time. I’ll be standing in a change room at Value Village wearing a pair of moss-green corduroy jeggings when I’ll realize I’ve completely lost my sense of style. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I have amazing taste, or a better knack for pulling an outfit together than the next twentysomething gal, but I do alright. That is, until I step foot inside the fluorescent trap that is the big VV. I just can’t help it. I’ll be sitting at home, trying to write or clean my room when it occurs to me that I need more velvet in my life. The next thing I know I’m inhaling that je ne sais quoi scent of used clothing, stroking a bedazzled Hawaiian shirt wondering if it has just the right amount of irony, or if I’ve already gone too far with the unicorn shirt that’s now sitting in my shopping cart.
The day I knew my Value Village problem had hit rock bottom was when I bought a bra. For months it sat in the back of my underwear drawer, peering at me through my socks with its creepy blue gauze fabric before I admitted defeat and tossed it out.
Somewhere between terribly tapered denim and oversized flannels I get lost and think—wait, is this hipster clothing or something my weird uncle Todd would wear? The conclusion I have come to of course is that there’s no difference. I once heard someone say that style is 10% fashion and 90% confidence and I couldn’t agree more. The problem is that I inevitably buy these ridiculous items of clothing and find myself unable to wear them out in public, only to drop them off where they started half a year later.
I wish it stopped at clothing but that’s only the beginning. As soon as I’m done destroying what pride I had left in my appearance, I make my way over to the aisles that can only be described as “random shit”.
My favourite is the fancy kitchenware section. I’ll stand there for twenty minutes, a tarnished silver plate in each hand, wondering if one could have somehow descended from Serbian Royalty. I hold cracked teacups with roses in the bottom and gold scalloped edges, knowing the cheap tea I bought from Bulk Barn will taste better with my fingers clutched to the skinny curve of their handles.
Sometimes it’s not as elegant. Sometimes it’s a botanical illustration of chanterelles. Sometimes it’s a waffle iron in the shape of Snoopy. Sometimes I’m not really sure what it is, but I toss it into the shopping bag anyway, shrugging my shoulders and sashaying onward.
I know it’s a bad habit, buying things just because they’re interesting and cheap, spending my money like it’s a hobby. I’m aware Value Village is owned by the increasingly problematic Walmart franchise. And I realize that sometimes ugly sweaters just aren’t funny.
But even if it wasn’t passed on by a queen or a witch doctor, there’s something magical about thrifting. Maybe it’s not so bad that I lose my sense of style or taste because even if only for an hour, reality shifts and castaways from the outside world turn into treasure. I can imagine a whole new life the object in my hand might bring me. I can get away with everything.