It has been well documented – I love a good thrift store.
I genuinely crave the smell of old clothes, the musk of well-worn apparel, racked into organized chaos from the discarder’s closet. I love the thrill of the hunt – the feel of the fabrics to guess which might yield a precious find, the unique gem. I’d prefer to brag on the second-hand item – the deal of the day, that truly incredible discovery.
Now I should clarify – I am not a vintage-clothing expert. I love newer second-hand items just as much as I treasure older, hand-made pieces. My favorite finds have always been the ones that are unique – things I’ve never seen on anyone before, or items that are on my closet’s “bucket list” (mine, for example, includes worn leather jackets, faded cut-off shorts, vintage fur, and anything sequined).
This dress was one of those finds – the moment I touched it, I knew it was special. The fabric – the pattern and the colors – it was just special. It didn’t have a tag on it, but it looked impeccable, brand new even. You know when you can just tell something is expensive? This dress looked and felt expensive; it was by a designer I had never heard of before. But it was my size, so I took it with me to the dressing room with hesitation and a little fear. What if it didn’t fit? What if there was something wrong with it – a rip in the fabric, a bad zipper? Those kinds of things really stress me out when I think I’ve found something great while thrifting. Because there’s never any guarantees with vintage or second-hand clothing. You can’t run back to the rack to get a different size, or a better pattern cut (speaking of which, the girls over at A Beautiful Mess wrote a really awesome article about vintage sizing a few years ago, which you can read here).
Anyways. I was standing in the dressing room with my friend Bethany, and I finally got to the dress. I’d been putting it off, because I really wanted it, so I really wanted it to fit/look great/be in great condition/etc. I stepped into it, zipped it up from the back, and fixed the matching belt at the waist. And I’d be damned if it wasn’t perfect. Perfect fit, perfect length (maybe a tad long on me), perfect condition. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it, and I just couldn’t believe my luck. The price tag was somewhere along the lines of $40, which is a little high for a second-hand dress, but it felt worth it, and it looked designer, so I didn’t give it much thought.
I wore the dress to work the following week. I couldn’t believe how many compliments I received on it – people asked where it was from, telling me how nice I looked, and asking if I had something special planned that day. It was one of those trial-run wears when you just feel like a million bucks, you know? Sometime during that day, I decided I would do a little research on the designer, David Meister, to see what his collection looked like, and what kind of price point his dresses retailed for. I wasn’t completely surprised to see that the line sold in high-end stores like Neiman’s, Bergdorf Goodman, Saks and Bloomingdales, but I was shocked that the “every day” collection retailed upwards of $450. You can see a sampling of his current collection here.
Honestly, besides my wedding dress, it is one of the most expensive piece of clothing that I own. But I don’t treasure it because I know how expensive it was (not for me, but for the original owner); I treasure it because it makes me feel special. It makes me feel accomplished for finding it, lucky that no one else snagged it up before I did, and proud that I’ve cultivated enough years of thrift-store shopping that I know what to look for. Without further ado, here’s the dress:
What I’m wearing: thrifted David Meister dress & belt; thrifted Tahari shoes; Coach purse; right hand bracelet: thrifted; left hand bracelets, top to bottom: J.Crew via eBay, Stella & Dot, Forever21
Happy Friday, y’all!