Gone a’ Thriftin’

Just because it’s been a shamefully long time since my last post doesn’t mean I haven’t been writing them in my head. It just means there’s lots to share, so I’ll keep it snappy.

What follows in the next few posts is a “Reader’s Digest” version of the last two month’s of retail encounters.

October 21, 2010
I have to confess I’ve never been one for sloppy seconds, especially when it comes to clothes. I like my clothes to have that new-clothes smell and I love the snip of cutting off crisp tags.

But when my new friend Nurse V. invited me to the City Opera Thrift Shop‘s Fall Vintage Preview Sale, I decided to give secondhand clothes a second chance.   

Walking into the Chelsea shop, Nurse V. reviewed the rules. First, we’d start upstairs in the sale section. We’d pause to look briefly at housewares, then tackle the rest of the second floor. Clothes at City Opera are organized by color, so we’d go through the reds, pinks, whites, and blues, then hit the shoes and bags, before making our way down to the first floor.

I realized right away this would be no evening of pawing through bins of stained duds at Goodwill; City Opera Thrift Shop is well supplied by opera buffs donating their barely worn Chanels and Pradas for the good of keeping New York in Puccini and Verdi.

Here are the highlights: A Lanvin dress, never worn. We carried it with us while we shopped, hoping it would wind up being a good price (it wasn’t tagged, and we had to ask), and knowing it wouldn’t be, but excited even to be thinking about buying a Lanvin frock.

City Opera Thrift Shop also sells true vintage pieces, and at least one coat and one dress I looked at bore the elegant scripted labels from Bonwit Teller, a store my mom used to talk about shopping at when she first moved to Boston in the 1960′s.

A vintage Saks coat with rhinestone buttons each of which took a full minute to button. It was a coat, it seemed, from the days when women didn’t have to go places in a hurry.

My almost-find was a Nanette Lepore sweater dress. It made it all the way to the register with me, before I did a mental scan of my closet and realized I did NOT need another sweater dress, no matter how cute it would look with knee high boots.

Nurse V. came out the clear winner, scoring a gorgeous tea-length Calvin Klein party dress,with blue and gold flowers. Fifty bucks and– wait for it: The. tags. were. still. on.

Though, despite the lack of a shopping bag in my hand, I felt like I was a winner too. See, this was the first real evening Nurse V. and I had hung out, and I rarely meet people who have my shopping staying power; most people I know poop out after just an hour of rack-raiding. Nurse V. is a true shopping pro, and you know that is a high, high compliment coming from Miss CinD.

When is our next thrifting trip? I hope I can keep up.

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