Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Five Items of Clothing I Never Find at Thrift Stores

Yes, I do most of my clothes shopping at thrift stores. They have lots of nearly new -- or sometimes, really old and cool -- stuff at a fraction of the price you'd pay elsewhere.

Both of my suits (one a standard light/summer business/wedding/funeral suit, the other a vintage linen suit that a freaking fashion reporter asked me about at the 2016 Libertarian National Convention)  fit like they were tailored for me. Each of them cost less less than ten bucks. They cost to buy less than they cost to have dry-cleaned.

I keep a couple of pairs of "bought new" shoes around, but pick up old Nikes and such when I see them really cheap at the thrift stores. They're for wearing when I mow the yard or lounge around the house or whatever. The "new" stuff is for going out or, occasionally, when I get the "get in shape" bug and don't want to destroy my feet walking or biking.

I buy cheap or cool shirts for a buck or three apiece and don't worry about wearing them out. In fact, once I get too many, I impose a "cut up two for rags for every one you buy" rule so that my wardrobe doesn't get out of control (Tamara always has enough clothing on hand to cover a mid-size city of petite women -- a city I'd very much like to visit).

But here are five things I never seem to find at thrift stores:

  1. Levi Strauss 501 button fly jeans. 550 zipper fly Levis I can find all day long. Dockers? Whole racks of them in every size. 501s, no dice. And have you seen what they cost new these days? Back when I worked for Tracker Boats, I got a 20% discount at Bass Pro Shops and the 501s were less than $20 before the discount. Nowadays you're talking $50 or more. Screw that. I got lucky a little while back and found a pair of 501s at a garage sale. My size. New! They hadn't even been washed yet, the store tags were still on them. One. Freakin'. Dollar. SCORE.
  2. String ties, bolo ties, and bow ties. I don't like regular neckties very much. I don't like tying them, I don't like wearing them, and I don't like looking like every other dick in a suit wherever I'm going that I need to wear a suit. I usually have to get online to find those things, although I did pick up a cool little brass alligator bolo at a yard sale a couple of weeks ago.
  3. White, "buff," or ivory dress shoes. I've been looking for a pair to go with the aforementioned linen suit. I'm simply not willing to spend ten times as much on the shoes as I spent on the suit.
  4. Band/concert shirts. It's easy to understand why. People collect those and either wear them until they rot (that's me) or carefully preserve them in boxes (that's not me). If I ever come across, say, a 1993 Grateful Dead at [insert venue here] concert shirt at a thrift store, and I never have, I'll know that either a hippie died or it's a Walmart reproduction.
  5. Men's belts that actually fit. If I see a men's belt at a thrift store, chances are it's either for a guy with a 70" waist or a guy with a 24" waist. My theory is that the guys with 70" waists keeled over in the Golden Corral buffet line and their families donated the stuff (there's always plenty of Very Very Large pants and shirts, too), and that the guys with 24" waists gained weight. All the belt sizes in between get worn out, not donated to thrift stores. I finally gave in and paid Amazon $12 for two decent belts recently (I often wear suspenders, and there are always plenty of those at thrift stores).

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