SAVVY-DISCOUNTS COLUMNS BY SHARON MILLS, DEBI DRECKSLER, KATHY GILLIKIN

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11.0 SAVVY-DISCOUNTS COLUMNS BY SHARON MILLS, DEBI DRECKSLER, KATHY GILLIKIN; DISCOUNT CLOTHES AND CLOTHING.

11.0.1 THRIFT STORE HEAVEN

by Sharon Mills

In the past year I've bought almost all the clothes my husband, two teenage daughters and I wear in thrift shops. For the fashion statement my older daughter strives toward -- a cross between my great uncle in his golfing attire and someone auditioning for the Sex Pistols -- thrift shops and yard sales are the only places to shop. She bought all of her back-to-school clothes for about twenty dollars.

I keep a mental list of things I need to round out my wardrobe - a navy blazer, a red leather belt - and wait until I find them. At the end of the summer, I bought a wool navy blazer, a linen navy blazer and a black linen one for $2.00 each. Last spring I figured that I had bought 20 outfits for the price of one department store ensemble. Sometimes when I wear a "new" old dress, I pretend that it's one I've saved at the back of the closet because it's classic and originally very expensive.

The thrill of getting a good deal, like a designer dress for $3.50, becomes addictive. If you find a shop you like check in every week or so. I've bought so much stuff in St. Andrew's lately that I feel like a member of the church.

In our area, thrift shops charge the least: 35 to 75 cents for a jersey, turtle neck or polo shirt and up to 4 dollars for a dress or suit. The Salvation Army store is more expensive: $1.50 for all shirts and tops, up to $7.00 for a dress, but it is larger and offers more variety. A couple of years ago I went into "Sal's" the day before my daughter's first horse show of the season. As if by magic, I went straight to the back of the store and found her a Ralph Lauren wool riding jacket for $2.50. A year later, when she had outgrown that one, I found a linen, Saddlebred jacket for $3.00. Both originally cost $60.00 to $80.00, and we could now put them on consignment in a tack shop and get at least $20.00 apiece.

The Salvation Army store is like an in-door yard sale. You can find anything there from baby clothes to refrigerators, from furniture to computers.

If you're looking for clothes, you need to try on anything that looks promising. Although I probably wear an eight or a ten, I've bought dresses in size four through fourteen. Don't be afraid to wash something that says "Dry clean only" or make a few minor alterations. I bought a size five dress for my daughter which she wouldn't wear. On me, it was a little snug around the waist. It had elastic just in the back, so I made a tiny slit at each end of the casing, cut out the elastic, and the dress fit fine without any sewing.

Last spring she needed a dress for her eighth grade "prom." There were no dresses at any price within 60 miles of here like the one she had seen on MTV. We went to a huge consignment shop where they had lots of prom dresses, but all were impossible because they A)were not white, B)were floor length, C) had ruffles, D) had bows, E)had puffed sleeves, F)had lace, or G)all of the above. They made her want to barf. Finally in the bargain corner we found an old wedding dress for three dollars. It fit her but dragged on the floor and had a huge lace collar that came down over her arms to her elbows. She said, "I'd like this one if it were short and didn't have all this LACE on it." We bought it and cut off the lace and the bottom which we made into a slip. Total cost was 8 dollars.


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