Throughout the student body runs a common thread: thrifting. Whether it be for furniture or for clothes, Novocollegians are notorious for their fashionable finds in thrift stores across Sarasota and Manatee county. Recently, the Catalyst was able to catch up with two of New College’s thriftiest students to examine how and why they build their wardrobes from the leftovers of others’.
“Right now the amount of my wardrobe that is thrifted is a little skewed because I’m about to move and I’m downsizing,” thesis-student Anne-Sophie Stabler said. “It’s about fifty-fifty most of the time, including shoes. I mostly look for high-quality stuff. Like, I found these really cool shoes that Liza Manelli actually designed in the eighties and they are these beautiful oxfords – completely flawless – look like they’ve been worn maybe two times!”
Due to her love for clothing, Stabler admits that getting as much of her clothing as possible from thrift stores allows her to have a higher “turnover rate” in her closet.
“Thrifting allows me to go through trends,” Stabler said. “That’s part of why I love thrifting so much. I can go through phases! Like, two years ago all I wore were bright floral prints and now everything in my wardrobe is purple and black. I don’t have to feel bad about throwing out half of my wardrobe.”
Similarly, first-year Melissa Rettig admitted to about 60 percent of her wardrobe being second-hand.
“The percentage has probably gone up since I have been living at New College,” Rettig said. “Now, alongside thrifting, I also get a lot of things from the free-store which is another valuable resource.
“My favorite things that I have found while shopping in a thrift store are my $5.00 Doc Martins that I wear everyday, and a blue navy sailor-shift that I’ve only had to opportunity to wear twice,” Rettig added. “I found both of them in Charleston, and I have not found anything as great in Sarasota. So, I definitely think it varies.”
Rettig also mentioned that the clothing in thrift stores where she is from is not really different from the thrift stores in Sarasota.
“Charleston and Sarasota have about the same amount of old people that die and leave things that will eventually find their way into the local thrift stores,” Rettig said. “The only difference is that in Charleston the majority of the dress section is made up of Sunday-best dresses from 1967, and here the dress section mostly just has beachy, New College-looking stuff.”
Stabler also acknowledged the location variable in relation to the body of clothes in local thrift stores.
“I went to a thrift-store up in New York City; it was a completely different story than here,” Stabler said. “It really does depend on the neighborhood you’re in, or the state you’re in. Like, the Goodwill here: there are a lot of good finds, but you are going to have to pick through a lot of old lady’s dresses that could probably serve as a tent, and the armada of Crocs that are in the shoe section.”
Both Stabler and Rettig shed some valuable insight into the their thrifting strategies and offered a few pieces of advice to anyone who would like to begin perusing thrift stores more regularly.
“I try everything on,” Stabler said. “Even if it has an elastic waistband, it might not look good on you. Yes, it’s a thrift store. Yes, everything is cheap, so it’s not a total loss if something doesn’t fit, but we’re all broke college students!
“Also, you must be patient.” Stabler added. “ You can’t go to the thrift store for twenty minutes. For me it is a three-hour thing. You go systematically through the shoes, shift through the dresses. Just go through everything.”
In agreement, Rettig presents another dimension to this advice.
“I agree, go through everything. But, remember to particularly look through the men’s section,” Rettig said. “I always find good things in the men’s section – especially fantastic sweaters.
“Also – when shopping in the men’s section especially – do not let shoulder pads deter you from buying something you really like,” Rettig warned. “You can always cut shoulder pads out. It is not complicated.
“Another really valuable word of advice is to steer clear of items of clothing that look like things you already own,” Rettig said. “There is a reason you like it: it is because you already own it. The likeliness that you will also wear the thing that looks like another thing you own is low. Don’t get it.”
Here are some thrift stores that Rettig and Stabler recommend for good thrifting:
Goodwill – 1701 North Honore Avenue, Sarasota, FL 34235
“This is where all of the donation from Lakewood Ranch go,” Stabler said. “All of the people would live in Lakewood Ranch donate all of the things that they wear once and they all end up here. This is the store where I have found actual Chanel, Hermes, and Oscar de la Renta.”
Lion’s Paw Antiques and Collectables – 2542 Central Ave, St Petersburg, FL
ARTpool Gallery and Vintage Boutique, 2030 Central Ave, St Petersburg, FL
“I like to go thrifting in St. Pete,” Stabler said. “Downtown St. Pete, down Central, there are a lot of nice thrift stores. I actually got my favorite vest that has a leopard collar in one of stores down Central.”
“ARTpool is pretty awesome,” Rettig said. “My roommates and I were wandering around St. Pete last week and ended up in there. It is definitely more of a second-hand shop, but it is also owned by a New College Alum!”