Every once in a while I get the urge to thrift. It is a urge which needs to be kept well in check since thrift shopping for me tends to result in unnecessary purchases of clothing I will never wear (cite the parrot-design knitted ugly sweater decision of October 2012... don't know what I am talking about? That's because you haven't seen the sweater..)
Sometimes, in my moments of embarassing weakness, I give into my alter-ego - Bad 80s Clothing Brittany (she can be a bit of a badass) - and come out of secondhand stores with a fashion faux that not even a belt can fix. And no matter how many ways I try to style it - long silver necklaces, jeggings, high boots, etc., I end up realizing that it's final life destination probably should have been the thrift store, and not my closet. Friends come in handy here, too. Take only the friends whom you can trust to be brutally honest; they will save you from thrift-shop purgatory and bring you back to the land of cute dresses and butterflies.
It helps to have a plan when going into overwhelmingly large stores like Talize or Value Village. I usually start with housewares, passing over vintage tea sets, pyrex casserole dishes, and saucers, reminding myself that, until I have a house of my very own, I can't crowd my shared space with things I have no room for.
Once I've passed through the book section, I typically meander about the shoes. It is a blessing that I have no fear of strange foot diseases, because scooping up vintage boots has become my favourite part of thrift shopping. And I rarely fail. One of the best pair of boots I have ever purchased were a pair of vintage Eatons 80s black leather boots. I wear them on a regular basis, and other than a small repair job to one of the wooden heels, they have fared extremely well. I've also managed a pair of genuine leather Aldo cowboy boots which were too small for my already tiny feet and got passed off to a friend who adores them more than I ever could.
So when Bad 80s Clothing Brittany stumbled upon pair of vintage suede boots at a Talize in London, ON, she grabbed them and ran.
Gorgeous, right? I thought so too, and before I could resist, the boots became the classically heeled foundation point for all further purchases.
Now, if I have learned anything from my favourite thrifting fashionista, Julie, it is that thrifting only works well if you check the tag - find out what brand the item is before you spend good money on something which, being secondhand, should cost you less than its going retail price. There is absolutely nothing worse than finding a cute dress marked $12.99 at Talize and then realizing the brand is Walmart - the dress was probably cheaper new than secondhand.
UPSTAGE is a brand I have never ever come across. I have never seen it in any Canadian or American stores. Usually when this happens, the brand is imported from Europe, has been purchased by its previous owner on holidays, or has mishapped its way across the globe. The print on the tag first alerted me to the age of the boots, as did the fact that the tag held a 7 digit serial number. Since contemporary marketing has replaced these IDs with barcodes, you can typically assume that anything with a tag looking like this is pre 1995.
It's a good thing I have my perception led me to look, because when I turned the tag over...
Kid-in-the-Barbie-Aisle-During-Snow-Brittany and Bad-80s-Clothing-Brittany were rudely pushed aside as History-Nerd-Brittany came running in full speed, history lesson in hand (my professors would be so proud...).
See, Yugoslavia's existence during the 20th Century was tumultuous. For a large part of its post-WWII life, it was under the power of the USSR, and was basically rendered obsolete during the 1991 Yugoslav wars. The country no longer exists under the name Yugoslavia, and hasn't since 1992. Not only that, between 1970 and 1991/2 the country/socialist republic was in a constant state of economic and political turmoil. 1/2 million people lost their jobs in a 3 year period. Wars devastated the SFRY. Unfortunately, during any war, the buying and selling of fashion is one of the first luxuries to get snubbed. And since Yugoslavia wasn't economically stable, I can imagine that the exports of suede boots were not a top priority. So, though I have no idea what these particular boots have seen, I like to imagine they experienced world history.
And lucky for you, I compiled some photos of my other thrifted gems, outfitted from the boots up!
(all photos were taken with the iPhone 4S, edited with Adobe Photoshop Elements)
Who knew a pair of boots could have so much history? I sure didn't. I guess it's a good thing that History-Nerd-Brittany took over this one. If that hadn't happened, you might have been reading a post about the importance of owning at least one sweater with a giant dog face on it...
Yes. That happened.