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The Fine Art of Thrift-Shopping: How to Make It Work

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Earlier this week I was having dinner with a friend, whose style, influenced by international fashion blogs, has undergone a drastic transformation. Pinstriped shirt tucked inside checkered pants, secured by a tan-hued Hermès belt – he is what you would call an urban dandy. His ensemble, complete with Giorgio Armani brogues and a pair of bright-hued socks, paints a portrait of Milan street style, right in the middle of bustling Bombay.

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That night, to my bewilderment, I learnt most of his luxury purchases were made from bargain stores abroad. Wardrobe essentials – the work of a reliable local tailor.

Suffice to say, the conversation got me thinking about the varying degrees of "thrifting" (or thrift shopping), and more importantly, the art in itself.

“I noticed a pattern in the lifestyle of most of the bloggers I followed,” he revealed. “Prompted by the lack of funds, they turned to thrifting, only to emerge as icons of the sartorial world.”

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I was instantly taken back to my days in college. With a limited budget and an insatiable need to express myself through fashion, I began frequenting flea markets, vintage shops, garage sales and bargain huts – embarking upon what I would call an unending affair with the thrifted.

Now, a few years later, as a writer who enjoys the perks of a regular pay cheque, I venture out to both boutiques and high-street stores. Month after month, I religiously deposit a sizeable portion of my salary to the shrines of high fashion. Swanky window displays, full length mirrors and access to international trends have me under a spell. Judge me if you must, but I like Zara very, very much.

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But does that diminish the allure of entering a chamber of secrets that could reveal just about anything – from a fringed jacket that dates back to the '70s to a Benarasi weave that would make even your grandmother happy? The glimmer in my eyes will tell you another story.

Acquiring one-of-a-kind pieces continues to be an obsession. Who can deny the sense of complacency it brings with it? While thrifting typically conjures up the image of hand-me-downs and lacklustre goodies, I assure you the process uncovers standout pieces and designer creations as well – as is apparent from my friend’s lust-worthy collection. And whether or not your thrift finds hold fort on their own, they promise to add an interesting element to your existing wardrobe and pair willingly with high-street finds.

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Button-down maternity dress!


Even today, some of the most revered pieces in my wardrobe have, in fact, been procured from thrift stores. A black, button-down maternity dress (let’s keep this a secret, shall we?), nipped and tucked by the tailor downstairs, multitasks as a maxi, along with a scarf and a cape. The Mandarin-print kimono I pair with a tank top and a pair of acid-wash jeans once belonged to the waiter at a Chinese restaurant.

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Mandarin print kimono


Should you need another reason to go thrifting, take a closer look at my ensemble in the picture here!

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The denim blouson, printed skirt and platform heels evocative of a Sicilian summer have been acquired from the bylanes of Bombay.

Images courtesy: Drishti Das

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