“… her offscreen flair for mixing downtown cool with Hollywood glam has made her an icon of edgy, DIY style. An intrepid thrift-store addict and eBay habitué, Sevigny firmly believes that being fashionable doesn’t have to break the bank: ‘It’s not what you spend but how you wear it that counts,’ she says. ‘The key is often to dress up inexpensive basics with accessories. Something like a beautiful designer bag or belt can make everything else look richer and more luxurious.’”
I like a celeb who thrifts. And Chloe Sevigny does an awesome job of it, mixing basic staples and thrift store finds with designer accessories that dress up her thrifted look. She knows what looks good on her and she plays up her strengths (like, uh, her legs? — have you seen these things?).
“You don’t need fashion designers when you are young. Have faith in your own bad taste. Buy the cheapest thing in your local thrift shop – the clothes that are freshly out of style with even the hippest people a few years older than you. Get on the fashion nerves of your peers, not your parents – that is the key to fashion leadership.”
– John Waters
John Waters is my favorite kind of thrifter: a paleontologist of the weird, visiting junk shops and Goodwills with an anthropological curiosity, seeking the leave-behinds of lives lived before beige home decor and chain stores started their incessant creep across the American landscape. For these people, thrift treasures aren’t ways to make money, or save money, or display a certain aptitude for design, but rather a way to express personal identity in the face of a culture that prefers you wouldn’t, and, with its mass-marketed everything, makes it increasingly difficult to do so. These thrifters are looking for those once-in-a-lifetime oddities, dislodged by fate from someone else’s amassment, and tossed into the dismal abyss of discards directly into the hands of the only other person on earth who could appreciate them: them.
Al Hoff, the creator and publisher of Thrift Score zine and the subsequent book Thrift Score, which was published by Harper Perennial in 1997, chats with TVB about thrifting’s glory days, and how spending a considerable amount of time in the thrifting trenches can fundamentally change your world view.
TVB: You started Thrift Score in 1994 because, as you’ve said in other interviews, you and your friends were already thrifting and what started as a necessity turned into an obsession for you. So your zine was an outlet for you to thrift more for “research,” but also a way to keep track of the ideas and stories that were the results of your many thrift store trips.
Al Hoff: I wouldn’t say that I started the zine to thrift more, but more to build connections between like-minded thrifters — people like myself who were in search of weird things, vintage stuff (without being slavish about it), and just the fun of digging through discards to find treasure. Today, we’d think nothing of building such a community via the interwebs, but all those years ago, doing a zine — one that solicited contributions — and getting it into the hands of fellow travelers was how it was done.
And yes, my friends and I loved to talk about what we founds, our experiences thrifting, so it was also a forum for that — for me, and for people I had yet to meet. But probably the primary thing that kickstarted the zine was getting a computer, a new retail item! With it, I could make connections with other thrifters and the zine world through the internet, plus use basic word-processing programs to publish the zine.
The most important new voice in American rock in years is wearing a black thigh-length thrift-store dress over flannel long johns.
– The Los Angeles Times, September 19, 1993
It may seem overly obvious to feature Kurt Cobain in a post category about famous people who shop(ped) at thrift stores. But I entered my teenage years just a few months before this LA Times article was published, and like most teenagers, was starting to shop for clothes without parental guidance. Or money. And Kurt was a central influence in legitimizing the thrift store as a central source of fashion and personal expression.
Matt Bivins is a former member of the Charleston, South Carolina-based indie band Jump, Little Children. If you spent any time in the indie or college music scene in the late ’90s you’ll definitely remember the band’s single, “Cathedrals.”
Jump, Little Children disbanded in 2005 and now Matt and his brother Evan Bivins reside here in Chicago. Matt’s girlfriend Lindsay is a good friend of mine, so I recently asked them both to do a Thrift & Famous with us.
We checked out two thrift and resale shops on Chicago’s northwest side: Unique Thrift Store on Elston, and Kouk’s Vintage Cafe.
Nicki Minaj is my new favorite. She’s like a cartoon character. Funny faces, growling rhymes, occasional Barbie talk, and a tough ass attitude. Friend of TVB, Chuck McCarthy, hung out with Nicki while assisting art school pal GL Wood at a Pink Friday photo shoot. So, I picked his brain for some inside scoop on Ms. Minaj, her style, and stuff.
TVB: Nicki’s image has been challenged by some folks. They allege that she’s manufactured. Since you spent time with her at the Pink Friday shoot, what’s your take — is she the real deal?
Chuck: I think, from what I can tell, and from what Nicki has told the world, she has many, many, many sides. Does she dictate her style or is she styled? She dictates her style. She has a stylist, but she is definitely calling the shots… with everything.
TVB: Was this your first time at a photo shoot?
Chuck: This was not my first photo shoot. I have been on many film and photo shoots both in front of and behind the camera in one way or another. I was assisting GL. We went to art school together, so we have been helping each other with various projects for years now. That sounds so fucking cheesy, but it’s true.
TVB: Are you a fan? Do you have a favorite song?
Chuck: From what I know of Nicki, from having met her, I am a fan of Nicki as a person, and I think she has talent. I don’t have a favorite song of hers, but I don’t really have a favorite song of anyone.
TVB: Any thoughts on how to bite Minaj’s style?
Chuck: If a chick wants to be like Nicki, she needs to make choices and go with them. Good, bad, or ugly, you make a choice and go with it. If you have talent and charisma and don’t back down… If you want to be a leader and a trendsetter like Nicki, you can’t be scared.
Nice segue, Chuck!
So, there are a ton of Youtube videos of people aping Nicki’s rhymes. But how can you get her look? I mean some of the get ups in her videos might be little OTT for everyday. No worries friends, TVB has some tips for you.
Get the look after the jump.
Liz and I were introduced to each other a couple of weeks ago via her boyfriend and my pal, Josh Young — a.k.a. J2K of Flosstradamus. She’s originally from Australia, but even after only four months in the States she’s pretty pro at navigating the thrifting scene in Chicago.
A photographer, full-time eBayer, and part-time American Apparel employee, she splits her focus when it comes to sourcing clothing inventory since it’s often the reverse season for her dedicated buyers down under. This means she often snags off season garb for megs cheap (and reaps the profitable benefits) both here and abroad. Pro tip #1!
When we met up for coffee and thrifting on a recent Saturday, she told me that her thrifting love was inspired by the style of her favorite ’90s bands. As a teen, she scoured Aussie thrifts for fashions inspired by Hole, Nine Inch Nails, and Sepultura to create her signature look.
All that thrifting experience means she has many tips, which she graciously shares in our first Thrift & Famous segment. The video below includes tips on how to plow through an overwhelming/messy thrift in record time and curb alteration overload. Plus, she shares a fav find, which Refinery29 blogged during 2010 NY Fashion Week.
Liz and I took about 25 minutes of video, which left the price bitching and funnier moments on the cutting room floor. Click through to check out the outtakes.