Is there anyone in the Northwest who doesn’t shop at thrift stores?
Earlier this year, The Seattle Times and Dana Landon’s style blog It’s My Darlin’ asked readers to share their favorite second-hand purchases for a chance to win $50 thrift-store shopping sprees. We called the contest the Thrift-shop Showdown and — to our delight — nearly 400 people entered.
One agonizing judging session later, three winners emerged: Cynthia Simmons, Garrett Boyd and Anna Schier.
Off they went to shop, and then they reported back to The Seattle Times for a fashion photo shoot with staff photographer Erika Schultz and videographer Genevieve Alvarez.
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Thank you all for entering. May you have a nifty, thrifty spring.
“I love thrift-store shopping,” Cynthia Simmons says. “I loved it before it was even cool.”
The 56-year-old Seattle resident appreciates the deals, of course, but mostly, she enjoys the pursuit. “It’s like a treasure hunt,” she says.
She also likes giving back to the community by supporting nonprofits such as Seattle Goodwill and the YWCA.
Fifteen years ago, Simmons availed herself of the YWCA’s Working Wardrobe program, a clothing bank that helps outfit job-hunting women. Now, having worked steadily for the past 14 years, Simmons gets an extra charge out of shopping at the YWCA’s 5th Avenue Boutique.
“It’s nonprofit, and all its money goes back into the programs to help women go back into the workforce,” she said.
Simmons spent almost all of the $50 she won in the Thrift-shop Showdown at the 5th Avenue Boutique, bagging a $20 blue dress, $10 shoes, a $10 necklace and a $5 bracelet.
The dress is by Donna Ricco and the shoes by Paolo, but Simmons says she doesn’t pay much attention to names on labels. “I look for unique and special buys — things that are a little bit different,” she said. “If I like it, I don’t care what the label is.”
Some men may think coats and ties are a thing of the past.
All the more reason to wear them, in Garrett Boyd’s view. He’s a history buff — the kind of guy who watches “Downton Abbey,” takes part in Civil War re-enactments and searches for period clothing in thrift stores and on eBay.
“Up until two years ago, my whole wardrobe consisted of T-shirts and cargo pants,” says Boyd, an 18-year-old student at Shorewood Christian School. Now he’s got four tuxes and a morning coat that he wore with a top hat for his senior pictures.
Some Seattleites, swathed in fleece from head to toe, might not know what a morning coat is.
“If you saw the royal wedding, you saw them,” Boyd said. “It’s like a jacket that cuts away in the front.” The one he owns is from the 1930s.
Boyd used his Thrift-shop Showdown winnings to purchase a sweater vest ($4) and shoes ($5) at Value Village in Southcenter, and a shirt ($5), pants ($7) and belt ($5) from the Burien Value Village. His I.N.C. jacket ($8) came from the South Lake Union Goodwill and his mom threw in a bow tie from Nordstrom Rack ($10) to complete the look.
For fun, Boyd plays basketball, runs track and cross-country and goes to the movies. He seeks out period pictures such as “Gosford Park” and “The King’s Speech,” partly to soak up the vintage clothing. “I like what they’re wearing, even though it’s not always that comfortable,” he says, “like the starched collars you wear with white tie.”
His all-time favorite films are the “Lord of the Rings” movies, he adds. “But you know you can’t really wear armor around.”
Anna Schier can’t wear some of her favorite things around, either. She has a collection of vintage shoes that are magnificent, but too painful to wear for five minutes, let alone a night out. The black and white heels she wore in her entry photo are from the ’80s, and man, they’re tall.
But her appreciation for vintage doesn’t stop with shoes.
“I’m a lover of anything old,” says Schier, a 34-year-old psychology graduate student and researcher at the University of Washington. She loves old books, historic buildings and the minimal environmental impact of buying gently used goods.
Before she found her love of research, Schier spent time in New York’s fashion industry. But her dream of becoming a fashion photographer deteriorated as she saw what she calls “the dark side of fashion,” the constant wasteful behavior perpetuated by styles changing every season.
“I’m not a big proponent of production and consumption,” she says. “If I can get away with it, I’ll buy almost everything secondhand.”
Schier found her photo shoot outfit, supplemented by a couple items from her own closet, for little more than half of her $50 winnings. She first scored the bright red blazer ($13) at Goodwill Ballard, and paired it with high-waisted pants ($8) from the Lifelong AIDS Alliance thrift store. At the University District Goodwill she found a striped shirt ($5) and a tie ($2), a style choice she called “a gamble,” since you don’t often see women wearing ties.
Her shopping strategy? Find awesome items, take some risks and hope it all works out. And this time, it did. Even the tie.
A special thank you to judges Steven Dolan, Brian Gallagher, Moira Macdonald and Dana Landon, who blogs about style at itsmydarlin.com.