Vying for vintage

Vintage. We hear it all the time, and there’s no doubt about it: Vintage fashion is in, with popular stores such as Urban Outfitters cashing in on the fashion craze with their Urban Renewal line. But why spend $38 on disregarded clothing from Urban Outfitters when you can spend $8 on a piece from a local secondhand store?

A chunky, gold-colored metal chain at Avalon in Squirrel Hill costs only $3. The previous day, I’d seen almost the exact same thing in American Apparel for the higher price of $48. And this second-hand find was not only one-sixteenth the price (music to my poor student ears), but with its unusually large clip fastening, it was original — an added bonus in this high-end-store, mass-produced age where everyone shops in the same places, resulting in a wave of 21st-century clones. Who wants to dress like everyone else?

But there’s not just jewelry to be found in this wonderfully trendy store, and if you go with some time to spare and patience, you could find that must-have vintage dress you’ve been dreaming about, or that cozy preppy sweater in the rows and rows of cardigans, coats, pants, shirts, sweaters, skirts, and scarves, with fashion to suit the best of both sexes.

But Avalon’s not the only store you should take full advantage of in Pittsburgh (although it does have the added bonus of buying your old clothes and jewelry from you, or trading your items for its current stock).

Local charity shops such as Goodwill also have a range of good-quality secondhand clothing and accessories for wonderfully low prices; I recently purchased a cute pair of patent pumps with gold detailed bows for $3.99, proving that someone else’s trash can be another person’s treasure. And let’s not forget that buying from charity shops helps underprivileged people, enabling you to also do your bit for humankind.

Again, for this kind of shopping, what’s required is time, patience, and a good eye. As face of fashion Kate Moss said in a September 2008 article in the Croydon Guardian, “I was always the one in Croydon walking down the street with bags full of Oxfam clothes for 10p. I could always find more than everyone else,” explaining her unique style as having been created by searching through the racks of her local charity shops.

Even if you think your school timetable is too hectic and your workload is too heavy, and you just don’t have the time to rake through the endless supply of items, you can still take advantage of real vintage shopping. Charity shops are keeping with the times with online shopping stores, making it even easier to seek out that one-of-a-kind fashion find.

But it’s not just charity shops that have online stores full of original items. There’s an abundance of online secondhand stores to choose from. Perhaps one of the best is eBay. As a lover of dresses, the majority of dresses in my wardrobe have been purchased from independent sellers on eBay. Again, you need patience to sit and search through the extremely long lists of items, but if you search and find a seller that has an eBay store, just add them to your “Saved Sellers,” and eBay sends you an e-mail when they upload new items.

Refuse to be a victim of high-end mass-produced fashion; pull away from the crowd and stop being a sheep, save your pennies, and get an original look for a small price.