A Collected Interview:
Birdie Duffey of Thrift-O-Rama
My name is Bridie. I am 18 (almost 19!) and opinionated. I’m a Chicagoan who ran away to Western Mass to think about feminism, exercise poor taste and get silly haircuts. My favorite activities and going to a lot of thrift stores and then talking about them on the Internet. I run Thrift-o-Rama, a blog that chronicles my style journey—so far; it’s been a grand (and thrifty!) adventure.
What got you into thrifting?
The summer I turned 14 (so this would have been 2008), I was sitting around watching a lot of Daria and anticipating starting my new, fancy private high school. Influenced somehow, I think, by the fictional lives of overly alternative teenagers from the 90s, I got it in my head that I would go look for school shoes at the Salvation Army. (I got very 00’s high-heeled Mary Janes. They fell apart immediately.) I was hooked. And as with all teenagers being thrust into a foreign environment, I spent the next year or so on a campaign to reinvent my wardrobe. It’s been a process!
But there’s more to it than that. My younger self was uncomfortable with her weight, skin, teeth…pretty much her everything, actually. I hated shopping at traditional stores, where things often didn’t fit me and I always felt like people were staring at me. Thrift stores didn’t feel like that. And in the end, they helped me overcome my body issues. A sad beginning—but a happy ending! After escaping high school and it’s uniforms, my wardrobe grew and my attraction to thrift stores kind of…boiled over. To help me cope, I started a blog.
What’s most you’ve spent ever at the thrift store.
I brought almost no clothes with me when I went to college, so I mounted a ridiculously complicated thrifting venture and spent about $60. It hurt. But $60 for most of a wardrobe ain’t half bad, huh?
Has thrifting changed your views on the thought that you need to spend a lot of money to look and feel good
Yes and no. If you’re determined, secure with wearing things that are not specifically “in style,” wearing a size that is easily located in thrift stores, live in an area with cool thrift stores, and have access to transportation, then you’re set. Thrifting has revolutionized my style and my sense of self. My clothes budget stretches much further than it would if I didn’t buy things mostly second-hand. And I look great!
But I can’t deny that I am privileged, for the reasons lifted above. Thrifting doesn’t reach everybody. That’s a real shame. The good news? Most second-hand stores are indirectly stocked by the community. In this respect, you can help. Donate your clothes! (Provided it’s a reputable charity!)
Do you have any tips for people who are new to thrifting?
I’ve actually written an entire thrifting guide. It’s geared towards thrifting when you’re plus size, but it’s not that specific. You can find it here:
http://thrift-a-rama.blogspot.com/p/very-veryoften-i-get-questions-about-my.html (((You might want to make that link a little prettier.)))
To sum it up quickly? Get to know yourself and don’t give up! Thrifting takes practice.
What inspires your style?
I pull inspiration from a ridiculously large number of sources. I love vintage. I love kitsch. I love fashion magazines. Mostly, though, I’m inspired by real people, people working the ever-living bajeezus out of their clothes. Be it a lovely human on the street or a rad one on my tumblr dash, my style is born from really wanting to be as unbelievably cool as the amazing people I see. So, yeah, OK, I’m kind of a copy-cat. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery?
What season brings the best out of your style?
Fall! It’s cold enough to wear my favorite things (sweaters, tights, scarves, all of it!) but not so cold that I can’t wear pretty skirts short sleeves. The light is beautiful. Everything smells crisp and spicy. Fall is the absolute best.
What do you want your readers to get from your blog?
First and foremost, my blog is about self-expression. It’s a project through which I discover myself. And it’s fun! It’s lighthearted and fun. I want my readers to comprehend how crazy fun style can be.
On a deeper level, I think it’s important for people to understand how radical and powerful fashion has the potential to be. Wielded correctly, fashion says something huge. Loving yourself and adorning yourself because it makes you happy, no matter how far your body strays from that manufactured and patriarchal beauty ideal the media perpetuates, is radical. Liking things you’re not supposed to like (“they’re ugly,” “they’re old,” “they’re for someone thinner,” “stop trying to be different”) is totally radical. Recognizing that? Recognizing that there’s power and depth to fashion, which is traditionally coded feminine—therefore associated with weakness and frivolity? That’s radical. That’s the raddest kind of radical. Getting dressed in the morning happens to be my way of fighting the power, and I’d love it if my readers could do that, too.
Who’s your style icon?
My style icon is a fictional character and I’m OK with that.
When I was 16, one of the chaperones and my homecoming dance came up and told me that I reminded her of Andie Walsh from Pretty in Pink. Even since then, I’ve considered her my style patronus.
(((This is a pretty good picture of her, if you want one: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-ugLtRXmhZno/UFewnrqTMCI/AAAAAAAAAVI/Grqu0nB4qTI/s1600/Pretty-in-Pink-granny-chic.jpg )))
Do you have any fellow bloggers who challenge and inspire your own blog?
SO. MANY. To name a few:
Naomi Shimada. GabiFresh. The Kitten’s Whiskers. The Dainty Squad. Nadia Aboulhosn. Scavenger Hunt.
The list of tumblr fashion bloggers I love is just a little too long to even get into. But wow. Fashion bloggers. You guys are amazing.
What inspires you?
Everything. I like music and art and people who do good things for the world. I like fantasy novels and French philosophers. I like movies that committed intellectuals would carefully call films and I like sappy romantic comedies. I like, if you haven’t noticed, clothes. They all make me want to get up do something. As is probably apparent, I’m a young woman who hasn’t quite figured herself out yet, but there’s about a million and three things that make me come alive. For now, that’s enough.
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