Have you ever played that game, “Never Have I Ever…”? It seemed to be a mainstay of sororal bonding. I remember when all of us pledges sat in a circle and one person declared, “Never have I ever [insert something embarrassing or scandalous]” and everyone who actually did that fill-in-the-blank activity would have to stand up and run, Duck Duck Goose style, to a spot previously occupied by another girl, who also did that unmentionable thing. We were bonded by our secrets, straight up NXIVM style.
I’m sure a lot of people who have purchased second-hand clothing may feel ok about buying a cool vintage leather jacket, or maybe a formal dress that was worn once for a couple of hours, but never have they ever bought a used bathing suit...or perhaps a pair of pre-loved shoes. As I’ve made this year-long commitment to buying pre-owned clothing, my list of “never have I ever bought a used _______” has begun to shrink. Yes, there is still a list of things that I don’t think I could ever buy second hand (e.g. underwear). I don’t think that will ever change. I must admit though, I used to say that about a lot of items that now have lost the never have I ever stigma. I remember thinking that I would never, under any circumstances buy used workout stuff. I thought, “gross, someone else totally sweat in this before”...but then I observed the rise of athleisure and realized that lots of people actually wear their $120 work out pants to go to Starbucks on weekends, so it really isn’t that different than buying a pair of jeans because all of it gets washed before you wear it anyway. On one particularly successful GoodWill haul I found a pair of black Lululemon leggings and a pair of black Alo leggings. Nothing erases something off my never have I ever list like two good deals.
Getting hooked on thrifting previously taboo items is a lot like getting consumed by any new addiction. It starts with just a taste. First, you ease into it, nothing too serious, it is just convenient online shopping. Then you get into the high-end stuff (a rare Chanel purse on TheRealReal). You feel the rush of a good deal. And then before you know it, you are elbow deep in the bins (GoodWill’s discount store where you purchase clothing by the pound). BAM! You are hooked. Flash forward a few months and you are donning gloves and a mask, AirPods blaring, in the zone, searching for a buried treasure. I haven’t gotten to full bin mode yet, but I see it in my future. I’m clearly already hooked since, without fully realizing it, I crossed “shoes” off my never have I ever list.
The gateway purchase was a pair of black lambskin, Chloé boots on TheRealReal. I coveted these Susanna boots for a long time, but as a general rule of thumb I don’t buy items of clothing that cost more than my rent. Side note: I make arbitrary rules like this in order to feel fiscally responsible. It is easier for me to stick to the rules than to a budget. I think at the time my rent actually cost more than these boots, but that was probably just because I lived in LA and no longer had a roommate. I was moving up in the world, but I still didn’t want to pay the full $1,400 for a pair of boots since, to my knowledge, they were still just shoes and did not have any magical powers. How did I overcome the initial cringyness of buying a pair of used shoes you may ask? The answer is easy. I’m pretty good at making a set of logical arguments that lead to new purchases. It is a skill that I have perfected throughout my lifetime. First I told myself that no one would wear these Chloé boots without socks, so it isn’t like someone actually put their gross foot directly into the shoe. And anyone who would buy shoes over $1K, gets pedicures and takes showers on the regular (I still stand by this as a valid assumption). Here was the kicker...in the item description, it said that these very shoes were part of the costume wardrobe for the hit series Nashville. Before long I convinced myself that I was buying a piece of television history! How fitting, since I work in the industry. It really wasn’t any different than buying a signed movie poster, I thought. Since I had never actually watched an episode of Nashville, I looked it up on IMDb and discovered that I would be sharing shoes with the one and only Hayden Panettiere. I’ve always felt that she is so relatable, it would be like sharing shoes with a friend--a very famous friend, who only wore said shoes during a few days of work on set. This had to be better than rental shoes at a bowling alley, right? Once those bad boys arrived in the mail, I was elated as I had been mentally planning outfits around the little, gold studded stunners. Once I got my hands on this first pair of used shoes, I just couldn’t stop.
Don’t get me wrong, despite crossing the shoe threshold there are still things that gross me out, and remain on the never have I ever list. One time at my local GW I found this baller fur coat. It was straight up 70’s pimp style, but white and elegant. I put my hand in one pocket to pose for a selfie (yes, lame, so probably serves me right), and felt something hard and small in the pocket. I thought it must have been those gel ball things that keep stuff dry, but to my dismay it was vintage rodent feces. I promptly vomited a little in my mouth and ran to the bathroom to wash my hands. Upon relating this story to Marly, she asked, “So did you buy the coat?”. Um...no thank you. I’ve got to draw the line somewhere...