Aunty Laura’s Confession

I have a confession.

A weakness. An unforgivable trait.

(Besides being terribly tardy and sporadic in my blog posts. For which I hope my sister will forgive me. Eventually.)

No. There is something else. Something that I believe no one else quite understands.

Thrift stores.

Not that I mean to infer that thrift stores are inherently bad. Or that combing Goodwill racks and pawing through yard sale stashes in the hopes of spotting a valuable bargain is a waste of time. Or even odd. It can be a rewarding endeavor. Lots of people do it. It is a popular activity in our vintage-crazed society. Normal, in fact.

But I’m not looking for valuable bargains, nor am I searching for vintage or retro finds.

I’m always alert, ever on the prowl, buried elbow-deep in the infinite folds of cast-off clothing on the far back rack . . . where I inevitably succumb to the inexplicable urge to purchase the ugliest thing I have found. Better yet if it’s dirt cheap. (And why shouldn’t it be? It’s hard to imagine anyone, at any time, paying any amount of money for it. Though they probably did.)

Before you begin to doubt my sanity, I have this to say in my defense: Each purchase is to a creative end. Each item has such great potential. It cannot be appreciated at any level in its current state. So repurposing the garment as something else cannot fail to make it much more desirable. It’s a foolproof investment. It can only appreciate.

This is my quest. A creative challenge. To find what is hopelessly hideous, gaudy, over-the-top, plain, stained, tiny, tattered, unique, humongous, or just plain weird. To take the unwanted. The never-should-have-been. The clearance rack wallflower. The not-in-a-million-years-am-I-wearing-that-thing. The what-planet-did-this-come-from?!

And to make of it something that one would actually want to wear in public.

Or at least something that one would want to display proudly on her trusty mannequin sidekick while she snaps a few photos for posterity.

And so here is Cordelia, modeling the find that inspired this project post.

Black and white plus size gown found in a thrift store.
A thrift-store find just ready for a makeover. This black and white formal gown has great potential, though it suffers from missing and loose beads, torn netting, unraveling seams, and some limp plastic boning that pokes out in all the wrong places. Did I mention it is a size 2X? The only way to keep it up on the dress form was to pin it severely in back, after which, as you can see, it doesn’t look too bad. But we could do better.

As my sister Cari can attest, compared to most garments in my thrift-store-finds stash, this one is not particularly ugly. But it is definitely falling apart, and even in its heyday (probably sometime between 2000 and 2008), it couldn’t have ranked much higher than a once-off formal from the local bridal discount store.

My mission: Deconstruct this dress and use the pieces to create a unique look with a vintage flair for an evening out.

Stay tuned for the transformation.


2 responses to “Aunty Laura’s Confession”

  1. ShanniLoves Avatar

    Oh I can’t wait to see what you do with this!!!

  2. nothy Avatar

    I can’t wait either. But I do caution you that sometimes the hardest part of a re-fashion is knowing when to stop yourself from making too big a change. I love this idea and I will be looking for something to re-fashion too.

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