Your Rags, My Riches – Fashion Photo Shoot

What do you do when you’re bored out of your gourd?

Take a walk? That’s noble. Healthy, too. In the old, pre-pandemic days maybe you shopped. So did I. But I learned early on that my dollar stretched exponentially farther if I spent it at second-hand stores like Goodwill, Salvation Army, or here in Ubud, the Smile Shop.

For the uninitiated, the Smile Shop is a non-profit organization that partners with medical teams to surgically correct craniofacial abnormalities for children in Indonesia. The store overflows with a cornucopia of merchandise from books, to games, jewelry, shoes, household goods, and cast-off clothing donated by visitors from all over the world. I go for the thrill of discovery, never knowing what I’ll find.

After a few soggy days, the walls were closing in. I needed a destination, something sufficiently motivating to warrant the effort of dragging my body out of the house. I’ll walk til I drop if I’m meeting someone for lunch. I had no lunch date yesterday.

Wait a minute…what about…?

The Smile Shop was open, a three-mile round-trip. I grabbed a bottle of water and slipped into my flip-flops salivating at the challenge of the hunt.

I’ve been shopping for clothing this way since I was in my teens and I’m a pro. The mish-mash is overwhelming to some. For me it’s like writing a poem – I just have to find the words that rhyme. Yesterday I was looking for cool and shapeless. In the current sticky-hot climate I don’t want form-fitting. The less intimately my garments connect with my body the better.

Within moments of arriving I had two items slung over my arm. Then a sweet vest with a crocheted back jumped out at me. I didn’t notice the label until I got it home – Guess – a popular brand in the U.S. I took a few minutes to browse paperbacks and saw a number of favorite authors but I was walking and books are heavy.

Another time.

Back home, sweaty and happy, I ran the sink full of sudsy water, scrubbed my new finds, and hung them in the breeze to dry. I was eager to try them on, but – well – unlike clothing off the racks of the big retailers, these garments come with histories attached. I like to send their old stories down the drain before I reincarnate them to their new life.

My sister and I have exchanged emails every single day for over a year. The first few months of Covid, there were many times when her newsy note was all I had to look forward to. I snapped photos of my still-wet garments, attached them with an overview of the day, hit send, and figured I’d done due diligence.

But not so.

The little minx wrote back demanding pictures of the clothes with me in them. If this post seems like the ultimate in narcissism, blame my sister! She made me do it!

My first find, this long, asymmetrical tee-shirt thing, has peek-a-boo shoulders and just hangs. It ticks all the boxes. I love it!

You can take the girl out of the Sixties but you can’t take the Sixties out of the girl. What is it with tye-dye? People seem to either love it or hate it. I can’t leave it alone. It speaks to me and this one was channeling Lesley Gore, “I’ll bring you Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows…Choose me! Choose me!”

Another thing I can’t seem to resist is lace. And black lace is the epitome of sexy drama. No! I DO NOT buy pre-worn underwear!!!! Let’s just be clear about that! Ewwwww! Sorry…

I’m still working with the vest. Black on white was a spur-of-the-moment no-brainer and it’s okay, but I can do better. That’s the other bit of fun – mix-and-match – see what creative combos emerge.

Thrift shopping has ruined me for anything else. I cannot abide orderly presentations by size and department in ‘normal’ stores. Where’s the sense of adventure? Where’s the mystery? Why would you spend $500 on a designer item making some corporate gazillionaire richer when you could spend $5 and help a child smile?

That’s another thing. Brand-driven capitalism. Don’t get me started. But here’s where I’m a shameless hypocrite: I like to LOOK like I’ve spent $500.

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Anonymous
    Feb 25, 2021 @ 23:26:36

    I LOVE thrifting too and miss my weekly pop-in to Goodwill nearby. I’m always on a search for thin-lipped porcelain coffee cups. They show up only occasionally. I too LOVE tie-died. I always have. What’s with that? Congratulations on your find. You did good and I know it gave you a lift! SL

    Liked by 1 person


  2. Nanci Froemming
    Feb 26, 2021 @ 02:52:02

    What fun! You look so happy with your new finds! Love the tie dye – it suits you!

    Liked by 1 person


    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Feb 26, 2021 @ 10:57:04

      They’re fun and functional, a must these days. In the BEFORE, I would have put on makeup, earrings, jewelry, and tried to ‘glamorize’ the look a bit. This pandemic has brought me down to skin-and-who-cares! I don’t even polish my toenails anymore! Hmmm…I think I’ve just found the title for my next blog! Skin and Who Cares. What do you think? Is it a go?



  3. Pat Malcolm
    Feb 26, 2021 @ 03:39:45

    I just wish I could walk into ANY kind of store in the US and walk out with those lovely long lengths! (Of course I complicate things by needing petite sizes as well, proportionate sleeves and lengths are sooo desirable.) I’ll be looking for that white tee this summer…but I bet I won’t find it! Enjoy!

    Liked by 1 person


    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Feb 26, 2021 @ 11:00:23

      Like I said, Pat, it’s 99% THE HUNT! At least that’s it for me. Most of the time I just go with the idea that I’m digging for treasure, willing to be surprised. I do feel fortunate to be in Bali and have these opportunities available to me. Hold on…you will be free again someday soon!



  4. Diane Struble
    Feb 26, 2021 @ 14:14:55

    You have lots of company in your family for thrift shopping. Rob loved it. Carole does it all of the time as do I. I have a dress similar to your rainbow dress and have a scarf from India that I put with it. I did not care for where the hem fell so some light pants to go with it. We are related. And, no! You cannot blame Gwen as she is still in northern MN, thousands of miles from Bali. It was a happy suggestion.

    Liked by 1 person


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