This isn’t some kind of reverse-cougar love story, so if that’s what you’re after- I’m afraid I cannot help you. This story is about something quite different.
I am unable to pinpoint when it all started: when I caught an eye for all things dusty and rich with history. It goes back as far as I can remember. It sounds strange coming from a child of the 1990s, but I recall using a traditional type writer to write stories when I was very young. It was boxy and unpractical in a modern world, but I found tremendous novelty in using it to put my thoughts on paper. It typed with such vigour, and with fresh darts of ink.
Old music was also important to me, and in particular, The Beatles. The voices of Lennon and McCartney still warm me up on the inside, and I can mouth the words to most of their songs.
Years passed and my mother gave me a pair of brown leather shoes from the 1970s- around the time when she met my dad. I now drive a car from the late 1980s and have an eye for old-fashioned clothes. It’s now in my blood; a deep admiration and appreciation for the old.
I like how people are gentle when they handle old pieces of clothing, and how they can look back at things that were once mainstream – and either laugh out loud, or marvel with a hint of wonder. I like how old styles can be revived and brought back to life, almost as if they were brand new.
This is one of the reasons why I love thrift shops.
‘You must be saving a lot of money on clothes,’ my brother commented last week, as I strode past in a brown velvet coat from the 1960s.
The ‘saving-money’ thing is quite true and rewarding, but I mainly just admire the look of retro fashion.
There’s something very cool to me about thrift shops and their abundance of worn brown leather wallets and proud velvet coats; unashamedly flamboyant and graceful in their very existence. I have an arguably unhealthy collection of thrift-shopped bags, varying in shades of tan and degrees of wear.
But best of all, thrift shops implore you to try new things.
I was sifting through a rack of oversized coats earlier this week, before realising that I had been looking in the ‘extra large’ section. Having a smaller stature, I felt the urge to awkwardly back away and return to the smaller sizes available – as I possibly would in a regular store.
But this was not a regular store. There is nothing regular about thrift shops. Or, at least in the ordinary sense of the word.
So I glanced around me, noticing (unsurprisingly) that no one gave a fuck about what section of clothes I was browsing through. And I continued to look through the array of large coats. My eyes were immediately drawn to a pinkish-purple jacket that was lightly marked from years of wear and constructed from 100 per cent suede leather. It’s undeniably 80s-esque, satin lining made me smile, and I couldn’t help but pause and gaze.
It was a considerably larger size than what I usually wear. But for $12, I didn’t wish to take ‘no’ for an answer. I shuffled to the changing area, and pulled the curtain closed. I tried it on and rolled up each of the sleeves, one at a time. I pushed my shoulders back, held my head up high and looked myself right in the smudged thrift shop mirror.
‘Yeah,’ I whispered.
‘I like it.’
It had character. And it didn’t matter if strangers on the street thought it looked strange or old or worn. It was all of those things. But it was also effortlessly cool in my eyes…too much so for me to care what people thought of it.
It was not long before I was walking to the car with the warm jacket draped over my arm.
My car, my clothes, my music. They’re all reflective of the old, but unforgotten. Some people might turn their nose up at old coats and the fact that my car is older than I am. Others might accuse me of trying to fit some social stereotype of a hipster. But you’ll always be criticised by somebody out there, regardless of what you like.
So I figure it’s much too late to turn back now. And I’m too fond of my velvet coats to care anyway.