Poppin Tags: Ballin on a Budget for the Nostalgic Among Us

Every year as the fall weather starts setting in, my inbox begins filling up with promotionals for back-to-school deals and cute sweater discounts—email after email of what it’s going to take to look cute and stay warm for the season. I will likely look at a solid 5% of these emails, and they will otherwise go directly into my trash bin. Because while don’t get me wrong, online shopping is all kinds of fun, this time of year is when I get excited for my favorite kind of perusal, and that belongs to the vintage stores and thrift shops.

For me, half the fun of going thrift-shopping is just in the vibe—vintage stores will forever be these weird, in-between places that are meant for modern shoppers but full to the brim of tangible parts of history. It’s that strange, liminal feeling of somehow belonging in both past and present at once, and I will be the first to acknowledge that part of what I’m paying for is just that feeling alone. I happily confess that I am a bleeding heart nostalgic, and all I’m looking for is that proper sense of story in my belongings.

One of my favorite things is taking people to a vintage store for the first time. It can be a little intimidating at first, all messy and scattered, but after flicking through the hangers for a few minutes, what started out as remarks of “look how weird” soon become “look how cool!” or “could you see me on a Beatles cover?” or “I could be on old school MTV.” You’ve got decades of good stuff here—the 1970’s corduroy blazers, your mom’s tulle prom gown, a plaid coat made of WWII wool, the collection goes on and on.

In the end, I will probably make one full order off romwe.com or Forever 21 or whoever’s got the lowest prices this year so I can have a few cheap jackets. But it won’t be the same as rifling through bins of old flannels until I find one with the elbows worn just in right. Or grabbing that denim dress with real distressing off a back rack. I will probably be in the store itself long enough that the workers are tired of looking at me, and I will probably walk out with multiple grocery bags full of cheap, weathered, story-soaked clothes. And that will be it for my fall shopping of the year.

So if you’re reading this and you’ve never made it into a vintage shop before, I can throw a few good names out there for you—there’s Rumors in Chapel Hill and Father & Sons in Raleigh and there’s always your friendly neighborhood Good Will. And whether or not you’re looking for a full-on Duckie Dale ensemble or maybe just a single piece as a pop of eclecticism, I would highly recommend getting yourself into a thrift shop and checking them out.