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Topher Payne: Shopping second-hand, finding things never meant for me

Playwright and writer Topher Payne

When I started buying my own clothes in my teens, grunge was at its peak. A wifebeater, flannel shirt, and a pair of Dickies were considered appropriate apparel for any occasion, which was super handy because you could buy that whole outfit for less than 10 bucks.

In retrospect I see that the fashion trend was started by poor people who had to shop at thrift stores because they were spending all their money on drugs. Then the look was adopted by prep school kids like myself, who went on shopping sprees at thrift stores and still had mad cash left over to spend on drugs. We’d all end up at the same concerts, and the only way you could tell the difference between the real thing and the posers was by sniffing us. The prep school guys all smelled like CK One.

So I was trained to shop thrift, and shop it well. As fashions changed, my shopping habits didn’t, and I grew to take pride in being an excellent excavator of treasures. My husband has a corporate-level position at a clothing retailer, so this offends him on a few different levels.