The XX Factor

My Clothes Aren’t Hip Enough for the Thrift Store: a Rant

Earlier today, Nicole Sia, a self-described “not unfashionable” fashion writer living in Brooklyn, posted a rant about the humiliation and rejection she suffered at the hands of resale clerks (you know, those ladies who pick over your castoffs and dish out cash or store credit). Sia writes: “I filled three big bags with clothes, shoes and other apparel I didn’t want anymore and marched into one of Brooklyn’s most reputable thrift store chains”-I’m guessing Beacon’s Closet ?- “and anticipated a fat payday. In reality, I was marching into a self-confidence vacuum.”

Sia is careful to mention her fashion cred up front-no, she isn’t some frumpy-come-lately. She sports dorky-cool glasses and “thoughtfully disheveled hair,” has basics of “Tim Gunn’s Essential Items,” as well as a few “indulgent” trendy pieces-including Louboutins. Surely somebody would covet a piece of her discounted secondhand wardrobe?

But the clerks poke at a few items and swiftly reject Sia’s castoffs. “Shock, confusion, self-doubt takes me over in one big wave. What was happening?” She writes. “In three big garbage bags there wasn’t anything that anyone , anywhere would ever wear again?” Humiliated and angry, Sia consigns her castoffs to the charity heap, i.e., oblivion.

This episode reminds me of the one truth about fashion today-namely, that there is no fashion . The slapped-together, layered looks are essentially ill-conceived, the improvised looks are beyond reproach. In this anything-goes sartorial culture shop clerks are flatterers and cajolers, and there are few, if any, opportunities for outright rejection. Come to think of it, slobbism is a lot more common than snobbism, right? Ironically, the place we go to dump our castoffs and make some quick cash is one of the few retail outlets where a woman risks experiencing the once-common practice of gleeful discrimination.

Photograph of thrift store by Matt Cardy/Getty Images News.