Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Posted By on Tue, Feb 2, 2010 at 8:51 AM

  • ©KISH'10
It's a busy, busy, busy time of year. Events, openings and galas abound, which means you may have come face-to-face with our local fashion euphemism: "Tucson casual." This nebulous term has explained many phenomena over the years, like when our mayor wore a bolo and jeans to meet the president. Lately, the phrase "Tucson casual," much like proper grammar at the University, has become synonymous with "anything goes."

Recent observations show our dress-down concession now includes: flannel shirts, jeans, sneakers, shorts, shorter shorts, way-too-short shorts, leather jackets, spandex, hats with feathers, hats without feathers, bowling shirts, wallet chains, knee pads, fishnet anything, overalls and T-shirts printed to look like overalls.

That's all good, though, for as our fashion bar descends, we can increasingly use Tucson's most prolific natural resource. No, I don't mean grey water. I mean the natural resource that aids our charities and helps our community. No, I don't mean voter bond funds. I mean, of course, Tucson's many and varied thrift stores! From the orderly Savers, to the tiny one-offs whose interiors look like a fabric bomb went off, pretty much everything in thrift stores meets "Tucson casual" standards ... and it's cheap.

I wouldn't know how to shop any other way. When I find myself in a big-box store, I'm shocked at the high prices and lack of variety. Do people really spend that much money to wear the same tent-like shirt that a thousand (million?) other people are wearing? I'm more into scoring Italian, single-stitch dress shirts for $3 at Re-Threads on Pennington. H.O.P.E. on Sixth Avenue sums it up with their simple phone book ad: "All Clothing $1."

Of course, there's more than clothing available at our local thrifts. Restore on 22nd comes to mind for household fixtures. Where else can you buy an oven without an oven loan these days? Their premixed paints come in a range of unwanted colors, and are labeled with a dollop on each can's lid. Downtown, St. Vincent de Paul has nice knick-knacks, a groovy vintage section, and a Dali-esque outdoor space crammed with a plethora of slowly deteriorating objects. Down the street is the Salvation Army, where I rescued the ample desk upon which I'm now writing.

Thrift store shopping is recycling at it's best. Ever wonder where the contents of your blue recycling bin are headed: incinerator, landfill, loading dock at Wienerschnitzel? When you shop at Tucson's thrift stores, you're giving new life to something that would otherwise be discarded, while helping an altruistic cause. So, start digging for those plumed boas, rainbow suspenders and terry cloth sweatshirts, because "Tucson casual" is the only way to go.

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