I’ve joked about my resemblance to a certain Magic Schoolbus protagonist before, but it’s now official–I’m just one lizard short of becoming Ms. Frizzle. Now, if I were a classroom teacher, I’d be much more likely to take my kids on a field trip back in time to visit a sixteenth-century cabinet of curiosities: PBS, if you ever want to cast me in the Magic Schoolbus: Early Modern Museum History reboot, just give me a call.
Even though I know more about wunderkammern than the wonders of the universe, I’m still a casual sci-fi/pop-astronomy nerd. In high school, I read Contact and Clarke, watched Cosmos, listened to that Symphony of Science remix album on repeat, and dreamed of visiting SETI just like everyone else!
I’m only sad that I can’t pop back to the past to give this dress to my teenaged self. It would have been the perfect thing to wear to my “sweet [sci-fi] 16” party, a now-infamous shindig for which my mother even created a HAL-9000 cake…
I was going to launch into my usual rigmarole–“I dreamed of owning this dress for so long, and then guess what? I found it secondhand for a fraction of the price!”–but it occurred to me that such a statement may now sound unbelievable since I’ve repeated it so many times. I swear to you, though, it’s all true!
I read a lot of vintage/pin-up style blogs, and it seems that whenever I discover a dress I love, I click through to the “buy here” link only to find that the dang thing is $65.99, plus shipping. Or $100. Or more. And although I’m very happy for people who can afford to spend that much money on a single item of clothing–and I’m certainly all about supporting smaller indie businesses rather than the flash fashion industry–I know that I have a more limited budget with which to work. So gently-used is the way to go for me!
Here are a few quick tips for finding the dress of your dreams secondhand, if you so desire:
- Be so needlessly over-interested in dresses that you actually have a “dress of your dreams,” or several. That’s kind of a given.
- Make note of the dress’ name (e.g. how it’s listed on Modcloth, Unique Vintage, or another retailer)–though the actual designer is almost more important. Sure, it could be listed on eBay or Poshmark as “[Super Funny Pun-based Dress Name],” but odds are that someone could have just as well described it as merely “Nishe dress” or “Dress by Sunny Girl.”
- Do a web search for reviews of the dress, and see if you can find any other fashion bloggers who own it! You can have great secondhand-shopping success by checking your fellow stylists’ “closet sales.”
- Have an enormous deal of patience! If a dress is particularly rare or obscure, it might take ages for it to show up at a price you can afford. Accept the fact that you’re in it for the long run, and don’t get too Captain Ahab-like in your quest. Go take a walk and, like, invent new scientific names for every plant you see to distract yourself. Or maybe donate some clothes that you aren’t wearing anymore to a good cause! You must give as well as take when playing the secondhand shopping game.
- Man, I don’t even know anymore. You shouldn’t be taken advice from the girl who is now coveting imaginary dresses as well as real ones–why can’t someone design me a darn manta ray or a Tiktaalik dress?