Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sweet hand-me-down love: the brechó (second hand store)

I know a lot of my Brazilian friends find this tacky, weird, low-class, etc. of me, but most of my wardrobe is second-hand. The Betsy Johnson sun dress? Plato's Closet (Houston). The fabulous little checkered thing I got engaged in? Petit Lilly (Rio). My amazing dinosaur ring? A shop off Kirkwood in Bloomington (though it may have been a new consignment piece from a jeweler...). My wedding dress? Check. Almost everything I wear on a regular basis came pre-loved from some other woman. Or, in many cases, un-loved, still with the tags on it, and about 80% off retail. Like these shoes I found today in a little brechó in CittaAmerica:

Very lightly worn, maybe 3 times, max? And look, the price tag is still on!

Not ashamed to say that I bought these for 85%+ off the original price.

I enjoy trawling through my favorite brechós, it's like a mini never know what might have made its way to the floor and it's fun to imagine why someone would have ever worn that full length green sequined jumpsuit. And where. At places where you've made friends, you might even be able to tell the salesperson what you're looking for, and they'll call you if they get something in your size. Nice. :) Besides the fact that it's cheaper and the clothes are already "worn in" the way they should be, there's another good reason to shop vintage/used/resale. It's good for the environment and very subversive. Even if you don't want to use your stuff to the very last thread, there's someone out there who will. And that's one less item ending up in a landfill before its time. Buying used also means you can't get too attached to what you see in the store, curbing rabid consumption. That amazing dress might not fit, and since there are rarely two identical pieces in different sizes at these stores, you're kind of at the mercy of the clothing genies. But on the other hand, you're almost guaranteed not to run into anyone else wearing your outfit. Besides avoiding the overly commercialized side of fashion, your money is probably going to a charity or local businessperson instead of a big corporation that may or may not use slave labor. (At least, that's what I tell myself when I buy things from certain labels...:)

I confess, I have a lot of fun watching people's expressions when they compliment me on something I'm wearing and I say, "Thanks. Brechó." It's oddly satisfying to see the fashionistas squirm! I want to say, "Ladies! It's clothing, not a toothbrush or pair of underwear** picked up off the street." A single washing, and it's good as new, and no one the wiser unless I choose to tell them. Which I do, with glee!

** Though I seem to recall a family story involving underwear found in the Lover's Lane ditch, a pot of boiling water for sanitation, and a mother attempting to coerce her daughters into accepting it as wearable. That's crossing the line!

***Petit Lilly is on the 3rd floor of the shopping center on Visconde de Pirajá 550, Ipanema. They rock, with brand-name items at decent prices and nothing stained or out of date. There's a haute couture brechó behind the Gávea shopping mall--go through the doors in the back of the mall by the first floor bathrooms. Another good option in Rio is the place in CittaAmerica, on the first floor. Reasonable prices, stuff is a little worn but there are some gems.


Anonymous said...

FYI - The underwear story came from me, but I was one of the daughters. Freaked us out too! - Mom

anne said...

the underwear...well, you know, I have donated various underpinnings to the Mark Store, and they sell...altho I generally give the ones I bought that turned out not to fit right, so they're not really "worn"....
as to the Brecho', yes, the bulk of my stuff as well, was someone else's first. 2nd Hand Rose :)
we call them "hand me overs" (since they aren't going down thru the family, but over to someone else)
and everyone knows you always look awesome, so the Brecho' idea probably rankles those less fortunate-looking :D

Ellen said...

when cleaning the restaurant we found one (in a sealed package). I mentioned it to Emmaly as a laugh and she told me that her husband, who works at Good Will said they get them donated occasionally.
What is this item? Oh yes, a vibrator. Ever seen that at a thrift store before?

Anonymous said...

Maybe that is why I don't wear underwear!!!! I was always afraid of where it REALLY came from! Just kidding I do wear it but I buy them and I remeber my siter telling me how mom did this freaked me out..As for me there are 2 great Goodwill stores close to me and I use them all the time,I actually bought a real formal wedding dress there for 25.00 to wear for a runaway brides w/e with the girls one yr and then sold it at a yard sale for 50.00!!!


Anonymous said...

My mistake was telling you where I got it. You never would have known.You girls were spoiled rotten. Loved , but coddled.

Anonymous said...

No, Mom, the mistake was ever picking up the underwear in the first place - Laurie