So what do you do when you're looking for a special outfit to wear for your 21st birthday? When you are Cambria Houtte, one of our five nieces, and you are spending the fall living and studying in San Francisco, and you have already blown a good part of your fashion budget on great boots, you head to Thrift Town with your Aunt Melissa.
Thrift Town is one of Melissa's favorite San Francisco haunts, in one of her favorite neighborhoods, the Mission. At the corner of 17th and Mission streets, Melissa has found everything from an early-'90s Chanel jacket in near-mint condition ($7.99) to a stunning early-'60s Originala red wool coat now owned, and worn, by a top editor at Glamour magazine. And it is THE place to find bargain-priced vintage gems with I. Magnin labels, of course, since that long-gone store was founded in San Francisco. At Thrift Town San Francisco, manager Debra Miller runs a well organized, well-staffed store. New merchandise is added every day but Sunday, every week a different colored tag is 50% off, and regular customers can earn a $10 discount once they've filled a frequent-shopper punch card. Bottom line: It's as much fun as any treasure hunt.
So, on one of her first visits back in October, when Cambria discovered an amazing '70s black brocade coat ($17.50) with black satin lining, three-quarter sleeves and domed rhinestone buttons, and it fit her almost-six-foot-tall frame perfectly, she had the start of an outfit for her birthday celebration on Dec. 12. But how to complete the look for just a few dollars more?
On her next visit, Cambria snagged a light-as-a-feather bubble skirt for $3 (Target's Massimo brand, not vintage, and that's just fine), and with a few quick stitches to take in the elasticized waist, all that remained was the issue of shoes. Nothing in her current wardrobe worked with this outfit, and a new pair were definitely not in the budget. Back to Thrift Town she went and that's when she struck gold: a never-worn pair of Calvin Klein suede, patent and metallic leather heels, for $8 (after using one of those $10 discount cards)! Cambria, who has no fear of heights, was almost six-four with shoes on, and still walked with confidence.
The finishing touch was a '60s-style black brocade flip-over clutch with silver metal trim that Cambria found at Express for $1.50 (yes, $1.50, after two huge discounts; these are strange times).
This girl was ready to party, and with her aunt and uncle as "dates" (OK, Thrift Town may not be the No. 1 destination for cute guys, but they do have a few from time to time!), she spent a night on the town. When she walked into North Beach's Club Fugazi for San Francisco's legendary Beach Blanket Babylon show, she looked like a million bucks.