I always check the tie rack of any thrift store because there will inevitably be a gem lurking among the horrid polyester designs. Yesterday, I found a perfectly good 100% cotton madras plaid tie by Ralph Lauren. It was priced at $6.99. One man’s last season tie, is another man’s treasure. But I’m not sure whether I will actually wear this one. I really don’t like logos on my ties – just a personal preference – so it may go up on eBay.
In one store, I found a slew of fine 100% silk Brooks Brothers rep ties for .99 cents each. There was no sign of wear on any of the ties – you always have to check the section of a tie where it is knotted (where friction occurs) to see if the material is worn. You should also check the tip of the tie, where it is pulled through the knot, for signs of wear.
I wanted to compare the price of my thrifted tie vs. the Ralph Lauren retail price. There were no madras ties on the main website, but I did find an example on Lauren’s Rugby site. The asking price was $69.50. So my savings through trifting = $62.51. Ties are usually priced low in thrift stores, and the asking price vs. retail creates a huge savings opportunity.
For a total of $17.97, I recently thrifted a navy/cyan grosgrain ribbon belt ($4.99), an all cotton J. Crew polo shirt of matching cyan with 2-button placket, cap sleeves and ribbed edging ($7.99) and a pair of plain front Bermuda length 100% cotton khaki shorts from Merona ($5.99).
The ribbon belt has no label, but it looks very similar to one made by Vineyard Vines. The cyan color in the detail shots of the belt looks different from the color of the shirt, but to the eye, it’s an exact match. Unfortunately, the lighting changed slightly between shots.
All of these items are in excellent condition. The belt seems well-made and durable, and the quality of the J. Crew polo and Merona khakis is surprisingly good. You need not have particular brand names or “status symbol clothes” (i.e. with a crocodile or oversized polo player and horse stitched to your shirt) to look preppy. If you are discerning, you can get away with no name items of classic design and natural fibers, and you will be practicing two key prep traits – thrift and discretion! Preppy is not about being flashy, unless you count the occasional go-to-hell item. But that’s really another discussion.
A word about shorts: I always buy plain front. In my opinion, pleats are fundamentally wrong (this applies to long pants as well). I avoid cargo shorts. Although many people like them, I think they have a very unflattering silhouette. They seem to be most often combined with legible t-shirts, fanny packs and flip flops. Enough said. I regard their popularity as a sure sign of cultural decline.
Detail of navy/cyan grosgrain ribbon belt.