Peggy Draper models clothing from Encore Consignment Boutique on Thursday afternoon. Her jacket is from Marc Jacobs; the slacks are from the Theory line; her scarf is from the Etcetera line of accessories; the shoes are produced by BCBG; her handbag is part of the Joe's line and her earrings are from Encore.Photo by Jake Daniels.
Angie Daly turns heads every time she wears her fox-fur-trimmed Versace coat.
But what her admirers don't know is that Daly paid $13 for the coat at a local thrift store.
"I questioned spending $35 and then found out from the saleslady at America's Thrift Store that it was on sale for $13. It was the best money I ever spent," she said.
Like many thrifty Americans today, Daly shops for bargains.
"In a difficult economy, with gas and grocery prices rising across the board, finding ways to maximize your dollar and saving money is crucial," said Sherry Gravitt, owner of Encore Consignment Boutique in Riverview.
Gravitt said you don't have to spend a fortune on clothes to get designer labels. In recent years, many consumers have turned to consignment/thrift shops to update their wardrobes from season to season, Gravitt said.
"Upscale consignment shopping has become more chic and mainstream in the past few years, especially since the recession and with the greening of America," she said.
Fall trends reflect echoes from three decades: the 1960s mod and color-block looks, the 1970s preppy and plaid designs, and the 1980s glitz and glamour clothes.
"In an upscale consignment store, you can buy a fabulous designer jacket, such as a Marc Jacobs or Nanette Lepore, for about 25 percent of the retail price and less than you'd pay for a moderately-priced one at the mall," she said. "You then have a quality designer piece and the real designer look that can reinvent your wardrobe."
Gravitt said "consigned" doesn't necessarily mean "used."
"About a third of the pieces come into the store with the tags on them," she said.
In recent years of an economic flux, when people watched their home values plummet and retirement accounts dwindle, resale shopping has attracted even more consumers, according to a report by the Association of Resale Professionals.
"The designer suit, with new-store tags still attached, that sells for a fraction of its original price is not a myth. It happens every day," the organization notes.
Gravitt said her present stock includes a Diane Von Furstenberg geometric print dress for $75 and a trendy green Joe's designer handbag for $95.
"If you want designer labels for less, upscale consignment shopping is the key, but the secret is to shop often with the ever-changing inventory," she said.
Designer labels also can be found in thrift stores.
School teacher and outdoorsman Bo Chamberlain, of Signal Mountain, is always looking for a bargain. He said he landed a good deal last week when he found a Mountain Hardware shirt for $4 at Goodwill.
Phyllis Williams, of Chattanooga, was pleased with her recent purchase at America's Thrift Store.
"I got a couple of like-new Royal Robbins shirts for less than $3 each," said Williams, director of driver marketing and communication at Covenant Transport. "I don't shop at thrift shops just to find name brand clothes, but I like it when I find them because of the quality and fit. I've bought several silk turtlenecks at thrift stores for winter outdoor sports."
Williams, an avid outdoorswoman, said she'll be updating her fall and winter wardrobe by shopping at thrift stores.
"I'll be going back soon to shop for a couple of wool crew-neck sweaters to wear for outdoor activities this winter," she said. "People tend to donate silk and wool items because of laundering issues, so I get good deals on tops for outdoor activities."
Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...