The difference between a night wasted procrastinating on the couch in front of the football and an evening of indulgent rejuvenation is one of value, not of cost.
I am a strong advocate of recycled luxuries. An antique is simply a pre-loved charity store item that has been pre-loved for longer, if you’re lucky. Antique foraging is fun, but do not discount second hand stores. The main difference between the two is quality control. Antique shops acquire only profitable items, while charity stores acquire everything. Quality control might be handy, but you will pay a huge premium for the privilege and your options will be limited to the preferences of the owner. At a charity store, you have to do your own quality control, which takes longer, but has its own advantages. You will find many things so hideous that you will require a photo just to explain it to your friends.
I own a house full of cashmere sweaters, silk scarves, designer shoes and miscellaneous furs. I do not spend very much on clothing, less than my friends (and far less than my husband!), because I rarely buy anything new. With a modest budget of say, $50 for winter sweaters, I would much prefer four high quality European designs made from natural fibres than one generic nylon from Target. Old wool, angora, cashmere and leather will last far longer than new plastic, and will age more gracefully.
When it comes to furniture, I like to consider the concept of ‘hire’. I would like a red chestnut chesterfield lounge. Sadly, I have not yet sold a million books. While I’m working toward that, I have a very nice second hand almost suede couch which was $100 at Vinnies. My husband argued that we would be better to wait and buy what we really want, when we can afford it, which is a fair point. However, I think $100 is a sensible price to pay for five years ‘hire’ of a nice but non-ideal couch.
New designer items are great, I do buy them, I admit it, but my first Burberry, Laura Ashley and Allanah Hill items were all second hand, or, if you really need the snob value, ‘antique’.
Another great thing about second hand items is that you can justify experimentation. If you’d like some ridiculous shoes, but haven’t yet learned to walk in them, a good quality $15 pair, from a charity store, will help you find out. The same goes for new colours and styles, not sure if you can wear pink? Not sure if you can alter a dress to fit you? For a few dollars, it’s worth finding out.
So an evening in at my place involves lounging with a nice champagne flute (normally full of mango raspberry Rekorderlig), a pedicure and a nature doco, in transparent silk palazzo pants. All for less than the cost of the sports channel.
A final note: many people are squeamish about wearing second hand clothing. Without in depth understanding of the microbiology of the situation, this is fairly sensible. However, with greater research, these concerns are not justified. Very few infectious pathogens can survive on clothing. They deccecation, temperature variability and lack of nutrients will quickly kill anything that does not have a spore phase. The pathogens that do form spores are mostly eliminated by a hot wash cycle. If you are really concerned, a small amount of sporicidal disinfectant in your washing machine and a hot wash will kill them, but unless you have a serious immune deficiency, this is Sheldon Cooper territory. Also, remember that new clothes are often tried on by dozens of people before they are bought, they are of equal concern.