Self Expression Through Fashion and Thrifting


Andrea Oltra

Some of the clothing and decor at Vantage Thrift Store on Dec. 1, 2022. (Photo by Andrea Oltra | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Eliza Delgado, Arts Editor


When I was little, I never enjoyed going thrifting. I recall my mom waking me up at the break of dawn to go shopping, telling me we were going to the mall to convince me out of bed. Mind you, the definition of the mall to my little Latina mom was local thrift stores, yard sales and the Deseret Industries thrift store. I would be upset that she lied to me, but little did I know thrifting was all she could afford at the time. Shopping with her was always time-consuming.

I would spend my time reading in the book aisles while I waited for her. Eventually, I became curious about why it took her so long to shop. I began to venture out and explore the shelves of shoes and the stands of vintage dresses. I would discover unique treasures and clothes that stood out to me. I slowly fell in love with expressing myself through fashion and accessories, and would have never discovered that passion if it wasn’t for my mom. 

My Fashion Influences

If you were to take a look in my closet, you would find that I am heavily influenced by the ’70s and ’90s. I love colors, blazers, vests and prints, all very much inspired by the fashion in the ’70s. When I visited a flea market in New York, I found a beautiful pastel pink vest in plaid print from the ’70s. I was obsessed and had to buy it, and didn’t even care to look at the price. It was an item that I found unique that screamed of myself.

I also love to wear the ’90s basics — mini skirts, cardigans, floral dresses and leather jackets. I look up to Zoë Kravitz, Emma Chamberlain and of course my mom’s fashion from the ’90s. About 90% of my wardrobe is thrifted clothes items that I thoroughly enjoy wearing. I believe it is important to find a style that expresses your personality and makes you confident in who you are. Trying to find your sense of style is like a puzzle as it takes time to discover what pieces suit you and what don’t. Once you create a style suitable to your liking, others will recognize who you are through your unique fashion.

The Importance of Thrifting

There are many benefits when it comes to thrifting or second-hand shopping. Whether you shop on Depop or in your local thrift stores, you’re helping the environment and charity organizations. It is important to understand that many unwanted clothes end up in landfills, and clothes that are made out of synthetic material take decades to degrade.

Another benefit of shopping second hand is preserving water usage. Clothing production requires large consumption of water, which threatens our environment. According to National Geographic,
“it takes 2,700 liters of water to make one T-shirt” alone, which is enough drinking water to sustain a person for 900 days.

Depending on where you shop for your thrifted clothes, many stores donate their earnings to organizations or charities. A local thrift store to check out is Lillies of the Fields, which donates its proceeds to the homeless community and helps supply clothes, food and other essentials. No matter where you buy your second-hand clothing, you can make a difference for the environment and communities in need.

Vantage, SLC

I had the pleasure to sit and chat with Andrew Aldridge, one of the store owners of Vantage, a local vintage store in Salt Lake City. The store ranges in items like cozy wool sweaters, vests, Levi’s and vintage boots, with some items being older than 20 years.

Aldridge explained that he got into the thrifting industry by selling vintage clothes on eBay for about 10 years.

“Ten years ago you could walk in and find a lot of vintage, so I got in to start to make money,” Aldridge said. “It was a side hustle, but it quickly became an obsession, and now we do it because we like to provide people with good second-hand vintage.”

I was curious to know what they look for when hand-picking their items for Vantage. Without giving too much information, Aldridge explained that most of their inventory is bought in bulk from out of state. They have connections that separate them from some other vintage stores by supplying more unique and rare items locally.

“We’re always here to help people, so ask for advice and be open to new styles,” Aldridge said. 

It’s helpful to explore styles outside of your comfort zone because you will find new pieces that suit you. I left Vantage with not only a new vintage wool sweater but a deeper respect for the team and their curated work on making vintage shopping fun and enjoyable for their customers like me who have a passion for fashion.


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