Have you been yearning for a vintage Louis Vuitton bag? Or is an Oscar de la Renta blazer or a pair of Theory slacks more up your fashion alley? While your bank account may not be able to support luxury purchases, you don't need to cash in your 401K to be able to outfit your closet with these kinds of designer digs. You just need to know where to go thrifting.
There are some amazing secondhand boutiques in the Hudson Valley -- most of them charitable organizations -- that carry trendy, sometimes nearly new clothing and accessories, at low prices. For those savvy fashionistas ready to spend a little time sifting through racks to unearth treasures, here are five local shops worth visiting.
THE GOLDEN SHOESTRING IN LARCHMONT
With its bright new awning, seasonally updated window displays, dressing rooms and a jewelry counter, The Golden Shoestring in Larchmont seems like a quaint department store (149 Larchmont Ave., Larchmont; 914-834-8383; www.jlwos.org). But it's not. The Shoestring, as it's called, is the main fundraiser of the Junior League of Westchester on the Sound. In business for about 60 years, the Shoestring does more than just receive donations from the community, said Mary Rizacos, the assistant manager. It also does its own share of giving, as the store's proceeds annually provide $27,000 in grants for community projects and a $4,000 non-need based educational scholarship to a high school senior from the area.
The thrift shop stocks items from Gap and Betsey Johnson, among other well-known brands, but the area designated to designers like Armani and Gucci is the place to go. Recently stocked looks include a floral Tory Burch dress, which likely would have retailed for at least $325, for $60, a Theory blouse for $18, and a fun Tahari dress for $28.
The shop offers an assortment of donated goods, including clothing for men, women and children, plus shoes, accessories, housewares and books. Womens clothing generally costs between $5 and $100 per item; mens clothing generally costs $6 to $40; and childrens clothing is generally less than $5. The sale area, which has sections for $1, $2, $5 and $10 items, is home to clothing and accessories that are in season but have been in the store for at least seven weeks.
BLACKBIRD ATTIC IN BEACON
Michelle Caves, who left her life in Brooklyn behind not too long ago, recently celebrated Blackbird Attic's third anniversary in Beacon (442 Main St., Beacon; 845-418-4840; www.blackbirdattic.com). The consignment shop features a curated mix of both vintage and new items, and offers a selection of womens clothing, footwear, and accessories, plus smaller sections for mens clothing and accessories and home goods.
"I keep my eye out for unique textiles, patterns, and styles," Caves said of her philosophy for stocking the store. "I try to offer wearable pieces more than costume, which vintage can easily become."
Recently stocked looks worth coveting include a Chanel scarf for $9.99 and plaid shirt from J. Crew for $14.50. Clothing from brands such as H&M and Forever 21 are also available, which are still in great condition and offered at a lower price.
NYACK HOSPITAL AUXILIARY THRIFT SHOP
Nestled within the Franklin Antiques building, the Nyack Hospital Auxiliary Thrift Shop is easy to miss, but it's definitely worth seeking out (142 Main St., Nyack; 845-358-7933; nyackhospital.org).
Run by Nyack Hospital, the thrift shop has been in business for more than 50 years and is the largest of the three in the area, says manager Phyllis Darrin. Boasting drop-offs from celebs like Rosie O'Donnell, Stephen Baldwin, and Jonathan Demme, the shop provides separate rooms filled to the brim with everything from casual wear, bridal gowns and designer suits to electronics, holiday decorations and home furnishings.
You may have to do some sifting through tchotchkes to find gold, but isn't that what thrifting is all about? Prices are low, and are generally between $2.50 and $8 for skirts and around $3 for blouses. Carole Little, J. Crew and Banana Republic are popularly stocked brands in the shop, and a Brooks Brothers suit, which could have easily gone for $650 at retail, was recently available for just $20, while a fur coat was listed at $50.
TLC THRIFT STORE IN WALDEN
Although it's a bit off the beaten path, TLC Thrift Store's overarching mission -- to support men with life-controlling issues like drug and alcohol addiction -- makes it worth visiting (3 Cherry St., Walden; 845-713-4563; www.tlcthriftstore.org). The thrift shop supports the work of Transformation Life Center, or TLC, a nonprofit faith-based discipleship program, by expensing the men's stay at the facility. Jeremy McCusker, a second-phase resident of the program who now works as a driver for the thrift store, credits the center and working at the store with helping him turn his life around. "Having God gives us a purpose in life," he said.
It's truly a rare organization. Those on a strict budget will appreciate the shockingly low prices of clothing and accessories from brands like DKNY, Eddie Bauer, Liz Claiborne and Aeropostale. Womens blazers are $4, dresses are $6 and eveningwear is $12, while mens tops are $3 and jeans are $6. Most kids items cost less than $5.
With a reputation for cleanliness and an easy shopping experience, "it's like walking into a boutique on Fifth Ave," said the store's manager, Dennis Kadian, who himself is a grateful beneficiary of the TLC experience. When Kadian's son hit rock bottom and entered the Transformation Life Center program after failed attempts to right his life elsewhere, Dennis and his wife, Linda, happily agreed to become store managers. Today, their son, Richard, has been drug- and alcohol-free for five years.
GLITZ THRIFT AND CONSIGNMENT BOUTIQUE IN GOSHEN
Owned by Karyn Scordo, an ordained minister and former South Beach model, the eclectic Glitz Thrift and Consignment Boutique features pink walls, Marilyn Monroe memorabilia, high-end womens clothing and accessories, dog coats and vintage Barbie's, too (97 W. Main, Goshen; 845-294-6400).
The boutique touts a hodgepodge of vintage and modern couture for women and juniors, including dresses, shoes, accessories, business suits and furs on consignment. Antiques, collectibles and vintage memorabilia are posted by Scordo on eBay.
Prices for womens clothing and accessories can range from $2 to $200, with cashmere sweaters costing $15 to $30 and jeans $10 to $20. A great pair of Jimmy Choo shoes and a sought-after Fendi bag were recently available, so designer items are definitely in the mix.