How thrifting became a way of life for a former La Marque resident
Ashley Judge has loved fashion for as long as she can remember.
Judge, a 35-year-old high school assistant principal, began thrift shopping for vintage and eclectic fashion in high school, which continued throughout her college days in New Orleans.
Today, you can find Judge recreating vintage looks inspired by fashion icons such as Dorothy Dandridge, Eartha Kitt and Josephine Baker.
“I have always been obsessed with vintage fashion, especially that of the Harlem Renaissance era,” said Judge, who grew up in La Marque. “I’m just a vintage girl in a modern world. Thrifting is like having a passionate love affair.”
Judge’s passion for thrifting was fueled by her “empty” bank account during her college days in the late ‘90s, she said.
During her college days, the up-and-coming fashionista had to find a way to look good for less, she said.
“Thrifting just became a way of life for me,” she said.
While in New Orleans, Judge cultivated her thrifting talent, and soon realized how much of an influence it would have on her life, she said.
“New Orleans has great thrift stores and consignment shops,” Judge said. “Those stores enabled me to be fashionable and stay on budget, while still finding unique pieces.”
One of the things she loves most about thrifting is that it gives people the ability to recreate their image with vintage, modern and one-of-a-kind pieces, she said.
Judge loves to walk into a room and make a statement without speaking, she said. Thrifting also allows her to put her personality on full display, she said.
“When people ask me what’s my style, it’s impossible to define because I am constantly recreating myself,” Judge said. “I love to express myself through the many layers of vintage fashion. I have worn a $4 dress with a $700 pair of shoes. I am all about creating a look.”
Most of Judge’s clothing comes from thrift stores, where she has found amazing designer items, originally priced at $600, for less than $40, and some as low as $4, she said. She often mixes her thrift items with designer pieces and also shops at traditional stores, too. But, she only buys items that are on sale, she said.
Thrifting takes time, and those who do it should be prepared to spend a few hours shopping, she said.
“Most thrift trips for me are two hours if I’m going to one store,” Judge said. “If I’m going to several thrift stores, it can take up to eight hours. I don’t mind the time it takes because I love fashion. Thrifting allows me countless opportunities to recreate myself time and time again. Remember, thrifting is an adventure. It’s like finding treasure in the form of fashion.”
You can follow Ashley Judge on Facebook and Instagram at Vintage Vixen Chic, or subscribe to her website for updates, style tips and thrifting tours at www.vintagevixenchic.com.
Ashley Judge’s tips for those who want to start thrifting
Google is your BFF. Find all the local resale shops and try them out for yourself.
Dress appropriately. Most stores do not have dressing rooms, so I advise everyone to wear tights and a form-fitting shirt so that trying things on in the middle of the floor can be done easily. (Don’t panic, there are some stores that have fitting rooms.)
Most importantly — be patient. Thrift stores do have organizational structure, but are not typical department stores. You will have to look around a little bit longer, and a little bit harder.
Look for items that stand out in the crowd. I love combining modern with vintage, so I look for signature pieces. Find a piece that will make a statement.
If it doesn’t fit perfectly, that’s OK. Have you ever heard of a tailor? Want some jean shorts? Cut an old pair of jeans to create shorts with the perfect fit. Tailoring can be very budget friendly, especially when you’re saving on clothing.
Shop sales. Resale shops often offer coupons and special value days. Find out those special sale days, and shop then to save even more. Sign up for value savers and get on email lists.
Step outside of the box. Sometimes, it’s easy to get stuck following trends, but try setting your own and look for pieces that reflect your individuality. It doesn’t matter if anyone doesn’t like what you choose. The only thing that matters is whether you like it.
If you don’t find anything, and leave the store empty-handed, that’s OK. Ask the clerks about their shipment days. Different stores vary, so try to shop according to their delivery schedules to find the most up-to-date choices.
Germ-X. We all know that thrift stores don’t smell like a Glade factory, so bring some hand sanitizer to give yourself peace of mind. You will sort through hundreds of items, so don’t leave home without it.