The Victorians Might Have Loved Thrift Shopping


As I came away with a bundle of unique goodies from the Red White and Blue thrift store this weekend, I realized: the Victorians might very well have loved thrift shopping.

I mean think about it: they enjoyed changing up things in their homes regularly, and transforming hard furnishings with layers and layers of textiles...

They were big on mixed and matched furniture-- particularly those in the middle class who couldn't afford full sets, but who still wanted their modest homes to feel elegant...

Along those lines, these were folks who, if they couldn't afford an expensive bronze statue, were able to mass-produce a similar spelter or plaster one, at a fraction of the cost. They tried to evoke a mood in their homes, and did it cleverly within their budgets.
I see careful needlework tablecloths and tablerunners, and imagine them being snapped up by Victorian ladies who loved to layer, blown away that they themselves would not have to spend hours tatting that delicate edgework.
I picture ladies in rustling skirts scoping out the furniture section and wondering whether that tea trolley, with a lick of black lacquer and some careful decoupage, would look Japaned.

Or perhaps standing there considering whether a few souvenir plates from around the country would properly display that famed Victorian love of travel.

I envision silver trays and serving pieces being bought for so-civilized future get-togethers. "Imagine all of this," they would say, "and we don't have to wait for it to arrive from the Sears Catalog!"


And then I see them getting in their carriages and popping off to somewhere like TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Tuesday Morning, or even Pier One... Debating on which plaster bust to choose, what mirror, which rug.

I see them pondering things inspired by-- or made in-- countries halfway around the world. The selection! The possibilities! And so much of it so reasonable! You could travel the world and still never leave home!

Of course, today we can evoke the same decorating principles in our homes of our Victorian ancestors and not have to wear corset while we do it. Right now, those tablerunners wait for that one person who loves detail to come and give them new life...

And the silver sits in stacks, hoping someone will someday have the time and inclination to give 'em a good polish and allow them to shine once more on the dinner table.

So many folks prefer streamlined surfaces now. Most of us don't have the time to dust all the things that would go into a a Victorian home.
So for those who love romantic decor of this type, you may just find there's very little competition for the things you adore. And that's funny because given today's economy, thrift stores are busier than ever, with people in every aisle contemplating their treasures-- no matter what those treasures might be.

Even younger people seem less afraid of the stigma of buying used. I heard a couple of teenagers in line behind me yesterday talking excitedly about how they found a particular designer item of clothing that, "you couldn't even touch this in a regular store during a sale... not even during a really good sale...This is crazy!"

So while the economy may be bad, in a way, it's a fortunate time we're in, folks. Those veterans of buying secondhand finally get a chance to openly say, "Hey, I knew about the wonders of thrifting all along!" Dare I say, we might even be on the cusp of being...(gasp!) trendy.

The Victorians would have liked that, too...

Though I imagine the carriage parking would be a serious pain in the bustle.

And as for this coming Treasure Box Wednesday, I'll show you why an unusually late start in day's thrifting seems to have made absolutely no difference in my treasure-hunting success!

9 comments:

dustbunny8 said...

I just discovered bloggs about decorating and thrifting a few months ago.What a wonder that there were all these people out there like me!Who love a bargain and believe that more is..more better!
and of all of them I love yours best.I love your house,your decorating and your sense of humor.I only have one complaint,you don't post enough!I mean,do you really need a life?!LOL!Thank you so much for sharing with us.
P.S.I saw a Blue Boy statue at the GW today and had to laugh when I though of you and your friend!

Down Pillow said...

Love your beautiful textiles & teacups :)

Peggy said...

I agree they would have loved it!
Love the vintage linens that you found. I have a runner with the lady on it in my Etsy shop right now!
Peggy

Andrea said...

I'm thankful that I do not have to fight over pretty, feminine linens at the GW store. I would imagine that the Victorian ladies would head straight for my favorite bins of fabric this and that. Today, I was able to buy the most beautiful lace curtains, soft rose sheets and a mattress cover for less than one item at the local box store. I love thrifting with a passion!

Jenn Thorson said...

Dustbunny- Heh, "more is more better" should be the romantic thrifting motto! :)

And ah-- the fact that the Blue Boy running joke has caught on to readers just makes me smile. My friend hasn't displayed a single BlueBoy in her new house yet, can you believe it?! I wonder what's taking her so long! I'll need to pester her.... In fact, I should give her one for a housewarming present.

DP- Thanks.

Peggy- They're beautifully done-- I hope yours on Etsy will go to a good home.

Andrea- Heh, I'm picturing you watching in horror as this group of Victorian ladies started picking through your favorite Goodwill section. :)

Short and Sweet said...

This is a wonderful post!! You clearly stated what a lot of bloggers are thinking, and your finds are always spectacular. I have to get my "bustle" into more thrift stores and hopefully find some of the delicious treasures that you blog about. Your photos are so pretty.Many thanks, Loretta

Jenn Thorson said...

Loretta- Thank YOU for visiting, and for the lovely comment!

The Lucy and Dick Show said...

The hours to do the 'fancy work' and all it took you was a minute and a sharp eye to find!

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