There was once a time, during my dark childhood, when I did not understand the importance of thrift stores. I thought thrift stores were all full of shoddy, tomato-stained hand-me-downs. I thought if you wore something from a thrift store, your clothes were inherently less-than and, by extension, you too were also less-than. It wasn’t until my late teens — when I began to make more independent fashion choices and actually pay for my clothes — that I realized how much thrift stores have to offer. Wearing clothes from a thrift store is indicative of frugality, wisdom and fashion creativity — all character traits that are inherently greater-than. And who doesn’t want to be greater-than? Thrift stores are wonderful — the smartest choice for the frugal shopper. My arch-nemesis has always been the idea of spending money. When I realized I could buy nice clothes for a cheaper price, I was enthralled. But many people don’t understand how wonderfully amazing this concept is. It’s a simple idea, really: you can purchase gently-worn (and oftentimes brand new) clothing from thrift stores at much lower prices than if you went elsewhere. Now, I’m not telling you to throw out all your J. Crew clothes and stop by the nearest Goodwill. However, I am telling you mixing and matching — pairing a thrift store garment with something you already owned — is a great way to save money and still look great. I do it like it’s my profession. Most of the time, no one knows. If you’re afraid of your friends thinking you’re sloppy because you’re wearing something from a thrift store, you should find better friends. There’s no shame in thrifting. It is so much fun, and you can always find interesting things. Some of my favorite shirts, jackets, ties and sweaters have come from thrift stores. Where else, other than a thrift store, would you find a sweater from the 80s with leather patches on it? Where else would you find gently-used flannels for every occasion? Not at a Nordstrom, that’s for sure. Thrift stores allowed me to make my fashion choices more fun and daring. I have made extremely unusual purchases I ended up falling in love with all because of thrift store pricing. If you see a shirt with some wacky and interesting design for $2.50, you’re much more likely to purchase it than if you saw a similar shirt in a department store for $17. Be like me, and try out my mixing and matching technique. You’ll save money on clothes, and you’ll turn all the heads this spring.