She Who Dares To Upset My Inner Thrift Store Riot Grrl

Today was a good day in the world of thrift. Today I found this dress in one of the local charity shops. 

Again, not warm enough to be dressed like this: for demonstration purposes only.
Jigsaw dress 12 GBP

I have always said that there is no thrift shopping as sweet as the thrift shopping in the United States. I still stand by that statement, today's find notwithstanding. Sometimes I feel like the UK charity shops spend too much time marketing the (mainly) flotsum and jetsum in the shop so that they can justify  putting a bigger price tag on the items. The result of this is that inevitably, they occasionally wander across the fenceline into Ridiculousville.

I saw this dress and knew immediately that it would fit me, and not just because it said size 10 (UK 14) on the tag.  Sometimes you just know, ya know? But look at the tag. Here is how they were "marketing" this dress.

Gothic. Vintage. 90's. No, no, and no.  This is a cotton dress made by British retailer Jigsaw, who are not, nor have they ever been, known for their goth ethos.  Hot Topic they are not. This dress is also nowhere near the nearly twenty years old it would need to be to even qualify as early 90's.  No, my theory is this; this is a dress that was purchased by someone, probably worn once, washed and wrung out and hung dry, and when the person realized how much ironing would go into trying to make it un-wrinkled again, they gave up. Plus, you know how retailers often will use a successful pattern again and again with just a few wee changes when they get a design that works (and by works I mean sells)?

From the Jigsaw website sale section today. Same color and everything. Just sayin'
Jigsaw blue cotton poplin broaderie dress, on sale right this minute.

So while I'm not complaining about having to pay twelve pounds for a dress (which is actually a lot by charity shop standards),  this dress is very likely this past season, and therefore I feel completely within my remit to very publicly cry bullshit on this "vintage early 90's" claim.  Not that it kept me from taking it home, mind you.

Besides, I really like the wrinkled texture. It looks intentional (maybe it is), and it keeps the dress from taking itself too seriously. Perfect for travelling, paired with chucks or sandals. Chucks.... actually that is a bit 90's come to think of it.  But goth? Puh-lease.  Here it is with girly shoes.

Zara shoes (past season)

But wait. Here's where it gets good. When I took the dress to the checkout, the clerk sized me up,  looked me up and down, and with a raised eyebrow said sarcastically "like a little of the 90's goth, do you? You'll have to get some Doc Martens and then you'll have the whole 90's goth thing going on."

Oh really!?

Honey please.  Stand down before you hurt yourself.  The thrift shop is no place for amateurs, and you are in the presence of a thrift kung-fu master.  The 90's were so very much more than just a bunch of Doc Martens paired with deconstructed babydoll dresses. I get that you think this is a pre-makeover Courtney Love thing you are trying to sell me here, but you are out of your depth.  I was in Seattle in the 90's,  at the epicenter.  I used to see Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder at the gas station in West Seattle on a regular basis. My roommate used to come home barely able to speak because she stood in line at the Seattle's Best Coffee counter at the QFC next to the bass player from Soundgarden. We used to lie in wait for the moment when one of us might run into Chris Cornell  in the toilet paper aisle on a Sunday afternoon where he would be captivated by our morning-after unwashed hair and ask us to marry him. Hence, I  feel the need to correct you because I believe you are using the term "goth" when I think what you really mean to say is "grunge".  Yes, the word you're looking for...the one you meant to write on that little tag, is grunge, not goth. Not the same. But then, this dress, taken by itself,  is neither of those things. So here is tonight's homework.

Music appreciation: anthems of the 90's
Category: Alt Rock "grunge"

How it was really done: flannel and hoodies (photo Polyvore), military issue combat boots, mine were complementary when I joined the U.S. Air Force...go figure. Tigi Bed Head Manipulator for that slept-in look, Revlon lipstick in Black Cherry, Vintage suede fringe cross-body bag. 

Highland Fashionista is proud to take part in Not Dead Yet Style's Visible Monday, and Monday Mingle


  1. "Mine were complementary," hahahaha! Love it. I am in awe of your thrifting mastery. I have long claimed that I can't shop in thrift stores because I'm 6' tall. You are almost that tall, and yet you find pants that fit!

    1. Its all about putting in the so many things in life. Helps to know your measurements, but there are certain brands and cuts that I look for because I know they are tall girl friendly.

  2. LMAO!!!! Ha ha! I love this line: Honey please. Stand down before you hurt yourself. The thrift shop is no place for amateurs, and you are in the presence of a thrift kung-fu master.

    I do feel a twinge of annoyance at shops, any business in general that misrepresent merchandise, and a charity shop should still know their stuff. NOT a whiff of goth on this- this is classic- aka Audrey Hepburn territory. So no Docs are needed, only breaky at Tiff's. You got a deal, past season or no.
    Well done, sen-sei!

  3. Really funny! Love your attitude. You go girl!

  4. Jeez I hope you said all of that to that daft sales assistant's face to put her back in her box. Good call on a cynical practice in UK second hand and vintage shops. I've seen exactly what you're talking about here plenty of times to justify inflated prices. Goth that ain't, nor vintage! You should have argued for a discount!

  5. Oh, I like you! LOL I can see I need to follow this blog.
    I tend to tune out annoying store clerks and just go about my business. I scare half of them to death, anyway.
    I still have my '90's Doc Martens - British, not Chinese. I loved the babydoll look because I'm so short they just looked like perfectly proportioned dresses on me. I've met Eddie Vedder, Mike Watt, Pat Smear, and Dave Grohl. I loved Grunge when it was a vibe; now it's a cliche.

    Spashionista (Alicia)

  6. I am sitting in awe of your grunge history. And LOL at your thrift encounter. You go, thrift-master! Thanks for sharing with Visible Monday : >

  7. I believe you are a thrift kung-fu master!! This was so funny...and the dress is great with your shoes! Excellent shopping, master...

  8. A beautiful classic dress. Grunge? Goth? From the '90's? Like you, I'm pretty good with knowing what's what. Age has it's perks, for sure, and that has to be one of them. As you pointed out, you were there!!! You look so pretty in the simple dress with the killer heels.

  9. The dress is so pretty and you wear it beautifully!

  10. I'm writing this before I go find out more about you, partly because you rock. And partly because I lived in Seattle in the '90s and worked in Pioneer Square, where I would see Eddie Vedder on the street. I used to get my coffee from Chris Cornell's brother and sister. Then I left Seattle to live in Britain for 10 years. Now I'm in Eugene, Oregon.

    So now I'll go find out who you are. And I LOVE those shoes!

    1. we know each other!? Talk about parallel lives! I lived in SEattle form about 1993 until 2001, then I was in Ohio for 4 years (Air Force), then upstate NY (grad school), now Scotland. It indeed is a small world in cyberspace. I love Oregon, and have been there many times. Thinking about a west coast trip in June....

  11. I found you through Patti's Visible Monday and confess to having an immediate (and rare) blog crush on you. :) I love this story, your sarcasm, your dress, and your oh so correct observations. Too often thrift shops overprice the mass market crap or misidentify perfectly lovely yet contemporary pieces like your dress as "vintage." It does make my blood boil, but then again, I find they sometimes miss and underprice the **really** good stuff, which of course we snap up!! But how someone who works in a thrift shop and should know a wee **something** about fashion could call that a goth dress ... I hope you said a bit of what you thought, or withered her with a look!

  12. Love the dress and the shoes are to die for! Just bought a pair of shoes that have an orange heel so it was great to see yours! Enjoyed your story of the thrift shop purchase. I bow to your expertise!
    Heather from Friendship, Life and Style


  13. Lovely dress on you as well as those heels and what you put together in the styling board. I love them all!

    visiting from
    Have a great week!

  14. Thats a great find, but I must say i Looove those shoes.

  15. It takes an eye and some lived experience. Smarty pants ... you'll look cute in it though, so wear in health. Those shoes ... love 'um lots.
    Go inside and get a jacket, young lady. Burrrr.

  16. It's a great dress, even though it is overpriced

  17. Beautifully simple - love it!

    xo Lulu

  18. The dress is lovely! I am actually counting down to my next Edinburgh trip when I am going to hunt for thrift treasures (and to work)! The Scottish thrift stores are still cheaper and have better selections than the Swedish.

  19. Such a pretty little dress...and I SO wanted those shoes last year!


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