Sunday, October 14

Weightless Luxury

These days, 99 cents can get you a bottle of water, a 5-day rental of an old movie and maybe a cheeseburger off one of those value menus. Or as I recently experienced, 99 cents can get you a 100-percent cashmere Christian Dior scarf.

I stumbled upon it at a thrift store that I also happened to stumble upon during an afternoon of running errands. From the outside, it didn’t seem as if any notable treasures would be hiding inside. It didn’t have an interesting name, like Flower Child or Secret Past – two A-plus Cleveland-area vintage shops. It wasn’t even in a well-known area – Coventry? How did I even get here? But my thrift shopping addiction has me unable to leave any stone unturned, so I stopped to check it out.

Browsing through the racks I found a white JCrew cable-knit sweater – versatile and functional, but nothing to write home about – a wooden-handled purse with paisley embroidery – definitely a 1970s heirloom and, at $2.99, a must buy – and a pair of brown, barely worn Steve Madden stilettos on sale for $5.99.

Skimming though the scarves I saw much of the usual selection – unsightly stripes, fuzzy knits and the token sport’s team memorabilia. However, I was drawn to the unmistakable gleaming softness that can only be cashmere. I grasped the coal black scarf with my cat-like reflexes – like a sample sale, thrift shops only have one of everything – and could feel that my eyes did not deceive me. But it wasn’t just any cashmere scarf. This one had Mr. Dior’s stamp of approval. I clearly underestimated this store’s potential.

As the buzz from my find began to lessen, I was free to think about cashmere and its implications. The time and care put into making cashmere garments emits the feeling that each piece is special in its own right. The impossibly thin fibers – six times finer than human hair – make for virtually weightless luxury that simply can’t be made by machine. To this day, most cashmere garments are still made by hand, as they were in the 15th century. Anyone who wears cashmere tends to feel like a million bucks.

My mind then wandered to the scarf itself. Where did it come from and how did it wind up here? Who was the woman to own it prior to me? Maybe she was the lonely wife of a cold man, trapped in a loveless marriage, who found life in a man she hardly knew. The scarf was a gift from the secret lover, who she had to vow never to see again for fear of her husband finding out. Was the passionate attachment to the lost love too much for her to handle so she parted with the scarf – and the memories – in one foul swoop? Perhaps or perhaps not. I guess I'll never know.

Eager to make the scarf my own, I made my way to the counter. When I got there, I suddenly noticed that the item was missing its price tag. How much would I end up paying for a Christian Dior cashmere scarf in a place like this? “This scarf is missing its price tag,” I told the clerk as I approached the counter. “Oh, all scarves are 99 cents,” she replied.

Fabulous. I’ll take it.

1 comment:

doug said...

wow! good job on the rare find...