The human heart was—and remains—a mystery to me. But I’m learning. I have to. —Anthony Bourdain

Cheapskate diaries: In praise of the ukay ukay (thrift store)

I am not a fashionable person. 90% of my clothes are chosen due to their comfort and ability to come out of the laundry and not need to be ironed. My mother follows fashion a lot more than I do, telling us the trends of the month from her Vogue magazine (which I read for their food editorials). I work from home so 75% of the time I am in shorts, a loose shirt or wifebeater, and flip flops with with bits chewed off them because of my rabbits.

That is to say I’m not entirely devoid caring about how I look. I believe in looking professional when conducting business. I would never wear white, black or something completely loud to a wedding. I follow dress codes and party themes when the occasion arises.


I am a fan of ukay clothes shopping however, and I’ve been a patron of a few since I started working in 2007.


You see I’ve always worn a uniform to school, from nursery school to college. When I started to work, it baffled me to have to wear something different every day. from what I remember, I ran out of my collection of sarcastic message shirts the first month in my office job, and I was definitely not making enough to sustain my biggest vice (eating and drinking), and to also have a decent wardrobe around the space.


It was my mon who first went. I remember cringing a little as my only idea of these places were that they were old castoffs from other countries that were resold to ours (which is still true, I still find shirts with The Salvation Army tags on them). The variety is great though, and you’ll have less chance running into someone wearing the exact same thing. Plus, it’s significantly cheaper, which allows me to allot more of my budget towards food.


I regularly go now to a few different places, and it’s become like an adventure to pick out fun things (that are age appropriate) while not being too insane. I do have a few limits though. No shoes (can’t wash then), no underwear (COME ON), no bathing suits, no hats, nothing with stains or smells. Things have to be washed thoroughly with warm water and soaked thoroughly by me or professionally before they’re worn, and the basics, bought somewhere else. Ironically, my plain shirts and jeans, not from ukays but mall stores to make sure I don’t look like I’m in costume, dresses, mostly sewn by my mom.


While I admire snappy dressers and those who can follow fashion trends, I neither have the body or the wallet for it. The ukay gives me options that make me smile (like the four skirts I just bought for the price of one from SM), and leave me enough money for the obligatory meal afterward.


Don’t tell my grandma though, she doesn’t approve of the concept.

Have you bought anything from the ukay?

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