Fund raiser for libraryIt was the brainchild of Mona Orange and Martha Horsfall. While swimming laps in the pool at Health Nutz one day, Horsfall and Orange exchanged ideas about the annual event for members of the Friends of the Library.

“I suggested we have a thrift shop fashion show,” said Orange. “Martha and I laughed and kept laughing until we realized it was a pretty good idea.” They brought it up to the committee and everyone jumped on board.

The idea was to get at least 10 models to show off outfits, including accessories, they purchased from area thrift shops, yard or estate sales. It developed into a practical showcase for recycling and frugality. The Salvation Army may not be Saks Fifth Avenue, but with a little creativity and some savvy fashion know-how, no one would know the difference.

They gathered 18 willing models who went out shopping for various types of clothing ensembles for men, women, children and teens. No one was able to tell the difference between the store-bought items and those that were secondhand. All the clothing was well-coordinated and looked brand new.

Some purchased clothing items sit in the back of the closet and never sees the light of day, or may be worn only once before being consigned or donated. Most of the clothing is in good condition and in some cases may be brand new. Thrift shopping is a great way to find designer labels, as some of the models discovered.

Peggy Alexander, who won in the category of least expensive for the most pieces, sported a casual, breezy summer outfit with beige linen pants and an apple green top with a jaunty straw hat adorned with a large sunflower. Her jewelry complemented the outfit and all five pieces cost a mere $9.08.

Orange looked like she was ready for a cruise with her white cotton pants, bright red knit top, white bag and sandals, while Norm and Patsy Towler spent $17 on beach outfits for both of them.

Thelma Stowell, who loves to design and sew, tied with Elaine Bergman for most creative. Stowell’s outfit was light beige linen; she fashioned a button-down skirt and a bolero jacket out of a skirt. Stowell’s petite frame allowed her to get a lot of mileage out of the skirt material, which she accented with a pale green applique of a ’20s flapper. It matched her green straw hat and the scarf she entwined around the crown, as well as her gold and green earrings and bag.

Bergman dressed formally in a stylish and elegant black sheath with an openwork panel down the front and openwork sleeves she designed and sewed from two dresses. Her black silk heels completed the look.

Judy Shell stole the show in the category of most high fashion for her delicate floral evening dress and jacket. A soft, wispy purple gossamer was her choice for a recent cruise, which she accentuated with delicate silver heels.

The finale featured “the wedding party,” a whimsical mixed bag of Victorian pantaloons, corsets, lace and flowers – a bit of unexpected amusement that demonstrated creativity in costuming. Jan Taylor, who helped put the party together, played the groom. Her creation was inspired by Yves St. Laurent’s famous pantsuit and fedora from the ’70s. Linda Mullin, the bride, had an authentically-designed purple silk Victorian hat with a black veil perched on her head as she traipsed down the runway.

The show proved that it is possible to be stylish on a few dollars. Perhaps Yves St. Laurent expressed it best when he said, “Fashion fades but style is eternal.”