When it comes to buying new clothes, the markets in Phnom Penh are hit or miss. Most expats would agree that while Cambodia does have it's fair share of $3 Hollister and Old Navy finds that have "fallen of the line," one would have better luck finding something fashionable in neighboring Thailand or Vietnam. However, Phnom Penh's thrift shoppers can easily expand their options as this city is a goldmine for used clothing.
Yesterday, I hit the corner of Psar Bong Kang Kong that hosts piles upon piles of old t-shirts, skirts, vests, pants, shorts and tank tops. It didn't take long for me to be knee deep in clothing, sweat poring from my brow. (It's an outdoor market and the hot season is near. Sacrificing comfort for fashion means something completely different on this end of the world.) At an average of 3,000 riel (75 cents) an item, I quickly increased the power of my wardrobe - picking up a pair of comfy lounge pants here, a trendy shirt for a fun night out there. Here's a look at some of my most prized finds:
I would consider this shirt my most valued item of the day, and at only 2,000 riel (50 cents), the cheapest. The teal backdrop is said to be "my color" and I adore the eclectic bird and floral pattern. It gives my bland Cambodian wardrobe the kick it needs. Although it's loose and lightweight, which will be great to combat the increasing heat and humidity, it's flattering and fun. This shirt will most likely accompany me back to the U.S.
Ok, this vest isn't something I'd typically buy, but for 50 cents, why not give it a try? Whether we like it or not, vests of the 90s are creeping back into style (or at least so I gather from browsing magazines and Facebook photos). I'm going to experiment a bit with fashion, something I've missed doing the past 7 months. And if it doesn't work out, no harm done. This is Cambodia after all, not Paris or New York. I don't anticipate the fashion police to come a-knockin'.
This cute, brown button up will be great for work. I like the trim around the waist and the cut. I spent $1 on this one, a little more than the others, but I think it's money well spent. Most of my work duds contain 4-year old shirts I brought with me from home or simple tees I bought here. I gladly welcome the variety in options.
These shorts are adorable! The modesty of the length combined with the light-weight linen fabric make them an ideal option for bumming around the streets of Phnom Penh. And as a side note - something my grandmother has taught me to keep in mind when buying clothing for my lower half - I'll look good coming and going.
In total, I spent less than $5 on seven items of clothing during my day of shopping. Tell me why I didn't take advantage of this opportunity sooner.