As a kid, Willoughby wanted to be a fashion designer and watched Project Runway religiously. She cites Bette Midler’s “amazing, tacky” wardrobe in the 1986 black comedy Ruthless People as influential on her sense of style. In high school, she’d save up tips from her job at Sonic Drive-In to spend on secondhand finds.
Getting a picture of someone’s life through clothing is one of the things Willoughby finds most rewarding about her job.
Last summer, a relative contacted her to ask if she’d like to take her late great aunt’s wardrobe, which was full of one-of-a-kind pieces from the 1960s and 1970s. Willoughby hired two interns from Puget Sound to create a lookbook commemorating the collection, a project she’s “super proud” of.
Willoughby describes her buying strategy as a Venn diagram of “old and weird and ugly.” She’s not interested in luxury or designer fashion, but in more unusual items. One of her favorite discoveries to date is a Scorpio-themed Garfield T-shirt from 1979, which she scored for $2 at an estate sale.
“I’ve always found this private joy in loving things that were once loved by someone else,” she says. “It’s like, maybe no one else appreciates this cat sweater, but I see you, Linda, and you loved this cat sweater and I do too—and I will find the next person who will wear it and love it as much as you did.”