Happy Thriftsgiving: Cookin’ and Thriftin’

Happy Thanksgiving, American Readers!

In honor of the food-friendly holiday, my friends Rob and Daman over at Chefs-N-Giggles (ahh, the punnery!) have put together a great post on finding props for food photos at the thrift store.  If you are a food blogger, meal instagrammer, or just want inspiration on how to make your platings look good, head over to their blog—pause to mop up your drool over their tasty culinary concoctions—and then head to the thrift store!

Fun Find: Props for Food Photosphoto credit: Chefs-N-Giggles

I will add my own two cents by saying that we’ve found everything from Mason jars to Le Parfait jars to coffee pots to travel mugs to potato mashers to pastry cutters to bread machines ($7!!) at the thrift store.  They’re jackpots for everyday cooking utensils, weird appliances (see: pasta grabber, above), and the types of cooking gadgets people spend a lot of money on and then never use.  (Seriously, if you dig homemade bread, hit up a thrift store and score a $175+ bread machine for under $10.  WORTH IT.)

 

What kinds of kitchen-related gadgets have you thrifted (or avoided thrifting)?  Scroll down to answer!

And since it’s Thanksgiving for my American readers, why don’t we share what inspires gratitude in us this time of year?  I’ll start: I’m grateful for this blog as a creative outlet for my thrifting passion, and YOU readers for helping to make it a community!  Scroll down to share your own gratitude.

See ya next week, Thrifters!  (If I’m lucky you’ll get a fun thriftstore review with pics from a newly working phone to chronicle bizarre/epic thrift finds….)

 

Friday ReBlog: Custom Clothing

Francine Jay is the blogger behind Miss Minimalist, a great collection of inspiring examples of minimalism. Her definition:

Being mindful about what we own and consume…because our resources (space, energy, money, time) are limited, and we should put them to the best use possible. Minimalism is determining when you have enough, so you can do something extraordinary with the excess.

She’s executed this expertly in her own life: when her daughter was born, she decided she wanted to spend more time with her child and less time on her blog while still curating it as a community for those interested in living into minimalism.  So she stepped back from writing her own posts and instead started featuring weekly stories of her readers’ minimalist journeys.  Virtually zero input from her, yet endless inspiration for readers. Brilliant.

Francine does occasionally pop back in to share an insight or an update.  This week’s post ties into clothing: custom clothes as an option for what to do if you don’t want to support fast fashion but are crap with a sewing machine and haven’t had luck thrifting.

Buying made-to-order clothing—and less of it—is a common paradigm in many developing countries.  I was amazed on a trip to India several years ago to find how affordable it was to have clothing created from scratch and tailored to my exact measurements.  A friend of a friend from Ghana here as an exchange student also commented on how much better she felt about her body in her home culture where clothes are understood to be made to fit your body, as opposed to the negative body image she developed in a culture like ours where your body is supposed to be toned and tucked to fit a manufacturer’s arbitrary standard.

Read Francine’s post here, or just scroll down to tell me what you think of her idea–would you ever buy (or have you ever bought) bespoke clothes?  Do you think it would keep you from buying excess off-the-rack, less-than-ideal pieces?

 

Friday ReBlog: Fashion & Self Care

It’s the last day of Style Rehab week here on Thriftshop Chic.  Take a look back at how you can use fashion as a fun tool to help you feel your awesomest, to see my fall wardrobe adjustments, and to find out how to build a capsule wardrobe for kids.

 

First, a BIG thanks to Janice Riggs over at The Vivienne Files for adding me to her blog roll, and a big welcome to Vivienne readers!  Glad you’re here.

 

On Monday I wrote about how not caring about style, or not having fashion skills, does not really matter in the grand scheme of things.  I also sounded off on how folks say that “putting yourself together” is a means of self-care, mostly because I think our culture emphasizes looking good at the expense of prioritizing care for our emotional/social/physiological/spiritual selves.  We’ve all had moments where a nice outfit and a put-together face was masking some real inner turmoil that might’ve benefited from seeing the light of day and being attended to.

But here’s a different take on it from one of my regular reads:

Dress Up, Every Day on Une Femme d’un Certain Age

What do you think?  Scroll down to add your 2 cents.

 

 

Happy Thrifting!
Leah

 

 

 

Should You Care about Fashion?

It’s Style Rehab week here on Thriftshop Chic.  Tune in later in the week to develop your own style sense, tweak your wardrobe, and build a kid’s capsule wardrobe later in the week!

Tomorrow we’re going to tackle my sister’s question about how to improve your wardrobe stylistic sense.  One of her recent comments: “What if you fail miserably in fashion sense and have no idea what cut works for you?  I’m so bad at fashion.”

But first.

I would like to clarify something.

Being “bad” at fashion or style is not something that makes one iota of difference about your value as a *person.*

Fashion is, in the great scheme of things, inconsequential.

 

SMASHION

Continue reading “Should You Care about Fashion?”

Closet Anxiety: When Enough is Enough

 

You may recall my recent wedding trip, also known as 48 Hours with no “Luggage.”  What I didn’t share was the process of trying to find a dress to wear.

It’s a problem a lot of people face: you have a wedding/interview/funeral/other special event to attend, something that seems to call for an outfit above and beyond what’s already in your closet.  So you go looking for *just* the right suit, dress, shoes, tie…that special, unique ensemble that says “This event is important to me!  This is different!”  And surely, you think, none of the things you wear on a daily basis could convey that sense of gravitas, right?

My dear friend Sarah (check out her blog here) emailed me recently sharing her experience.  Nod along if you’ve been here—or if reading about bagels makes you hungry:

So I am out of town for a board meeting today (more on that over bagels). Traveled yesterday, meeting today, return tomorrow. And for some reason, I just started freaking out about what I was going to wear. I mean, total and complete freak out. As if my bursting at the seams closet didn’t have a single thing in it.

So, as I work next door to the mall, I went to the mall. I tried on several dresses and pairs of pants and they were all horrible. And I needed to leave because, after 4:10, the traffic is a nightmare, so I left, empty handed.

UGH.  I can just feel the stress sweating off her palms and onto her phone keypad as she wrote this.  I was in a similar situation feeling like I just HAD to find the right wedding guest dress, because the bride in question is incredibly chic and I wanted to rise to the occasion in order to honor her with my own (attempted) chicness.

Plus, it would be the PERFECT occasion to really dress up and experiment outside my normal sartorial style footprint—at $5-7 per dress, you can afford to do that at a thrift store, even if you only wear the dress once and donate it right back.

Continue reading “Closet Anxiety: When Enough is Enough”

Friday Reblog: What’s Wrong with “The Look for Less”

Alison Gary over at Wardrobe Oxygen posted this week about why she doesn’t do “The Look for Less” features on her blog—i.e., taking an outfit that’s on the pricier side and finding low-cost versions of all the pieces involved.  She goes into quality vs. quantity and the differences between higher end and cheap clothing that can make quality stuff worth buying, particularly manufacturing practices that drop the price but significantly affect quality.

A fascinating read, plus it’ll give you yet another reason to try thrifting—you can often get the good stuff for peanuts, and you can definitely get the cheap stuff for peanuts but your $$ go to the cause the thrift store supports, not companies with dodgy labor/manufacturing practices.

Read it here.

Happy Friday, Thrifters!

Why My Instagram Photos Are So Crappy

Let’s talk about my Instagram photos for a sec.  I am proud of my growing ability to frame out the worst features of the various bathrooms in which I take outfit selfies, and I love snapping great thrift finds to share with you all—somehow sharing makes me less sad that I can’t take them all home with me, à la the Can’t Hug Every Cat woman, but for clothes.

But really, these need some work, amirite?

Focus, who needs it??

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on

 

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on

Can’t really take a closeup if this is all the closer you can get:

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on

  Interior decor mishaps:

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on

 

Orientation issues:

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on

  This one got no likes–’cause no one could tell what the heck was happening with this dress!

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on
  It’s so bad that the Spouse has gently suggested getting me a new phone in order to get a better phone camera.  But my phone calls, texts, and surfs just fine—plus the regular photos I take look normal on its screen.

I resist getting a new phone for the same reason I thrift: to push back on a culture of planned obsolescence and over-consumption.

I don’t want to buy trendy, low-quality new clothes just because they’re cheap and then trash them in 3 months when they’re out of style or full of holes.  I don’t want to drop $250 (or $700! hello iPhone 6) on a phone just to get the shiniest new version, and I don’t want my current phone to break after 6 months or a year even if a new one is “free” (read: the cost is wrapped into my phone plan). 

For me, it’s a matter not just of keeping my budget streamlined, but of keeping more resources out of the waste stream.

Before I start sounding like a grumpy nonagenarian—“Back in my day things lasted!  We had one phone my entire childhood!  It was attached to the wall and we LIKED it!”—think about the implications of our choice to buy something new from Target or WalMart, whether clothes or a phone.  Each purchase creates demand for more cheap clothing and newer, shorter-lasting tech gadgets.  

This demand isn’t morally neutral: strides have been made in the last few years towards improving sweatshop conditions and documenting conflict mineral supply chains that have significantly decreased the number of mines run by warlords using rape and mutilation as war tactics; but the problems are far from solved.  And we’re still dealing with a finite planet and finite resources.

I’m not exempt.  I have a cell phone, after all, when I could theoretically not own one, and I’ve chosen a job that depends on the use of technology.  I rely on others buying, then donating sweatshop-made garments to clothe my body.  

But the actions I can take now to address these issues, I take—including signing petitions, questioning our culture of obsolescence, and reducing my consumption.  I have a long way to go, but I keep learning and thinking about how I can resist further depleting creation and contributing to human rights abuses.  

Plus I’m just lazy and it’s a lot of work to learn how to use a new phone.  See, I am a grumpy Luddite.  

Enjoy my crappy Instagram photos and let me know where you are in this whole process!  I’d love your ideas on how to further resist/challenge our culture’s patterns in this arena.  

Amazon: Another Good Reason to Thrift

Did y’all see last weekend’s scathing portrait of Amazon’s workplace culture in the New York Times?  It’s a fascinating and stomach-turning read detailing crying at one’s desk as a regular occurrence, marathon conference calls on Easter Sunday and Thanksgiving Day, confidential hotlines where you can “evaluate” your coworkers without them ever getting to face their accuser, and being put on “performance review” status immediately after returning from maternity leave or cancer treatment.  Basically it’s a no-holds-barred approach to creating and implementing profitable ideas–extreme capitalism with nary a nod to the well-being of one’s workforce.

In the work-life balance conversation, I lean decidedly towards a “work to live,” not “live to work,” approach.  Reading this article made me really uncomfortable about continuing to patronize Amazon–the convenience and competitive pricing are seductive, for sure, but once you have a mental picture of a woman spending her entire vacation at a Starbucks answering work emails or a dad being told to spend even less time with his kids or coworkers conspiring to throw each other under the bus lest they themselves be culled, it’s hard to get it out of your head.  I’d rather pay more or wait longer for my goods than support that kind of workplace culture.

How does this relate to thrifting?  If you are in the habit of shopping for clothing through Amazon, this article will make you think twice–and hopefully thrice–about continuing to do so.  As an alternative, look into your local thrift store’s work climate.  You can tell a lot, although not all, by just shopping there and paying attention to how employees are treated by supervisors.  Ask for an appointment with the manager or research the store online.  See how well it aligns with your values* and shop accordingly.

 

What are your thoughts, Thrifters?  And please point us in the direction of decent alternatives to Amazon!  To get the ball rolling: Netflix’s recent decision to provide unlimited paid parental leave over the course of a year to either mothers or fathers.  It does not cover non-salaried employees, but it’s a start. (FYI: we do not pay for or use a Netflix account.)

 

*I’m planning to look into Goodwill of North Georgia’s labor practices, since Goodwills often pay disabled workers less through the Federal Labor Standards Act–controversial legislation dating from the 1930s that allows businesses to pay disabled adults, who might otherwise not have the opportunity for paid work, under minimum wage.