Thrift Finds: May 2018

This month was super-light, thrifting-wise, and I’m actually pleasantly surprised at how correspondingly light I feel. “You were so thrifty,” said my spouse in response to my minimalist tally. Except I wasn’t, Spouse! Ha.

Alright, bad puns aside, here’s the one piece of clothing I thrifted:

A perfectly Light Summer-colored blazer by Metaphor that runs a size big but styles just fine with the sleeves scrunched up:

Ta-da! Next up for styling it, I plan to pair it with my linen men’s Zara trousers – although the whole look might be too baggy – or the grey Express jeans that read like trousers. I’ll be sure to share over on Instagram (@thriftshopchic) when it happens.

The other two items thrifted this month? Wooden hangers – from Bermuda, no less:

Because I like looking at my clothes on wooden hangers over plastic ones; it’s just aesthetically pleasing and makes me feel chic.

And two fun-colored small plates, since we’ve broken a few at our house lately. A few years ago I brought home a similar plate with red and blue stripes that I found in a bamboo forest on a hike once (but how did it get there??), and I realized how much joy it brings me to eat on plates with color. Thus:

The pastries were my birthday breakfast, provided by my thoughtful aforementioned spouse; yum!

 

That’s it – short and sweet! I’ve settled into my late spring/early summer wardrobe and am feeling mostly content with it (more on that later), so I’ll probably be light on clothes thrifting for the next little while. In the meantime, though, I’m on the hunt for a rack to put all my shoes on… Goodwill’s houseware section, I’m coming for ya!

Thrift Finds: April 2018

April was good to me thrift-wise. Let’s do this chronologically.

First up, a trip to Savers in Framingham.

This denim button-down dress by one of the Gap companies (no tag at the neck but the RN number on the side tag goes with Gap co.s) was a great color and perfect sleeve length, but a leetle tight in the chest and short in the hem:

But then I realized I could wear it open, as a duster (one of my favorite lengths) for lightweight warmth and a great silhouette:

Can’t wait to wear it over grey trousers and a white blouse!

This coral dress gave me no shape – pass:

Some bermuda shorts that are perfectly Light Summer, which I bought but probably will rarely wear since Bermuda shorts aren’t my preferred short silhouette… turns out I still sometimes get swept away by a color palette match:


As always, take colors in photographs with a big ol’ grain of salt. For one thing, dressing room lighting is horrible.

Big winners on this trip – Clarks sandals in excellent condition:

They needed a quick damp cloth to get off dinge and dirt when I got home, and now they make perfect Sunday (church/work) warm weather footwear.

 

Next up, Restoration Project in Belmont.

This Marnie West top is vintage – I’d say late 80s/early 90s. The fitted silhouette (thanks to the bodice darts) makes a great contrast with the more voluminous sleeves:

The buttons are down the back.I brought it home but still haven’t decided how to wear it – probably with my linen blue Zara man jeans. Ideas?

 

Later in the month I made it to Sister Thrift where I found some great stuff (with a side of mini-celebrity, if you remember).

This striped dress was too small:

Not my style, and not great colors on me:

Two winners – a Gap striped shift dress and J. Brand jeans in the perfect casual stretch:

BAM.

A very quick stop into Global Thrift in Waltham where I really wish these Yoshi Kondo pants in perfect condition had fit – they had so many great details and they retail for something like $250:

Sigh.

Undeterred, I headed to the new Goodwill in Danvers to inspect their wares.

Fun moto blazer in a great color (I think it was Forever 21?):

But too small to zip without looking like a space-aged functionary:

Great color on this Talbots blazer that was also too wide/short for me:

Awesome vintage windbreaker by American Eagle – sort of wish I had bought it but it was in pretty rough shape in several places:

Love me a neck bow and the metallic accents on this top are totally fun, but my bra showing through isn’t:

These Express jeans had a finish that made them look dressier:

And the little slit on the inside hem gave them a little extra interest (sorry my feet are in focus instead of the pants):

Though I kind of wish they were on the outside, where other people can see them! They came home with me and will be my dressy jeans for Sunday mornings/the office. I love the visual texture of the fabric – makes them pair well with solid tops without being boring.

This Miami chambray top had a nice clean silhouette and fun contrast on the cuffs and collar (I failed to get a shot but will show you all later). It came home with me for the same reason as the pants – great texture in a neutral color to play with other solids. (Really drawing here on the advice I got about bulking up my wardrobe with neutrals so my Light Summer pieces can shine.)

I so wish these sandals had been my size – a great combination of light cognac and Light Summer colors:

This gingham shirt would have been a great Light Summer staple (and I love the floral collar lining) but alas, it wasn’t my size:

This tie-shoulder dress in a great, subtle print by Marled (a brand sold at Bloomingdales and Neiman Marcus, dresses retail for $100+) would have been a fun silhouette for some summer barbecue/wedding situations, but it was too big in the bust. Wanh-wannnnh:

A Newport News (vintage?) dress I seriously considered – but ultimately decided the purple was too pink and the silhouette a little too fitted:

Could have been fun as a dress-over-pants look…

Last but not least, I finished up the month at a church rummage sale where the best finds weren’t even clothing.

Would make the cutest cup of tea ever:

I don’t know who thought to paint Michael Jackson on a matryoshka doll, but that person was a genius:

He gets younger as you go further inside:

Jackson Five days – the cutest:

I brought these two sweaters and pair of pants home in a $5 bag (the Duplos I snagged for my kid were more than worth that 5 bucks) but later decided nah.

Too fitted in the middle, too baggy in the sleeves, not sure about the color:

Too tight in the sleeves to wear over any under layers:

Gorgeous vintage Harvé Benard lined wool pants in a purple-y Light Summer neutral that fit if I planned to never eat again:

And also if I wanted to wear all my sweaters tucked in. Love that silhouette; don’t love being cut off in the middle. Sigh.

 

There ya have it! What do you think of my finds – and what did you find this past month?

Tweaking Outfits toward Perfection

Not that one ever achieves outfit perfection….or that one should even hold outfit perfection as an objective. Or that one should talk about oneself in the third person.

But I noticed that in a few of my recent favorite outfits, minor adjustments moved my look from “okay” to “spot on. So today I’m sharing a couple of tweaks to help an outfit go from good to great.

First up: my pinkish Pixie pants by Old Navy, via Poshmark.

I found my size in Tall on Poshmark, and, thinking they would offer more length than the ankle length of the classic Pixie pant, bought them. Just as I had hoped, they turned out to be a perfect match for Light Summer, and they were definitely long enough.

Turns out, though, that “Tall” – Old Navy’s designation for women 5’10” and up (I’m not quite that tall) – isn’t just long, it’s bigger in other areas to accommodate the larger frame of tall women:


Definitely giving off a roomy vibe.

I knew I didn’t want that much extra fabric clinging on me in the warm months, which is when I wanted to wear these puppies, so I went hunting for the classic-sized (aka ankle length Pixie pant in the same color, and voilà – I made one tweak in style and they fit just right:


Definitely ankle-length, though. 

(Online thrifting tip: if you want to find the exact color of something you’ve already seen in person, look at one of the tiny tags underneath the big tag and it might tell you the specific color of the item; if not, it will usually note the season and year – e.g. “SPR 17” – which you can then use to cross-check online listings. If the color/season isn’t mentioned in the listing, just message the seller and ask them to check that tiny tag and report back. That’s how I confirmed this second pair was indeed “Life’s a Peach,” a color variously described and photographed as pink, coral, salmon, etc.)

I’m not sure yet what I’ll do with the Talls – sell them on Poshmark (something I’ve yet to try) in order to make back some of the money I’ve spent there? Save them for next winter? (Leggings for those extra cold days would definitely fit under there.) What would you do?

 

The tropical shirt (H&M) in that last photo leads me to my next tweak: pants into cutoffs.

These yellow bootcut jeans from Forever 21 were fun as is, but I was having a hard time finding a way to wear them in the cold months. And because the denim was so floppy (read: not super high quality), they didn’t have much shape down below:

So I chopped ’em, rolled the cuffs, and wore them with that same tropical shirt when the temperature hit 80:

Another quick tweak was to wash the sandals in this pic with a damp cloth. Thus dingy-colored Clarks with nothing else wrong with them became gloriously white (and wearable) once again. I wonder if the person who gave them away was truly tired of them or thought they’d passed the point of no return without realizing a quick clean would have done the trick.

To check whether the dirt on a thrift shoe find is washable (in the store), dab a tiny amount of water from your water bottle onto a spare hankie or tissue and gently rub (don’t do this on suede). I did this in the middle of Savers and was rewarded with the knowledge that these shoes weren’t stained, merely dirty:


Ta-da!

Last but not least, a “tweak” that really comes down to styling.

I found this Metaphor blazer at Restoration Project in a pitch-perfect Light Summer pink and in my sweet spot for blazers – long and lean lapels with a pre-scrunched sleeve for added insouciance:


Yes, I know I just said I didn’t need any more blazers, but I was silently still keeping an eye out for a pink blazer unicorn.

The only problem? It was a size (or two?) too large, at least on the tag. Over a long-sleeved shirt, it felt a bit big in the arms a bit big in the armpits:

…but with armpits reined in, it actually looked pretty good on:

and I was so happy to find a blazer in one of “my” pinks (I had plans; see unicorn comment above) that I bought it anyway. Better a slightly oversized look than a too-tight look, yes?

Here is the execution of the first of my many plans involving this blazer, in which the simple tweak of giving the sleeves an extra couple SCRUNCHES made everything look more fitted/on purpose:


My spouse said this outfit made his head explode. I figure that means it’s just right.

 

Conclusion: just a few small adjustments here and there can make a big difference. What are your favorite thrift tweak success stories?

 

Thrift Finds: March 2018

Long time no see, Thrifters! You know it’s been awhile when my last post was also thrift finds… from a month ago.

I’ve been happily busy with work (Lent, Holy Week) and thus away from the blog. To jump back in, I thought about doing the Spring 10×10 (click here to read about what a 10×10 is) but it was scheduled to start on Good Friday (hello people, busiest time of year for a pastor!) and also it snowed yesterday. So nope.

But I did have some good March thrift finds and I would love to share them with you all. I’ll classify them by thrift excursion so I can keep track of what’s what. Here we go!

First up: Global Thrift in Waltham.
I did a quick run through just before closing and didn’t find anything I wanted to try, but did find a gorgeous J. Crew linen dress in a Light Summer coral not remotely my size:

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Wanh wannnnhhhhh.

Here’s another Light Summer number in the weird college-student-party-dress length that always cuts off people’s legs while simultaneously threatening to show their assets:

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Why do people wear such short hems?! #rantover

 

Next up, the Goodwill in Seabrook, NH on the way to visit my inlaws. I have one complaint against New Hampshire Goodwills: they sell a bunch of new stuff alongside the secondhand things, and while this is handy when I want to buy underwear or socks and still support a non-profit, it just kind of spoils the feel for me. Plus the way they display it sometimes makes it hard to distinguish between new and not; the new stuff is usually cheaply made; and I didn’t find good undies this time.  #rantnumber2over

Nope on this cable-knit sweater – the overly bright white and the cheap quality overrode my love of cowl necks:

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Too small:

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This pleated dress with attached camisole-like liner actually looks better in retrospect than it did in the dressing room – it was a bit baggy on:

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Great colors on the stripes; wonky neck:

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Despite the picture which makes it look sort of milk-chocolatey, this NY & Co. blazer was the exact right brown for Light Summer. Too bad it was so baggy in the chest/armpit area!
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These two t-shirts came home with me as they were simple but with details that added a twist. Ralph Lauren Jeans is on the left; on the right is No Boundaries (a Walmart brand that almost never passes the quality test, but this one did).

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Despite the awful lighting, both are good Light Summer colors. You can see the yellow shirt (which is a tad big and looks better under a blazer) featured in my Easter outfit:

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Those pants, btw, are also a new-to-me find off of eBay – they arrived on Good Friday so it seemed clear the universe wanted me to wear them on Easter. More about them in a post to come.

Last but not least from Goodwill, this cheeky little shirt by Express which is also super comfortable. Pretty sure I can’t wear this to work so it will be my leisure shirt (or I can wear it under a blazer to look like I’m in on the shirts-with-words trend while obscuring the actual words).

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A quick Saturday-before-Palm Sunday visit to the Garment District to rent a donkey costume:

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I hadn’t been here in about 15 years… last time I was a college student on a budget, digging through the pay-by-the-pound section:

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I’ve since graduate to the racks, where I found some great patterns…

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…and consignment store prices. I tried on three Light Summer finds.

I’m on the hunt for a chambray dress, but this one was too baggy, and for the prices I wanted something just right:

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A yellow cashmere(!) Lord & Taylor sweater that was great except for being too short – when I raised my arms, out came the midriff: IMG_20180323_121255582

And a pink top in which I absolutely swam:

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Last but not least, a quick stop into Restoration Project in Belmont. This is a small store supporting a non-profit that trains adolescents & adults with brain disorders and injuries in the furniture restoration trade; as you might imagine, they have a great selection of furniture. So it’s already a great cause; and somehow, unlike many other small stores linked to deserving local charities that end up with a hodge podge of meh selections, this store is packed full of modern, fresh, quality finds. I buy something every single time I stop in, and often come home with a new closet favorite.

This time:

Nope – great rise on these Kancan jeans but sausage calves down below:

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Practically no-rise on these otherwise great white jeans (insert rant number 3 about lowrise pants – and get off my lawn!):

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Such a fun, mermaid-y look in great Light Summer colors…

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…that was too big. Plus the yoke was a dingy, cheap-looking white:

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The colors on this silk Ann Taylor button down were glorious, but it was a size too big (fixed by a tie in the front) and had a few snags. What do you think – should I have bought it and styled it thus?

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This Eva Mendes skirt is pretty awesome in terms of feel – very lush – and architectural detailing. I love the built-in belt for definition:

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But it was at least a size (maybe 2?) too small.

Here are some shorts that hit me in all the wrong places and are way too baggy in the legs:

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Here’s on I brought home – great drape, length, and detail with that center pleat…

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…but although it has Light Summer colors in it, the grey in the pattern makes it feels so…muted…compared to my recently re-chromatized look:

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Meh. We’ll see how I feel about it, maybe over my purple pants.

Speaking of purple, Restoration Project was in rare form with the Light Summer purples. Check out this strapless gown I wish I had somewhere to wear:

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And this purple men’s v-neck sweater in Italian merino wool by Express that became my Good Friday outfit:

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And this sleeveless crop-ish silk top by Bloomingdale’s, two sizes too large:

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I feel like all the cool Instagram kids are wearing crop tops likes this with highwaisted jeans. I think maybe I could pull it off, especially as a fun (and inexpensive) experiment, except for the fact that it’s so wide:

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What would you do with this top if you were me? Try to tighten it up with some hand sewing, while still leaving enough flex room to get it over my head? Wear it as-is and pretend it’s on purpose?

You can see more of the sleeveless top’s extra fabric in this pic of a vintage maxi skirt I nabbed. The skirt is super comfy with its flat front and elastic waistband and I liked the kicky little pleats in front:

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I plan to wear it with my Saltwater sandals and a tank this summer, but in a better color. I want to dye it a color other than this 1980s peach, which is not Light Summer (or particularly appealing). Thoughts on a color to choose?

And last but not least, a vintage Maggy London dress I considered wearing for Easter for about a minute – and rejected, mostly because I couldn’t figure out whether the shoulders would look good once I removed the shoulder pads:

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Happy Easter/chag Pesach sameach to those who celebrate!

 

Thrift Finds: February 2018

As I continue in my Light Summer wardrobe overhaul, February has been a month of delicious thrift finds!

I stumbled upon an incredible wonderland in Waltham called Global Thrift with a huge selection, decent prices, and a friendly, fun-to-be-around staff. (Seriously, if you get into a discussion with the cashier about how your cousins dolled you up and made you lip sync to Linda Ronstadt songs when you were little, it’s a good day.)

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have caught my IG story showcasing the racks and racks of clothes, which are color-sorted, neat, and uncrammed (I’m looking at you, local Goodwills). They have several well-lit dressing rooms that don’t need to be unlocked because they’re right by the cashiers (looking at you again, GW). Between a visit on Monday and a visit on Friday (can you tell I love this place?) there was new stuff on the racks.

They are a for-profit, locally owned business; they support a foundation working to end homelessness and they give vouchers to folks at a local shelter in need clothes. My kind of people.

Let’s start with the misses, just for fun.

I’m on the hunt for light-colored blazers; this cool Zara number with no collar looks great buttoned:

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But I like my blazers to look good unbuttoned, too, and alas, it bells out in a way I do not care for:

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The baggy sleeves and special item $15 price weren’t doing it for me either. I had faith I’d find something better.

This green blazer was a perfect match for Light Summer’s palette but was made out of cheap, stiff, shiny stuff – nope:

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Too bad, as it fit decently.

 

Next up, some blouses – looking ahead to spring!

The color is just a bit too muted on this salmon number, plus it was baggy and mediocre quality fabric

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Which is too bad, because look at the cool button details on the back:

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I’m not a huge fan of color blocking, and the fabric was cheap; but the green on this blouse was a perfect Light Summer color:

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Too tight in the chest!

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Lovely blues, great cut, but that slick/stiff feel of cheap…poly? in this Liz Claiborne shirt – I’m used to better from her. Plus it was a little

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Can you tell by my smile that I love the print on this Van Heusen tee? It’s a perfect Light Summer hue, its Provençal-style fabric reminds me of happy days in the south of France, and I dig the split hem and navy blue back (hard to see, sorry!). It is about two sizes too large, though, as evidenced by its hospital gown chic:

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I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled on online secondhand sites for it in a smaller size.

This tee had a great mix of Light Summer white and pink with some darker Winter pinks in there – but too big:

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Baggy, saggy fabric made this Banana Republic top in a great purpley taupe a NO:

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A dress with awesome pleats & salmon color, a not-awesome stain, and a size (or three) too big:

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The awesome Light Summer green of this Gap vest – which, sadly, was too big – is just making me beam:

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Plus how adorable is that faux fur hood? I’ll be looking for you on the internet in a better size, green vest:

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Corduroys by D. Jeans in a great soft grey that fit fine in the legs but were a little too loose in the waist:

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I’ve learned that that give, while it feels minor in the fitting room, equals constant hitching up in real life, and I want to spare my congregation & my colleagues from clergy crack. You’re welcome.

Still on the misses, here’s a sweater by Pink Rose that was both too warm in color and too see-through – I want to be able to wear my sweaters without a layer underneath:

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And now, on to the hits!

First up, some amazing drawstring pants by Zara Men. I’ve thrifted a pair of Zara Men pants before and loved the slim but slightly slouchy fit and the huge POCKETS that men’s pants have. (There’s a whole rant in there about why women’s pockets are so tiny – sexism + keeping the handbag industry profitable being the short version. I’ll spare you.)

Anyway, look at this linen chambray! I die:

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Here’s a better pic, just so you can glory in them with me:

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Come warm weather, I’m getting my steamer out and these babies are getting WORN.

I surprised myself by liking this Old Navy dress with a pleated skirt. The pattern was simple and fun, the blue can pass for Light Summer; but mostly the fabric felt uber-soft and lovely against my skin. It’s a tad bit big in the bust, but I have plans for that:

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Another linen summery item, this time a charcoal-and-white striped Girl Krazy blouse with roll-tab sleeves (my favorite). I can’t wait to wear it with trousers and a blazer for a menswear/gentlewoman chic feel. Bonus: it’s new with tags:

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And a smooth-as-silk poly tunic with brass studs and ace tailoring by Pomelo – SO excited to wear this one:

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A couple of Light Summer sweaters to improve my winter sweater palette – Gap Designed & Crafted followed by Loft:

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I love the texture of both of these:

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The side seam with overlapping hem is a great detail:

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And let’s finish this where we started, with a couple of Light Summer blazers – yes!

First up, a slightly iridescent grey number by Oasis with a dramatic, long ‘n’ lean lapel and a couple of tucks in each shoulder for an understated pouf:

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Look at that trim line! So refreshing when the vent on blazers so often sticks out funny in the back:

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Another long and lean lapel with some funky notches happening in this Kenar light oatmeal blazer – yes please on that smooth silhouette!

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Again with the good fit on the vent:

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Let’s see those two in better lighting:

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Yes. Please.

Thanks thrifting gods – I’ll see you next month. Mwah!

November, December & January Thrift Finds

The end of the year was busy enough at work that I didn’t showcase my thrift finds from December…or November! So I’m covering them here along with January. This will probably feel like overload but most of it was actually thrifted in January – that’s what happens when you switch color palettes! Rest assured, I’ve given away as much as I’ve thrifted, with more donations sure to come.

Let’s bring some order to this giant mountain of finds.

First up, online thrift scores, covered in more detail here:

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Abercrombie & Fitch waterfall cardigan; Lands’ End plaid flannel; Rock & Republic skinny jeans

 

Next, my first attempts at thrifting within my Light Summer color palette (read more here and here):

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Chaps; J. Crew

Ironically, I think both of these are a little too bright for Light Summer. I don’t looooove either of them (fit on the pink one is a bit loose at the waist, while the blue one is a bit too boxy and, well, cable knit) but I’d keep the pink one if the color were a better fit. I’m tempted to bleach it to see if I can get the color to fade a smidge; anyone tried this at home and care to share your tips?

My next round of Light Summer thrifting yielded better color matches (although those yellow pants may need a bit of fading, too – and I’m still not sure how to style the purple ones), but I went all Baskin Robbins on it and ended up with a bunch of colors that are overwhelming to wear together:

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Calvin Klein; Banana Republic; Forever 21; no label; Banana Republic

And a few dresses I’m really excited about that won’t make their debut until spring/summer:

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Gap, S. Wear

Plus some Red Sox, because that will always be my color palette:

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Luckily for me, reader Kim made a great comment right as I was resurfacing from this rainbow deep dive suggesting I focus on neutrals with some pops of color. So my next thrift run yielded this:

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Gap; INC; Loft; Ralph Lauren; F by Façonnable; Elie Tahari; Bandolino; J. Crew

 

And finally, a touch more color, because I can’t help myself:

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CALS; Forever 21; H&M; Zara; J. Crew

Pretty sure the light teal button down is a touch too bright, but it fits like a dream; and pretty sure the tie-front Zara blouse isn’t a perfect white for me. As I’m learning, though, you can fudge a bit on some aspects of your palette if the rest of your outfit is spot on. We’ll see how these work; the tie-front blouse is probably the first of many since I am very much feeling the tie/bow front blouse again after a few years of hiatus.

How cute is that cactus shirt?! And we know I love a popover blouse. Here’s a closeup of the print:

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Here’s what a couple of successfully Light Summer outfits have looked like lately, thanks to these finds:

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Colors lighter in real life on this one:
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Looking at these reminds me I forgot the SHOES I scored online this month – both Trotters, my go-to brand for granny chic shoes that run narrow enough to fit my skinny feet, and both a champagne-y gold in line with the brushed metallics that complement Light Summer coloring:

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Love the low-ish heels and the woven texture (very similar to these).

And here it is again in oxfords (!!):

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This is definitely in the gentlewoman-chic category. They’re a bit tight with socks on so they’ll probably stay indoors until spring; we’ll see if I live up to them or not!

 

And now, the misses!

Too orange:

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Great color (despite bad lighting that makes it look super saturated) – but lumpy right around the waist:

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Too small- yeep!

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Too big:

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Also too big – and a bit too fussy:IMG_20180118_150858959

Great colors, wrong sizes:

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Boden; Forever 21; Lands’ End; J. Crew

These Vince pants fit ah-MA-zingly but the weird painted stripe on the side made them look like badly done DIY. I think they were going for a tuxedo pant effect, which I totally would have gone for if it had been fabric:

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That’s all for now – I found some good stuff today, though, so check back next month for more thrift finds!

Recent Online Thrift Scores + Online Thrifting Tips

Remember how I swore online thrifting was not for me, but in the same post admitted I had just ordered a pair of pants off of Poshmark? Well, they arrived, along with two other online finds – and unlike the first two times I tried online thrifting (here and here), these fit perfectly and I’m happy with my purchases.

What changed?

I got smarter. Here are my three finds along with some tips for acing online thrifting.

1. Real life references. You’re much closer to guaranteed success if you’re looking for a version of something you’ve already tried on, whether it’s something you spotted at the thrift store or something in your own closet that you’re looking to replace or get in another color.

Last time I went to Sister Thrift, I happened to try on a pair of cream-colored Rock and Republic jeans and fell in love. They were soft like butter on my skin, just the right off-white color for fall and winter, and had enough heft to keep my legs warm in the cold, cold weather. And they were a great skinny fit that would offer another option to my roomier cream corduroys.

The only problem? They were too tight. I could button them just fine, but they squeezed in all the wrong places – I’m not a fan of spray-on legs or pulling in the crotch:

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A near miss. (Or a near hit, as Victor Borge would say.)

See that teeny, tiny bit of distressing on the pocket? That was another reason I liked these pants – the distress gave them some textural interest and made me feel like a micro-badass. (“Micro” is how you describe distressing so innocuous that no one at work will notice.)

Since I knew what size was just a smidge too small, and since they fit great length- and waist-wise, I went a-hunting online for the next size up. I figured that the stretch in the fabric would make up for any extra room in the waist. Lo and behold,on my first visit to Poshmark I found a pair in my desired size, and after sitting on it for several days (I was a bit gunshy after my previous failures), I bought ’em:

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Hello, lovelies.

One thing I like about Poshmark is the option to make an offer. If something has been up for more than a few days, chances are the seller will be open to negotiating on price a bit. In response to your offer, they can either counteroffer or ignore it; if ignored, the offer expires in 24 hours so you’re not on the hook 6 weeks later for something you no longer want. Thanks to my painfully polite Midwestern upbringing, I’m not much of a bargainer, but the face-saving outs built into this system let you avoid all the awkwardness of telling somebody you’ll pay them less than they’re asking. And if they want to be firm on price, they just won’t offer the “make me an offer” option.

Amateur tip: Make an offer that’s the asking price minus shipping. If the seller accepts, you essentially get free shipping while not gouging their profit too much. After all, this person is making available to you something you either haven’t been able to find in your local thrift store or don’t want to take the time to look for. Throw them a bone.

That being said, online prices mean you’re paying 5 times or more what you’d pay in a thrift store, and there are no returns, so…

 

2. Only buy what you know you’ll wear, both in terms of fit and style. This means I stay away from certain categories of clothing unless I’ve tried on the exact same item IRL but need a different color or better condition. (Blazers, I’m looking at you – I’ve almost pulled the trigger on a couple of beauties but it’s just too hard to know how a new-to-me blazer will fit in the chest, shoulders, etc.)  I’d also skip pants unless (like above) it’s a brand and fit I know works for me. Just too much room for error in waist size and rise.

Something more forgiving, though, like an open cardigan, is a far less risky proposition. I learned a season or two ago that I am not a cardigan lightweight; no matter how fetching the pattern, I can’t stand layers getting scrunched up under thin, tight-sleeved cardis, plus I can never find a way to button them (or not?) that doesn’t look twee. So I opted for a giant abominable snowman of an oversized cardigan – the kind that fits well in the shoulders but goes down to the hips and is substantial enough to really keep you toasty – and have never looked back. Happily, their roominess also means you can fudge a little when guesstimating re: the fit of an online find.

I currently have one such cardigan in my closet…

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Such great colors.

…but went looking for a second, both for variety and for wash days. Because sometimes it’s so dang cold that you are wearing a ginormous cardigan even while you sleep (hello New Hampshire nights).

I knew I wanted one with some good drapery (ha) to keep the silhouette interesting, and maybe some leather trim detail, for color contrast and, again, visual interest. I spent more time scrolling through Poshmark than I would like to admit, and came up with a lusciously thick, taupey-grey knit with caramel leather trim by Abercrombie & Fitch:

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The colors are similar to the ones in my other cardigan, which meant it would go with everything that played well with my existing cardigan; and the waterfall instead of shawl collar plus the solid-color-with-trim  instead of a knit pattern would keep it from looking too samey.

And we know how I feel about zipper details:

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Who knew you could be so chic, so subtle, so high quality, A&F? You appear to no longer be the debaucherous, obnoxiously overbranded retailer of the malls of my youth.

This cardigan was available in multiple sizes from different sellers, so I got on A&F’s website to check their sizing. I also read every description sellers had posted, and several remarked on how thick and luxurious the knit felt. That’s what I wanted – not some flimsy coverup, but a workhorse that would keep me WARM. My research made me pretty sure I’d love it, and I do.

Amateur tip: for the love of all that is holy, use filters. You get much better results if you use a site’s filters instead of just searching for key words. Not to mention – you know how eBay, ThredUp, and for Pete’s sake even Google’s shopping search results eventually come to an end? Without enough filters, Poshmark’s algorithms will just keep. bringing. you. listings until your eyeballs are ready to pop out of your head. It’s a nefarious plot to fry your brain into spending inordinate amounts of time (and money) on their site, and the only way around it is to tick every box you can find in an attempt to narrow down your search. Sometimes this means doing a search multiple times using different variables, but trust me, your brain will thank you.

 

3. Shop for specific holes in your closet. The world of online secondhand shopping has exploded in the last few years; there are literally tens of thousands of items for you to peruse on any given site (Poshmark, ThredUp, ReStitch, eBay, Schoola, etc.). It’s also easy to find quality, even designer brands that may be harder to find in a brick-and-mortar thrift store, which means that if you don’t maintain focus, you can end up spending a lot more than you planned on “incredible” deals. (That’s in quotation marks because it’s only incredible if it will really pull its weight in your wardrobe.)

The story of one such wardrobe hole: on the first chilly weekend of fall, I saw a family of three at our holiday fair all sporting plaid flannel shirts.  “It’s the uniform here,” they enthused – “a necessity!” I knew plaid flannel would be right at home in my casual work setting and that I would get a lot of use out of a heavier button down, both over and under other layers.

And I knew which brands to shop for quality. This family was, of course, all wearing L.L. Bean, because – New England. But I found a gorgeous colorway by Lands’ End on Poshmark, and figured that as a native Midwesterner I could sport the Wisconsin-based version of L.L. Bean with integrity:

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So. Dang. Snuggly.

Look at those COLORS! Delicious.  I may have worn it two days in a row:

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Duck boots + cable knit sweater + plaid flannel; the New Englander transformation is complete.

 

Last but not least:

4. Learn to sit with your finds before you buy. It’s easy to feel anxious based on how many people have “liked” or are “watching” a particular posting and then get a bad case of trigger finger. But that’s how you end up with pieces you regret.  When you find something you’re tempted to buy right away, use the “like” feature or simply bookmark the page and come back to it after a few days.  If it’s still there and you’re still excited about it, you’ll know it’s not just FOMO clouding your judgment. If it’s not there, fear not; most things you’ll find on these sites are mainstream enough that they’ll resurface at some point, maybe even in a better size or a color you like more.

 

What tips and lessons learned do you have to share about online thrifting?  What items would you never buy without first trying on?

Sweater Edit

Y’all. I had a little sweater/wardrobe freak out a few weeks ago. After my winter wardrobe post went up, I did some impulse thrifting and ended up with a sweater drawer that looked like this:

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Holy exploding sweaters, Batman! You can’t even see all the knitwear stuffed in there.

So I had a little think about what I really wanted in my sweater collection – textures and colors I love and that have some variation, plus comfort and a great fit – and I pared it down to this:
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Two of the above (upper middle) are sleeveless undershirts for layering. Sweater-wise, a few pieces got moved to my “loungewear” shelf or tucked away for next fall; but many more were donated.

Like this one and its blue-grey sibling, both post-wardrobe post additions:

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I so wish these vintage Jaeger wool cowl necks would have made the cut (pun intended), but something about the cut makes them ride up after about 2 minutes of wearing. Nope.

I also said goodbye to this Ivanka Trump number for feeling too artificial (no, seriously) and laying oddly on my torso:

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The original price tag was $98 but I just can’t see it – the feel is not nearly luxurious enough; my hand slides off in a weird way.

Here are the two I added in. A deliciously warm grey sweater with partially dropped sleeves and a split hem – unexpected deliciousness from Old Navy:

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With a little closeup on the texture – this thing is SO. INCREDIBLY. SOFT:

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This herringbone/bling/Peter Pan collared J. Crew number is just an excuse to wear something ridiculously festive:

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And I LOVE IT. Not classic enough to keep forever, but for $6 it’s worth all the fun I’ll have with it in the next few months/years.

And finally, this wool blend from Nordstrom’s that’s a beautiful taupe and has a slightly oversized cut (with split hems!):

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Please ignore the snail-trail line on the torso – I had just steamed it and didn’t let some of the condensation dry.

So now my sweater lineup looks like this:

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A little more trimmed down (12 instead of 14), a little more variety in color, and every piece something I love to wear.

Speaking of sweaters, they are easy to accidentally shrink in the dryer. If you have something in need of unshrinking, try using this tutorial from the good people at Tips Bulletin (no compensation for sharing this; they just suggested it might be useful to my readers and I agree!).
How’s your sweater game lately?

Thrifting Dupes for Online Finds

Sometimes I am bad and go surfing on the secondhand interwebs for things I wish I had in my closet. It never ends well (see here and here). Lately, I’ve had a bit of restraint, and have been rewarded with in-person dupes for my internet finds.

It started with this French Connection sweater, which was, alas, too small for me:

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I loved that caramel-and-cream combo and the textured pattern, so I went looking online for that same sweater, with no luck. So instead of keeping an eye out online, I kept an eye out on my thrifting rounds for something similar:

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Cream & caramel colors? Check. Textured pattern? Check. This L.L. Bean sweater does the job, and for a lot less than the price of an online find.

Ta-da:

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In my French Connection searches online, I came across this fabulous tomato red number:

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Source

I loved the color and the split/hi-lo hem. The price was right ($11 – although I still had to pay $6.49 for shipping). But there was no way to tell if it would fit. I put it out of my mind by thinking about how disappointing it would be to have it show up and be too small.

But then, lo and behold, for less than the selling price of the French Connection sweater online, my very first Eileen Fisher find hit the nail on the head:

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It’s 100% merino wool and a great fall color:

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The lesson I’m supposed to learn from this is that when I’m tempted to snap up some online find, I’d do better to wait and let the thrift gods send me something just as good (or better!).

Buuuuuuut… after letting them sit for a few weeks, I just bought some cream-colored skinny jeans off the internet. I tried on a smaller size in the thrift store – that was my inspiration – so I am reasonably confident they’ll fit. Who knows, though – I’m 0 for 2 in terms of online thrift finds success. Let’s just hope this one breaks the streak!

 

What thrifting habit do you *know* you should give up, but you have a hard time leaving alone?

 

PS To all my American readers, Happy Thanksgiving! (And a VERY belated Thanksgiving to my Canadian readers as well.) May you thrift super-chic outfits with stretchy waistbands to accommodate all the delicious food you’ll eat this week!

Thrift Finds: October 2017

First up, I want to share with you all Nadia at Happy Malista’s recap from her 10×10 challenge; she shared her outfits as well as outfits from a few other bloggers whose challenges she enjoyed, including yours truly! It’s sometimes hard finding a style blogger whose style is close enough to your own to resonate but different enough to inspire you; Nadia’s 10×10 hits that sweet spot for me. She’s convinced me I need to replace the blazer I used to own that was kind of a spring take on moss green…

And now, on to my thrift finds from last month!  Starting with the NOs:

A great soft dark grey turtleneck with split hem, made of supima cotton, that was too baggy – sigh:

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A Talbots sweater that made me feel like I live in a ski chalet – look at that great fringe!

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A wonky fit in the torso, though:

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I’m on the hunt for a caramel-colored turtleneck but this one was giant in the armpits:

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It hid its ginormous pits well, though:

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This dark cognac trench was a dream – 100% wool, and just had so much character:

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It was a little TOO oversized on me, and the color a bit intense – see how it’s the first thing your eye is drawn to in the picture, instead of my face? Sign of a tone mismatch.  Anyway, this would have fit my fantasy life (city dweller with a 20 minute walk across the Loop to get to my office) but not my real life (quick jog down the block to my office, then where do I stash this monster?), so I left it there.  Tear.

It’s hard to tell, but this riding jacket by Ralph Lauren was too big on me. The cut is very equestrian; can’t you see it paired with jodhpurs?

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But here’s where it shines – velvet collar and some purple woven in with that moss green. It’s like heather in a blazer!

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Various pants I tried out because I thought I needed grey jeans (probably not true):

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Several sweaters that didn’t make the cut, such as:

Loft – loved the diamond pattern but it was scratchy-atchy-atchy, as one of my kid’s storybooks says:

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Same with this Gap sweater – scratchy, and that neck plus those sleeves totally remind of the year 2000:

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Too much blue in this green sweater by Land’s End – but it fit perfectly! (Their tops are usually too wide in the torso for me):

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Italian wool from Banana Republic, too tight (that smudge is the mirror, not a sweater defect):

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And a J. Crew dress that underwhelmed, I think mostly because it was short enough to need leggings, but lightweight enough to show any lumps and folds from underlayers:

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That bottom half is navy, despite its greenish tinge in this photo.

 

And now, for the winners!

You’re familiar by now with my new cable knit sweater by Workshop by Andrea Jovine:

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Here’s my new goose down coat by Larry Levine; it retails for up to $200 but thrifted for $20. I may not be psychologically ready for the cold, but I will be sartorially ready for it!

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It’s just this side of dark charcoal, so hopefully it will not wash me out quite as much as pure black. Honestly, though, if I’m warm and I paid 10% of MSRP, I don’t care. Functional wins out over everything else in this case.

Here’s my first Eileen Fisher find! A bright, orangey red that is sort of intensely bright – what a great fall color:

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Check out that split hem!

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To wit, here it is styled:

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And this tan/cream patterned sweater by L.L. Bean:

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There’s a cat balancing on my phone!

…with a fun hi-lo split hem:

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Here it is styled:

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And last but not least, this merino wool plaid scarf in colors that complement my wardrobe in stellar fashion:

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Overall, a pretty good month.  Onward to November!

Did anything in my finds catch your eye?  What did you thrift this past month?