Thrift Camaraderie + A Relaxed Posting Schedule

Hello Thrifters!  Just a note to let you know that I am entering a busy season in my personal/work lives and will not have a regular posting schedule over the next few weeks.  I hope to still post occasionally, just not on a schedule. Because let’s be honest, nothing stops me from thrifting, so I might as well write about it!  Making sure I have the time to write quality, engaging posts for you all is another thing, though, so I’m giving myself permission to be flexible.

I am so grateful for your readership and your willingness to be flexible with me!  Your engagement in and enjoyment of this site makes the whole thing really rewarding and I am absolutely thrilled that you read and contribute to the wonderful community that is Thriftshop Chic.

In the spirit of that community, check out this week’s thrift camaraderie encounter. (TC = chatting up your fellow thrifters, particularly giving/asking for advice on whether to purchase a particular thrift find. It’s a special kind of interaction that thrift stores seem to encourage and I LOVE IT.)

This woman needed something to wear for an evening event to raise awareness of and fight against rape and sexual assault.  Teal and purple are sexual assault and domestic assault awareness colors, respectively, so this long-sleeved romper was pretty much perfect:

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I can’t get over the sequins (must be the 5% of me that wants to dress like Luke Spiller), and we both agreed that the long sleeves balance out the leg exposed by the shorts. Did I mention it has pockets?

She said she had looked several places and finally came to Goodwill and hit the jackpot.  Yes!  Thrifting is the perfect way to find an outfit or accessories for a one-of-a-kind event at low cost.  She may never wear this romper again (although I totally hope she does), but for $6.99 she doesn’t have to – she can just donate it back and let someone else enjoy it in all its sequined glory.

 

Have a great weekend, Thrifters!

May Thrift Finds

First up, the rejects:

By Loft, a blouse-with-skirt number whose colors I loved but whose drop sleeves and sheerness I did not love:
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I don’t remember who made this but it was too big in the bust and the neck felt too formal for my life:
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This blazer by Stile Benetton made me look like a fussy governess from the 1950s:
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This lemony dress of sunshine was too big (and probably too Sandy from Grease for my personal style):
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Meow!  I LOVED the color block/print thing happening on this Ann Taylor dress but not the way it pulled across my hips (it was too small):WP_20170517_13_02_42_Pro

Ugh, these smudgy mirrors!  you can barely tell that this sweater has some lovely gold pattern on the sleeves.  I liked it fine but decided it was too similar to other sweaters I own, plus pretty dark for my skin tone:

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I cried that this vintage handmade beauty didn’t fit me:

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Check out that print! And the buttons… such a great pattern:WP_20170519_15_03_32_Pro

Great lapels on this blazer but too big in the sleeves (and everywhere else):
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This burgundy moto jacket by Mossimo is so cool, and yet so cropped (particularly from the side).  I don’t think I’ll ever be ready for a cropped jacket, mostly because if it’s cold enough for a tweedy jacket like this, it’s too cold to leave my middle protected by just one layer of fabric:
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Last but not least, completely for your viewing pleasure, a tweed suit by Gap circa… 1980-something?  1990?  The only thing I loved about this was the navy suede collar and how fun it was to pose in:
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So itchy!

 

And now, the keepers. As you may remember I’ve been looking for some more casual dresses, which I found; a fancier-looking one slipped in there as well.

Let’s start with this charcoal shirt dress by Gap. Gives the shape I like, it’s all cotton (great for weather where your clothes need to breathe), and I can layer it for fall/winter as the color will go perfectly with my winter cardigan:
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setting off that blond hair…

Patterned beige and white gathered dress.  I felt like Queen Letizia of Spain in this:
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More in focus:
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It is too big through the arms/armpits (see below) but I couldn’t resist it (despite the fact that it’s BEIGE and the pattern looks like a wall sconce). I just felt so long and elegant in it, and I am confident I can use some of the tricks from New Dress a Day to remedy the arms/armpits…once I finally get our sewing machine out and re-teach myself how to thread it.

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Droopy sleeves/big armpits ahoy.

Speaking of sewing things myself, this spunky little striped Old Navy number with great stretch and excellent sleeves (this length might be a new fave) had a few little holes along the side seam (next photo), which I hand-sewed shut one evening in front of a few episodes of Spirit (or maybe part of Star Wars…my kid is big into horses and Yoda at the moment).

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See those shady holes?  Already fixed!
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In action here:

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So this one belongs in the “keepers turned into rejects” pile.  Self, you should have known that buying some version of this top for the third time was dumb because you had already rejected it twice and its scratchy, too-big ways would come back to haunt you:WP_20170519_14_52_21_Pro

I put it on once at home and said “nope.”  You all will be glad to know that even experienced thrifters still make mistakes.
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This, however, was a big ol’ winner. The light olive color is right up my alley/skin tone and the turned-up sleeves feel polished and current:

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The Gucci-esque closure (which actually works) is a great detail that takes it from neutral territory to funky and interesting:WP_20170525_14_08_48_Pro

In action(movie):
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I also got some Etienne Aigner brown boots for $7 which will look great with this dress + leggings come fall. I’ll have to showcase these boots in a another post because the photos I got were super blurry.
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That’s it!  How was your May, thrift-wise?  Anything fun on your thrift list?

Vintage Bracelet Makeover

Last Saturday I finally got to visit Chalice Thrift at the First Christian Church in Decatur. (Church nerd note: they’re Disciples of Christ, which is the cousin to my denomination, and they do really rad justice and service work with the proceeds from the thrift store.)

They’ve been closed the last 3 times I’ve been by, so I was thrilled to have a look inside.  Plus they had Danish butter cookies and lemonade for all, and Danish butter cookies are the way to my heart (especially the kind with crystallized sugar on top).

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Victory is mine.

They also grow blackberries which made my child happy (well, that and the cookies. And their lovely clean bathroom they let her use):

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Inside the shop was set up like a boutique, with different rooms for women’s, men’s, kids, housewares, books (a veritable library!), etc.:

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I wanted to get back to park time* with my family, so I made a pretty quick sweep. (*Atlantans with small people should check out the Decatur Toy Park. Sponsored by this same church, it’s basically a fenced-in park filled with larger-sized toys, particularly wheeled ones, donated for all to use. There are also swings, small slides, and a mini free library, and it’s across the street from the thrift store. It’s also just down the block from Dancing Goats if your toddler woke you up earlier than nature intended and you need some coffee. Win-win.)

During my sweep, this vintage earring/bracelet combo immediately caught my eye:

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I’ve long been a fan of vintage costume jewelry for the sheer chutzpah it brings to an outfit. My grandma had a lot of great pieces I’ve enjoyed wearing over the years, although I’ve scaled back from wearing complete earring/necklace matching sets in the same outfit.

So I wasn’t sure what I would do with this set, particularly since I prefer cuff bracelets to linked ones. But I couldn’t resist the palm frond motif or the golden color, halfway between taupe and caramel, that would go with so much of my wardrobe. It felt like a fresh, subtle take on the palm frond trend that’s been going strong the last year or two:

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Mmm, that vintage patina…

I bought it without a plan and wondered if I’d basically just donated $4 to Chalice Thrift (not a bad thing, but I like to spend thrift money on things I’ll actually, you know, wear.)

Later that day it occurred to me that I could make this bracelet into a necklace by removing the clasp on one side and attaching chain to both ends.  A quick perusal of my miscellaneous jewelry-making bits confirmed that I didn’t have enough chain (or the right color) for what I had in mind.

So it was time for a trip to the Goodwill to hunt for parts. (We also took the opportunity to teach our daughter how to wisely spend her birthday money; $8 goes a long way in the kids’ section of a thrift store. I’m proud to say that after playing with a bunch of cheap toys she bought one book and kept the rest of her moolah for another day/charity donation.)

In the jewelry section I found this number:

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(My friend pointed out that I could’ve gone to Michael’s and maybe spent less buying new chain, but I’d rather buy secondhand and experience the thrill of the hunt. Plus this was only $4 and I’m getting a lot of other beads/jewelry bits out of it, including some to make earrings for this same friend. Win-win again!)

Using jewelry pliers I took out the chain sections, including the short braided section (on the left middle in the photo above), and left the lobster claw clasp where it was.  I attached the braided chain to one side of the single chain, then took two of the necklace’s jump rings (small metal circles used to connect chain to beads/hang pendants) and used them to attach the chain pieces to the bars at either end of the former bracelet. You can see the jump rings and the braided chain section up close here:

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I like how the braided part adds a little asymmetrical interest.

This shot gives a better sense of where the necklace falls – I can adjust the length from almost choker down to this “bib” size simply by attaching the lobster claw to any of the chain links:

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Here’s another few shots of my new necklace in action from Instagram – when I make “new” jewelry I’m excited about, I tend to wear the heck out of it:

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What do y’all think of my $8 vintage bracelet makeover?  Have you Atlantans ever visited Chalice Thrift?  Scroll down to comment!

Thrifting Upgrades: Side by Sides

Last week I promised side-by-side pics of my new (to me) and old striped tees. The former I stumbled upon in the thrift store and realized it would make a good thrift upgrade for the latter.

On top, Madewell; on the bottom, LOGG by H&M:
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You can’t really see it in the bottom photo, but I’m pointing to a side seam that twists all the way around to the front – blech. While we’re discussing its misshapen qualities, the LOGG shirt’s neckline has become asymmetrical. Although it’s super soft, I prefer its smaller stripes better, and it looks a little less casual than the Madewell shirt (shorter, more form-fitting sleeves, no overlock stitch on the sideseam), the Madewell tee is the winner in my book. It has higher quality fabric, is better cut (which means no twisting seams or odd necklines), and the silhouette is of the skimming, tunic shape I love.

Also in the name of comparing upgrades to the items they replaced, here is a much better shot of the color on the (grape? burgundy? – by Loft, on the right) cords I thrifted in lieu of the (wine? cranberry? – by Style & Co., on the left) ones that were too short and loose in spots:

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It’s much darker than my other winter colors, but I think it’s actually going to pair very well with the lighter tops I have, tops which will put some distance between the pants and my face so the intense hue won’t overwhelm my pale skin.

What do you think of my upgrades? What have you thrift-upgraded lately?

April Thrift Finds

This month’s thrifting window was half as long as normal due to my thrifting fast, but I still found some good pieces.  That fast focused my thrifting and I ended up sticking mostly to what was on my (trimmed down) thrift list.

(FYI I wrote that list mid-April but didn’t publish it until after the 10×10 was over; so it may seem like I magically wrote the list Tuesday and found all this stuff in two days, but really I had the whole second half of April to work from that list. And I got lucky!)

Let’s take a look.

Running shirt by Champion
I’ve stepped up my running game and in this hot climate I wanted another sleeveless top to prevent asphyxiating anyone with BO due to re-wearing sweaty shirts before laundry day rolled around. This one was grabbed on a quick thrift with the fam and it’ll do just fine:

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Glad our sink was clean!

Sky blue sleeveless blouse by Dalia Collection
I mentioned in my thrift list that I was looking for another sleeveless, work-appropriate blouse.  I love the color of this one and the way it drapes. We’ll see if the side slit rides too high for my pants/skirts but I’m hoping not!

The awkward side profile face:
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Sorry its blurry! Uniboob courtesy of sports bra:WP_20170417_17_44_54_Pro


Floral tee 
by Old Navy
Also from my thrift list: one casual tee down, one to go. The colors are great and I love chrysanthemums on clothes. (I think I’ll do a post on that particular preference because I weirdly have three different items covered in chrysanthemums.)

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Palmy beach tee by Loft

Two down, zero to go! I like to have at least one “fun” tee and this is it. It’s relaxed, comfortable, and since it’s Loft (as opposed to, say, Mossimo) the quality is better. I’ve already worn it once over the weekend and I’m looking forward to many more days of feeling eminently tropical in this baby:
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Navy leggings 
– no label
Another item from the thrift list – yippee!  These had the label cut out and unfortunately don’t have the great high-rise waist my American Apparel (RIP) ones did, but they don’t cut into my middle too badly and you won’t be able to see the waistband underneath my dresses anyway:

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Navy dress pants by Alfani

These are dress pants – they are mostly rayon/nylon and have a nice finish on them – but they also have stretch thanks to a healthy dose of spandex. And the hidden secret that makes them eminently fabulous: they have no zipper! or buttons! Just a lovely wide waistband:WP_20170428_11_58_38_Pro

More in focus pics of them in action:
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I’m not in love with all the wrinkles resulting from quiiiite so much stretch, and these aren’t the world’s highest quality pants. But they are a great place holder for me to discover whether I “need” navy dress pants in my life and if so, whether the skinny silhouette is the one I want or if I want more “slim.”  So far I am loving them, and plan to keep an eye out for a “thrift upgrade” – this same kind of pant but better quality.

 

Dark burgundy/purple cords by Loft – not on the list!
At the end of the winter I was feeling pretty disenchanted with my mulberry-esque cords:

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They were too short to properly cover my legs (hello Wicked Witch of the West socks above) and a little too loose; even with tailoring I was always hiking them up. Also, the color was starting to feel played out. That last may just be a reflection of my other feelings about them, or it may be that colored pants don’t have as much staying power as neutral ones.

While searching for navy dress pants I found these, which fit perfectly:
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They’re much darker than my previous ones which made me hesitate – would they overwhelm my winter wardrobe? But I started pairing them with my cold-weather sweaters and tops (an advantage of a streamlined wardrobe is that you can conjure everything up in your head) and thought they’d do pretty well. We’ll have to wait, of course, until fall to see if that assumption bears weight, but in the meantime I’m enjoying having something different to look forward to.  Coming soon: pics with better lighting so you can see the actual color.

 

Also not on the list:

Breton stripe tee by Madewell

I didn’t have a striped tee on my list but this one jumped off the rack at me. I like my striped tees to have as much or more white than navy, otherwise it just feels too dark and overwhelming. With its simple, classic cut and a bit of marling on the white stripes, this puppy fits the bill perfectly:WP_20170428_12_22_25_Pro

It’s much higher quality than the LOGG (H&M) version I had in my drawer for work outfits; that one was cut on such a bias to save fabric that the side seams wrap halfway around my middle. So I’m counting this an a thrift upgrade.  Side by side comparison pics coming soon!

The cut on this one is more relaxed, and the overlock stitch on the side seams and hem make it feel more casual. I’ve already worn it on the weekend and loved it, but since I don’t need a 3rd casual tee and I had enjoyed having something striped in my work wardrobe, I’m going to try it out with my skirts and on casual Fridays.  We’ll see how that blend goes…otherwise I may just end up with more weekend tees than is strictly necessary. (I don’t know why but I just don’t get tired of wearing the same thing on the weekends; maybe my one or two tops always feel fresh after 5 days of office attire?)

T-shirt hem for the win:
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Misses
Here’s a bunch of stuff I didn’t get, for your viewing pleasure:

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Yikes, that dressing room!

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Grammar nerds will commiserate with me that it should be “deepLY.”

Too short:
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I don’t own a racerback bra and don’t want to buy one: WP_20170426_15_13_53_Pro

In my quest for casual tees – too big:
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Too small:
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In my quest for navy dress pants – too big in waist:WP_20170428_11_57_05_Pro

I loved the silhouette on these (more “slim” than skinny) but the fabric was meh and the zipper was broken:
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I so wish these had worked – Bass is good quality and it would be nice to have some open-toed, muted red shoes to give me more summer shoe options but they were too big. Good luck to someone with larger feet!WP_20170426_15_35_05_Pro

 

The end!  What’d y’all thrift this past month?

Spring/Summer Thrift List

My spring thrifting was curtailed a bit by my Lenten thrifting fast, but leaving the Goodwill alone for awhile also brought me a lot of clarity on where I have enough and where I have wardrobe holes.  Thus, my thrift list is on the trimmer side this go-around. Hurrah!

I do have a few other items I’d be happy to pick up or that I want to replace, so I’m dividing my list into three categories:

  • “Need” – an active wardrobe hole I’d like to fill as soon as possible. “Need” is of course relative so it’s going in quotation marks.
  • Replace/upgrade – current item is worn or I’m tired of it, but I will keep wearing it until I find a replacement I love 
  • Long Game – a classic piece I know will serve me for years to come but that isn’t an acute need now. It often takes dedication and patience to find the gems – hence why I say “thrifting is a long game” – so it behooves me to keep my eyes peeled for just that right piece before it becomes a “need” or has to be replaced.

Without further ado… my current thrift list.

“Need
Dressy navy pants
These, but navy, and ankle length (these are a bit short):
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If you’re listening, thrifting gods, I’d be happy with some Vince Camutos or Talbots Hampshire Ankle pants…

Dressy sleeveless top in sky blue or lemon yellow
I loved wearing this coral sleeveless top last year on HOT days and I’d like to add another one so I don’t have to wear this one every day:
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Replace/Upgrade
This beloved blue polkadot blouse, which sadly has a rip in the back (and which I will defiantly wear anyway until I find a replacement): IMG_1173
Yes, those are shoulder pads AND I LOVE THEM.

Navy leggings
I ripped a hole in my American Apparel ones while running in them (poor choice, I know), and while I successfully hid that sucker a few times by just wearing said leggings backward, I’ll need to find a replacement before winter so they can warm up all my cold-weather dresses:
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Casual tees/tanks for summer
I am bored of these; good thing that that’s what thrifting is for! I can donate them back to the thrift store and have zero guilt about having paid an arm and a leg or wanting “new” clothes.
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Long Game
As mentioned above, I’m keeping an eye out for great sheath dresses and a casual stretch or cotton dress since I donated my two that didn’t fit right anymore. I’m also keeping an eye out for a white or off-white blazer to go over my sheath dresses. I have a great white denim jacket but it’s a bit casual for work.

That’s it! It feels good to have a more concise list based on holes I know I have instead of an endless list inspired by “the gimmies.” It’s already made my thrifting trips more focused.

What’s on your thrift list right now?

 

February Thrift Finds

Let’s take a little trip back in time to some February thrift finds.

First up, the rejects.

Edited – I just found two more dress pics on my phone that I somehow skipped!

Handmade blue bamboo sheath
This baby was made out of beautiful fabric in gorgeous colors and I loved the notch neckline.  Alas, it was too big:
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Closeup on that pattern/colors:
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Yellow floral dress by Freaks of Go Go Spectators (since this appears to be the name of an album by the group Spiral Life, I assume this is also handmade)
I love the soft yellow and the thistles on the pattern, but it was TOO TIGHT across the hips:WP_20170215_13_41_43_Pro

Agh, that shoulder ring detail!  I die.  So sad this didn’t work.WP_20170215_13_42_08_Pro

Sweater dress by Loft
You know I love a comfy dress and a leopard print; the hem detail on this is great.  But it was pretty short…

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…and the fit was a little wonky near the bottom.  See how it pooches in on the righthand side?
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Plaid shift dress by Merona
I loved the color and the plaid on this dress but the fabric was cheap and the cut was fugly – much more muumuu than mod.

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Striped/colorblock dress by Gap
This may remind you of another dress I own; so when it felt a little too baggy/summer in Maine (where I do not, alas, live), I said no thanks and gave myself a pat on the back for resisting a pattern/color combo I love but already have.

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Colorblock dress, no
label
I LOVED the color combo here – so bright and sunny! And I’d love to add a yellow dress to my repertoire. Plus look at how classy those pleats are and how pleasantly they symmetrize (new word?) with the darts in the bust!  Alas, the top was a smidge too tight across the chest (see the pulling?) and too big on the collarbone, and the skirt too short.

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Geometric blouse by The Limited
Cheapy fabric made the lovely color (below) and the potentially chic, loose cut all wonky – see how the hem flips up at the bottom and the fabric puckers diagonally across the middle?
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Ivory blazer
I didn’t get a shot of the label on this one. It had an odd combo of modern-looking lines (check out the shawl lapel!)and vintage length and cuff details:

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Striped shortsleeve blouse, Old Navy
I really wanted this to work as a flowy, chic alternative to my cotton tee of similar pattern, but it was just too big.  Boo.

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Old Navy plaid popover blouse
This shirt felt so good on – simple, comfy cotton – and has one of my favorite features – popover! Plus I loved the plaid and the colors.
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From the side, though, you can see that it’s pretty baggy in a not-on-purpose way.  And seeing these pics again I’m glad I didn’t go for it although I was pretty sad at the time because it looks pretty darn casual which relegates it to the weekend, not work-wear territory.  I already have a couple of weekend shirts I love and I don’t care who sees me wear them repeatedly so this one stayed on the rack.WP_20170223_13_49_46_Pro
Collective Concepts blouse
I’ve been looking for a palm print blouse; this had the colors but NOT the pattern.WP_20170223_13_51_55_Pro
Madras plaid shirt dress by Tommy Hilfiger
Great colors, great plaid, great shirt dress!  Just too short to wear without leggings (and who wants to wear a gorgeously summery shirtdress like this with leggings?) and too blocky/baggy in key areas:

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Hexagon sleeveless blouse by Gap Designed & Crafted
Love the colors in this and the pattern, and I definitely could use another sleeveless blouse in my work wardrobe.  But I could baaaarely button this sucker across the chest.  You can see that a bit here:
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…and even more here in the back:
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I’ve seen this one in the thrift store before and now know this size doesn’t fit me, so I’ll be on the lookout for a larger version.

 

Yellow ikat sleeveless blouse by Cremieux
Same story here; just too small.  But wouldn’t burst of yellow look great over white pants or skirt?  Going to keep my eyes peeled for something similar…
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And now, time for the keepers!  We got a lot this go-round.

Orange sheath dress by Anne Klein
I found this dream of a creamsicle-colored sleeveless sheath the same day I had my coat dress epiphany. This dress is a good orange for my skin (I think? at any rate it’s not a bad one) and it will be a great work dress, paired gloriously with my chrysanthemum cardigan and/or my white denim jacket (see below).

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Plus this or this:
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The accompanying coat dress did not, however, make the cut, due both to baggy sleeves and giving me a She-Ra chest that I have in no way merited:WP_20170209_13_59_56_Pro

 

Talbots floral shortsleeve blouse
The accent colors go great with my summer wardrobe, but I’m a bit worried the background color is too close to my skin color and will wash me out.  Also, looking at the thickness and contrast of that neckline I’m not as excited about how abruptly it cuts off… We’ll see how much I reach for it this summer.
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Here’s a slightly more in-focus pic with one of my blue blazers before I removed its extraneous buttons:
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The Savile Row Co. polka dotted vest
I am wearing this as I type, which after wearing it practically 9 days straight is a good sign that I still like it a bunch (and that this sucker goes with everything!). My favorite part is the back hem (which you can’t see here unfortunately) because it’s curved and a bit lower than the front hem and it just makes it look more shapely and less boxy like vests are prone to do.
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Fun2Fun geometric popover blouse
Apparently this blouse retailed for $48. I love the fit – the little pleat under the placket makes it a little flowier than other popovers – and of course the roll-tab sleeves and the open collar.  I’m not sure I love the giant geometric print, though – it just feels too blocky and big for my style.  I may play with it this season and then pass it on.
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See the difference in the way it flows (and in the length) from the blue plaid popover above?WP_20170223_13_48_12_Pro

 

Floral blouse, label cut out
I LOVE the colors on this blouse.  The sage and moss greens, the deep reds and warmer pinks, the little pop of gold in the buttons… it straddles the line between “warm” and “cool” colors but I think I (a person with a warmer – ahem, apologies to artists, more yellow-based – skin-tone) can pull it off. Also shoulder tabs and an open collar for the win:WP_20170223_13_53_09_Pro

Nice skimming fit in the torso:
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Close up on the pattern and collar:
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Marled grey unlined blazer by Merona
Once again Merona brings it with a great-fitting blazer.  I don’t know why these work so well for me – mass-manufactured big box clothing line would not seem to be the place where you’d find great blazer cuts which are hard to do anyway – but they do.  And although it’s stretchy and feels almost like a sweatshirt, the fabric is substantive enough to hold its shape minus the lining.  Win.

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Look at that fit, in both the sleeves and the torso/bust!
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The grey is a little too light/”cool” for my taste, but I couldn’t resist how perfectly it fit.

 

That’s a wrap!  Did we notice a pattern that I said “yes” to a few things I don’t love mixed in amongst with things I do?  That’s part of the reason I took a step back and gave up thrifting for Lent – I was starting to relax my parameters in the rush of thrifting things that were great finds in some way, but not perfect for me and my wardrobe at this moment.

Once something is in your closet it’s a lot harder to let go of. You start to justify its presence and you already feel attached to it in via “shoulds” – “I already have this, I should wear it” – even though you don’t love it.  Hello Endowment Effect.

I’m hoping that this Lenten thrifting fast will not only give me more headspace for all things spiritual but will also restart my relationship with my closet and help me tap back into that feeling of finding a perfect wardrobe match instead of falling for also-rans.

What’d you think of my finds?  Do you have trouble saying “no” to something that’s close but no cigar when it comes to closet love?  Scroll down to comment!

 

Thrift Shops in Ireland…and Why I Gave Up Thrift Shopping for Lent

Our trip to Ireland last week was glorious – a great mix of wandering city streets in Dublin and Galway, hiking in Glendalough and the Burren, and celebrating in pubs and at the wedding of a dear friend.  But in between, of course, I made time to stop in pretty much every thrift shop (“charity shop” in that part of the world) we passed – for the first half of the week, anyway. More on that in a second.

My spouse was a willing accomplice since he was looking for a tweed sport coat.  I’m sure it didn’t hurt that I soon realized there were dozens of such shops and I would have to be quick in each one if I wanted to see things like, say, Trinity College.

First up, the Dublin Flea Market, held in Newmarket Square on the last Sunday of the month (we had grand timing!).  They had indoor and outdoor stalls with everything from secondhand clothes to LPs to furniture to Guinness signs and handmade jewelry, original prints, and cactus stained glass.

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Oh hi Beatles record in great shape for €10.  You can’t find that stuff in the US.
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Tweed candidate…alas, too big:IMG_4946IMG_4947

Original Dublin prints by the lovely lady below:

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Did I mention the croissants and the falafel?

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Ingenious method for brewing multiple artisanal coffees in one go.

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More on various Dublin flea markets here.

Bonus – the Dublin Flea Market is right next door to the Teeling Whiskey Distillery if you fancy a tour and a nip (we did; it was delicious and very informative about the distilling process and the Irish whiskey industry, including the time an entire whiskey warehouse went up in flames and the Dublin fire brigade put it out with manure):

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In Dublin we also poked our heads into an Oxfam shop. (Thanks Eimear for the heads up on good streets for charity shops in Dublin.  It’s very handy that they seem to all cluster together!)

First up, Vincent’s, the savvy branding for a St. Vincent De Paul shop:

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A nice blend between a Chanel-style blazer and a moto jacket:

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Someone please explain that brand tag to me?

RIGHT next door (so convenient), an Oxfam shop:

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We walked past a few Enable Ireland shops as well but they were closed when we happened to spot them.

After those first two shops I realized I was going to have an entirely different thrift store experience from the States.  The shops were much, much smaller than your typical Goodwill or Sally; more comparable in size to family-owned small town thrift shops I’ve visited.  The selection was therefore much narrower, featuring mainly inexpensive brands with a few high street and vintage pieces thrown in.

My spouse and I talked about why this was with our Air BnB host.  The Spouse and I contributed hypotheses that rent for urban shop locations would be higher per square foot than a big box-size store in suburbia, and that Americans buy a TON of clothes; but when I did some research it appears that the average Irish adult spends just as much, often more, on clothing every year compared to the average American.  Scrap that idea.  Then our host Aoife (pronounce EE-fah) mentioned the climate as a common reason for lower inventory: clothes stored in Irish attics are prone to moisture damage because it’s so wet.  I can see that as a reason for low vintage stock (bye, Granny’s gorgeous wool coat from the 50s!) but am not sure how often this affects newer clothing stored just during the off season.  Can anyone in a wet climate weigh in?

 

Next stop was Galway.  Our first outing (apart from scarfing fresh fish and some Galway Hooker at Hooked – yum) involved a wander through Salthill and 2 more charity shops.

As Good as New:

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Oh Dorothy Perkins, I was dreaming of charity shops full of your sassy floral prints, but this one Chanel-esque blazer is all I found:

IMG_5077Lovely, but not my colors/size.

Gorta:

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I almost got that hedgehog scarf but then didn’t – although it was quite endearing, I decided it was a little too cute for my personal style. This brought my total thrift purchases in Ireland to a grand total of: 0.  Shock!

The Spouse, however, had forgotten his hat and figured a secondhand shop would be the perfect place to pick one up:

IMG_5096See how it sort of ties together at the top?  Subtle yet unique (or at least that’s what I told him!). The Gourmet Tart Co. was lunch on our first full day in Galway.

Also in Salthill we perused a secondhand bookstore where I scored my dad some books about Irish railroads:IMG_5080

And where I failed to convince my spouse to buy either the Public Enemy or the Peter Gabriel LPs, both just €10, because he was afraid they would crack in our carry-ons on the way back home.  :(IMG_5081

All this secondhand goodness in a charming neighborhood right next to the sea and happily dotted with pubs and traditional music:

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Later in the afternoon we wandered into a mall built around a medieval wall:

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Complete with tower for sale:

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And concealing a lovely little consignment shop where I wish I’d had room in my suitcase (and wallet – it was €50) for this felted wool number:

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Lovely floral dresses:IMG_5147

Our second full day in Galway was Ash Wednesday, and as I had decided to give up clothes shopping for Lent, I determined to avert my gaze from all further charity shops encountered on our trip.  I was almost successful; still hunting for a present for my sister, I did stop into one next to the Aldi where we went grocery shopping on our last morning in Galway.  (Aldi in Ireland is magically twice the size and has 4 times the wine section of Aldi at home.)  No luck for a funky little present, though, and I managed not to even look at the clothes.  High fives.

Why did I give up thrift shopping? (For clothes for me, at any rate – clothes for my kiddo or husband or friends and books/homewares are still fair game.)  I realized I had been too often thinking of my free time in terms of how I might fit in a run to the thrift store – as opposed to a run through my neighborhood or a run after my kid as the “tickle monster.”  Like a goldfish (or maybe an invasive plant?) my highly enjoyable habit had slowly grown to take over as much time as I allotted it – and sometimes more.  During Lent I want more time for spiritual habits like prayer, contemplation, reading theological and ministry-related books, and generally doing things that ground me (e.g. spending time with my family).  I knew thrifting would cut into all of that.

I also realized that although I’m rather satisfied with my current cool weather wardrobe and have MORE than enough for spring/summer, I’ve kept shopping. And more often than not, I kept finding something I just “couldn’t” leave on the rack.  If I’m shopping with a friend or my spouse, trying to help them find the perfect secondhand find, I can be totally disinterested in clothes for me.  But if I’m just popping in by myself to check things out, I have a harder time saying no to something I really like – even if I know I already have a surfeit of clothes in my sartorial stash.

Frequent shopping is part of successful thrifting – if you don’t look often, you won’t find the gems.  But my wardrobe, and my inner life, can go 6 weeks without more clothes to clog them up.

No worries for all you readers, though – I have plenty of post ideas and plan to spend more time writing about how I’ve styled what I already have, something you all have asked for.  Also check back in the next few weeks for posts about outfits I wore in Ireland out of my carry-on suitcase; packing tips; Irish street style snaps; and, if you’d be interested, a post on our favorite (non-thrifting) things we did on our trip.

Sláinte, and for those who observe it, have a meaningful Lent!

 

A Structured Dress Coat; or, in Which I Take a Page from the Duchess of Cambridge

Catherine is a big fan of the coat dress, or the dress coat (sometimes it’s not clear which is which):

images 02 Nov 2011 - Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge visits the UNICEF Supply Division Centre, Copenhagen, Denmark Kate-Middleton-243783
Source, sourcesource.

I had never entertained the thought of wearing such a garment myself until a super-soft, structured number by Tahari by Arthur S. Levine jumped off the coat rack section and into my hands all by itself.  I loved its sleek, tailored lines and the drama of the collar:

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Check out the contrast stitching and those chic pockets:
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My first thought was “this is a great piece and it would look great on someone else who wears coat dress/dress coats.”

My second thought was, “Why can’t *I* be that person?”

So into the dressing room it went!  A la the Duchess of Cambridge, I think it works well over dresses, either open or closed:

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This will be great for scarves, I can see it now.

It makes a more dressed up, grown up alternative to a long cardigan, and nips in just a touch at the waist:

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Here it is with a fun plaid scarf I picked up:

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I’ve learned from experience (and other bloggers) that adding an outside-your-comfort-zone piece to your wardrobe is best done when it’s paired with other favorites and it’s inside your comfort zone in some other way – e.g. the color matches your palette, it’s a familiar cut, etc.  So it helped that this dress coat was a gentle shade of navy (color palette – check) and that it looked great with the dressy corduroys and neutral top I was wearing (plays well with wardrobe staples – check).  It made it easy to focus on the fresh vibe this new silhouette added to by repertoire instead of trying to imagine whether it would work.

Here it is on its first official engagement (yes, on yet another thrifting expedition):

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Sleek, no?  Chic, feminine, Dr. Who-esque, yes?  

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Metallic top: Pull & Bear, thrifted
Dress coat: Tahari by Arthur S. Levine, thrifted
Cream corduroys: Lauren by Ralph Lauren, thrifted & tailored

Socks: Target, retail
Shoes: hand-me-downs from my mother-in-law, repainted
Necklace: DIY from Goodwill finds

I rate this outside-my-style-comfort-zone experiment a success.  What do you think?  When have you gone outside your style comfort zone and had it work?  When not?  Scroll down to share!

 

Thrift Store Review: Out of the Closet

Last week my friend Allen tipped me off to a new thrift store in town, and it was not 48 hours before I had to go see it in person.

Out of the Closet  at 1858 Cheshire Bridge Road is an outpost of a California-based chain of thrift stores of the same name.  They opened about 4 months ago and are a non-profit with proceeds benefiting the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.  Here they are all decked out for Valentine’s:

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The store is a respectable size, clean and well-organized, and even has some decorative touches (do you spy that cowboy boot banner up top?).  Plus there were free Snickers! (Oh, and condoms.  Yay for sexual health!)

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The prices were reasonable – on par with Goodwill in our area, some cheaper, some a bit more expensive.  The staff were personable and helpful, and they provide free HIV testing, which I am totally down for.  And in fact, while I was there, someone came in for a test.  Know your status, people!

They have a stellar men’s section, which is exciting because my spouse is always complaining that he can’t find good men’s stuff at the Goodwill.  I picked up two shirts for him right off the bat (Happy Valentine’s Day, darling!  #GivetheGiftYouWishYouCouldGet).  Here’s one:

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But he’s looking forward to visiting on his own to try on all the things.

On the flip side, the sales associate told me they need to grow their women’s section a bit – bring them your women’s clothing donations!

Still, I managed to find a dress I liked and a bag I probably didn’t need.

This dress by H&M is my favorite sheath silhouette but with more structure in the bodice.  It’s quite similar to my cream sheath dress for winter but lighter, and with a longer hem, both of which mean I can wear it in spring, without leggings.  Score.

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Sorry it’s blurry!  The line you see on the skirt is from my dark leggings; won’t be a problem with just underwear.

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Where the bodice and lining meet shows through in a way that is…interesting?  Reminiscent of a sweetheart neckline (or Jessica Rabbit), I’m not sure how I feel about it.  We’ll see if I embrace it or use a scarf to cover it up.  (It’s not ideal to buy something you’ll have to keep covered, but I may end up loving the unusual detail, so I took a chance.)

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Here’s the bag – no label.  It’s made of vinyl (I think) with an embossed snakeskin pattern.

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It’s faux-suede inside which makes for an interesting texture contrast. The little stitched circles conceal a magnet closure.

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Love the zipper details – and they give a little extra room when unzipped:

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The pocket flap inside that is only attached to the bag in one spot instead of being sewn onto the inside wall.  That might get annoying, can’t tell yet:

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What do you think of my finds?  If you’re in Atlanta, have you checked out Out of the Closet yet?  (See my other Atlanta thrift store reviews here and here.)  Scroll down to share!