This weekend we went to the Folk Fest in Norcross, Georgia. The fest is billed as the biggest of its kind, showing “primitive” art (i.e. from artists with no formal training) and art celebrating the creative and cultural traditions of the South. It was glorious.
Lest you think that this week’s sweater post killed summer, here’s something else I thrifted on that trip that I’ll be wearing all weekend (minus church). The epitome of comfort in hot weather:
Yellow striped cotton romper by Lux.
What’s your got-to weekend wear?
This post isn’t strictly thrift-related since heirlooms are not, by definition, things you found in a thrift store. Well, you can definitely find someone else’s heirlooms in a thrift store…but you get my point. However, since part of the reason I started this blog was to foster a greater love of re-using previously owned items–both for their character and as a way to steward our planet’s limited resources–finding ways to wear our heirlooms fits right into that spirit.
Commenter Sarah mentioned on Monday that she loves to wear clothing and jewelry from her grandma’s closet:
Many are unique and tell a story all their own, and some connect me to fond memories with her. I cherish the style they add to my wardrobe and the conversations I have when they are noticed and appreciated. Most of all, it feels good to have something of hers close to me now and then.
Sarah hit on something really powerful here: the ability of what we wear to connect us with those we love, whether living or no longer with us.
Grandma in 1939. A portrait of substance and panache.
Continue reading “Heirlooms: Wearing Your Family Treasures”
A lit bit of common courtesy towards staff and fellow patrons can make a big difference when shopping. Thrift stores are no different from retail stores in this respect, although some of the unique aspects of thrifting call for a few tweaks. Read on for some pointers on how to employ basic thrifting etiquette for an all-around enjoyable shopping experience.
I bet the first thing you think of when you hear the word “August” is: sweaters! Amirite?
and Santa flamingos.
As you may know, one of my jobs includes preaching twice a month at a local church. Since dresses are the easiest thing for me to throw on on Sunday mornings, it’s a continual struggle to remember to wear something to which the mic pack can attach: pants, a skirt, or at least a belt over my dress. This week, I succeeded!
Today is the last day of Pants Week on Thriftshop Chic. Click here for posts from earlier in the week: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. Scroll down to the comments section to tell me what you think about a themed week–yea or nay?
My friend Sheena pointed me to this article discussing what goes into a $200 vs. $20 pair of jeans. The comments are pure gold–okay maybe from a socially conscious style nerd’s perspective, but still: they cover environmental/labor factors, investing in quality vs. cheaper clothes that fall apart, how it’s hard to do that when you don’t have class/wealth privilege, and thrifting to find good jeans. Here’s the comment that sparked this post (let us pause to delight in her username):
Ygritte Snow: Yes. When you are poor, the option is to: a) buy new clothes from a cheap, made-in-china kind of place, whether it’s H&M or Kmart or b) buy used, thrifted denim that may or may not be quality – if you can find a pair that fits you. I tend to try to go for the latter on jeans, because you can find some gems and I like the vintage look and stiffer denim -BUT when you rip through the seat of your only pair of, say, nice pants and need a pair of pants to wear to work TOMORROW because you work with little kids and can’t wear a dress or shorts but also can’t wear jeans because it’s not Friday and you work for a prep school (for barely over minimum wage >_>) sometimes it’s not practical to spend hours finding a pair of pants at a thrift store.
Sheena wanted to know what I’d do in this case–you need pants in a jiffy and it seems easier to jaunt over to Old Navy or Target and get you the same pair you always get because they’re cheap and you know they fit. Can you do the same thing at the thrift store?
The answer is yes and no. You can’t just walk into a thrift store and guarantee you’ll find a specific garment in your size because thrift stores, by nature, rely on random donations. That being said, if you want to give it a shot–maybe the thrift store is actually closer and more convenient than anywhere else you could go, or it’s on the way home from work/daycare (both true for me)–here are some tips:
-Try to avoid being stuck with only one good pair of pants in the first place. Pants at thrift stores are much less expensive than retail, so stock up! If you can dedicate an entire thrift visit (or two or three) to pants hunting before emergency strikes, you are likely to find a couple pants that will do nicely for work or play even if they aren’t perfect. Then be on the lookout during subsequent trips for “upgrades”–pants that better fit your lifestyle needs/style wants.
If you are already down to one pair and don’t have time to thrift backups right this second, keep an eye out for signs that your current pants are on the way out–seam stitches become visible and fabric thins along key seams or well-worn areas; pocket corners start to detach. Start looking for new pairs as soon as possible after you notice these telltale markers. And keep a sewing kit handy so that minor fixes like a popped button or dropped hem don’t send you into a pants panic.
Alternatively, if you truly have no time for thrifting but you know which brands/sizes fit and you don’t want/can’t afford to feed the retail economy, consider using a filter on eBay to search for “pre-owned” pants in your preferred brand and size. Takes almost no time and the pants are delivered right to your door. (Thanks Gillian for the suggestion!)
-Stick to stores with a big selection. Though I love them dearly for their quirky atmosphere and unique finds, this is not the time to patronize independent/tiny shops with limited selection. Goodwill has racks upon racks of women’s pants (jeans in particular), as do many Savers, Value Village, Salvation Army, and America’s Thrift stores, among others. Men’s pants tend to come in a smaller but still wide-ranging collection.
–Scan quickly and efficiently. Don’t flip through every pair of pants on the rack. Skip over low quality brands (a cheapy tag with cutesy font is a telltale sign, as is really thin or wrinkly material) and sizes that are way outside your range. Look for brands and sizes you know fit you. Here is where your knowledge of the perfect Old Navy size for your lower half comes in handy–zero in on those if you find ’em, and likewise don’t waste time on a brand you love but a size you know from experience won’t fit. It can be hard to let go of a pair that’s perfect except for being a size too large or small, but trust me, it’s better this way. The thrift gods shall yet smile upon you.
Conversely, if you find a brand that looks quality but with which you aren’t personally familiar, be willing to grab a size smaller or larger than your norm as their sizing system may fit you differently.
–Try on in bulk. Load up to the limit allowed in the dressing room–then park your cart outside the stall and, if there isn’t a line, swap out the pairs that don’t work for a new batch without actually exiting the unit. (If you are really desperate for time I won’t judge you for doing this even if there is a line, although fair warning: the other people in line might.)
–Adjust your standards, then Commit. Conversely to the slow thrift where you don’t nab a piece of clothing ’til you’re satisfied it meets all your criteria, these may not be the world’s ideal pants for you. But if you find a pair that will do — length’s okay, fit’s okay, no holes or other potential wardrobe malfunctions–don’t waste time dithering on whether you *should* buy these pants. At that price point and with your time as valuable as it is, the answer is yes.
–Give (your new) pants a chance. The unexpected bonus to buying the first pants that fit decently is that you might go home with a pair in a new-to-you pattern, color, or cut–and you might LOVE them. They might breathe new life into a wardrobe rut where you’ve been stuck, or they might become a new favorite silhouette. That’s the magic of thrifting!
What are your tips for quick-n-dirty pants thrifting? Scroll down to comment!
It’s Pants Week on Thriftshop Chic! Monday: my newest thrifted pants; Tuesday: shopping for pants at the thrift store; Wednesday: my pants wardrobe lineup! Tune in tomorrow for how to quickly thrift pants when a favorite pair bites the dust and you need new pants STAT.
Today we’re going to get you started on your own wardrobe capsule re: pants.
Some of you may be asking, what’s a capsule wardrobe and why would I want one?
A capsule wardrobe has a lot of different definitions (see here for more), but for the purposes of this blog, “capsule” is a shorthand for owning nothing but clothes you love and actually wear regularly. The end.
I’ll write a post in the future diving more into that, but for now, let’s FOCUS: how do you make this happen for pants? How do you end up with nothing but pants you love and wear?
It’s Pants Week here at Thriftshop Chic. Today we take a peek into my pants MVPs (or, well, all my pants, since I try to make all my clothes clothes I love to wear); tomorrow, how to start your own pants capsule.
My wardrobe is in some ways a capsule wardrobe (see here for my inner monologue on the nature of my wardrobe and a discussion of capsule vs. uniform dressing). This means that I aim to have a limited number of pieces that mostly go together color- and style-wise so that I can put on something I love every morning without having to agonize over whether it “works.” (I usually decide what to wear in the shower, and I take short showers.)
I’d say I have about equal love for pants and dresses–as well as a healthy flirtation with skirts–but I wear pants the most because they pair with tops to make more outfits than single-note dresses do. Within a capsule wardrobe, this translates to having a good number of pants, but all of them pairs I wear often and that go with most, or all, of my tops. I’ll discuss a litte more of the strategy behind rounding out your collection in a minute, but first let’s take a look-see at these beauties (all thrifted) and how I wear them. (Forgive the wrinkles; I’m allergic to ironing and a couple pairs have been living in a drawer since March because it gets warm early here in the South.)
First, the warm-weather pants.
Red cotton tapered pants by Bandolino (my faaaavorites–so comfortable and a signature, yet somehow neutral-ish, color):
I wear these babies with tucked in blouses, with tops that are more tailored, or with tops that are loose-fitting but on the slim side. The faded red goes with dove grey (as above), navies, whites, off-whites, and blushes quite easily; I imagine it’d go with camel, peach, and others as well. I always wear these pants with flats–floral sneaks, dress flats, or sandals as above–although they could probably work with an espadrille wedge or a casually-styled heel.
These puppies are true white and therefore SO fresh in summer–and since they’re lined, they work well into September, too, since we’re not really following the rule about no white after Labor Day anymore. They go with navy, turquoise-y/teal, coral/red, camel, blush, and…just about everything, and although they’re a little loose for a really flowy shirt, they can handle tucked in and loose-but-slim tops like a pro. I do flats with these as well, although I think they’d look super chic with heels (I just don’t own any!). If you’re afraid of getting white pants dirty, don’t be–I keep a bucket and some oxygen-based cleaner in my laundry room and spot treat or soak whenever necessary (for me, that’s about every other wear).
Navy slim Tahari pants from Monday’s post:
These are on the slimmer side–it does NOT look like it in these pictures, I realize, but the hips and thighs definitely bring it in more than my other warm weather pants, allowing for pairing with some looser tops. In navy they can handle all my red/blush/white/turquoise/teal/camel tops. (Pro tip: navy is a GREAT dark neutral if black is too harsh for your skin tone or your taste. *raises hand*) These are also cut a little shorter so wedges (ha, ^^that’s my idea of wedge!) and heels are perfect pairings.
Navy polyester Loft trousers (Marisa “straight” cut):
These are much looser in cut than the first 3 contestants. They drape in a trouser-y way–“trousers” to me spell fitted in the rear but relaxed down the leg, which these are. To balance out that drape, tailored or tucked-in tops are my go-to pairing. They aren’t lined but they are polyester, which means they don’t breathe as well; temp-wise, I actually have been wearing these recently because our office is air-conditioned, but I pay for it when I venture outside for more than 5 mintues. Shoes-wise, I think they go best with sneaks or dress flats but forgot to make the change for the photo. Their drape means they would probably accommodate boots, and they definitely have enough room for big thick knee socks come winter.
These are indeed men’s pants; they were mis-organized in the women’s section and I benefited from the happy circumstance! They are nice and light but somehow don’t make it into my summer wardrobe…probably because the plaid makes me think of fall. The plaid has black and brown stripes, and the piping near the waist is a velvety brown; yet the overall effect of the plaid is a light grey, so they work as a neutral and wear well with black or brown shoes & belts. As a men’s-cut pant they have a higher waist and looser pelvic area, so I tend to wear them with closer-fitting tops. Also, these pants helped me discover that men’s pockets are GINORMOUS. It feels like my entire forearm has been swallowed by the pocket on the right, whereas women’s pockets are pathetic excuses for holding a chapstick (or they’re non-existent). Harrumph!
I found these beauts in a thrift store somewhere in…Alabama? Mississippi? and knew they had to be mine. As you have probably deduced, they are way different from my typical cut, but I love the variety they bring to my wardrobe–I like to think they add a little unexpected sass. The sailor-style buttons are really kind to my mid-section and work best with tops that are fitted or straight but slim and that don’t venture too far below the waist–who wants to hide those glorious buttons?? The legs would probably work better with heels or substantial boots, but as I am an avowed afficianado of flats (learned from my mom who’s still paying for wearing heels for most of the 60s and 70s), I just make it work. The soft grey goes with my warm-toned sweaters and long-sleeved shirts as well as navy, blush, and winter whites.
Cold weather pants
Brown tweed trousers by Bebe:
These are my only truly cold-weather pants–tweed and lined–which is just fine for Hotlanta, but I wish I could wear them all year round. The trousery-flare cut (don’t you love that jaunty little break in the right-hand photo?) is divine and I can.not.handle the piping on the pockets and waist (closeups once the weather cools down…November??). That piping highlights an area that is very kind to my rear and mid-section, and the tweed camouflages some spots that are starting to wear. I grabbed them out of a headed-to-donation-land pile at work 7 or 8 years ago and they always make me feel great when I put them on–a true sign of something that’s earned a place in your edited wardrobe. They work best with fitted or straight-but-slim tops, and dress flats or delicious brown leather boots (my black and grey thrifted cowboy boots clash, sadly).
Jeans — Forever 21 slim
These go with everything. No, seriously.
So if you were reading closely, you noticed that although the cuts of my pants span the spectrum, pants within similar seasons tend to jive with the same type of tops so that I’m not limited to wearing the same pant/top one-hit-wonder combo over and over–e.g. I’m not stuck wearing a peplum shirt with my only pair of skinny pants because it looks odd with all my straight cuts. (The slimmer navy pants are a newly acquired departure from this model, but so far I’ve been wearing them with tops I already own that usually get tucked into looser pants; thus I’m expanding, not limiting, my options within what I already own.)
Following the principle of slow style, it’s taken me two or three years to build these pants together into a roster that covers all my bases (baseball pun intended). I made it work for a long time on just the colder weather pants and the red pants, but this season I decided that I wanted to wear pants more in the summer. Although I spent a few years with some unsatisfactory white jeans (didn’t wash clean, too tight in the waist, loved rolling the cuffs but not their flare style), this time I nailed the white pants on my first thrifting trip out. Carried away by my thrifting good fortune, on that same trip I misfired on some olive pants (uncomfortable, not versatile enough), and I took my sweet time finding both pairs of navy pants (as chronicled here).
Assembling your pants lineup takes time whether you retail it or go the thrift route–you have to live in different styles, realize some are too uncomfortable or restricting for your everyday life, try out colors, etc. But once you get your team* together, it feels so good to own only pants you love and wear ALL the pants you own.
Was this helpful? Are there any pants you would trash or treasure yourself?
Looking to build your own thrifted pants capsule? Check back tomorrow for how to get started!
*I apologize for all the bad sports metaphors in this post.
It’s Pants Week at Thriftshop Chic. Yesterday’s post featured my newly-thrifted pants; tomorrow we’ll look at all the pants I own to help you see how thrifted pants can work in a real-life capsule wardrobe; then Thursday we’ll help you get started on perfecting your own pants lineup.
Let’s talk pants. You are probably familiar with the smorgasbord of pant styles out there, including but not limited to the typical styles in women’s/men’s pants featured below. (But first of all, let’s be clear–these are binary-conforming clothing industry terms, not dictates about what genders can wear what styles; I have had “men’s” pants in my wardrobe and know plenty of people across the gender spectrum who wear more than one pants “gender.”)
Women’s pants. Source. Notable miss: boyfriend jeans
Men’s pants. Source. Notable miss: a true pleated front