Friday Reblog: The Best Time of the Week to Thrift

It’s Friday, so I’m reblogging some good stuff to start your weekend off right!  Thanks to my friend Nancy for bringing this to my attention: lifehacker’s The Best Times of the Week to Shop at Thrift Stores. If you’re not familiar with lifehacker, it’s a genius fount of inspiration for making stuff in your life work better, more effectively, for less $, etc. etc.  You can spend hours perusing their great ideas for everything from refinishing your furniture to how to lift weights properly to the best portable power strip.  Geeks of all stripes, rejoice!

My take on the article?  It’s missing key special days like the weekly Senior Citizens or Military Discount Day, or the weekly or seasonal Half-Price Day (you may actually want to avoid the latter if you hate crowds…).  At Goodwill, know when the “Color of the Week” changes so that if you go twice during one week (what, that doesn’t happen to you all the time??) you aren’t missing the chance to get half off of two different colors. Know your local store’s policies and whether any of ’em apply to you–and, as they said in the article, their particular days for putting out new stock.  Oh, and remember:

The best day to go thrift shopping might just be the day you find time to do it.  

If you work 9 to 5 and don’t want to shop at the end of a long work day, don’t be afraid to shop on weekends.  Most people have different ideas (and sizes) of what makes for good pickings at the thrift store, so don’t skip a weekend thrifting jaunt just because you think selection will be poor–if the store is big enough, it’s likely you’ll find stuff you love no matter what.

Bonus link at the end of the first blog: Apartment Therapy’s The Best & Worst Times to Go Thrift Store Shopping.

Happy Friday!

Why My Instagram Photos Are So Crappy

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

But really, these need some work, amirite?

Focus, who needs it??

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on

 

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on

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

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on

  Interior decor mishaps:

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Orientation issues:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How She Wore It: Traveling in Style

My friend Caitlin was so enamored of the dress I passed on to her that she wore it on an epic multi-state road trip–and styled it to the nines!  Check out how she took an utterly comfortable dress and turned it into a chic and elegant textbook of how to Dress to Impress, Travel Edition:

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Glittery/metallic shoes, a jacket with structure, and a statement necklace take her outfit to the next level.  Caitlin, you nailed it!

What are your tricks for dressing up a casual outfit to stay comfy whilst getting down to business?  Scroll down to comment!

 

 

 

Travel Wardrobe, Labor Day Weekend: Onesies + Guide to Americus

We spent Labor Day in Americus, Georgia, traipsing around various intriguing and delicious establishments: Cafe Campesino, a fair trade coffee shop & roastery where the founder gave us a tour–and where I had a luscious coconut cream pie smoothie; Client First Insurance, our host’s business focusing on getting folks affordable health care coverage no matter their income level (call him if you live in Georgia!); nearby Kinnewbrew Co. Southern clothing emporium where manager Jody treated us to conversation and camarederie despite the fact that his Dawgs were playing on TV; lunch at Sweet Georgia Baking Co., where my arteries clogged on the sumptuous pimentno cheese on focaccia and my sweetbuds sang with the cous cous salad; the home bases of Habitat for Humanity and the Fuller Center for Housing, stalwarts of the international affordable housing movement, which were both birthed out of the work of Millard Fuller & Clarence Jordan at Koinonia Farm, an intentional Christian agricultural community famous for “Shipping the Nuts out of Georgia!” when the KKK boycotted their integrated workforce in the 1940s and 50s.  Also on the docket: punch bowl margaritas and sopapillas at The 1800 to celebrate a birthday; Sunday school with former President Carter; peanut butter ice cream in Plains, Georgia; and the Plains Inn, a gorgeous B&B style hotel where Jimmy & Rosalyn Carter picked out the decor for rooms dating from each decade from the 1920s to the 1980s.  I highly recommend a visit if you are ever in middle Georgia.  And no, this post was not sponsored by the Sumter County Tourism Board–I just had that good of a time!

What to wear for such a varied itinerary, plus a few runs and a dip in the pool?  And working with limited packing/car space?

I took a page from Party of Onesie and packed mostly one-pieces to cut down on fuss and on packing space.  This is a super-easy way to simplify your wardrobe, although it’s probably best done with a washing machine nearby if you think your one-pieces will get dirty (aka you have a toddler, or are traveling with a dog, or plan to make art, etc. etc.).  Here’s what got me through the weekend, laundry facilities not included.

J. Crew striped dress:

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on

 

Red striped Sharagano dress: IMG_2076

 

And the infamous yellow romper:IMG_2133

You may recognize the dress my friend Caitlin is wearing from my summer wardrobe rehab.  I love this picture because it’s a great illustration of the idea that parting with clothes you kind of like, or that you think you should hold onto for any number of reasons (it’s practical, my mom gave it to me, it’s in good shape…), can actually help you pass those clothes on to someone who really LOVES them.  Caitlin dug this dress so hard she changed right out of what she was wearing and put it on for the rest of the day!  Talk about a win-win situation.

Bathing suit and running clothes were as such:

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All packed in here, along with the kiddo’s clothes:

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I also had a pair of shorts and a shirt, but if I had just stuck with the coffee-stained red striped dress for the rest of Sunday, I woulda been fiiiiine.  So, an almost-all-one-piece weekend.  Although technically the bathing suit was a 2 piece, and I definitely didn’t run in a leotard.  But close.

Would ever pack all one-pieces, or all dresses, for a trip?  Do you need variety in your packing life, or do you just stick with what works?  Scroll down to comment!

 

What I Wore: President Carter’s Sunday School

This past weekend we went to Americus, Georgia to visit dear friends.  Amidst many other adventures, we visited local thrift spots to see what gems they held, but alas, came up empty-handed (though I will post some photos of some fab would-be finds this week).

Our friends had invited us to help with hospitality for Sunday school at Maranatha Baptist Church, the 35-member congregation where former President Jimmy Carter teaches Sunday school each week.  You may have heard that crowds have swelled to 800+ since the announcement of his cancer diagnosis, because this is one of the few engagements to which Mr. Jimmy, as he’s known in the 700-person town of Plains, has committed until his death (may it be a long time from now).

Knowing we had to be up early to greet would-be attendees at the overflow location where video feed of the lesson would be simulcast, I threw on the dress I wore Friday to work, traveled in, and spilled coffee on, and forwent (?) a shower in favor of enjoying a cup of coffee with our hosts.  I was going to be handing out graham crackers and bottled water to sleep-deprived visitors in similar, if not worse, shape, so why worry about how I looked?

That was before the crowds turned out much smaller than expected (thank you, Labor Day), we got a seat in the sanctuary, Mr. Jimmy called on me to give the opening prayer, and we took a picture with the Carters after church.

Let’s just say I was thankful for a college mentor who told me that I should never let what I happened to be wearing or how I happened to look stop me from doing anything.

And the pics didn’t turn out half bad, either.

 

Sharagano dress, thrifted; jewelry, heirloom.

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When have you been caught “unprepared” for a spotlight moment?  How did you make what you were wearing or how you looked work regardless of the circumstances?  Scroll down to comment!

 

Where Do Your T-Shirts Go When They Die?

The Spouse directed me to this Planet Money podcast about where t-shirts go when they die, aka when you donate them to a thrift store but nobody buys them.  That sounds real sad, but fear not–some of them get a really interesting afterlife!

Listen here.

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The t-shirt Planet Money made for the original “Life of a T-Shirt” podcast.  I’m scratching my head just like you are.

 

Have a great weekend, Thrifters!  Check back next week for a little South Georgia thrifting coming to you from the Americus Salvation Army.

-Leah

Summer Wardrobe Rehab: Dresses

I’m doing an end-of-summer wardrobe clean out–see tops here and how to fight the fear here.  Today, dresses!  Continue on for cuts and keepers.

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Dress from Walmart my mama bought me.  Mom, I love you, but this dress does not love me back.  I dig more structured pieces (see the keepers below), so I hardly ever reach for a dress when I want to be comfy on the weekends because I like to sit, play with my kid, do handstands…and when I do reach for a casual dress, it’s now the J. Crew dress with a dropwaist silhouette that makes me feel less food-baby (thanks, pleats) and more FUN, baby.

IMG_2020 Continue reading “Summer Wardrobe Rehab: Dresses”

Summer Cleanout, Part 2: Fear

Yesterday I started my Closet Rehab: Summer Edition, aka I Don’t Have a Perfect Wardrobe.  I began with tops: tops that didn’t make the cut, tops that were “Stars of the Summer,” and some that weren’t absolute faves but were worn regularly and without frustration.

The description of that last category, you may have noticed, does not particularly resound with enthusiasm. They were clothes that worked, but not rocked.  And if you’re trying to get to a wardrobe of clothes you love to wear, “not frustrating” is a little underwhelming, no?

You’ve probably been there before: you’ve done a closet cleanout and been pretty ruthless in saying goodbye to clothes that weren’t making you happy…only to find yourself a week later pulling on a shirt or pants you kept but didn’t love, rationalizing that they’re practical, or too cute or original to give away, or that other people like them on you.

That was me yesterday morning, as I donned my navy and white ruffled sailor shirt, already suspicious that I might have kept it for the wrong reasons. As I thought about the number of “hearts” it got on Instagram, or the number of compliments I’d received when wearing it, or how its ruffles added visual variety to my navy-heavy wardrobe and played well with a pair of pants, a skirt, and shorts I own, I realized that I was thinking my way into keeping the shirt instead of feeling my way into keeping it.

The truth is, I like the shirt but I don’t love it.  It’s cut a little funny at the bottom and its fabric is just about starting to pill and collects little pieces of lint and detritus.  I love the ruffles, true–but they don’t really feel like “me.”  It’s like the coral top that just felt “meh,” no matter how good it seemed on paper.

This shirt was originally up on the wall to be cut, and then at the last minute I decided to give it one final run (yesterday’s wearing) to decide–because maybe I just hadn’t given something different enough of a chance?  But my initial intuition was right, and all the reasons I fought to keep it were based in fear.  You know:

Fear of what others will think: “That was so cute, why did s/he get rid of it?”

Fear of missing out: “What if this trend or new-to-me style is really great and I just haven’t given myself enough time to warm up to it?”

Fear of not having enough: “This goes with everything…if I get rid of this, I won’t have anything to wear.”

Fear of not being enough: “My style should be more girly…more professional…more edgy.  This makes me look more like who I think I should be.”

Friends, none of those fears should hold you back.  A wardrobe is, in some ways, a superficial–literally and figuratively–place to talk about liberating yourself from preconceived notions, yours or others’.  But clothing can also be a very powerful visual expression of identity, particularly for people whose style doesn’t fit within mainstream sartorial conceptions.  Whether you’re doing a closet cleanout at the end of a season or embracing your deepest inner truth via the way you dress, it can feel exhilarating to step into who you are in a tangible way.  Even if it’s just by giving up a shirt weighed down by “shoulds.”
So goodbye, sweet shirt.  It’s been fun–now go make someone else happy!

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What clothing items have you held onto when you didn’t love them?  Was fear behind it, or something else?  Scroll down to join the conversation!