Can I Wear “Tribal” Prints?

On Tuesday I showed you my recently thrifted tops for fall.  One of those pieces is a “tribal” top from Xhilaration, meaning it features a print drawing from the art of some sort of tribal culture, often indigenous to the Americas or Africa.  (This phenomenon also happens with Indian, Polynesian, and Asian cultures, although I haven’t seen those labeled “tribal”—I’m thinking henna as decoration, fish hook necklaces and puka shells, Chinese character tattoos…unfortunately the list is pretty long.)

In the case of my shirt, we’re talking about a riff on a Navajo pattern:

IMG_2376 Continue reading “Can I Wear “Tribal” Prints?”

Thrift Finds: Fall Edition

A few weekends ago I went a-thrifting to fill a few holes in my wardrobe, namely: fall-worthy tops.  I am doing just fine on sweaters due to my August thrifting excursions, but it’s still not cool enough to wear those lovelies (can’t wait!!).  I have several, probably too many, cardigans to layer on top of blouses for this early fall, cool-in-the-morning-warm-in-the-afternoon, battle-of-the-AC-vs.-heat season.  But things to wear under them?  Not so much.  Turns out swimming pool tops and bright coral floral tops don’t speak to my fall sensibilities.

So I went looking for items that were a little longer-sleeved, but not overly warm in and of themselves; pieces that had not quite as eye-popping of a palate that would layer nicely.

I give you my finds:

teenpLo green & blush 3/4 length sleeve blouse (polyester made to feel like silk).  
Continue reading “Thrift Finds: Fall Edition”

Fall Bag

Confession: I’m not a big purse person.  When my mother tried to get me to use purses in high school, college, etc., I refused–I didn’t need to carry around a bunch of STUFF.  MEN don’t need purses.  And anyways, I have a backpack for the big stuff and pockets for the small stuff.  Pphhhht.

Fast forward 10-15 years and all of the sudden I look down and WHAT IS THIS THING DANGLING AT MY SIDE like some sort of PERMANENT GROWTH?!

Oh, it’s a purse.  (I still call it a bag, though—purse sounds like…my grandma?) (P.S. Mom is always eventually right about stuff like this.)

What changed?  A messenger-style bag had me covered for grad school and a chaplaincy residency where I needed to transport lots of paperwork.  My next job had less paper but still required space for keys, phone, wallet, pens, etc. and you know most pockets in women’s professional wear are a pitiful place to try to carry more than chapstick. (Not to mention it’s rare that skirts and dresses, if those are your thing, even HAVE pockets.  Because why would women need functional, practical garments?  Sexism, bah.)

Said job also had a classy sartorial vibe so I figured it deserved better than a logo messenger bag I got for free at some conference.  Enter purse number one:IMG_1692

You may recall that it bit the dust at the beginning of the summer after a good solid year of use. Not bad for a previously-owned PVC-covered bag (you didn’t think that was real lizard, did you?).  But also not great—PVC wears easily and I tend to be hard on my workhorse possessions, much to my Yankee husband’s possession-protecting sensibilities.  Ideally I’d like a bag that carries me through more than 12 months.

To replace this first bag, I went for a seasonal number in a similar style but with lighter colors, less PVC to tear, and more room to hold summer accoutrement:

I have thoroughly enjoyed this bag and plan to break it out again next summer.  Its cotton weave is easy to clean; that casual fabric + gold = the perfect classy summer vibe.  But again, quality-wise it’s not a long-term bag, and the color scheme and fabric are definitely not a great fit for fall.  Also, its generous size meant I was piling all sorts of stuff into it without regard for my poor shoulders, which were starting to complain.

So I went looking, over the course of 2 or 3 thrifting excursions, for a bag in long-lasting leather, a more manageable size, and a nice cooler-weather color. I also wanted something without big labels (I’d rather draw attention to my personality than a brand) or a lot of doodads that end up looking dated.

Voilà, my new (to me) fall bag, by Nine West (and a glass of wine, lovingly referred to in our house, along with coffee, as “Mama juice”–thanks Linds!):


Inside dividing pocket keeps things a lot more organized than my previous catch-all:IMG_2396

You can also see it featured in some of my Instagram photos on the sidebar over here–> (Click “load more” to see extra pics.)

I like the clean lines and the way it warms up my fall outfits without shouting too loudly or being too trendy.  That’s part of why thrifting is great—the random assortment of treasures at any given thrift store means you never have to sport the same trapezoid-with-tassles or slouchy satchel as everyone else.  Relatedly, if you don’t LOVE cognac or marsala or whatever this season’s Pantone colors are, you can find YOUR colors through donations from seasons past.


What are your feelings on purses?  Would you thrift one?  If you eschew buying new leather for ethical reasons, would you thrift it instead?  What do you think of my find??

Scroll down to comment!


Travel Wardrobe: 48 Hours with No “Luggage”

This past weekend we again relied on Spirit Airlines to spirit us–ahem–away to Chicago for a friend’s wedding.  I covered Spirit’s luggage policy here—in short, you pay for any luggage beyond a personal item, baby gear, and/or medical equipment. As you might guess from the title of this blog, I am le thrifty, and so was determined to fit all my accoutrement for the weekend into my “personal item” (which yes, is a tote bag—a bit bigger than your traditional purse-like personal item.  The spouse packed in a backpack).

Take a peek below to see what went into my “personal item” for a weekend that involved a wedding, church, and lounging around my parents’ house.  (It was also supposed to involve running, but turns out fall arrived in Chicago this weekend in the form of cold mist, gray skies, and crashing waves on Lake Michigan and, well, staying inside to eat waffles and drink tea was much more appealing.)  All items thrifted unless otherwise noted.

Continue reading “Travel Wardrobe: 48 Hours with No “Luggage””

Sick Week

Hi friends,

Just a note to let you know that this week the blog is on hiatus due to sickness at our house + some other writing assignments.  Check back in next week for some fall updates & special occasion-wear posts!


Thrift on, Thrifters!


Thrift Finds: Baby Shoes

A small person I know was in need of new-to-her shoes and her parents are down with thrifting. (You should be too, if you have a small person in your life–often pre-loved baby items are barely used because the kiddo who previously owned them outgrew them without doing much damage.  And as Bea of Zero Waste Home says, “A washed secondhand undergarment is cleaner than a new one from a department store,” so don’t let germophobia stop you!)

On the list of preferred characteristics for said shoes: able to take a beating, and nothing crazily pink.  Because, have you looked at anything to do with little girls’ clothing options lately?  The PINKness is overwhelming. Just Google “baby girl clothes”–your eyes will burn with pink overload (or water with happiness if you love magenta).

This is funny, because easily half my baby clothes growing up were blue (with a good smattering of yellow, green, and orange alongside some pink), as were two dresses my mom passed on from her 1940s babyhood.  So it’s not as if pink is the sole appropriate hue for girls.  But for some reason, we’ve been determined lately to equate the two in a way that seems, I don’t know–limiting, at the very least?  Or, when combined with messages like the following gems, oppressive at the worst?

7e0de20b301656a25307ba6b32da7c2a   il_340x270.647967418_4dd4
Let’s discuss objectification of infants AND moms AND the cave-manning of dads (left), or the policing of women’s bodies/relationships/agency (right).  It starts in the crib, people!


I did some looking during my last few trips and voilà! This is what I found:

“Aw, (s)he got the velcro.” -Macklemore’s Thrift Shop.  If I had to guess I’d say early 90s?  A treasure.

Corduroy Mary Janes–it doesn’t get much more “fall” than corduroy.


Both pairs are sturdy, and although both pairs have touches of pink and flowers (because, see above), I think on the whole they are rather inoffensive for folks trying to avoid drowning their babies in gender roles.  I hope the lucky recipient of these found kicks enjoys ’em!

What are your favorite baby items you’ve thrifted? Scroll down to comment!


What I Wore: I Overslept!!

Check my Instagram sidebar for today’s super-quick outfit: throw on a dress and wrap a scarf around your neck and you’re suddenly chic, no matter how late you slept in!
Land’s End stretchy knit dress + scarf from a visit to the Tilonia co-op in Rajasthan several years ago.  Check the site for their fall sale on socially responsible, hand-printed gorgeousness!

When you tease your friend for thinking 9:30 is an early coffee date (because your child never lets you sleep past 7:30am), and you and your child proceed to sleep until 9:22am, 8 minutes before said “early” coffee date, the universe is laughing at you.

Ha. Ha.

What do you wear in such circumstances, besides a panicked look on your face?  (Let us pause to enjoy the fact that the past tense of panic is spelled with a k.)

Grab the one-piece closest to hand (hopefully it’s clean…well, not super dirty?), throw on a statement necklace for that no-effort polished effect, add a headpiece (sunglasses, bandana, hat) to hide the head grease (see what I did there?), and rush out the door with said child in tow.  (For your kid, consider ways your child’s pjs can double as real clothes.)

Camouflage for the urban jungle of crepe myrtle trees…

The bandana option.  Pics taken after the fact–clearly no time beforehand! Thrifted onesie, antiqued necklace, gifted sunglasses, earrings, & shoes, bandana from 7th grade.

If you’re not really into onesies, you don’t have to choose a jumper-type garment to milk the benefits of one-pieces; put on a dress if that’s your thing.  But the reason one-pieces work so well in general is the same reason they work on shot notice: you don’t have to find two separate items that match in order to be fully clothed. Or, if we’re setting the bar particularly low, you only have to find one semi-clean item instead of two.

What are your tricks for getting dressed and out the door in a jiffy?  Scroll down to comment!


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:

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on


Orientation issues:

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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