Updated Post: Updating My Basic Jewelry

And now, with pictures! Sorry for the technical snafu yesterday and thanks to those who pointed it out.

I am a wear-the-same-basic-jewelry-every-day kinda gal. Sometimes I throw in a statement necklace or swap in a more casual bracelet, but most days you’ll catch me wearing a metallic cuff bracelet, my wedding/engagement rings, and gold stud earrings.  Today I’ll tell you about updating my bracelet after it sustained damage, and adding a ring (whoa!).

Up until recently, this vintage cuff was my bracelet:

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It was my grandma’s and I loved wearing it. It reminded me of her and had a style you just don’t see anymore. Paired with relatively simple outfits, it really popped.

But costume jewelry from the 60s isn’t made of Teflon. After several years of wearing it almost every day, it cracked.

I still wore it for awhile, since the crack wasn’t super noticeable. But it kept catching on things, and I realized that if I ever wanted to get it fixed I should probably stop wearing it to prevent further damage. So onto my dresser top it went, where I could still see it every day and smile at the memory of my grandma:IMG_1852

In the meantime, I had a serious case of NAB. (Go Fug Yourself readers will recognize this acronym as “Needs a Bracelet.”) I knew I wanted a cuff; they don’t flop around like bangles or cut off you circulation like elastic bracelets and they’re not infernally hard to put on like regular ol’ clasp bracelets are. Unsurprisingly, the last bracelet I had worn to death was a cuff as well; they just feel elegant and “me.”

So I started searching the jewelry counter at the Goodwill. I found a few bangles in good color schemes (off white and gold) and a silver cuff I really liked, but no gold cuffs. After several weeks of keeping my eyes peeled, I stopped into the Thriftique and lo and behold, this baby was waiting for me:

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At first I was worried it would feel a little too bold – it was a much yellower gold than my previous bracelet, more in your face. But it was much narrower than my last cuff, and I loved the beaten texture. I reminded myself that Grandma’s cuff took some time to move from giving me an “I AM WEARING COSTUME JEWELRY” feeling to being my signature statement piece, and then I gave it some time.

Now it feels like a natural part of my wardrobe and fits with seemingly everything (and doesn’t get caught on sleeves like my last one did).WP_20170614_09_34_20_Pro (1)

The stamp on it says Monet, which is a J.C. Penney brand; quality-wise it’s not going to be around forever, but when it “dies” (as my spouse likes to say) I can thrift a new one that will have its own character, or go back to wearing my grandma’s repaired cuff.

 

I have a whole collection of rings, mostly my mom’s vintage stuff and a few sentimental pieces from junior high/high school when I was an avid ring wearer. But I rarely pull them out, mostly because my bracelet is hogging the attention in the hand/wrist department and I don’t want to compete. I was looking through them for some reason a few weeks ago, though, and was struck by how the color and bold style of this one matched my recently acquired cuff replacement:

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It was my mom’s original wedding ring (she has since moved on to something with diamonds). It’s a Möbius strip, which I think makes for great symbolism. I absolutely LOVE how simple and yet unexpected the design is; in my head this is a top-tier style-blogger level of finger jewelry, though quite a bit chunkier than what’s popular in that set.

When she got married her fingers must have been TINY; it doesn’t fit on my ring finger, so I wear it on my pinky which I think gives it more panache anyway:

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It’s a tiny bit loose; I have to be careful when I get my hands wet. I’ll probably take it to a jeweler to size it down.  Any recommendations?

 

So there you go; secondhand jewelry all the way. I hope you enjoyed the update and would love to know what treasures you sport every day!

 

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:

A post shared by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on

A post shared by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on

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

The Beauty of a Blank Slate

Over Thanksgiving I talked my spouse into a short stop at the Last Chance Thrift Store in Chamblee on our way home from cat sitting for a friend.  I promised a very short stop, which meant I had to be on my game.  I started with the “designer” racks and found some decent things, but nothing I wanted to try on.

Then I ran over to the kids’ section to grab my kid a coat (pics coming soon).  My final stop was the dress section – usually I skip this when I have a time limit because taking home anything involves a trip to the dressing room.  But something pulled me over, and lo and behold, there was a haul of vintage dresses!  Don’t ignore your spidey thrift sense when it strikes.

Someone must have cleaned out Grandma’s closet:

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A few of them were made in Hawai’i and there were some fabulous patterns.  (I would have gone for the first one – the spring green one with white trim – but it had pretty serious stains.  Wanh wannnnh.)

The one I tried on and bought, though, was solidly devoid of pattern:

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Well, there were pockets:

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Look, y’all know I love me some pattern and print.  But in addition to the summery-ness of all the above dresses, their prints and colors limit the number of ways they can be styled.  This dress, on the other hand – although it’s pretty boringly beige (thanks Spouse for pointing this out) – can be paired with a fantastic range of accessories.

My first choice?  This leopard-print ruana (basically a blanket with a big split down the middle so you can wrap it) passed on to me by my mom, which kept my arms nice and warm despite the dress’ short sleeves:

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I added a DIY necklace to give it a focal point and some funk:

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And capped it off with my snakeprint ankle boots.  (To be honest I think this would look best with riding boots, but since I have yet to thrift those, ankle boots it was.)

Other possibilities?  My snakeskin print blazer instead of the ruana; leggings on the bottom with my bronze snakeskin flats or champagne flats – like this:

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on

 

My navy blazer and navy leggings  would also work great.

I can also put a shirt underneath the dress for chillier days – one of my many turtlenecks, or my leopard print blouse for some fun contrast.

Another great topper – this graphic cardigan:

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on

 

And if I can thrift some nice cognac or dark brown riding boots, I’ll have even more options.

Separates are, by definition, easier to mix and match than one broad swath of fabric (a dress) that is highly patterned.  This is why, as much as I love interesting details – and as much as I would love to be the person styling wild patterns and funky cuts – my most frequently worn dresses are ones that are a single, solid, neutral-ish color.  See, for example, the off-white and blue dresses in the IG pics above.

The color of this dress is about as neutral as is possible to be – and although the neck, the longer sleeves, the pockets, and the below-the-knee length actually give it an interesting almost mod 60s vibe (who knows; maybe it was made then), on its own you could argue it’s kind of basic. But that’s exactly why I’m excited to use it as a blank slate for styling it multiple ways throughout winter, and even into spring.  (I think it’s a wool blend so it probably won’t make it into summer.)

What’s your take on blank, boring-ish slates that make it easier to accessorize vs. stuff with more personality that can be harder to style?  Scroll down to comment!

 

 

Signature Accessories

Do you have a signature accessory?

I’m talking about the piece you always wear – or the specific style of accessory from which you never deviate.

They add that recognizable detail to your look, save you time and money – no dithering about what to wear or whether you should buy new stuff! – and, hopefully, they put a smile on your face.

Mine are, in no particular order… Continue reading “Signature Accessories”