2012-01-31

She Thrifted

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Meet Solanah from Vixen Vintage. She thrifted that beret. And she bought that divine jacket at an antique expo.
I know antique expos are not quite thrifting... But I broke my own rule of 'thrift only' to feature her. I shall suffer the consequences of breaking my own rules; maybe I won't eat cheese for a day... Nevermind, that's just cruel.
Anyway, back to the beautiful coat... A good winter coat is always an investment and you might as well get the most glorious vintage one you can find, because a new one will cost as much, if not more... Solanah's style has a very particular vintage look and it's a pleasure to see her wear such gorgeous garments on a regular basis. #vintageforlife

I just used a hash tag in a post. I'm ashamed.

2012-01-30

How Stella* Got Her Groove Back

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Skirt? Thrifted Top? Thrifted Jacket? Maison Scotch, bought in Holland (can't find it online but this is the crazy version... it's shiny and on sale so I want it) Boots? Ash, Winners (here) Wristlet? Coach, bridesmaids's gift

It happens every winter. I fall into a bit of a wardrobe rut. In real life, a wardrobe rut can only be cured by Stacey and Clinton surprising you with secret footage as you eat a burrito in your sweats. With a trip to New York, a new haircut and a 'you deserve this' speech, you are ready to show off your new found style. In a fashion blogger's life, it's just a self indulgent phase where you stare at your over-flowing closet and declare you have nothing to wear. It takes all your self control not to run to Zara, throw your credit card(s) on the counter and buy the entire new collection. Because if I can't dress myself anymore, Zara can...

And then I get a grip. Sometimes I think there is so much inspiration on pinterest, instagram and other blogs that I forget that I like my style. |It always feels a bit awkward talking about how much I like my own outfit but after a slump, it feels good to say that I love how this looks. Or in the words immortalized by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, this outfit makes me feel like I am 'back in the game!' (tell me you remember that... Go to 3:27...).

*Wherein Stella may be replaced with Jentine

2012-01-28

Avoiding the Thrift Money Traps

Perhaps I have too much pride when I write the word 'thrifted' in the clothing itemization list on outfit posts. Conversely, when I have an outfit post with only a few or no thrifted items, I am disappointed with myself. Afterall, my entire blog's identity is wrapped up in the sport of thrift and if I am not a thrift advocate, who am I? Therein lies a problem, because the point of thrifting is hunt for treasure, to build a better wardrobe and to get the best value for your dollar; it is not merely to find something new to brag about every time. And as prices rise across the board in our beloved thrift stores, it is important to be more intentional with what we buy. Gone are the days where you could stuff all you can fit in a bag for $1 (and if they aren't gone... where do you live and can I stay at your house?). That is not to say that there aren't tons of deals left to be had. I know there are many dresses waiting to join their friends in my closet and I will keep looking to find them all. It just means that we need to get smarter and avoid some of the money traps of the thrift store...

1. Don't overspend on mall brands.
The people pricing at thrift stores are often familiar with the mainstream mall brands. Labels like Gap, Abercrombie and Guess, are recognized and often priced higher. It drives me insane because you can often find these exact items for a better price brand new on the end of season clearance racks. My own personal rule is that I will never pay double digits for anything that you can find at the mall. I am sure I have broken my own rules occasionally but it's a good limit to keep in mind.  Of course, you are most familiar with your own wardrobe needs and if you know you will wear that $11 J.Crew skirt all the time at work, then the purchase may be worth it. Just be sure you are thinking about value... Anything F21 is not worth more than a  dollar or two the second time around....

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I paid $4 for this Gap sweater. Now I wear it so much that I would have paid $5....

2. Paying too much for vintage.
Vintage can be priced two ways at the thrift store. In areas away from big urban centres, I have noticed that true vintage is seen as kooky and weird and priced lower than other merchandise. This is my favourite thing. Unfortunately more and more thrift stores are catching on the popularity of vintage goods and pricing them higher accordingly. Here's the sad thing though, you can now sometimes find vintage items (especially little knick-knacks and home goods) at a flea market or even an antique store for a better price. I'm not talking about the fancy, perfectly merchandised antique stores but those stacked, dusty antique stores that I discussed in the last post are full of good stuff waiting to be discovered. In a flea market or an antique store, that vintage fruit crate is just one of many, whereas in a thrift store, the fruit crate stands out as unique... And that uniqueness may cost you. There is much more to be said on the topic of vintage and its value, enough for a book, maybe even a shelf full of books but be aware that just because something is at a thrift store doesn't automatically make it a good deal.

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I got this mint condition 1950's dress for $15 at a local flea market. It would be hard finding something of this quality at that price even at my most beloved Talize...

3. Being realistic.
I've talked about it before, the moment when thrifting stops being a challenge and starts to become a world of possibilities. And it's a great feeling but suddenly, every single thing you take a good look at, has potential.
'These pants would make the cutest shorts!'
'I could, like, totally stud the collar of this shirt!'
'This dress would be so cute if I just dyed it pink!'
It is great to think creatively in the thrift store; to take chances and to have fun but it is important to be realistic. If you buy those pants, that shirt and that dress and never hem them, stud them or dye them, then you just spent money on three things you will never wear. And that is a rip-off. Be honest with yourself, what are you actually going to alter and get done? And if you do the alteration, does this piece of clothing become something that could work in your wardrobe or does it become the project that people will mercy compliment? The thrift store is a great place to explore creativity on a budget but wasted money is wasted money...

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I am the worst for buying things with big plans to alter them.. probably because I have the ability and the tools to do it. But I hate doing alterations (real talk) and it has been a work in progress to curb my unrealistic purchases. Thankfully, I did hem these pants to take them from awkwardly short to intentionally cropped.

If you think that this post signifies the end of my thrift boasting, then you are sorely mistaken. Afterall, I can hardly boast of my culinary skills; thrifting is all I have. This post is more about spending your money wisely and avoiding some thrift pitfalls. It's also about how many times I can use the word thrift in one post...

2012-01-26

Something Different

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If I had a store (because let's face it, the thought has niggled in my brain for years), I suspect I would spend an unreasonable amount of time merchandising it to look just right. But if I am shopping at a flea market or an antique store myself, I prefer to see dust, disorganization and piles and piles of stuff ready to tip over and maim me. It's because I love the hunt (which would explain the excessive thrifting in my life as well) and the feeling that at any moment the next treasure will be uncovered.
A friend took me to a little antique store in Utrecht and it was 2 floors packed full of crazy stuff. And out of all the amazing things that covered every inch of both floors, I bought this antique headband. It's not really my style, at all. Headbands are usually reserved for mommy bloggers and music festival goers (not a dig, just a truth) but it caught my eye immediately and came home with me. I love that the leaves are made of gold thread and that each flower is a slightly varied shade... I would renew my vows just to wear this headband... or just go to a music festival...

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2012-01-23

Reveal

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Jacket? G Star (bought on sale in Holland, available here) Dress? Consigned, no label Boots? Joe Fresh
Cuffs? Auction find

I've been staying in Utrecht, a beautiful city filled with cobblestone streets, canals and old historic buildings everywhere you look. Basically, the down town is one big outfit picture location..... filled with people. And if I could, it would be lovely to laugh at nothing, let the wind tousle my hair artfully and throw armfuls of beautiful tulips into the canal for the most perfect post ever. But I can't work up the courage and push down the embarrassment long enough to accomplish that, so I try to sneak off to quiet places to document my clothing and wistful side glances. Turns out my quiet little spray painted garage door nook was not so private at all... Someone walked up, pressed a button and a store-front was revealed as the garage door I was standing (posing, really...) in front of, rolled up...

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Those little French fry shops just sneak up on you...

2012-01-21

This Week I Thrifted...

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What? Vintage (though maybe not, it's hard to see...) beaded collar
Who?  I asked a childhood friend (technically my first friend EVER... we were bbf's... baby best friends), who I got to see again this last week to help me out and wear the collar for me... How's that for special?
Where? A thrift store in Zwolle (here)
How much? 1.20 euro
Why? I think I found the thrift store of my dreams. I mean, thrift stores are in my dreams a lot but this one was pretty fantastic. While we were visiting some family in Zwolle, my aunt offered to babysit my nephew, then she lent my sister-in-law and I some bikes and gave us directions to the nearest 'kring-loop' in her town. This thrift store had charming display cases everywhere made of old milk crates, a big play house in the corner full of all the kid's toys, and a restaurant attached where you could buy any of the furniture they used for seating. With so much effort being put into display, you would think it was an expensive vintage boutique but it was really just a big thrift store with regular thrift store prices. I bought a red suede jacket (coming soon to a post near you), a vintage cigar box for Matt, little goat slippers for my nephew, a rug for my cousin and this beaded collar. I call that successful.
Too bad an ocean separates my house and my new favourite thrift store...

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What did you thrift this week?

2012-01-19

Sometimes Practical

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Jeans? Calvin Klein Outlet (can only find them in petite here) Sweater? Joe Fresh Boots? Gap
Bomber? Costa Blanca Vest? Talie, Winners (similar but expensive hereSnood? American Eagle (similar here)

I did a pretty good job packing this time for my trip to Holland. I am telling you this so you can shower me with praise.
For once I was realistic that I wouldn't be wearing crazy high heels and pretty vintage dresses while on vacation because I am walking and biking everywhere... So instead of packing these items and leaving them unworn and cursing myself as I lug around my heavy suitcase of uselessness, I left almost all frivolous items at home. A life changing concept really... And while I miss my more fanciful clothes (Matt, please tell them I say hi and also, give the cats a little chin scratch for me...) I am enjoying the fact that I am warm and comfortable enough to enjoy Holland thoroughly... Though I admit, my family, my friends, the warm weather and wine on weekdays helps me enjoy Holland thoroughly as well....

2012-01-17

She Thrifted

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Meet Jony from Shout-Out to You. She thrifted that skirt, turtleneck and scarf... on the same thrift trip.
I reckoned it would be fitting to feature a Dutch girl while I am here in Holland. I have been wearing sunglasses all week because by some miracle the weather here has been gloriously sunny (as opposed to their regular forecast of rain with a chance of rain) but also because, my sunglasses serve to hide my staring eyes. Aside from the over abundance of leggings, I love the way Dutch girls dress and I am always peaking through my sunglasses to check out their boots and bags. That is why I was thrilled to find Jony, who is not only a stylish Dutch blogger, but who also likes thrifting as much as I like free WiFi...

Speaking of WiFi... I am trying to update my instagram as regularly as free internet connections will allow while I am adventuring here... Find me at myeditblog to see some pretty pictures brought to you primarily by clear skies and happy moods.

2012-01-16

Natural Born Biker

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Sweater? Zara (final sales) Plaid shirt? Winners Jeans? Joe Fresh Boots? Joe Fresh (leather and now $39 in store!) Coat? Thrifted Necklace? Thrifted

This bike is like the porridge that Goldilocks ate from little Bear's bowl; just right. I mean, if we are going to get technical, the bike is actually too short and the seat has a wobble but in terms of borrowed bikes, it works wonderfully.
I miss Matt and all, but the best part of travelling to Holland alone is that everyone has a spare bike to lend me. In the half week that I have been here, I have borrowed 4 bikes. You just take what is lying around when you need to get somewhere... And out of all the bikes so far, this one gets my heart. Partially because it was easy to ride, and partially because this bike wasn't to blame when I caused some other bikes to fall like Dominos near the bike rack...
Did I mention the neighbour was watching while this happened?
I hope I made his night...

2012-01-14

This Week I Thrifted...

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Dress? I.B. Diffusion, thrifted Necklaces? Antique market

What? Wool/Acrylic blend dress
Where? Value Village (yeah... I keep going back...)
How much? $4
Why? I thrifted this dress recently on a quick trip to Value Village. I had done a fast scan of my favourite areas and I was about to try on a dress, when I saw a really stylish girl coming out of the change room. I saw her put stuff back on the return rack and I knew I had to check her rejects. The minute she was out of sight, I totally bee-lined it to her section of returns and found a veritable thrift gold mine. I bought this dress, a leather skirt and cape/vest thingy just from what she left behind. How's that for a thrift tip? Follow people whose style you admire (at a respectable distance, you creep...) and wait for their left-overs...

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What did you thrift this week?

2012-01-13

Jet-Set

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Jacket? Banana Republic, thrifted Pants? h&m Shirt? French Connection Boots? Winners Bag? Gift from my Mama, she found it at a garage sale... Necklace? The Last Hurrah

I'm in Holland again. I'm just such a little jet-setter... or, I found a flight that was dirt cheap and I finally got to meet my new nephew (yup, he's cute).
I took my huge leather travel bag, even though every time I use it I curse it for being slightly unwieldy and ever so heavy. Part of me feels bad for using it, because I don't want to wreck it but on the other hand, it's such a fun bag to tote around...well, except for the shoulder pain. Turns out that having too much pride and insisting on carrying a cool old vintage bag was the best decision on the plane. Many people were testing the limits on hand luggage to the maximum (and by testing, I mean they were blatantly above the limit) and by the time my seat was called for boarding, the overhead compartments were full. People were scrambling to fit everything in safely because there was talk of off-loading the whole plane... Between all the hand-luggage suitcases, I found a little open corner and I was able to carefully squish my bag and make it all fit. 45 minutes after departure time we finally got all the hand luggage secure and we were able to leave... I was just thrilled that my bag was squish-able and useful for once, instead of being just a pretty pain in my shoulder...

2012-01-11

Organization

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Skirt? Allen Schwartz, Winners Top? Gap (here) Tights? Hue (these are so comfy)
Necklaces? Antique market (got them both for $8) Boots? Charles David, thrifted

I wish I could tell you that I am looking towards the right in every picture because there was something awesome to see out of the frame. Maybe there was a cat parade or a Bath and Body Works truck that crashed into a pole (no one sustained injuries) and spilled lip-gloss all over the road... Sadly, there was just an empty alley. I think I turned to the side every time because I was inwardly rather proud of the hair style which I worked out of my unwashed-for-days hair. I was probably inspired by something I saw on Pinterest and thought 'I can do that'. Usually my problem with Pinterest is that, I see things and think 'I can do that', and then I don't do...that. Because I am lazy and because an awesome mirrored back splash is apparently not practical and hard to clean. So now, Pinterest has basically become an organizational tool for everything I don't accomplish. But at least my unaccomplishments are organized and that is more than I can say for my front hall closet.

2012-01-10

She Thrifted

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Meet Kyla from Bluecollar Catwalk. She thrifted that skirt.
I feel like I have been following Kyla's blog for forever... It's been over three years already, which is practically forever, especially if you are The Bachelor. Her ability to blog with integrity and positivity has always impressed me. More impressive however, is that fact that she is wearing yellow tights and I actually like them. If you, in turn, have followed my blog for a long time, you will know I am usually averse to the whole coloured tights thing. Occasionally someone does it right, but most of the time, coloured tights scare me... But this little peek of yellow tights in an otherwise neutral outfit works quite nicely. Look at me, widening my horizons. And look at Kyla, thrifting and generally being awesome...

2012-01-09

Got Your Back

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Skirt? Donna Karan Collection, thrifted  (yes, my best find of 2011) Turtleneck? h&m Collar necklace? Thrifted Clutch? Thrifted Shoes? I.D. Browns (similar here) Coat? Rebecca Taylor, Off Saks (vest version here)

And just like that, I am wearing my big fuzzy jacket again. This time I wore it, not out of bravado, but in solidarity.
There was a young girl at church that has a big faux fur jacket and while she likes the jacket, she was little afraid to wear it out. So, I told her I would wear my fluffy coat too and I would have her back. In the blog-perfect version of this story, this little girl would realize that it is OK to be different and we would hug it out as some Celine Dion song plays in the background and doves, dyed in rainbow colours, fly off into the sunset. In the real-life version of this story, I didn't even really see the little girl again when I wore my jacket to church this week. But I was very warm. And I kept my word. It was important to keep your word because if you start lying to little kids, you are either a bad person... or a parent.

2012-01-07

Wash and Dry

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There is a chance this may be the most useless post ever posted here. But there is also a chance that you have been living under a rock just like me and this post will change your life. I might be being dramatic here...
One of the biggest downers of thrifting is dry cleaning. It's great that you got a nice dress for under $10 but if you pay $17 to clean it, your celebratory feelings will be short-lived. Also short-lived will be your celebratory dance, and those are entertaining, let's not do anything to ruin those... When Wag-Jag had a deal on dry cleaning a while back, we snapped up a few vouchers but even with the discount, it adds up quickly. Of course, not reading the small print and realizing that we could only use one voucher at a time and only at a specific location, made the deal not quite as awesome as we anticipated. Lately, I have become rather rebellious and I often ignore the 'dry clean only' tag and only use dry cleaning as a last resort. What changed is that my friend taught me a tiny hand washing trick that made things much easier...
I find I have done the most accidental damage to clothing during the drying part of handwashing. The item is often heavy with water and wringing out excess water it can be difficult and unwieldy. If the item is too wet when you hang it up, it can stretch out in awkward places and alternately, a quick spin cycle can easily damage anything delicate. I ruined a great wool dress with a quick 3 minute spin cycle and the memory still stings... So now I hand wash and rinse an item as usual (cold water with a touch of detergent and vinegar (except with linen)) but I dry it in a much smarter way...

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1. Wring item out very gently (just so you are not sloshing a tidal wave over your floors) and lay it out flat across a dry towel.
2. Roll up the towel with the washed article inside.
3. Press down all along the rolled up towel so the dry towel soaks up much of the moisture from the item inside.

With the towel absorbing most of the moisture and its weight, it can be hung up or laid out to dry without difficulty. I usually hang up anything made of woven fabric, while I always lay out any knits because they stretch...
I still dry clean some items; structured jackets, pleated items made of natural fabrics, anything that is crazy delicate or precious vintage are not worth risking. But my fairly decent collection of silk shirts all get hand washed despite their dry clean only tag... maybe if I paid $200 for an Equipment blouse, I would be hesitant to risk it but my $4 thrift store finds have survived splendidly.
Washing and drying this heavy alpaca sweater used to be like noodling a catfish; way too much wrestling... It would become so heavy and out of control that I could not even attempt to wring it and drying it would take days. The towel trick has changed  my life.
Ha. I sound like an infomercial... except I am not selling you a pair of pajama jeans. I am just sharing a really simple trick that a lot of people might already know...