Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Level II Thrifting

Anyone else out there believe they have graduated to Level II Thrifting?

I noticed today on the drive home that I am following a different format, using more focused decision making and coming home with some fantastic pieces.  This was not true two years ago when I started my quest to overhaul my closet.

In fact, I realized today that I am upgrading many of the items I brought home two years ago.  There is a bit of guilt attached to this.......I wanted those items to work.  I was optimistic.  I was excited about replacing my overload of black clothes with bright, cheery items.  In my effort to replace items, for instance, if I saw a pair of navy or brown leather shoes in my size I just bought them.  I needed them.  And I believe, most likely, I did.  (Well, if we can call any of our clothing "needed"!)  When I packed up the black to sell on ebay and donate, I was suddenly without my regular workhorse items such as flats, sandals, low heel boots, knit pants, cardigans, jackets.  Everything fit into the black capsule wardrobe - an idea I had settled for because I thought it must be the easiest way to reach my goal of a stressless closet.

Many American women have bought into this line of logic sold to us by the fast fashion industry.....if I just stuck with black as my basic and kept buying eventually I would have a hard-working closet.  It never happened.  In fact, the more money I spent the worse it got.  So overnight, I put myself in the positiion of needing to thrift weekly for replacement items and I very happy to find them in abundance at cheap prices.

Now, two years later - I find that I am upgrading many of these items.  Today I picked up a pair of Nine West nearly new leather kitten heels with some detailing.  Using "one in - one out" they will replace a pair of cheaper brand shoes plain shoes I purchased to fill in the gap until I could find a special pair.  I've went through several jean jackets.  Today, I found "the one" for $5.  The rest now will be listed on ebay where they will be resold for at least as much as I gave for them.  Some were too constricting, some I had problems with the hue of the denim and my dresses, problems with sleeve lengths, the hem lengths, the fit or non-fit at the waistline.  I bought five I can think of in this process of elimination; learning each time to closer define what I needed.  And today I have it!

All in all, I don't see that there was any other way to arrive at this point without going through the beginning levels of thrifting.  At first, its exciting to see so many cute things.  I filled my cart and hoped for the best (replaying my same pattern with mall shopping only without the credit card swiping).  As I grew, I was able to pass up cute things - knowing something similar or better would be there next time; knowing whether something was common or unusual; knowing what would hand wash well and what was too risky; knowing what brand names I am attracted to on the hanger (Talbots, Christopher Banks, Chicos) and then rarely actually wear them once I bring them home; being unafraid to bring home a size XL or 16 blouse and cut out the tag rather than feel intimidated by the size written on it.

I learned that I should assume EVERYTHING will need to be altered.  The fashion blogging world taught me that - that every makeover show, every movie, every actress, every model is supported by full-time alterations staff.  No piece of clothing I see on TV or at the movies is worn directly off the rack.  In fact, with busty girls, tall girls - sometimes the wardrobe people buy two dresses exactly alike so that the seamstresses can adapt them into one dress that fits perfectly.  This fact created a huge shift in my thinking.  I think it would help women everywhere.  It seems so counter-intuitive - that nothing will ever fit me?  Yet, it's very similar to the message the fashion bloggers repeat over and's not you, it's not your body.....blame the clothes because they are not made to fit your perfect body!

I find that the things I actually wear either

1) by some great fluke or dip of luck fit me perfectly (very, very rare and I hang onto no matter how old or outdated)   or

2) they are the starting point and have been altered to fit me.

Less is more!  It feels good to be graduated to Level II Thrifting!  Tell me about your thrifting evolution!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Visible Monday: Bobbing Back to the Surface

Finally beginning to feel a little more visible again.  I'm participating this week in Patti's Visible Monday......

My two grandbabies are almost is due Sept 6th, the second one is due Sept 13th.  So I certainly need to be getting ready for all night rocking sessions!  What to wear, what to wear?

We went to a car show Saturday evening and this is what I wore. 

Dress: Lands End, $1 at thrift store, cut 10" off the bottom and rehemmed. It has pockets!
Red Leather Belt with Silver Hearts:  Wild Man Vintage in downtown Lawrence, Kansas $7
Shoes: Mootsies Tootsies navy sandals, $1 thrift store.
Watch: Big Lots close-out several years ago. I wear it alot.
Earrings:  Silver hearts that I've had for decades. 
Sunglasses:  99 cents at the grocery store (cause I scratch them up and lose them all the time)

I recently carried several dresses down to my cutting table and whacked them off at knee length - this was one of them.  So much better!  Why do I hesitate?  Sometimes I feel like I should leave a dress as it was originally designed - that somehow it holds value and I would ruin it.  Then I spent a day with Phil at Wild Man Vintage in downtown Lawrence, Kansas who has been in the vintage buy and resell business for twelve years.  He took me to his basement to see the back stock.  Very similar to what is discussed in the book "Overdressed" ......stacks to the ceiling of vintage for resale.  Think its difficult to find a 70's polyester wild print shirt?  He probably had 300 of them.  Acid washed jeans - again, 100's of pairs stacked up ready for college Halloween shoppers.  Mens sportscoats? Racks and racks of never worn, dead stock jackets from store closings, plus stacks of used jackets. 

Believe me, unless a vintage item is designer, very old (older than 1950')  and in absolutely perfect condition.....its okay to alter it to get use from it today!  Our planet is buried in barely used clothing.  I will never again feel bad about chopping something to give it a second life!  My new motto is ......sell it for 99 cents on ebay?  stack it up in my basement and hope someone wants it?  or chop it off and get 99 cents worth of enjoyment from it myself?