Friday, December 10

Blog Moving

Hey all, the Blog has moved! Look for fabulous Recycled Style at

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, September 23


Just got back from a lovely weekend with far-away family. My Cousin Geoff married a wonderful girl, Jess that I have known and loved for years, and then the family was gathered round for food and fellowship. And was there ever food!
I think I ate seven meals on Sunday.

Here's me and my cousin Hannah during a break in the eating. Note that we both wear groovy glasses.
It was a fun trip, but it was extra fun because it had been so long since We (Adam and I ) had seen everyone on my dad's side. Almost eight years.
While we were there I was delighted to discover in how many ways I am like this distant family. My tastes in food aside, I inherited lots of little quirks that I never knew were genetic. Like Grandpap, I putter. Puttering is making little things all the time, fingers always wanting to be working. He made stained glass lamps and furniture and jewelry and now it's fountain pens- he restores them. I also putter.
I got my sense of style from my aunt Ilona. She's quirky and vintage and so am I. I also appear to have inherited a tendency to drag young people together and make them talk to each other. I knew I got match-making from my mom's side, but it's now clear that I got a double-dose genetically. If you're single, look out. I'll set you up, plan your wedding, and dress you in something vintage. I can't help it, I was born that way.
Like my Aunt Suzy, I make stuff. I'm always wanting to learn something new and make it. This includes sewing, cooking and other crafts, although I fear I did not inherit her patience, and will never be good at knitting anything.
My cousins, at least the ones my age, share a love of good music on records, British comedy, and Science fiction.
But mostly I find I am like my Grandma. Both my grandmas and my mother like to feed people. But my Grandma and I like to feed people non-stop. She stayed up all night making cabbage rolls, then put half a cheese in my suitcase. She sews things for herself to wear, and has a love of fine fabrics. She is constantly telling her family how to do things. She is inspired by music and curious about the Spirit.
And she is loud. At my sister's wedding four years ago, I commented to her that she and I had the same taste in fabrics, to which she responded, "You know what else we have in common? We both tend to talk a little too high and a little too loud." And when every second person in a house full of people has hearing aids, no one minds. Nobody told me to be quieter all weekend.
My grandparents are also notorious for giving away stuff. Not only are they generous, they, especially Grandpap, are flea-market junkies. They love to find treasures, and they love to pass them on. Perhaps here is the real truth of where my love for thrifting originated. Inspired by my Grandparents, nurtured by my Parents, by the time I was full-grown the outcome was inevitable. I love finding second-hand, vintage, antique, and special old stuff. And I want to share that love with everyone, because- let's face it- I can't buy all this cool stuff myself. 

Monday, September 6


So I realized this lovely labor-day morning that I have never posted about accessories. This is a travesty, because at least half of my jewelry, belts and scarves come to me second-hand.
But not my shoes. As I may have mentioned in a previous post, I have large and freakishly thin feet. Apparently, If there are any other 9 1/2 narrows out there, they like me hoard their shoes and wear them until they are unacceptably ratty and beyond donating to anywhere. For The Other Elisabeth's wedding, I could not find shoes. At all. The dress (which I tried to post on Friday, but was prevented from by Blogger's stupidity. Some other time.) was a perfect shade of purple, and therefore it did not match my black shoes or my leather shoes or my copper shoes or my silver shoes. It didn't even match my Yellow shoes! So At the Last Minute the night before I got a brainwave. While I had momentarily contemplated going to the wedding barefoot, I instead grabbed a pair of lime-green canvas kitten heels from the 'donate' bag. My reasoning went like this: Lots of people dye shoes for weddings. They only match one dress and are generally worn only one time. Then the dyed shoes end up at the thrift store, all turquoise and shiny and barely worn. So if strange color dyed shoes are acceptable at weddings, why not unusual color painted shoes? I therefore proceeded to get out my paint box and carefully apply purple acrylic to those lime green shoes. I even used gradation.They matched perfectly. They were awesome. Awe. Some.
Later, both the little plasticky heels broke off and were lost somewhere, so I used epoxy putty and black paint to give them new heels, and I wore them to church. Still awesome.
However, you do not have to be crafty like me to make good use of old accessories. Belts, scarves, jewlry, all can be given new life.
In fact, my cousin's wedding is coming up, and I have decided to wear my smashing vintage turquoise dress. I was going to look for a new dress, but this one is already perfect. And the fun thing about it is, I can accessorize however I want. Shall I wear a cardigan or a silk wrap? Yellow pearls or Turquoise squash-blossoms? Hair up with a jeweled clip, or down with recycled silk flowers? In fact, I can pack it all and decide the day of if I want to because accessories are small and they all fit together in one little pouch in my suitcase!
All I know for sure is that her colors are blue with yellow, so I can wear my yellow shoes.
What are your favorite recycled accessories?

Saturday, August 28

Dumpster Diving

It's true what they say about one man's trash. When we were first married we were still in college and when the school year was up we hit the big time at the local Boy's Hall dumpster.
This may sound gross, but If it does, you have never been dumpster diving. You can find some of the best stuff dumpster diving.

That year alone, we scored a shelf, an old stereo, a chair, and a 27" TV. I'll be honest and admit that someone had rolled up his entire bedding- pillows, mattress pad and all- and dumped it, doubtless to prevent his mother from finding out that it had not been washed all year. And that I did not touch. A boy's dorm at the end of the year is one of the best places to find treasure. Girls will make it all fit in their car, but guys, they just dump it.
Yesterday we were walking thru our neighborhood, and found that someone had rented a dumpster for what appears to be a remodeling project. We grabbed two narrow shelves, one of which will be a lifesaver in the kitchen. And we saved them from going to the landfill. If anyone wants glass shower doors, they're there for the taking.
A close relative of dumpster diving is the annual Boy Scout pick-up day. In our small town, once a year the Scouts come around to haul away large stuff, and everyone puts their stuff they want to get rid of out to the curb. And, being both cheap and friendly, most people put their stuff out a couple days early. Then you can drive around town and grab stuff off the curb. And the Boy Scouts pick up whatever is left.
When my sister moved, she got rid of a bunch of furniture that way.
In Hungary, where my folks live, they are only allowed one bag of trash per week. So once a year all the large trash is brought to a neighborhood center and dumped. Then everybody goes thru it to find things they want. Clothes, furniture, you name it, if it's unwanted it gets dumped. And when everyone's done, the gypsies come dig thru what's left. Then they burn the remainder, which, if the gypsies don't want it, is truly trash.
Frankly, the amount of stuff we throw out in this country is staggering. I wish it was easier to rummage thru other people's unwanted stuff. There are drawbacks, obviously. Those two shelves are out on the porch airing out right now- I'm not gross. I know in some big cities, "Freegans" are raiding dumpsters at night looking for food. That seems very noble and all, but I think I'll stick with the farmer's market.

Have you found anything awesome that someone else threw out?

Friday, August 20

Friday's Find

This Week, the Find is twofold.
First off, a fun Mens' t-shirt from our local Goodwill- Cost $1.99. If you can't tell, It says, "Keep It Green". I am contemplating making grocery bags out of t-shirts because they are, cheap, washable, and recycled. My husband has a huge collection of this kind of shirts, but he won't let me make bags out of them.

Second, a vintage (retro?) 1980 Man with Big Muscles. I think he's cute.
This is what happens when you ask your Dad to take a picture of your husband for your blog.

Wednesday, August 18

Thrifting with kids and other great Finds

This weekend, went Goodwilling with my lovely SIL Debbi, her two little ones, and The Other Elisabeth*.
Not only did we have a marvelous time (well, I know I did.) But Elisabeth found a fantastic, vintage 40's navy blue dress that fit her like a dream.
Okay, the real truth went something like this:
Her: Oh this is nice (Moves on)
Me: This has a metal zipper! In the side! The tag is original! THIS IS MID-FORTIES! TRY IT ON, IT WON'T FIT ME!
She rolled her eyes and took it, since people were starting to look at us funny.

But, in the end, the Rules, strictly enforced by Me, paid off, as it fit her like it had been made for her, and was generally adoreable. She told me she wore it out the other night, but did not send me pics.
We also introduced Debbi to the wonders of Thrift shopping. Debbi is Queen of Dollar Stores, Empress of Bag Days, and Mistress of the Community Garden, so it was about time we showed her what second-hand was all about. We forced her most cruelly to try on stuff, and she ended up with several cute things, some of which she even admitted to liking.
But the real revelation for me was my 6-year-old niece. It was my first time Thrifting for kids, and, if possible, it was even more fulfilling than Thrifiting for myself. We let her be amused by rooting around finding things she wanted while we shopped. Then I went in the dressing room with her and strictly enforced the "no you can't grow into a size 16" rule. (This is a new rule. I Might have to write all new rules for thrifting with Kids. I need to find some more kids to practice them on!) She ended up with such a haul of cute stuff that fit her, that I had to hide some of it so she would forget about it. And get this- kids clothes are even cheaper than adult ones!
As for me, I got two cute sweaters (which was insane because it was approximately one-hundred-and-seventeen-degrees outside) and a great khaki dress which I can wear to my lovely new job where wearing skirts is smiled upon.
All in all, a fun trip.

*I thought of abbreviating this, but calling her "T.O.E." just doesn't seem very nice.

Monday, August 9


Yesterday I went to Goodwill with my sis for the first time in, Oh, ages. We were just hanging out and, as usually happens, we wound up out looking for bargains. She was getting ready for the new work and school year, and needed a couple things to spruce up her wardrobe. I was just along for the ride.
And she found some great stuff!  While we were there we had a conversation about how no matter what style you are, you can find it second hand. Of course, I love anything retro and relaxed, but she has a much more crisp, tailored style. If she sends me pics I will post them, but she got a darling new black pencil skirt with lace detailing that fit so perfectly! I would not even try on a pencil skirt, but to her, they are indispensable. Even out shopping, she wore a cute outfit of kelly green tank and tailored navy capris. I wore my trusty bell-bottoms and a brown T-shirt (one of several). 
We'll never look like sisters, but if you talk to us for more than 30 seconds, you will see the similarities. Or rather, you will hear them loud and clear! We laughed so hard, people were looking at us. At one point she wondered aloud why Goodwill hasn't run out of high-waisted stone-washed jeans yet, and I reflected that they never sell, so they just become more and more concentrated in the inventory as all the other styles come and go. She did not find any new jeans.
One thing we certainly have in common, which we inherited from our mother, is the desire to obtain the greatest quantity of clothes for the smallest price. Cat was commenting amazedly on a friend of hers that had spent hundreds buying a week's worth of new clothes. All in all, Cat spent about ten bucks, and she even bought a tank for me.We returned home victorious, and (I'll be honest) feeling slightly superior. There is something so satisfying about saying, "Oh this? I got it for three dollars. Great, isn't it?" And to me the added bonus of being able to show my "greenness" off with style is quite the temptation. At least Cat will always keep me humble. Nothing reminds you not to take yourself seriously like saying, "Isn't This Cool?" and having the other person laugh uproariously as she derides you for you weirdness. Because she loves you.

Saturday, June 26

Stuff 'n Nonsense

You guys.
I am having a little bit of a wigged out week. Lots of crazy stuff happening, but the main thing on my mind is work. I'm a hard worker. I like work in general. I spent a year not working and I nearly went crazy. So maybe it would be more specific to say My Job.
My Job is a fine Job. I work for a major retailer, but a really nice one, with actual values all the way up the corporate ladder. This is no Wal-mart. It's boring and pedestrian, but I get to help lots of customers and keep things tidy, both of which I like.

The thing getting to me is The Waste.
There is so much Waste! Cardboard is recycled, but everything else just gets tossed. Paper, plastic, Styrofoam, broken stuff, glass... Every week, I toss another plastic bag of plastic wrappers that freight was wrapped with and I inwardly cringe. So much is just sent off to the landfill! I realise that this is the world we live in, and there's nothing I can do about it. But still.

And right up there with the Waste is the Stuff people buy. I am tempted constantly by all the cute stuff I see. Especially when I am checking and those nice people are all buying the cute stuff, and I think, "I want me some of this cute stuff!" And they swipe that plastic and I suddenly realise that, half the time, they are putting that cute stuff on credit and the illusion comes crashing down. People! You do not need more stuff! You need less debt and more real quality in your lives! And I think about my house and I know, I already have too much stuff!

I value Simplicity! Thrift! Quality things that last! But I have realised really profoundly this week that, not only is my job boring and pedestrian, I am personally contributing to the mountains of Waste in our landfills, the mountains of Debt accruing to keep us chained as a nation, and perhaps worst of all, the Stuff in people's lives.
And I can't even wear my skirts.

Sorry to bum you out, but there it is.

Tuesday, June 22

In praise of skirts (and dresses)

Apparently my Memorial day excitement was unfounded. But now I'm Back!
If I can get pics working, we'll be in buisness!

So yesterday was my anniversary, and we had a great time at the lake with the dogs. Afterward we went to our favorite Mexican place for an amazing meal and I wore an amazing dress I got last year but hadn't had a chance to wear. It's a simple strapless sundress, and it always seemed either too casual or too dressy. But last night, like Goldilocks it was just right. I was not only pretty, but I was both well-covered and cool, which can be hard to pull off in Kansas in the Summer.

Something I don't love about my job is that skirts are pretty impractical. I have a lot of them that I love, but I seem to be wearing bell bottoms every day. Not that my love for bell-bottoms decreases, but I love to wear skirts, too. They are so... Feminine. When I wear a skirt I feel like I stand up a little straighter. I feel more poised. They are extra cool and breezy this time of year.  And in the winter, you can wear tons of layers without anyone knowing. This December one of the ladies at church remarked how cold it was and I said I was okay, but then I was wearing 5 layers. Those pioneer ladies knew what was what.

It seems like skirts haven't been too popular for casual wear since, oh, the '80's. But they seem to be making a comeback the last couple years. This summer floaty skirts in particular seem to be the thing to wear. And Maxi dresses. Where better to get a pretty one than second hand? I'm always ahead of the trends like that.

I just counted: I have 17 skirts and 31 dresses. (Not including formal wear.) Dresses are not as all-season as skirts, but I realize I can never again legitimately complain on Sunday Morning. If I can't find a dress I feel like wearing, I need Therapy. But, I may need a few more skirts.

Monday, May 31

In Memoriam

After almost 2 weeks of new motherboards and processors, I'm Back!

And to make things short and sweet, because it is a Holiday after all,

Here's a reminder to shop your local DAV thrift stores.

Disabled American Veterans stores use the proceeds to support our Veterans, and you know you can find the Fabulous Finds there!
It's a fantastic way to put actions behind your feelings!

Happy Memorial Day!

Friday, May 14

Friday's Find

My heart just isn't in it today. In Anything. I'm Pooped before it all starts! So, something really fantastic to get my engines running.

This stunning Blue Taffeta late 50's gown is so tiny I can't even wear it. Once, years ago I tried it on, and Cat had to pull me out of it. But for a clothes-hound like me, it is worth it just to have this dress. I put it on to a size 00 for a play a couple years ago, and it fit her okay, though tight in the shoulders.

I have been wracking my brain about where I got it and how much it cost, but to be honest I have no idea. I'm fairly certain it was in Kansas, and I'm sure it was less than $10, because I would never spend more than that on something that's just for pretty. And It is pretty. It's beautifully made, to begin with. The color is too stunning to try to capture on camera. And you should see that Taffeta shine with a full crinoline holding out the circle skirt. It's one of those they-sure-don't-make-em-like-they-used-to's. So, It's in my costume closet. And occasionally, I bring it out just to look at it. 

Ahhh. I feel better already.

Wednesday, May 12

The Thrifty Garde Robe

Today, I'd like to direct your attention to a lovely little blog I'm obsessed with.

The Thrifty Garde Robe is a forum for people to show off what they've been making and repurposing. My Only beef with this site is "why didn't I think of that!"
And I should have thought of it, because this is something I do all the time. Right now I'm wearing my favorite sweatshirt which I made out of a thrift store find. What I don't have is a camera.
So, while I ponder how to start taking photos of my own Thrifty and creative things, check out the wonderful Gals over there with their wonderful, recycled, creative endeavors. The button is right here.

Now, I'm off to either do some recreating of my own on that vintage dress, or else decide to wear the purple one and spend the day relaxing.

Monday, May 10

A major week has begun.
The Other Elisabeth, along with several other lovely ladies I know are(Is?) graduating on Saturday. From College. Geez, I'm getting old. And On Sunday I have a wedding. And ONE WEEK FROM TODAY Elisabeth Is getting hitched. And then We'll be related. Sort of.
She'll be my adopted-second-cousin-in-law-in-law. We're excited.
But, Getting hitched comes with lots of things to do! Even For me. Even though, sadly, she went ahead and bought a dress on line, so I do not get to make her wedding dress, I still have plenty on my mind.

Saturday, I went thrifting and got two amazing dresses.
One is black vintage 60's, and the other is Sparkly Purple and very new. I was all set to wear the vintage, even though it is too big and needs altering, because I have an awesome hat to wear with it. But the purple one is so cute! And requires so much less work!

I was reading this week about the moments that define our lives and I think for me, all those moments are shaped by what I was wearing. Graduation dresses. Play costumes. Date clothes. Bridesmaid dresses. Wedding dress. The fantastic outfits I come up with to wear to plays I've directed.

All the really big moments are fixed in my mind by what I was wearing. On my first date with Adam, I wore a yellow button-up blouse and vintage jeans with yellow stitching that I rolled up. He wore an Orange t-shirt tucked into his jeans, which I really admired. I didn't know any other guys that tucked their shirts in. I commented on it, and he laughed and said that his dad always told him if he wanted to meet the right kind of girl he better tuck in his shirt. We still joke about that, because it was so true! That tucked-in shirt set him apart. I still have the jeans I wore, but they're in a costume box for now. I don't think I could ever let go of them. That night was special.

So I've realised that part of the dress dilemma for me is, that this is a big day. I'm going to remember it for a long time. And there will be pictures. Do I want to continue the tradition of fabulous vintage hats and dresses I've worn to other friends' weddings, or do I step out in a dress just because I look pretty in it and it's her favorite color? This choice will echo in my mind for decades.

Either way I think I need new shoes.

Friday, May 7

Friday's Find

It's Friday!
Thank the Lord.

And, I have the day off tomorrow! So, I will be going thrifting for a dress for me to wear to the Other Elisabeth's wedding. I'm thinking something black and vintage to go with an awesome hat I want to wear. I also have another wedding the day before, so if I happen to find 2 dresses...

Today, Skirts! These are all from the light brown section of my closet. And they are all from my local Goodwill, once again. And they all cost 3-4 dollars.

This simple Khaki skirt is shown from the back. It's Plain. It's Basic. It can go anywhere.

I love this springy flowery, ruffled one. It goes with orange and yellow and brown and cream and khaki... It's like a skirt of many colors. Colors I wear a lot. I wear it in the winter with orange and brown sweaters. I wear it in the summer with tank tops. It even matches my hat.

And finally, this pretty Prairie skirt. I got it this winter, and I've been waiting to wear it. It's got layers of that soft, crinkly cotton that is my favorite. If the blasted wind will die down to oh, 20mph or so, I may even wear it when I go out shopping tomorrow.

Friday, April 30

Friday's Find

This week, a little something to take my mind off the fact that I have to work all weekend. At least work will be interesting. Lots of stuff to move around.

But here's a little number that is for laying around. I should have pressed it before taking pics, I know, but sometimes one doesn't think of these things until later. It's also hard to get something this long into one shot when you can only stand 3 feet away. I'm learning.

As a rule, I do not buy underclothes second hand. Yuck. But lingerie is a different story. This is a vintage, handmade Yellow Nightie and Bed jacket. I say Handmade, because with close observation, one can see the care that was taken. But It's certainly not homemade. All the seams are finished beautifully. No, someone once bought this at a store. Maybe for a special night in? The bust is not really that wrinkly. It's deliberately crinkly with extra fullness that is soft and feminine.

Here's a back view of the top, which somehow looks orange, despite my tweaking it on photoshop. If I've leaned anything from this piece, it's how brilliant that little cross-over of the straps is. It has give and coverage at the same time. And check out that curved seam. Fit, people!

Finally, I somehow lost the pic of the whole jacket (typical)- but here's the amazing close-up of the jacket sleeve.
I only hope that someday I can run a zig-zag seam that cleanly. Gorgeous! Ladies back whenever this was made sure knew how to relax in Style!

The stats:
Found: Once again, my local Goodwill
Cost: $3.99
Modifications: None, but I should probably press it before I wear it. Or maybe just to soothe my mind.

Wednesday, April 28


This week I am inspired.

I'm inspired by so many wonderful blogs and sites. I'm also Tired, which not only rhymes with inspired, but it explains why I have been reading other people's stuff instead of writing my own. I feel guilty, but not that much. After all, I am tired because I am working hard! I am discovering that one of the main things I value is free time.

But today is my day off. Not only have I spent more than an hour reading some of the Fabulous, inspirational blogs and sites which I have linked in the sidebar for your convenience, but I now intend to go do some sewing! I am almost finished with the denim bag I've been making, and I have at least four other bag ideas to work on. I have got to stop getting inspired and actually Do something, or the pile of WIP (That's works-in-progress for you newbs) Will take over my sewing room!

But first, I must do three things:
1. Start some laundry. I am seriously running out of clean undies.
2. Clean the sewing room so I can get something accomplished in there.
3. Fix my hair in pin-curls. I have been thinking about curls all week, and now that I discovered Super Kawaii Mama's site, I have been pushed over the edge. Must. Curl. Hair.

The last time I tried pin curls I was in High school and I did something terribly, terribly wrong. I looked like a teased fright wig  that got surprised. I washed it out instantly. No evidence survives, thank God. So I am going to check out how Super Kawaii Mama does it, because she not only has awesome hair, she has tutorials.

After that, I am going to get some serious sewing done and make room in my brain for some new inspirations! I may even, at some point, get dressed. But don't hold your breath.

Monday, April 26

A little bragging

So, yesterday I wore this dress to church.

And I totally got at least seven compliments on it. Not that I was counting. Not bad for four bucks.

I love pretty dresses. Who'd have ever thought?

I went shopping with my Mom last week, and got 4 new work shirts. I know, I'm addicted. 

And in other news, my bizarre urge to make Tudor bodices is rip-roaring. Despite the fact that I made one for the other Elisabeth's Bridal shower last weekend. So I found a local Renaissance shoppe that will totally sell my stuff on consignment. Mwa-ha-ha!

I wish there was more time in the day to make stuff! Perhaps I should get an Etsy site? Then I could make a profit on stuff, instead of cluttering up my house with bodices and bags and bell bottoms.
On that alliterative note, I gotta get ready for work.

Friday, April 23

Friday's Find

This week, a selection  of great tops I have found to wear to work. And yesterday, I found four more. No pics as yet, but I am at least not whining about my wardrobe anymore. I don't actually remember the prices on these, but all were likely under $3. They all came from local Goodwills.
I have to admit that they all look better on than they do on the hanger. 

A brown ribbed T that's long enough even over hip huggers and layers nicely with everything from tanks to sweaters.
A light green Eyelet T, pretty and sweet. 

A pretty Yellow peasant Blouse.

And finally, a Lightweight Grey sweater by Converse One-Star. Albeit wrinkly.

See. I have a lot of clothes.

Thursday, April 22

New Shoes

I have had an ethical dillema this week.
You see, you just can't get good shoes second hand. You can get cute shoes. If you wear a 6 1/2, there's a pair of black Steve Madden Patent leather pumps at my local Goodwill right now. Pristine.

But, I cannot get the shoes I need second hand. I not only wear a 9 1/2, I have back and foot problems and a really high arch, and I work on my feet all day. I need not just comfortable shoes, I need really good shoes. Last year I found a fantastic pair on clearance and I have loved them all year. Every day at work. On my feet. And they are not nearly as lovable as they once were. In fact, they are downright painful!

Hence my ethical dilemma. What do you do if you are a green- clothes blogger and you need new shoes?!? Buy good shoes and lie about it? Suffer through uncomfortable shoes? Fortunately, neither.

I got a fantastic new pair at the place I never go- Walmart. (To be specific, my mom got them for me. Thanks, Mama.)  They are super comfy, have lovely arches and flexible soles, and get this- They're recycled. At least partly.

They're the Danskin NOW Lynne Sneaker, and they have a spiffy little tag explaining which parts are recycled. The lining fabric is 100% recycled, and the sole is up to 70% recycled, a lot of it from plastic bottles. They're brown, which I like because they won't look dirty. And they look groovy with Bell-bottoms.

Ethical dilemma solved. Sore feet solved. Now if I could just get someone to pay me for my shameless plug of their merchandise.

Tuesday, April 20

Too many, or not enough?

Along they lines of personal style, I have been reflecting that I really may have too many clothes. Not that I've done an actual count, or anything. I have five large drawers, six medium drawers and a closet. And If I amazingly get it all clean at once, It doesn't all fit where it goes. But Most of it is second hand! So that means it is okay to have more, right?
One year in College, I waited until the neighbor girls moved out, and then moved my clothes into their empty room for packing. My clothes took up one whole side of the room. To this day I don't know how I got it all in the drawers and tiny closet at school.
In Junior High, My dad made us some really big drawers because the dressers we had didn't accommodate everything. So I guess this problem goes way back. It's probably my mom's fault. I will probably need years of therapy if I want to get over this. And I would definitely rather have tons of cheap clothes that years of expensive therapy. I mean, they're just clothes!
As I sit here typing, though, It occurs to me that I probably don't have too many clothes, I just don't have as many places to wear the nice ones. As I mentioned on Friday, it's mostly jeans and casual tops for me. When I was a librarian, I had Lots of chances to wear lots of other things. I wore skirts all the time and got compliments on my fantastic blouses and necklaces every day. I got a chance to display my somewhat unconventional personality through my outfit every day. And I bemoaned that I couldn't wear my jeans to work. Sigh. I guess I can't be satisfied.
Maybe I just need some more casual tops?

Monday, April 19

Style Shifts

When I first got married, a whole lot of my friends and acquaintances were also getting married. And I remember telling Adam that I was not going to start wearing Khakis just because we were married. I think he was surprised by this, as guys do not generally change how they dress for decades, but releived, since I only wore khakis when the Choir director made me. It would have been weird for me to suddenly change my style.

However, most of the girls I knew acquired a subtle shift in their outfits once they became Mrs. Not too unusual, as we ladies have a tendency to dress for the occasion, and all occasions feel a little different after such a big life change. But I noticed a positive swath of khakis! And there was just some kind of re-arranging that made the same old clothes they had before look somehow more wifey. I reiterate that these were mostly my friends. I had nothing against anyone, just a sudden desire to make sure I still dressed the same once I got married.

I think that, for me, what I wear is so demonstrative of how I feel and who I am that to change it at all seemed like some kind of betrayal of self. Let alone the guy who liked my weird outfits enough to marry me the way I was. I felt unspoken pressure to conform to an unwritten rule that wives dress a little differently. It was probably all in my head. But it got to me.

Recently I've been noticing moms. I see a lot of them where I work (at a major retailer). And I have noticed two styles of moms: Those who have given up on style and are wearing baggy yoga pants and ponytails, and those who seem to be over-compensating for momdom by having their hair, nails, clothes and face primped and polished to the extreme. (To be fair, I know a lot of moms personally who don't share in these two extremes. But what's life without a little wild generalization?) And I caught myself thinking, "I don't want to change how I dress in order to be a mom, either. (No, there are no big revelations coming up. cool it.) And I realized that I am probably going to be one of those hippie moms I knew when I was a kid that didn't fit in with the other moms in their denim jumpers. These days it's not denim jumpers, but you get the idea.

As a friend and I discussed yesterday, personal style changes with time and circumstances. I didn't make any changes to my wardrobe when I got married because I truly felt more like myself, married, than I did before. I'm sure when I am a mom, I will make style changes to reflect not only what clothes are necessary, but also the different way I'll feel. But the essentials that make up who I am will still be the underlying factor in what I wear.

Because I am really comfortable with my style. I feel like myself in my clothes. One of the perks of spending so many years married without kids is that I've had time to really decide what my style is. It's relaxed, a little retro, and recycled. So there.

Friday, April 16

Friday's Find

So it is once again Friday.
Despite good news about a raise yesterday, I am all at once regretting working full time. Don't get me wrong. I like eating and paying my bills. But it is rainy out. And this house smells like Lilacs. And there is only one kind of outfit to wear to work: jeans and a t-shirt. Blah. Not what I am in the mood for at all.
So for today's find, here's what I wish I was wearing:

This gorgeous white satin polka-dot blouse was an amazing find this winter as it still had the tags on! I wish I had kept them. It's flowy and looks lovely with bell-bottoms. One could even wear it with leggings. If one does not have my butt. And this is what I want today: a pretty, poetic outfit and a good book. Because it's raining out.

The stats:
Found at : Goodwill
Cost: $3.49

Thursday, April 15

Bell Bottoms, Blossoms and Another Book

We went up to the old house today, and I cut whole bunch of Lilac blossoms. I have them in a big purple bowl. Mmmmmm. Lovely.

I feel extra committed to recycling my clothes this week, and the Library is egging me on.
I got another fantastic book this week:
99 Ways to Cut, Sew & Deck Out Your Denim 99 Ways to Cut, Sew & Deck Out Your Denim99 Ways To Cut, Sew, and Deck Out Your Denim- by Faith Blakeney, Justina Blakeney and Ellen Schultz.

It was a fun compendium of ideas for things to do with Jeans! There were projects for every style and skill level, from dog collars to blazers, pillows to gauchos. Every project has an indication of how difficult it is, and a lot of them are very easy.
And an amazing thing happened. I used project #76 jennifer: super tight jeans. But never fear! My hips are still in proportion with my feet. I had some old bell bottoms that fit great at the top, but were too loose in the legs. I used their plans for making skinny jeans and just took in the part between the knees and the crotch. Ta daa! New, well-fitting jeans, no shopping needed. I said Fit, People! And if you're not into bell-bottoms, you can actually make skinny jeans and they're really easy.

Next I may try making a bolero or blazer. After I finish the bags I was making last week. And they have a couple other books as well, about t-shirts and scarves! I may need to go do some ILL. And renew. I am in recycled jeans heaven!

Wednesday, April 14

If the Slip Fits

Ahh phone service. Nice to have you back again.

So this week I have noticed something: the invention of stretchy fabrics has destroyed the understanding of Fit.

Hear me out.

I got A new Black slip a couple weeks ago when I was Thrifting with the other Elisabeth. And this Sunday, I wore it under the new black dress. And here's the thing I didn't realize in the dressing room:
This simple nylon slip has the most exquisite tailoring. Gathers! Tucks! Curved seams! It was so pretty I wanted to just wear it. But that is not my kind of exhibitionism. So I put on the dress, too. But I did point out the details to Adam, who murmured appreciatively.

And I got to thinking that none of my "new" slips have that kind of attention to detail. They are just made of spandex and that covers it.

I've always loved vintage and even antique clothes and patterns, partly because of the loving attention to detail. But I suddenly realized that it was more than just careful technique for technique sake. Their fabric didn't stretch. (!) They had to craft perfect pieces, pleats, and tucks to get the fit right. No wonder proper corsets are so hard to make!

But I've also realized this: stuff that fits without stretching is hard to make, but It looks so amazing on! I mean, that's the thing about good jeans, right? they Fit. and we all love that.

I'm not going to give up my t-shirts or anything, but This new idea of clothes that fit is intriguing.

Monday, April 5

A Good Read

So, I did wear that lime-green dress for Easter. And in keeping with it, the trees budding, the grass popping up, and my general trend of thriftyness, let's stay on a Green theme all week! First up, a book review.

This week I picked up Sewing Green by Betz White from the New rack at my local library. I love my library. They always have good stuff, it's always free, and there's even a little coffee shop in there. But I digress.

I loved Sewing Green! It has a short section explaining how she got her Ideas, and why she feels it's important to re-purpose material. Then the rest of the book Is plans for projects to make! There is even a pocket in the back with pull-out patterns for many of the projects. It's an easy read, and the instructions were very clear. Even I, a resourceful and crafty thrifter, was impressed.

I was so inspired by a her ideas for making stuff out of other stuff. My eyes were opened and I realized that I can use thrift store stuff for so many other things! She suggests buying items just for the fabric and cutting them up. I already do this with wool sweaters, but I never thought how many other things I could do that with. Linens! Dresses! Leather skirts!

I think I am unlikely ever to make a skirt out of a pillowcase, since I have so many awesome skirts. But I have already cut out the pieces for one of the other projects: A groovy shopping bag made from a denim skirt. I didn't have a skirt, but I have a lot of old jeans, so I made a pair into a skirt, first. I'm also adding a lining cut from a Fabulous retro dress that I got from my Cousin Rachel way-back-when. It hasn't fit me in at least a decade, but I kept it because the floral pattern fabric was so cool. I already snatched the zipper to use in something else, so It was totally not heart braking to chop up the skirt. When I finish it, I'll get pics up, even though it's not clothes, It will be stylish!

Even if you're not much for sewing, I recommend the read to open your eyes for re-using all kinds of textiles! Even a non-sewer could make some cloth napkins with glued-on edges. Or fashion a scarf from old sweaters. The possibilities are endless!

Friday, April 2

Friday's Find

I am a bad blogger. I apologize. It won't happen again. Really, I will post next week everyday. But for now, them most Eastery thing I can find. The springlike weather here is delightful, and If I don't get my Easter dress finished, I may just wear this on Sunday. I haven't worn it since my friend Rachel's wedding. Which was at least 5 years ago. But a dress like this you don't wear everyday!

This is a Lime green vintage dress,lace over taffeta, probably early 60's. It's pretty tiny, as many vintage gowns are. But what was not tiny about it was that bow. It was at least twice that big when I got the dress. Even for my flamboyant taste, It was too much poofy bow. So, I did what I never do and chopped up a vintage gown. I took off the bow, cut out most of the middle of the fabric, sewed the ends back together, and made it into a smaller bow. Then I took the leftovers and made a pillbox hat, which Rachel's grandma said fondly reminded her of Jackie O. (Sidenote- she was not the only person to ever wear pillbox hats, people! Everyone was wearing them.) And I still have a hunk of fabric leftover.
The stats for this are approximate, as I bought this dress, oh, before I was married sometime. Pre-historical, in other words.

Found at: ARC, Denver, CO
Cost: $6.99
Modifications: Downsized that bow.

Friday, March 26

Friday's Find

This week a little something Springy. Cause it's nice out today. And to prove that not everyting I own is vintage or vintage- inspired.

A pretty little Spring dress, quite new in both age and style. It's that soft, crinkly kind of Rayon, with a self-lining.

The stats:
Found at: The local Goodwill
Cost: $4.99

Bring on spring!

Wednesday, March 24

Perfect Jeans

Jeans don't fit right.

Can I get an Amen?

I don't care what your body type is, it seems all of us have this problem. Jeans are either too curvy, too straight, too long, too short, and on and on. I don't know any ladies that can just go into a store and grab their size off the rack, and take them home with confidence. Like my Husband does. He just grabs a pair or 34-32s, classic fit, and we're done. Or, other guys give him their old jeans, and he just wears them. With a belt if necessary. I need a belt just to make sure no one can see into the massive gap left by a waist that is not nearly curvy enough. Or to hold up jeans that are so low-rise I may be in danger of them collapsing like the stock market.

Several years ago, I figured out what my problem was: I'm too long. Not only am I long in the legs, I am long waisted. If I find jeans that ARE curvy enough, they're certainly not long enough from hip to thigh for me to take advantage of those curves. So I need curvy jeans in xtra-long. And I need to either chop off a couple inches at the bottom, or just let them get really, really scruffy. Sigh. And let's not forget the most important consideration: bells.

I have got to have my bell bottoms! I made my first pair of inset bell bottoms in junior high. The tight-rolling trend was just starting to drift away. I got a cute pair of vintage jeans with little flowers embroidered on the back, and my mom helped me inset some flower-patterned material. My best friend told me my pants were so ugly she wanted to puke. But she was just jealous. They were gorgeous. The next year Bell-bottoms came "out" and I got a pair with bleached in Daisies off the rack. (This was in 7th grade, so I didn't have hips yet.)

I've been inserting bells ever since, because 1)I am a little bit of a flower child, and 2)Let's face it, girls with hips look better in bells. I don't care how popular skinny jeans become, my butt will not look good in them. Even with a tunic.

Enter Thrifted jeans. For one thing, it is so much easier to chop up a pair of jeans that you got for $3.49 than ones you spent $60 on. And there are so many groovy styles just waiting to be found. And there is the added bonus that they've already shrunk!
Often, I go for Wranglers, which are not only made curvy and high waisted, but come in more precise lengths, and in this rural area, I can almost always find a pair in 32" long. Sometimes there are nice surprises. Like, I recently got a pair of GLO by J.Lo that only needed to have the hem let out. (Turns out I have a more ethnic figure than my Scottish-Hungarian ancestry accounts for.)

Here are my current favorites. They are by Blue Asphalt, but the bells are by me. (With a little help from some of Adam's old jeans.) They're a little more low-rise than I usually go for, but that makes them fun. And they look super with a peasant top.

I know I'm not alone here, and I'd love to see or hear about your thrifted jeans!

Tuesday, March 23

The Rules in Practice

So, last week when Elisabeth came over with The Dress, it took like five minutes to fit it, measure her, and record the Befores. Then she said that she thought we should go to Goodwill. You know, to get material for the Blog. And we did, of course.

Off we went, and we just made a quick trip. Only an hour or so. Which for us, is more than enough Time. (Rule One.) And I documented it. For the Blog.

Here is Elisabeth demonstrating Rule Two: Touch everything. (Well, she is at least being a good sport and cheating out while she does it.)

Here is our combined cart full of stuff showing off Rule 3: Take It. We took it!

After that, we went into the dressing room, and all details of Rule Four just between us. I will say that neither of us got stuck in anything. But we laughed a lot anyway. Then, I took a picture of out sorted piles. It was a good haul that day, so we took the sternest possible take on Rule Five: Thin it out.

The yeses are on the left, the Nos on the right, and down at the bottom, the maybes. We sorted as we went. As you can see, the Nos are the biggest pile. Yes, I did try on that fuschia MuMu. Yes, she is a very good friend. I ended up getting a sweet black dress and a black slip to go with it. And a T-shirt. As we did the final sort, Elisabeth commented that, "The Maybes are Maybes for a reason." And she stowed them with the Nos on the put-back rack.

Once again, the Rules paid off (Yes, we talk about the Rules while we shop. We are Thrift-a-nistas. And slight Nerds.) We left with our new clothes and went off about town to look at wedding Items. A good day.

Monday, March 22

Big Plans

This is it, folks. The dress. Sort of.
So Elisabeth is getting hitched (8 Weeks from today! Yay!), and has been searching for a dress, as most Brides do. She checked out one of the major bridal chains, and found a dress she loved, but it was PRICEY. She checked out some fantastic vintage gowns on line (links sent by yours truly, of course). Nothing was clicking.

So, she called me one day, wondering whether I could alter her old white prom dress enough to make it look like the one she loved. Of COURSE! Here she is modeling said prom dress as a "before" shot. Now I'm going to chop it up, let it out, cover it with something white, and before you know it, I'll be showing off the finished product!

What could be more stylishly recycled than Using "Something Old" to make Something New?!

Friday, March 19

Friday's Find

In honor of the Other Elisabeth, a find that does not actually belong to me, but to her. But it was in my sewing room for minor repairs, so here it is.

It's a vintage 70's purple polyester dress with a lovely sparkly shine of silver threads throughout. It's so her. One of the first finds she made when my sis and I taught her the rules, it's a classic that never goes out of style. And it has the original silver belt.

Found at: a local Goodwill
Cost: $4.99
Modifications: Needed to have the side seams re-sewn, as the thread was giving way. Fairly common on poly dresses that age. And fairly easy to fix!

And speaking of the Other Elisabeth, stay tuned Monday for all kinds of goodies, including a Wedding dress in the making!

Tuesday, March 16

I wash Wool

And Cashmere. And Silk. And things that say "Dry Clean Only". In fact, there is very little I won't wash. I've even plunked a couple of vintage gowns in the bathtub with soap. And the honest truth: I have never ruined anything. Really, though, almost everything is from Goodwill, so I wouldn't be out too much if I did ruin it. Which is why I embarked on machine washing my woolens to begin with.

Here is my most recent escapade. (Isn't my laundry room cute! I love to sit out there and read.) What you see are two brown wool sweaters- both from my local Goodwill- drying flat. First, I wait until I have enough super-delicate items to make up a small load. I set the water temp to warm/cold, and the water level higher than my load actually is- so if it's a small load, I do a medium water level. Then I add a bit less soap than I normally would. Once the load is washed, I put the silks, acetates, and other non-wools into the dryer with LOW heat and run it for short bursts (some of those synthetics get really hot!) I lay the woolens out flat to dry. And presto! No dry cleaning required.

I have my reasons for doing this. And It's not actually because of the green factor, although I'm sure some will tell you that dry cleaning chemicals are not good for the environment. Whatever, we have bigger problems. The reasons I do it are these:
1. It's cheap. I mean, If you pay three bucks for an all- wool imported sweater, would you pay someone to clean it? I wouldn't.
2. It's convenient. I get clothes dirty. Seriously, the sleeves get grubby and there are food spots down the front. If I had to run out to the cleaners every time my sweaters needed cleaning, I would be broke and naked, because my sweaters would all be at the cleaners.

So the message today is: don't be afraid to wash stuff. Your great-grandma washed all her wool, and she was just fine. If she had acetate, she would have washed that, too. You have my permission to be just as clean as she was.

(I love feltmaking, and the easiest way to make felt is to run an all- wool sweater thru the wash on hot with lots of soap. Ta daa! Shrunken, waterproofed, feltable felt. Great for crafting. But, not wearable.)

Monday, March 15

My Favorite Clothes

This is my new favorite outfit. I really wanted to do a post just about my bell-bottoms, but the other day, Adam was taking the pics for me, and they look so good! It was raining, so my hair looks awesome, too. The jeans will just have to wait for next week.

You may have noticed, I am a comfort-based dresser. But even more than that, I have some sort of weird inner compulsion that tells me what to wear each day. Maybe it's a holdover from all my years doing plays- like I have to have the right costume for that day's Character or something. Sometimes I just "feel Yellow" or I "need a sweater". And if it's too hot, or too cold, or one of the things I need is in the wash, I can totally freak out and spend hours trying to figure out what to wear. (Ask Adam. He's been witness.)

And the sheer volume of clothes I have doesn't help, it gives me too many choices! I've even had bad dreams about sifting through mountains of clothes all night, and every time I find a piece of one outfit, I'm missing the one I had, and I have to start all over putting together an outfit. This dream is based firmly in the reality of "Where are my tights, oh my gosh where is my Sweater!" Sunday mornings. (I may need therapy.)

So I love an outfit I can put on any time, and it "feels right." And right now, this is it. It's comfy, but also so "me".
The top is lightweight cotton jersey- a t-shirt with style.$2.99
Underneath is a nude-tone cami by Express- I scored camis in several colors last fall and I wear one every day. No more cold back! $0.99
And of course, the bell-bottoms. The jeans were $3.49 (I think), and I added the bells from some of Adam's old jeans.
All pieces are from my local Goodwill.
It's a can't miss outfit that feels right no matter what.
Does anyone else share this compulsion? Or do you just have a favorite outfit you want to share?

Friday, March 12

Friday's Find

A beautiful Vintage 50's beaded Cardigan by Lilly Koo. Tan colored with iridescent brown beads. The tag says it's hand beaded in Hong Kong. There's no content label, but it feels like a wool blend and is fully lined. (I'm not sure whether the lining is Silk or synthetic.) It has hidden hook and eye closures up the whole front. I've got to be honest, this is literally the one thing in my closet I haven't worn. But it's just so fantastic I can't get rid of it. Someday, I will find an outfit that goes with it, and then I will be so glad I have it!

The stats:
Found at: Goodwill, Hutchinson KS
Cost: unsure, but less than $5
Considering I found a powder blue version on-line for $85, it's a Fabulous steal any way you look at it!

Wednesday, March 10

What is Vintage, anyway?

So, in Thrifting and thrifty sites, Vintage is a big word. There are on-line empires built around Vintage clothing finds. Our local Goodwill had a "vintage" rack for a while, where they raised prices on "vintage" stuff. There seemed to be some confusion among the workers as to what vintage was, and after a while the hodge-podge rack of 80's dresses, housecoats, and choir robes(...?) disappeared.

Finding Vintage is not just fun and Thrifty, it's a real way to use less for any occasion. Why buy a new dress off the rack when you could wear a really unique Vintage frock? Even Celebrities do it! Reese Witherspoon wore Vintage Dior to the Oscars when she won in 2006.

Photo Credits:

But how do you identify a real, Vintage piece? Let's start by defining Vintage.

I prefer this definition:

If it's older than me, it's vintage. (That means anything earlier than 1980.)

If it's younger, or just a couple of years older than me, it's Retro. As in Retro-1979 jumpsuit. Retro things tend to be definable also as "groovy".

(And, if it's more than 100 years old, it's an antique. Antique clothes are usually too old, too delicate, and too small to wear. But they are awesome to have!)

A good way to start knowing what's Vintage is to learn a little about fashion history. There are lots of web resources, but frankly, a good library book is faster, easier, and more portable. You can take an overview of 20th century fashion along on your next Goodwill run if you want to. Knowing what styles and lines originate in what decade is very helpful.

The feel and smell of the fabric is often the easiest way to spot a treasure. Older fabric just plain smells older. Most places don't (and shouldn't) wash nicer items, so that "been in the closet for 40 years" smell will be there. And often older fabrics feel very crisp or very stiff; or they will be a fabric that is unfamiliar to you. Some very old vintage pieces (think 40's or more) will be of extremely delicate fabric- try them on with care!

Another thing that easily identifies vintage is the closures. Metal zippers on skirts and dresses are always vintage. Worn, fabric covered buttons are usually indicators of an older piece.

Tags and labels, if they're there, tell you a lot, too. Some even have a date or a "collection" name on them that you can use to date it. But don't overlook handmade vintage. In days past, a lot more people made their own clothes, and in most cases, they made really nice clothes. Whether homemade or store bought, looking inside the garment to see how something is made will tell you a lot.

So go bright green the next time you're out Thrifting and check for some Fabulous Vintage Finds!
If you have a great Vintage find, tell us about it!

Tuesday, March 9

For What It's Worth

So a certain someone Facebooked the other day asking how to justify $90 dollars for sandals. I think she was being Facetious.
This reminded me of a conversation my sis and I had Recently. We were in a department store, rummaging the Clearance racks(truly the only place we look in a department store). She tried on a fantastic coat, which they had in Small and Large, but neither fit quite right. As she put it back she remarked that it just wasn't worth the price if it didn't fit exactly right. We laughed that $15 dollars was too much for us to pay for a coat.
We've been spoiled, it seems, by Thrift Shopping. Even brand new on a clearance rack, $15 is still an overpriced coat, $4 is really pushing it for a blouse. Getting clothes (and other things) so cheaply for so long has made us really consider what we're willing to give for something.
And that is the key, in my mind- every time I shop, I'm giving something. Something I've earned, something I could easily give to something else. I have so many choices of places to give my dollars. Do I want give my dollar for this? The question, to me, goes beyond the item in question. While I'm not one for examining fair trade and human rights every time I try on shoes, I do feel keenly the fact that my dollar represents my values.
It's not just the thrill of bargain hunting for me. Thrifting lets me indicate what I truly value. When I find a great dress for $4.50, I don't just get a dress. I get a reassuring sense that I am being a good steward of my hard earned money. I get a secret, self-righteous kick out of using less and making less waste. I get the satisfaction (usually) of funding worthwhile projects in my own community. I get the quiet happiness that comes from wearing something that is totally unique to my style. And, compared to regular prices, I get at least two dresses for the price of one. (Okay, so it's more than a little about the thrill of the bargain!)
What it's worth to me is about more than just the price tag. It's about what I value. I value thrift, green living, Style, and most of all, giving.
So, no, I can't justify $90 for sandals, even if they're really, really, really comfy.

Monday, March 8

A Tale of Two Dresses

Once upon a time, I met a really cute guy and we really hit it off. No, I mean really. On our first date, we got so into talking that we walked around the same block 3 times, forgetting to cross the street. But it was the second date that clinched it.
He took me to the ARC in Colorado Springs. He helped me pick out dresses, then sat in an old office chair and waited while I tried on about 30 of them. He gave helpful comments on the ones I showed him. And then he bought me the two I wanted. How much more perfect could a man be?

This is one of the two dresses. It's a vintage blue-flowered polyester shirtdress. I love the colors. I love how comfy it is. I love how any Sunday morning, I can just grab it and throw it on and look fantastic.

And even now, nine years after I got it, and umpteen years after it was first sold, it still gets compliments. I wore it to church yesterday, and one dear lady told me how well I was doing the new trend of flower prints! So here's to style that never goes out of fashion.

In case you're wondering, the other dress he bought me that day was also a 70's dress. It's a filmy white cotton peasant dress, knee-length with puffy sleeves. There's no picture of it here because, frankly, it's seen better plays. Seriously, I wore it for two summers as the shift layer of my ren-fest costume, and it most recently served as a 1910 blouse in a High school production of "Charley's Aunt". I think it still has purple lace at the collar and cuffs. I sure got his money's worth out of that one, and it's still in my costume closet.

Friday, March 5

Friday's Find

A Fabulous dress to get us through the weekend!

This Is a vintage 60's cocktail dress in Peacock Blue taffeta. It appears to be homemade as there is no tag, and the inside is unlined. Regardless, someone put a lot of effort into making this dress fabulous! It fits like a glove, and I just love the little bow detail right under the rear.

Here's the front view. I can't wait for the weather to warm up a little so I can wear it!

The most fabulous part of this vintage find was the price, so here's the stats:
Found at: Goodwill Store, Wichita KS
Cost: $3.49
Modifications: None! It was already perfect!

Monday, March 1

The Rules

Secondhand shopping can be perplexing- where to shop? when to shop? how to shop? It's not the same game as regular shopping. Things are rarely in order by size (and even when they are, they aren't). There are no displays of the season's newest in five colors. There are just racks and racks of mixed up things. To me, that's exciting. It's like being some kind of crazy Archaeologist: if I sift through enough rubble, I just might find a priceless treasure.
But if you head in there thinking, "I just want to grab a pair size 9 and run out", you will be disappointed. You need a plan of attack. Here are the tried and true rules for finding great clothes at great prices. I promise if you follow these rules, your wardrobe can be as Fabulous as mine.

1. Take the Time. And I mean time. Clear an afternoon, find a girlfriend, and wear comfy shoes. You'll save a lot of money, but you must invest time. There is nothing more irritating than having to leave before you get to the skirt section!
2. Touch it. Get a cart, start at the front, and walk down the row slowly, touching each item. I like to slide the hangers by one at a time, as touching so many fabrics can be hard on the skin. But you must look at every single thing! If you want a skirt, look at every skirt; for jeans, touch every pair. If you don't you will miss the really great finds amid all the rubble.
3. Take it. Everything that catches your eye, put it in the cart. I mean it! If the color, fabric, style, or tag makes you look twice- Put it in there! Be open minded and take things even if you have the slightest whim. You are only excused if the item in question is clearly more than 5 sizes difference from your size-- if you are a 2 and it's an obvious 22, okay you're excused. But in many cases, the size marked has no bearing on reality, so ignore that, and put it in the cart! (For example, I'm currently a 7 in jeans. But I have a pair of 7's that are too big, and a pair of 11's that are too tight.)
4. Try it on. Once the cart is so full you can't pile any more on, head for the dressing rooms. (if your cart is not that full- go back and touch more things!) You'll find about one fabulous thing for every 6 you try on, so take as many things as you can fit in there and pile them up. Strip down (I often wear camis or other under-layers that will fit under anything, but keep me from getting quite so naked!) and start trying on everything. Don't deliberate or think too hard- try things quickly, and make decisions quickly. It really isn't that hard to see if you like something- If you do you just know, if you don't, you don't. Which brings us to the last rule:
5. Thin it out. As you try each item, sort it into one of three groups: Yes, No, and Maybe. Or if you prefer: Fabulous!, What was I thinking?, and Hmmm. Your biggest pile should be the No pile (until you get really good at this). When you finish, you should have a small pile of really fantastic things, a huge pile of misfits, and another pile that needs one more look. I like to compare the maybes against the yeses, and see if they hold up to the standard of fabulousness. Usually they end up as Nos too.

It's fun to go with a friend who can help you find the finds and can gag in sympathy at the horrible watermelon-colored vintage polyester pantsuit that you thought (for a fleeting second) might be cool. When you've followed all the rules, you should end up with a few things that you really like that fit you. Be nice to the people who work there- put each item back on the hanger, and Hang the no's up where the rejected things go. Take your new treasures and wander over to housewares Triumphantly.

Start at the Beginning

Almost every day someone says to me, "Nice blouse!" To which I nearly always reply, "Thanks, Goodwill!"
This is not to wish them a good day. It is the name of the place I got it. When I say this, they always say, "Really?!?" The tone of the "really" varies form impressed to incredulous to a subtle, secret, "I wish I could find nice stuff there."
Regardless, I end up wishing I could share the secrets of sustainable shopping with almost everyone I meet. There is something so satisfying about the hunt for really fabulous, unique, and quality clothes at a fraction of the price. Such a thrill when you find something so right. Vintage, retro, and brand-new-with-the-tags-on, all are there, if I'm willing to look.
My obsession with thrifting started as an expression of my need not to wear anything that someone else was wearing, but it became so much more. Starting with my organic garden and moving right down the line, I developed a desire to have a better, cleaner, "greener" life. Everyone wants to go green these days, but few really succeed in using less. What better way to have a smaller impact and be utterly fabulous at the same time than buying and wearing used? And my closet didn't have to shrink at all!
So, here it is for the world to share: the Rules, the Triumphs, the Fabulousness of Recycling with Style.