4.23.2012

thrifting tips and the little black dress part 2





i showed you this dress here last fall.
today i styled it differently for warmer weather.





vintage dress - $4
j. crew belt - free from karen
bass loafers - $1














a lot of you have been asking about how i find such great deals while out second-hand shopping.

there really isn't much to it, it's actually a lot like shopping in regular department stores.

the first thing i do is make a list, it's hard to believe you can approach second hand shopping this way but you can.  our goodwill has a huge inventory and it's all organized by color.  so if i'm looking for a green sweater, it's very easy to find lots and lots of green sweaters to choose from.
most of them will be crap but occasionally you get lucky and you'll find a real gem.

so with list in hand i go to the appropriate section, let's say blouses and i scan the rows and rows of blouses by color and touch.  nice fabric really stands out in a sea of awful.  if i don't see it then maybe i'll feel it.  so as i'm walking along the rows i'm lightly touching the fabrics feeling for fabrics that stand out.  

when i find something, i first check it thoroughly for flaws.  i stretch the garment every which way and hold it up to the light to see if there are any tiny holes.  i check the stitching and lining and look for stains or holes that cannot be fixed.  

if it's made it this far then it will go in the dressing room with me and if it fits well i'll buy it.
or if it would fit with minor alterations then i'll buy it too.

all that being said, lists and all, the real thrill is finding something totally unexpected and unplanned for like this.  that is the really fun part of second-hand shopping, it's such an adventure.

a lot of people don't have the time or inclination to shop like this but i have to say it's now my favorite way to shop.  it's fun, challenging and so rewarding.
i know for a fact that if you are patient, there isn't anything you can't find second-hand.
i hope this helps or encourages you to give it a try.
have a beautiful day today!



xo
janet








44 comments:

  1. Hello Janet:
    We recognise here the hand of the professional. Certainly from all that you show, including this very attractive and elegant black dress, your thorough and well thought out approach results in some excellent buys.

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  2. Agreed! It is an amazing way to shop, be creative and save a TON of money.
    This dress looks fabulous styled this way too...always so chic Janet!

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  3. I agree --love the thrill of the hunt. my only additional advice is to spend good money on excellent bras! Most women are not even wearing the correct size. Really. Get fitted somewhere where they know what they are doing and with a full line that includes Le Mystere, Chantelle etc(specialty store, Nordstroms or Neiman Marcus) and and try on all the bras you can until you find the perfect bra for your shape and size. This is obviously more important for ladies with C or bigger cups. Sometimes you can find good deals on new high end bras on ebay. It is amazing how much better all clothes look with a great bra. And sadly, bras really do not last for years even with good care. So give the underwear drawer a critical eye from time to time.

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  4. You are my thrifting inspiration. I now buy probably 50% or more of my clothing used - pants and jeans are out because of my height so I usually buy those new.

    Interesting that you make a list. I guess I do too, only in my head. I have been looking for a great denim shirt at my local GW for months. I found one, but it's not a great cut so I keep at it, hoping one will show up.

    At my GW, there is a rack for the "high end" garments. I head there first, then hit the dresses, blouses, blazers, belts and skirts. In that order. I think I will try making a list next time I go and see what materializes.

    Love your dress, by the way. Black and cognac - such a lovely combination.

    xoxo, A

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  5. I haven't bought anything from a department store in years...I no desire to give them my time or money. Not only is it the hunt, but reusing things, I believe, is so important. It's a cycle I love to be a part of.
    And who doesn't love a good pair of jeans or a tshirt that has already be worn in. I still have a big old flannel shirt that I bought from my first thrift experience back in college.
    I love that dress! It's one of my favorite of your thrifted outfits. :)

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  6. It's my favorite way to shop, too! And so much more satisfying than paying retail price. I are wearing some real finds in this photo! Just lovely!

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  7. I love wearing black in the summer and your way of styling a LBD with a cognac belt and loafers makes it a lot more "summery". Love it!

    I used to buy a lot of vintage clothes, especially from the 60's) for very little money when I was younger. Now I am a plus size and it's almost impossible to find anything in my size. People were smaller back then. I really miss it - it's so much fun to see your treasures!

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    1. there is so much plus sized in my goodwill, maybe you should look again, you never know!

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  8. Those are great tips! Key to good thrifting, as well, is finding good thrift shops. There is a real dearth of worthwhile thrift shops where I live right now - they're mostly selling overpriced, worn-out, H&M clothing - which makes thrifting a lot less fruitful.

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  9. I never thought of making a list. i usually leave it to chance and hope for the best.
    You are very skilled at this way of shopping and I am amazed at the great stuff you find.

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  10. Look at you. Excellent tips tho I swear all our good clothes go out your way. It can be a little difficult to find something fun in my GW. But good books? Piles of those!

    But if i can't get I can give, I just took 2 bags of clothes there yesterday. Inspired by you of course.

    xo jane

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  11. I just bought a skirt for six pounds, beautifully made, I was so chuffed and thought of you.

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  12. Some of the things I wear the most have come from the little church-based resale shop about three blocks away: a well-made black cardigan of perfect proportions ($3), a floral dress similar in style to your LBD ($7), a lightweight white V-neck sweater with 3/4 sleeve (free on their annual Free Day), a black version of the same (also free), a XLT men's chambray shirt I wear when cleaning, painting, and gardening ($1.50), and oodles more, including my husband's favorite LL Bean anorak which was new and unworn ($10). Amazing stuff there, and all worn for several years now. Love the black and cognac combo!

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  13. Have my regular thrift stores all over town. Love to discover where new clients live !! Which thrift store they are near. Life is good.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

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  14. My gym is next door to the Goodwill store, so I just walk through once or twice a week. I am amazed that so many designer items still have the tags on them. Gifts, I guess. I haven't been in a department store in years. I also love resale stores. I have sold lots of my handbags from my former life there and sometimes traded for things that I need. Its also great to give away clothing that you no longer wear. Someone out there is looking for a job and needs your old clothing and can't afford retail. It is a blessing.

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    1. that is an excellent point. i donate to family services here in redlands. everything there is free. why have tons of unused clothing sitting there when it can help someone get on their feet. it is a blessing.

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  15. Your shoes are super, I bet they feel good on too.
    I never thrift shop, but I sell clothes I don´t want to them, so I am sure, there has got to be some good stuff there too ; ).
    The prices over here are lots and lots more expensive.
    I am sure thrift shopping can be just/ or even more addictive than department store shopping.

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    1. yes, you are right about the addictive aspect. i have cut way back b/c sometimes it's hard to resist such good bargains and i wind up with something i'm just going to donate right back.

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    2. but thrift stores do have the BEST return policies! :-)

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  16. It's so much fun to find a real gem hiding among the crap.
    xo

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  17. Hi Janet,
    Thrifting is the ultimate in going green! You always look fantastic. I really enjoy all aspects of your blog-fashion, home decor and vegan recipes. Question-your post showing all your beautiful roses really showed off your beautiful drapes. I love the fabric. Was that Pottery Barn or Ballards?

    Pat in Chicago

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  18. the drapes are from pottery barn. although sadly, they are not longer available. you can try a pb outlet or ebay perhaps.:) thanks!

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  19. It is a beautiful dress Janet. A real classic! I have a dress that looks a lot like it. Whenever I am in doubt what to wear, I pick this dress from my wardrobe.

    You look fab in it!

    Happy new week,

    Madelief x

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  20. My main source of clothing for myself when the kids were little and money was exceptionally tight, was the Op Shop (Opportunity Shop as we call them down here).
    Back in those days finding designer labels for a pittance was the norm but sadly these days the pickings are few. Plus our op shops have quite frankly lost the plot and overprice absolutely everything, even the crap. I still frequent the better stores but usually leave empty handed.
    xx

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  21. You look fabulous in that classic dress and I am enjoying reading all the comments (which I don't usually do on other blogs). You are really inspiring me, Janet. I never thrift because I am small (about your size I think) and for some reason I thought I would not be able to find my sizes. But now that my kids are all in school all day, I have some time that I am going to give it a try. I think I have a good eye for classic cuts and I appreciate your tips here. am going to give it a go and I'll let you know how I fare.

    KIm

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  22. Love the look Janet. I love to browse in thrift stores and after watching american pickers, my 12 year old son does too. He has a great eye. In the last couple of trips, he spotted a tripod for his video camera for $5, a brand new, unopened deluxe scrabble game (the kind that is on a lazy susan) for $3 and some other great treasures. My best thrift find ever was a baccarat glass bowl for .25!

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  23. I adore black and brown together. I've read some are hesitant to wear black and brown together, but I've not been sure why. Was it ever an old rule not to mix the two? I don't remember it being so, but maybe it was. In any case, the black dress with the little brown belt and brown loafers is just magical. I will be wearing my little black maxi to a social function soon...You can be sure I will be putting a little brown belt around my waist just like you did, Janet. I love the look!
    -Suzanne in Illinois

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  24. Well, I thought of you today and then how perfect that you posted about thrifing! I was at probably my favorite thrift store (not to be confused with the consignments) because it sorts by size so I don't have to waste a ton of time looking through things that would otherwise be cute but don't fit. And there it was - a Kate Spade silk dress, in perfect condition, bow in front - $12. Sadly, it wasn't my size, and not even close enough for alterations to save. I considered buying it to re-sell for a profit, but I figured I'd let it be someone else's prize. Should've taken pictures for you all, though! :) The same store had a load of magazines and newspapers from when JFK was shot today - perhaps I should go buy a lottery ticket since today is the lucky day!

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    Replies
    1. omg, what a great find! i probably would have purchased it and resold it!

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  25. You (and your sunglasses!!) look fabulous Janet in this LBD - liked how you styled it for cooler weather too and this looks just as good. Great tips. Maybe I will have a go - keeping a list is a really great idea. Thanks for the post! S X

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  26. Hello I noticed you receive a lot of inquiries about your curtains from Pottery Barn. Right now Ballardsdesigns.com has a fabric on sale that is very similar to the PB curtains that have been discontinued. Thefabric is Lilith floral Khaki and it on sale for $14.99 a yard.

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  27. Thanks for the tips! I love the way you styled the LBD. You're such an inspiration.

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  28. You look great again. I find the best way to check the thrift stores is to drop in for a minute or two several times/week. Happily there are two great ones very near my home.

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  29. Maybe consumers in the US shop (and sell) more compared to consumers in Austria? The thrift shops in Vienna have nothing like the clothes you wear on display, and if, they ask for 10-50 times more money.
    I guess the secret is the shop, that sells those second hand clothes. Did it take you long to find the place? (I assume you have a place you prefer?)

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  30. as always - love what you are wearing!

    I, too, do quite a bit of second hand shopping; I feel like in southern CA we are lucky, it seems like people buy something, wear it once, then take it to goodwill. score for us!

    the way I organize my clothes at home helps me make better choices when i go clothes shopping - I arrange everything by color. so i know what i may be lacking at home; i know what I may be ready to rotate out of my closet and into goodwill. that just works for my brain (i'm more of a visual learner).

    next time you are up in pasadena, check out crossroads (in old town) and the exchange (in eagle rock). both are second hand clothing stores, more expensive than goodwill but a really good selection. and real food daily is opening in pasadena in may!

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  31. I love this dress, what a great find. I have to try locating some good thrift stores around me.

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  32. Janet,
    At the risk of sounding like a broken record...you look amazing!!! I love your dress and how beautiful with a brown belt and brown loafers. It really is the perfect dress for any season, obviously! Madeline and I are still looking for that "gem" but I know one day we'll find one or two... I can't believe how you've turned us into thrift stores shoppers by your wonderful posts...we used to be Bloomingdale's all the way. Please...what's the fun in that?
    xo
    annie

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  33. The little black dress is one of my favorite summer looks, so chic with flats, sandals or flip flops. The loafers are gorgeous, I thought they were Cole Haans. Yay for thrifting!

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  34. Love the black dress and the maxi dress is perfect for this summer.
    I love to shop at thrift stores for clothes that are optional or special occasion. But even a surprising amount of my work wardrobe comes from thrifting, button down cotton shirts, cashmere sweaters, wool skirts etc. On my last business trip, 3 out of the 5 shirts that I wore came from thrift stores.
    It takes time and attention to shop this way, but buying anything pre-owned is a great way to save money.
    I hope that you are doing well.

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  35. Same here @Paula, I hardly find real bargains in Austrian thrift shops. Most of the stuff is crap and way too expensive, especially clothes.

    Janet, you have such great taste and style! I really enjoy reading your blog!

    Another question on thrifting - sure, you can wash clothes, but what do you do with thrifted shoes? Do you just clean them thoroughly with i.e. soap or do you wear them with an insole?

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    1. i've talked about this somewhere on this blog but what i do is wipe the insides with rubbing alcohol to clean them and i almost always purchase inserts for them. this reduces the ick factor quite a bit!

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    2. Aaahh, thanks for the tip Janet!!

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