Monday, February 8, 2010

Thrifting Philosophy

This is the second time in as many weeks that I've featured my handbag, which is something I rarely show in my outfit photos. But the rich brown of the bag added so much to the outfit that I felt I needed to include it. This is also the second time I've featured this thrifted sweater in the last 2 weeks. Truth be told, I'm practically living in this sweater in my behind-the-blog life; it's the perfect thing to throw on when I'm at home and it's a little bit chilly, or if I need to dash outside to take Georgie out.

Because it was thrifted, the sweater is already down to less than a dollar per wear, and even more satisfying is the fact that upon closer examination I realized that it's an Anthropologie brand (Sparrow), which means it probably retailed for well over a hundred bucks when new. With the other major pieces of clothing being from All Saints, this outfit really sums up the crux of my thrifting philosophy, which is to bring down my average cost-per-item by owning a mix of thrifted, mid range, and high end items. Going thrift shopping and scoring a quality sweater for under $5 means that when the next week I want to drop $200 on a pair of shoes, I don't feel one bit guilty because while one piece may be expensive, the overall cost of my wardrobe remains reasonable.

I lack both the skills and the patience to thrift for my entire wardrobe, and to be perfectly honest I don't really need to from a financial standpoint. But I do have a reasonably good eye, and enjoy both the treasure-hunting aspect of thrifting as well as the notion of recycling clothing and giving it new life. One of the important things I've learned more recently is to apply the same scrutiny to thrift store clothes that I would to new ones. So whereas I used to go thrift shopping and come home with a load of clothes that I liked, these days I come home with one or two carefully-selected items that I love.

One thing I want to try out this year is dyeing thrifted shoes. A friend told me of the joys of restoring a pair of leather shoes by dyeing them, and I thought it'd be a great way to end up with shoes in a hard-to-find color, or even two-tone (If you try this yourself, keep in mind that overdyeing white leather shoes does NOT work; the leather can't have a painted finish or else the dye won't penetrate.). I also want to do more overdyeing of clothing, having been inspired by Sal's recent post. I tried this once last year, and it turned out so well that I'm keeping that option in the back of my mind when I go thrifting now.

What is your thrift shopping philosophy? Have you tried dyeing or otherwise modifying thrifted clothes, and how has it turned out?

Cardigan sweater: thrifted
Argyle sweater, skirt: All Saints
Belt: Lazaro
Boots: Doc Martens
Handbag: Lucky Brand


Marie said...

The thrifted sweater has gorgeous texture, and the bag is amazing. Love the color.
Marie @ Lemondrop ViNtAge

Emily Kennedy said...

I have been so biased against thrifting. The last time I did it I was in a rebellious phase as a shaved head freshman in college. And even then I remember... the smells! Oh the strange smells.

But, all you awesome fashion bloggers, and one of my dear friends in town, have been helping me to see the possibilities that I have missed. I just bought a vintage velvet dress in the prettiest green color. I think, if I'm going to tip my toe in further, I'll probably start out with someplace like Plato's closet. In a college town those places are always full to the brim.

Erin said...

Peel back that bias against thrifting, Emily! Yeah, everything smells funky, but once you wash it at home it'll smell all nice and clean and just like the rest of your stuff. Unless it's dry-clean only, in which case it'll smell like dry-cleaning stuff.

Audi, I just started using a big leather purse myself. It used to be my mother's, so it's nicely aged, but with no worries about where it's been. She even shined it up for me! What would we do without moms?

Sheila said...

I have been thrifting since I was a broke teenager, but my year of no new clothes in 2009 really reminded me of what I love about it: finding top quality unique items! I found a gorgeous Talbot's dress for $20 on the weekend.

Of course, I did a huge write up about thrifting in my fashion resolution recap:

That's a great sweater and a gorgeous skirt.

Una said...

Love the sweater! The whole outfit rocks.

I don't really "need" to thrift either anymore, but I always have. I find it satisfying on so many levels - economically, enviromentally, biologically (I think it fulfills a deep-seated hunting and gathering instinct!)... My more recent philosophy has been to discriminate more, since I tend to grab whatever strikes me if it's cheap and regret it later.

I'd be interested to hear what people are willing to pay for used items, since thrift and vintage and consignment each have a different price range.

Una said...

By the way, I wore my All Saints argyle cardigan today! I find the sleeves a bit tight so I have to wear it with short sleeves or a tank. Do all their clothes run a bit small (I'm a 4/6 and got the 10 which feels just a bit tight!)?

Franca said...

I used to go thrfiting/to the charity shops every weekend, but I've chilled out a bit recently, and like you, I am much more choosy and only thrfit what's just right. Mainly I'm trying keep the size of my wardrobe down, because I have so much stuff already! I have dyed quite a few things and shortened many many vintage dresses, but nothing more adventurous than that!

p.s. love your bag!

Kasmira said...

I tried to dye a pair of thrifted brown, suede shoes to blue (with regular clothing dye). That did NOT work.

Thankfully, I bought two pairs of the shoes and used blue spraypaint on the second pair. The result was perfect for our play's Elvis.

Anonymous said...

I'm trying to thrift with the same idea in mind - buy only things I'm lacking and things I adore instead of bargains that are just OK. But the lure of $1 belts is sometimes too strong!

Anonymous said...

I love this outfit - you always play with layers and textures so brilliantly. I'm not shopping right now, but when I return to it, I'd like to dabble more in the thrifting world. I have very little patience for thrifting - it's likely why I haven't done much of it in the past. But I want to find accents, unusual and unique pieces to play off the things I already own, and I feel like some of that will be found in vintage shops.

Anonymous said...

I have that purse~~I love it so much, it is the perfect purse!

katy said...

I love your shades of grey/black with the warmer leather - my winter outfits have been black+grey almost every day (dressing to suit the nastiness i suppose), but your little punch of warmth keeps it from being dreary.

i'm at a point financially where thrifting is the only way i can add anything to my wardrobe - but once things are a bit better, i really have no desire to shop any other way (except for shoes, i can't wait to be able to shoe shop again!). I love the hunting for just the right things - and I sew, so many times I'll find something in great shape, wonderful fabric, but the wrong size/slightly off some way, and for $1, I can take it home and tweak it a bit (or take it apart and use the fabric), to make something i love. I dye a lot of the things I get, because I'm fairly choosy about colors - I use fiber reactive dyes from Dharma Trading Co, I ordered a handful of my favourite colors a few years ago and still have plenty left. it's super easy, and you can just do it in a pot - so washing machine loads of water aren't wasted. the only downside - natural fibers with poly thread, the thread won't take the dye - but there are other dyes for that.
i've also had a thrifting fairy godmother lately, as my last trip yielded a perfect fitting great condition vintage grey wool skirt-suit for $3, and the perfect brand new tweedy old man/riding blazer.
there's also a great store in my area that has new, higher end things, for 75%+ off retail, (returns, samples, overstocks), which is like thrifting, but more exciting in a way because everything still has the original price tags, and I can get excited about getting a $450 dress for $20. i love a good deal. :)
i'd say 80% of my wardrobe is thrifted/second hand/vintage, and I like the thought that I'm not contributing to excess production and waste, and the thrill of finding amazing things, that no one else will have, is wonderful. so, even if i were making plenty of money, I'd still be a thrift store regular - but I'd spend all the money I save on amazing shoes.

Monica said...

I just dyed a pair of suede Born boots from a greyish green (that I wasn't too crazy about) to a gorgeous deep brown using Fiebing's Suede Dye. I did 2 coats over 2 day's time and it's a very rich, deep brown and I wear them all the time now. In fact, they're the same Born Tessa boots that Sal wears on a regular basis!

Next up I'm going to dye some suede Danskos from a forest green to dark brown so I'll wear them more often.

Sero said...

Oh man, do I love a good thrift. I still use the vintage wallet I found for .30 cents about 6 years ago, and I got a great Banana Rep. dress for $12 (!!) this summer. My husband and I also thrift for a lot of our housewares (you can find awesome vintage dishes). Looking around our bedroom I just realized that every piece of furniture or knick knack was either handmade, free, or thrifted (except our mattress). Ha ha.

I dye everything--okay, slight exaggeration, but I get a bit dye-happy. I try and look for clothes with a high natural fiber content for dyeing. Mixing black and Navy RIT in a large tub or bucket is great for making dark wash jeans, and I recently revitalized my favorite pair of (non thrift) jeans (inspired by Kasmira's success at dyeing denim!).

Janer said...

Nothing about this outfit looks thrifted! I love the belt over the sweater! Your colour palettes are always excellent and that's why it makes sense to have the purse in this shot.

I'm up in Toronto and we're lucky to have wonderful thrift stores aplenty. I've never dyed shoes but I used to buy a lot of things that just needed to be altered "a bit". Then they'd sit in my sewing basket for years. So I've managed to talk myself out of that one. But sometimes the lure of a great fabric texture or colour is almost too much for me to say no to!

Love your blog! Thanks for all the inspiration.

Eyeliah said...

I too have moved from 'like' to 'love', as my wardrobe wasn't big enough for all my likes. Since I have been quite broke the last year I have been even trying to find shoes, jeans ans dress pants there (which are hard enough to find new!). My philosophy is go often, I literally stop 2-3X atleast a week. It's how I find the best pieces.

Raquelita said...

I like to thrift because I'm on a tight budget (I'm a grad student and an adjunct faculty), but I also do it because it reduces my carbon footprint, etc. I also really enjoy the treasure hunting aspect of shopping at thrift stores.

Anonymous said...

I live in a small rural town & the thrift stores' pickin's are slim. Just found out that Goodwill has an online auction site that their stores nationally contribute their best stuff to! Clothing, jewelry, shoes, purses, unusual art, vintage, antiques etc. Continually changing selection with some good buys available.


Nana Erin said...

I feel really cool knowing that I have the same handbag as you. It is a bit like having the same handbag as the COOLEST KID IN SCHOOL to be honest.

WickedThrifty said...

congrats on the terrific find! i've lately thrifted a gorgeous eggplant silk dana buchman blouse, a pendleton pencil skirt, and something i never thought i'd own-- an item by talbots-- which is neither nautical nor particularly classic, a beautifully tailored hot pink silk/cotton sateen blazer with jeweled buttons. i couldn't pass it up. my thrifting philosophy lately is that it MUST fill a hole in my wardrobe. and there aren't all that many.
would love to dye something but haven't ventured there yet- i have a white sweater i love but never wear... hmmm...

Honeybunches of Roses said...

I love how confident you are and I really do enjoy your sense of style.

julie from the peaceful peacock said...

you're pretty awesome.

I'm a fiber and textile artist--holler if you have questions about dyeing or fabric content or whatnot. thepeacefulpeacock (at) gmail (dot)com

I love the detailed approach to your wardrobe--the perfect fit to my I'm-34-what-the-hell-do-I-wear-now conundrum.