Category Archives: Commentary

Thrift Store Shopping 101

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I’ve started thrifting (a little bit) after 10 years of abstinence.  I use to be a huge garage sale and thrift store junkie, I mean hardcore with a strategy for every weekend yard sale and weekday thrift raid.  Then one day when I found my home and shed overflowing and overrun with tons of STUFF and the ability to start my own store based on all the things I personally owned — I knew I had to stop. I took a good look at myself, I was out-of-control so I walked away for a few years.

I have slowly dipped my toes back into thrifting, but have now decided, after a few months of buying to back away again, before I get caught up in the same cycle.

Though I’ve pulled away from thrifting for a while, I still wanted to blog about what I’ve noticed about the thrifting experience that has changed. I’m doing a quick update for those who are starting the process or been absent from the thrifting world for a while (like myself).

 

  • Quite a few stores have become very savvy about the way they price their merchandise based on current trends, brand or if the item still has a retail tag attached.  I’ve noticed Value Village is now marking item with a retail tag attached at double their normal list price. So, if a sweater sells for $3.50, the one with a store tag still attached will be priced at $7.00.  

    Thrift stores are also changing their standard pricing if the item is a designer or brand name they deem should sell at a higher price. Many thrift stores will also do boutique pricing for brand name or better quality apparel and shoes. Some thrift stores in major cities may also marked up an item if they feel it’s unique or has good vintage resell value.
  • If your thrift store has a website, subscribe to their email list so you can be notified of any special sales. Value Village has a 50% sale at least twice a year and has certain colored tags marked down to 50% and 75% off weekly.
  • Many thrift stores do not have fitting rooms, so if the weather permits wear a thin t-shirt and close fitting pant so you can try the clothes on around your garments. I personally think, for sanitary reasons: take your measurements and then carry a tape measures with you so you measure the waist line and leg area of the clothes you plan on purchasing. You can also take the waist band of a pair of pants or skirt and wrap it around your neck, that’s another very good method of determining if the garment will fit you. Again, I really don’t like to handle second hand clothes to close to my body until it’s been thoroughly washed and disinfected by moi.
  • Examine all the items you have selected closely for any imperfections, fabric tears, open seams, broken zipper, missing buttons, fading, stains and discoloration. Most thrift stores are doing a better job at weeding these items out and only putting the items in good condition on the sales floor, but sometimes staff will miss things, so make sure you check for yourself in a well lite area of the store.
  • Search for items from store brands you know make a good garment (Ann Taylor, Jones of New York, J Crew, Banana Republic, etc.), that way you know the item is durable and is made to hold up well.
  • Make sure you wash your thrift store finds thoroughly before wearing them, I like to add a little Lysol to the wash for disinfecting purposes.
  • I strongly discourage purchasing undergarments (panties, bras) lingerie, swimwear, socks, hats, helmets, due to sanitary concerns.  If you know for a fact the item is brand new and has been donated by a retailer like Target or Sears (they have a history of donating new items to thrift stores), I would refrain from purchasing these items.
  • I do not buy sheets or bedding from thrift stores, but that’s a personal choice. I would also caution against all furniture because it could have bedbugs, unless the item is brand new in the retail box or a dent and scratch donated directly from a furniture store.
  • Don’t go thrifting with a friend or co-worker who has a similar fashion style to your own, since you guys may pick up or compete over the same one-of-kind item.  He/she may also end up talking you ‘down’ from purchasing an item you wanted, then going back to the store and buying it for themselves.  I clothes shop by myself.
  • It doesn’t hurt to be aware of fashion trends in advance.  Thrift store personnel are getting very savvy nowadays and if they detect a certain item, say military and camouflage is back on the trend list, they may go up on their prices for these items. Remember fashion  always recycles itself.
  • Know when to stop thrifting and take a break.  As I mentioned at the start of this blog post, I stopped thrifting for 10 years because it had become very addicting and it was turning into sheer hoarding.  It can be a very slippy slope, so don’t be afraid to check yourself and stop purchasing items  for a while, instead focus on wearing what you already have.  Enjoy your wonderful finds by making good use out of them.
  • Make a habit out of selling or giving away other items before you bring more into your home and your closet.  Make a conscious effort of doing this first before you go thrifting again, because your closet can easily get out-of-control very quickly and you will not be utilizing all of the items you purchased on a consistent basis.

 

Article written by Budget Chic © All Rights Reserved 2013. Written permission to republish in any form is required from author.

Posted in Commentary, Fashion | 4 Comments

Ban Genetically Modified Foods from your Home

Great documentary about the real harm of GMO foods on our grocery store shelves. If you are not familiar with what’s every major food brand is poisoning you with or the ammonia sprayed beef in fast food hamburgers. You definitely need to education yourself on the factory, profit driven world of Big Corporate food conglomerates. A good place to start is this documentary and the documentary Food, Inc.

Posted in Commentary, Lifestyle Changes After Forty, Misc | Leave a comment

Handbag Shopping for Petite / Short Women

Over the past several years, I've learned what to look for in a handbag that will work for my height and weight.   I find that super large bags just bury me alive and overwhelm my small frame. I make sure when I find a bag I like, I stand in front of the store mirror and hold the bag in different position to see how it works for me.  Sometimes I do get mesmerizer by an large bag because of the color or style, so I have 'gone there' but I don't make a habit out of buying Large and XL handbags because of my short statue.  This made me think about writing a quick guide of what I feel works for petite women who are 5 to 5'4 in height.
Satchels: a_satchel A medium or small satchel is great for petite/short women who need a bag with a reasonable amount of storage. What's great about these bags are the different styles you can purchase them in; from classic and sophisticated to slouchy and casual.  I prefer to purchase a satchel bag with multiple pockets and compartments for those little extra necessaries; which is a great way to get additional storage without increasing the size of the bag.  I love satchel with extra pockets; in my opinion, that's one of the best bags to have.    I encourage petite women to also purchase satchel with short handles or straps.  I always go right for bags with the shortest handle. If you find a bag that's absolutely amazing, but the straps are too long (to the point that the bag is dragging on the ground); you can take it a shoe repair shop and have them shorten the strap for you. I've done this a few times and it worked out perfectly! I try to stick with bags that measure 14 x 14 or smaller, so that the handbag does not overwhelm my small frame; but I have 'gone there' occasionally and purchased larger bags. I can make them work if the handle is very short, the color matches my top or jacket and I'm wearing high heels. This combination tends to diffuse the size of the bag and doesn't overwhelm my body type as much.
a_clutch Clutch:  This is the perfect small bag alternative for a petite woman.  Whether it's a pillbox evening clutch or an oversized leopard day clutch, neither overwhelms a petite statue.  Clutches are so chic and are very much on trend right now.  The return of the over-sized 50's and 70's day clutch is back!  I have quite of few oversized clutches I absolutely love and I use them more than I do any of my other handbags. You can fill your closet with different shapes, textures, colors and patterns:  foldover, half moon, envelope, leopard, straw, metallic and they're also really easy to make.  You can do a d.i.y. project in less than two hours.   I never have to deal with sizing issues with a clutch; I just grab one and am out the door.
Totes: a_totesThe great thing about totes are their structured shape!  You can usually find very tailored and clean lines with totes.  A structured bag always lends to a smooth and polished look.  Carrying a small or medium classically designed tote always works well for me even if am wearing a casual outfit.  A great leather tote can jazz up an outfit and add an air of sophistication.  It also allow the petite frame woman to carry a great looking bag that  has a lot of storage capacity without carrying an oversized, sloppy hobo bag; that may take away from her appearance.   It's a good ideal to select a tote you can carry in your hand and hangs right below the knees when wearing heels; this is where the short handle comes into play. The shorter the handle the better.
Shoulder Bags: a_shoulderI'm not big on shoulder bags.  These are the types of bag I have very few of; I have maybe 4 or 5 max.  I really don't like carrying a bag on my shoulder or across my body.  If I choose a cross body bag it usually miniature in size (maybe 5x5).  I have 2 or 3 oversized shoulder bags, but I don't think these types of bags work well for short women.  Too much, too close to a petitie frame.  I would rather carry a clutch or short handle satchel or tote.  I like shoulder bags but it's not my bag of choice.
Posted in Accessories, Commentary, Fashion | 5 Comments

Keeping Your Cheap Chic Look Luxe!

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Being creative to save money is absolute key in maintaining a reasonable clothing budget. I like to maximize my dollar by shopping at discount retailers like Target, Junior Store like Forever 21, shopping department stores during seasonal clearance like Macy's, Dillards, Sears and designer discount stores like Nordstrom's Rack, Marshalls and T.J. Maxx.
I do purchase quite a bit of "cheap chic" items from different places. I think a great way to pull some of these pieces off is to do the "low-end, high-end" mix. It's quite the trend for women to mix inexpensive vintage and luxe designer pieces. You can work this same combination with your cheap chic pieces and higher-end department store brands (or designer pieces if you have any).
tips2
 Try limiting your cheap chic pieces to one or two per outfit.
 Only use one main cheap chic piece per outfit if at all possible. (ex: a H&M Shirt paired with Banana Republic slacks and a Michael Kors belt). This combination balances your look and keep the luxe factor in full effect.
 When purchasing cheap chic items makes sure they look luxe. Check for the weight of the fabric, extra detailing, nice buttons, stitching, is it lined? I always do this, I try to buy the best cheap chic piece I can find. I'm constantly looking at fabrication and fit.
Using quality accessories like a fine leather belt, silk scarf or quality jewelry can help to balance your cheap chic look and add more of a luxe factor.
 Add a pair of really nice leather shoes to your outfit or if you are wearing vegan shoes make sure the fabrication of the shoes are on-point!
 You can always add more luxe to your cheap chic items by swatching out what's on the garment with nicer buttons, trim or embellishment.
 Keeping track of how much money you spend is important – even smaller, inexpensive things add up. Try using personal finance software or apps while you shop!
 Throwing in medium and small accessory pieces like a nice leather bag or a pair of leather gloves with a mink collar to your outfit, can definitely increase the luxe factor of your look without breaking the bank.
 Certain fabrics work better for cheap chic apparel such as heavy jersey, sateen, cotton, some wool-blends, etc. These pieces tend to hang or fit better if the fabric is of a decent quality, making your item look like it cost more then what you paid.
 Buying basic prints, colors and styles can help to keep your cheap chic pieces timeless and lends to more versatility (ex: White tailored shirt, black pencil skirt, taupe trousers, polka dot blouse, pinstripe blazer). It also gives you the ability to style these pieces more frequently into different looks.
Posted in Commentary, Fashion | 4 Comments

What do you think of Shoe Clubs?

What do you think of shoes clubs?
 
I just found out about yet another shoe club - Sole Society. The first shoe club was of course started by Kim K. - ShoeDazzle, then another club popped up called Just Fabulous and now we can add another one to the mix. Sole Society.
 
Sole Society offers members the same features as ShoeDazzle. You enter a profile of your fashion likes or dislikes. This gives the club information to determine your overall style and what shoe you would most likely purchase. Based on what they determine from your preferences, they suggest several shoe styles for that member to select from each month. ShoeDazzle I believe may give it's members 3 or 4 choices, whatever you pick there is a flat price of $39.95 per shoe. JustFab is also $39.95 and Sole Society's monthly charge for one (1) shoe is $49.95. The shoe club displays a few styles they believe may appeal to the member's taste to purchase each month (hence the personal stylist angle). You can opt-out of buying anything that month by logging in and setting that option before a certain date.
 
I'm not quite sure what I think of that concept yet because even if you were an extremely busy person and was not able to shop the brick and mortar stores; there are still really good shoe deals to be had on-line from many different retailers and many of the shoes are brand-names under $50 dollars. Belk has really good deals (especially during seasonal clearance) and so does Macy's and Nordstroms Rack. I have picked up brands like BCBG, Jessica Simpson, Nine West, etc on sale either at the store or on-line for under $50 dollars.
 
Personally, I really need to try the shoe on if I'm unfamiliar with how the brand fits or I know their sizing is inconsistent - like Aldos! I also like the art of the hunt. I know what I like as soon as I see it and I don't think even with the most detailed survey that anyone can get my style down pat, even I don't know what will truly appeal to me until I see it, view it at different angles, walk around with them on or style an outfit around it.
 
Though, I thought some of the styles were cute on a few of the shoe clubs, I didn't see where any of them were exclusive designs for that particular shoe club or that they were using designers like Payless. I mentioned Payless because most of their shoes are vegan and it looks like the majority of shoes these clubs offer their members are made of vegan/PVC material. There is nothing wrong with that at all provided that each shoe has good workmanship behind it and they are able to work well with the material so it "realistically" mimics natural fibers.
 
I like what Payless has done with Alice + Olivia and Chris Siriano. I wonder now that other companies are getting into the 'shoe club' game if Kim K. will step it up a notch and start using guest designers? Certainly, she now needs something to separate ShoeDazzle from what looks like a forming 'pack'. Would you become a member of a shoe club?
Posted in Commentary, Fashion, Shoes and Boots | 18 Comments

Caring for Your Cheap Chic Clothing

Many women complain that their clothing from fast fashion retailers like H&M or F21 don’t last 3 or 4 washing. Well, I have a dress I purchased from Forever 21 in 2006 and it still looks new and is holding up just fine, with many more years to go. I don’t have money to waste and I don’t believe in the concept of ‘disposal clothing’ — you wear a few times and then toss.  Nope, that’s just sheer waste and very anti-Green.    Here are a few tips that I’ve learned to keep my purchases lasting for years.  There is a method to the madness:  It’s very important to understand how to care for your cheap chic items.
Tips for Caring for your Cheap Chic Wardrobe
  • Always buy the correct size. When you buy your clothing too small, you are putting stress on the seams. If they are out of your size, find something similar instead of purchasing a size that is too small. Shop around at other stores that may carry the same type of styles and brands so you can get the proper size.
  • Reinforce all of your buttons. I’ve notice that manufacturers use minimal thread when attaching buttons and many do not give you an extra button, so make sure you reinforce them as soon as you get home.
  • Cut off all loose thread. Make sure you look over the garment and cut away all loose thread that could unravel (don’t pull because most garments are sewn with one pass and when you pull on the thread you could be starting a hole someone in that seam). It also helps to make the garment look neater.
  • Never let anybody borrow your clothing. (This is for the younger readers). My experience is that most people don’t follow the care tag instructions for their own garments, much less your. Direct them to where you bought your and let them get their own stuff!
  • Reinforce your seams. If you have some knowledge of sewing and own a sewing macine, you can reinforce seams where you think they need them (under arms, around shoulder blades, neckline, etc). This is a good way to get your cheap chic clothing lasting a lot longer then the average persons. This is key to why my items hold up better then the next persons.
Washing Your Cheap Chic Items
    • Cold Water Wash.  Wash all of your cheap chic purchases with Woolite products in Cold water (wash + rinse) on a gentle or short cycle.
    • Use a teaspoon of liquid fabric softener if necessary.  This is very, very important to maintain the integrity of the fabric and the color. Fabric softeners coat your items with chemicals that decrease the absorbency and I personally never liked the way my garment looks or the waxy way it feels after using a cup of fabric softener in a wash load. White Vinegar is a better alternative and it helps to break down the detergent so it rinses out of your clothes better. When used properly it does not leave a smell on your clothing at all.
    • Wash similar colors and fabric types together.  Not a good idea to wash a pink terrycloth robe with a black shirt, you’re just asking for trouble.  Wash nylons with nylons and cottons with cottons. Fabrics that are easy to stain when mixed with other fabrics ( khaki and beige) should be wash with very few items of the same color family. Especially Khaki, I have stained several nice pieces in my day so now I wash these items by themselves or with only 2 or 3 other pieces made of fabrics that won’t accidently bleed like nylon.
    • Do not put your clothing in the dryer.   Best practice is to take all the clothes you care about and air / hang dry.  I only use the dryer for towels, socks, robes and sweatpants.  Dryers can be very damaging to your clothing especially when dried at a high temperature. It can weaken and separate the fibers in your clothes leaving them limp and fade out the dye in your garments.  Not to mention generating lint if mixed in with the wrong fabrics. When hanging clothes out to air dry, as soon as your clothes are dry remove them from the clothes rack or hanger to prevent them from getting overly stiff. Clothes can dry incredible fast when hung in a sunroom on a clothing rack or in a well ventilated room.

     

Be Careful
 

  • Stains.  Should you end up getting a unexpected stain or spill on your garment.  My suggestion is to carry Tide Stain Removing Pen with you in your handbag for emergencies to keep the stain from setting in.
  • Be careful with high maintenance fabrics like silk, satin and suede.  Once you get any kind of oil in these fabrics, it’s hard to remove. I really have not had any success removing oil stains from these kinds of fabric.
  • Hang your clothes with the right type of clothes hangers to avoid stretching and mis-shaping your garment.  Use padded hangers for sweaters, delicate blouses and tops.  Clipped hangers for skirts and trousers and rounded shape hangers for blazers and jackets.


Article written by Budget Chic © All Rights Reserved 2010. Written permission to republish in any form is required from author.

Posted in Commentary, Fashion | 19 Comments

UNITE TO HELP For Japan With Love

 

This relief effort project “”For Japan With Love” has created one more last campaign to raise awareness on March 31st.

An Event on Facebook.
: UNITE TO HELP For Japan With Love

Please lend your support to this continued effort by inviting your friends and family on Facebook to share this information and keep the word out there! As we all know many Japanese citizens are risking their lives and being expose to deadly radiation levels trying to contain and get their nuclear plants under control and the people within these areas are at risk for contamination via their food and water source. They still need our help and as we all know, every little bit helps.

 

Posted in Commentary, Relief Effort | Comments Off

for Japan……


Please give and participate, they are really in a serious crisis situation right now as Haiti was and need all the support they can get. The people of Japan especially the elderly living closer to the disaster area are losing their lives. All are deeply on my mind. Please help anyway you can.  Tweet  http://www.forjapanwithlove.com/ to raise awareness for this relief effort.
Posted in Commentary | Tagged | 2 Comments

Am A Fashion Blogger: Vote for Me! Yeah Okay…

I got a strange email from this blogger that I don’t follow nor do I read her blog. I mean it isn’t anything personal, I don’t really visit any other style blogs on a regular basis outside of the ones listed in my blogroll.So I found it quite odd when this person emailed me and asked me to vote for them for the ‘next big blogger’ type contest. I was like “who the heck is this, I’m trying to get my taxes done over here”. Since I was unfamiliar with her style and am not a reader of her blog, why would I vote for this person?

Not only that I’ve come to realization that I really don’t think it’s healthy to promote a ‘spirit of competition’ over who should be deemed ‘most stylish’ blogger. Especially among very young bloggers, don’t they have enough pressure in the real world, why drag that foolishness on-line as well. I use to vote for people before I started thinking this thing through, now I don’t.   It just feels to high school and has the distinct smell of popularity contest. I’m just a little too old to be getting involved with stuff like that and quite frankly I think it’s stupid and counterproductive. I want to keep progressing with my blog interaction not regressing.

I have always believed the internet should be an open media or forum for anyone to express themselves creatively and not be judged (contest or otherwise) or categorized. When I first started interacting with other college students socially on the internet back in ’97-’98 it was so much fun and it was just a really grassroots geeky kind of thing with no commercial undertones in the background. Now you have to be careful what you get involved in on the web because so many commercial and retail companies are duping bloggers into participating in ‘who’s the best’ contest or any other gimmick they run through their company’s blog as a marketing angle to push a product or service or through other websites they have paid agreements with.

I personally don’t think there’s anything wrong with direct business partnerships between commercial entities and bloggers if the product and services fit within the range of that blogger’s core readership. However, why run around the blogosphere ‘begging for votes’ and exerting energy to ultimately benefit someone or something else? Emailing everybody and their momma’s momma, just asking anybody for a vote, with a line, gimmick or sob story on their blog, facebook or twitter account to solicit votes.  I’ve even heard of someone offering a expensive handbag as a giveaway/trade for votes, I was like my goodness, is it that serious?    As I said previously, I don’t like the competition thing where you’re pegging your blogs against others to see who can get more shine. Everybody’s style and content SHOULD vary and those readers you appeal to will come, visit, read and enjoy. Everything else is gravy.

I also don’t feel like I have to be in constant competition mode or participating in things where I have to ‘beg for votes’ to progress with my blog. This is me, either you like my style or you don’t. I’m not going to do the ‘dog and pony’ show and give up exclusive rights to my images and my content thinking that a bigger sites is going to ‘blow me up’ or give me crazy exposure. IMO that can easily water down a quality site.  I know a person can quickly get caught-up in it all – this fashion blogging thing, but sometimes you have to do a self-check and get back to basics and remember what was great about blogging in the first place.  Keeping it simple and enjoying the art of blogging whether you have 3 visitors or 300,000. It can make the experience much more rewarding and certainly a lot more pleasant.
Posted in Commentary, Fashion Rant | 18 Comments

Age Appropriate Dressing – Part II

I wrote this post in February of 2009 and felt like I needed to pull this out of the archives today!


I really think that women put entirely too much negative energy on analyzing what the next woman is wearing. Whether she is too short, too tall, full figured, overweight, underweight, twenty, thirty, forty, pear shape, apple shape, long waist, short waist, missing a breast, bald, whatever!


People make careers out of pestering women with stupid rules about what they can and can’t wear and where they should and shouldn’t shop. Ordaining themselves self-appointment experts and running around the blogosphere promoting their so-called expertise. Hitting folks over the head and shaking their bony little fingers of authority at the women who dare not to play by the “rules”.  They’re all quite dreadful, really. Wasting energy trying to control what other people put on their own bodies instead of focusing that energy on something more productive.

Independent women will always do what they want when it comes to their choice in dress, hair and make-up. Keywords here is ‘their choice’ not someone else’s.

No style manual trying to have more importance then the constitution can enforce or change that. Well, they might get a few newbies to buy-in but if their own sense of style is very strong, those “rules” will start going to the wayside pretty quickly and the next thing you know that $50 style manual of ‘dos and don’t’ is up for sale on Ebay. Now, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with purchasing a style guide, in my opinion, and I use that term loosely – but guide means just that, it’s all relative not absolute. What leaves my nose upturned like I just walked by a dumper of rotten fish guts is rules of what someone thinks a woman should definitely “not” wear or where they should definitely “not” shop – if they’re tall, short, fat, skinny, old or young. Ask yourself this: “who’s money is it?” Who worked hard for it? Shouldn’t a person be able to spend their hard earned money any way they want?


I also wish younger women would stop using that same tired, reharshed excuse that women are trying to recapture their youth if they decided to purchase a top at Forever21. Give it a rest! It’s been used so many times, in discussions like this, its starting to become standard defacto. Just a weak, overused, ideology used by the fashion industry to control what women put on their backs.

Yawn….I’m falling asleep on that lame excuse. Sarah Jessica Parker looked  incredible in everything she wore in that movie. She would give any twentysomething a run for their money and I bet ya they absolutely HATE it because she twenty years older and still FIERCE!  This chick is so bad, her body is better then a whole lot of twenty and thirty year olds, shame on them for not staying on top of their game!  Kudos to Patricia Field (SATC stylist) for having the insight and guts to buck the nonsense called “age-appropriate dressing”.


People can easily become jealous of one another and this “age-appropriate” dressing babble, again I believe, a way for the industry to control independent thinking women who are secure enough and confident enough to own their look. I say let people dress however they want to dress, if you can’t be happy for someone who is happy with themselves and their fashion choices, then just mind your business, stop trying to throw weak-ass shade and direct that wasted energy on doing something positive and meaningful instead of being obsessed with what the next woman is wearing. I’m sure who ever they are, they not wasting a minute of their time thinking about y.o.u.
Posted in Commentary, Fashion Rant | 22 Comments