This series of posts focuses on the non-thrift-related things/topics on my mind this week. Sometimes a visual representation is literally pinned on the bulletin board on my dorm room desk. The items on the list below are sometimes random and occasionally a borderline obsession. Whether a physical or Pinterest board or just a half-thought-out dream, I’d love to hear what’s on yours, too! Here’s what’s on my bulletin board this week…
1. Amy Poehler’s book
I am super excited about the literary debut of one of my favorite people, Amy Poehler! Her book Yes Please, due in October, is “memoir-esque” so I’m definitely looking forward to funny stories from behind-the-scenes of shows such as Saturday Night Live and Parks and Recreation. She’ll be speaking on a panel about the book (with Martin Short) this Saturday, which brings me to…
I booked my ticket to this first annual book convention the minute I heard about it. It combines two of my favorite things: books and celebrities! I can’t wait to see the panels with Tina Fey, Jason Bateman, Amy Poehler, John Green, and Jodi Picoult, to name just a few. There are still tickets available – you do not want to miss this!
I quit selling on eBay a while back because the fees were getting bonkers, but I can never stay away for long. As usual, I’ve got too much stuff so I’ve been listing and listing and listing this week.
4. NYTimes Digital Subscription
I was lucky enough to attend a college that gets the NYT (my favorite newspaper) delivered every weekday to campus – it was great to pick up a free copy whenever I wanted. My favorite part was the crossword puzzle! Now that I’m home, I use my dad’s digital subscription – it’s really easy to use and I love the interactive parts, like clicking a link to a restaurant’s website in the Dining section.
I love a good girl band and lately I’ve been obsessed with these talented ladies. My favorite songs are “Falling” and “If I Could Change Your Mind”. The eighties are back and better than ever!!
Okay, I’ll confess: Alice + Olivia is pretty much definitely out of my price range. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t dream. Also, dresses often show up on eBay for around $100, so maybe one day I’ll own something from this fun brand!
Alice + Olivia by stacey bendet is a New York, New York-based contemporary clothing company that launched at Barneys in 2002 and is now sold in over fifty countries!
Alice + Olivia does not mess around when it comes to florals. I tend to be pretty picky about a pattern the splashier it is, but A + O is always pretty and never garish.
The brand was also one of the leaders in bringing back crop tops and separates. I love matching separates, though I’m not bold enough to pull off my own yet. That requires great abs, and right now I’ve just got flabs.
Alice + Olivia often has samples sales in the city – you can stalk Racked and try and make it to the next sale!
Shop my picks below!
I admit I’m out of my expertise here – I don’t have many guy friends, and within that pool, not many are interested in shopping. However, I did find these excellent tips here on reddit, and felt like it would be a good idea to share them on the blog! Many of these tips are also applicable to you ladies out there.
This could be you.
Without further ado, here are the tips!
Shirts are one of the hardest items of clothing to pick out in a thrift store. Generally, you won’t be able to tell the difference in fabric quality by sight or touch, unless the fabric is downright terrible. The big differentiators for shirts are fit (which is dictated by brand) or other materials. Here are a few basic guidelines to pick out quality shirts:
- When you first start, look for solid colored or very simple patterned shirts (tattersall, gingham, etc.) While it isn’t a hard and fast rule, most of the higher-end brands in a thrift store will have basic patterns and colors in strong, but not vibrant, colors. It is also going to be easier for you to match those once you take them home.
- When you spot a shirt that looks decent, your eyes will immediately go to the label for the brand name. I’ve posted a list of pretty high quality brands below. If the shirt you are viewing isn’t on that list, it doesn’t mean it is bad quality, but you should probably be at least a little suspect and check the details.
- Look at the buttons and buttonholes on a shirt. High quality shirts will have Mother of Pearl Buttons which are generally thicker and have a dull sheen to them compared to the plastic buttons found on cheaper shirts. Also, the button holes on higher-quality shirts will be stitched better, and will be less likely to fray.
- Try the shirt on. A medium from 1990 is not equal to a medium today; and there are many shirts in thrift stores that are even older than that. It doesn’t matter how boxy it is, you want it to fit in 3 places: the shoulders, the arms, and body length. If the seams aren’t resting on the edge of your shoulders, the shirt does not fit, put it back on the rack. If the shirt is boxy, take it to a tailor. They can bring it in for $5-10, or you can DIY.
- Finally, if it has passed every test, look the shirt over thoroughly to make sure that it isn’t missing any buttons, is free of rips, and doesn’t have any noticeable stains. I’ve brought home shirts I was very excited about only to find out they were completely unwearable. Don’t make my mistake.
- You can pretty much just scan the racks for anything that looks remotely wearable. Don’t look just at the shined or pretty shoes; those beat up wingtips in the corner could look amazing after they have been polished.
- For dress shoes, you are going to want a full leather upper and probably a leather bottom. You can look at the ones with rubber bottoms, but generally that means poorer quality (this isn’t always the case though. There are plenty of exceptions)
- Examine the shoe for cracking where the leather has folded and any wear at the toes or the heel. For a high-quality pair of shoes like Allen Edmonds or Alden, a little bit of wear isn’t going to be too noticeable. If the shoes are made of cheap leather, it can look quite bad.
- Obviously, try them on to make sure they fit before you buy them.
- This one is pretty simple; they need to fit in the waist, crotch, and be the correct length. You can buy long and shorten, but you can’t buy short and lengthen.
- Check the pockets before you buy, sometimes people stuff a bunch of shit in there and forget about it. This can both a good and bad thing.
Suits are a total crapshoot at a thrift store. There are going to be hundreds of shitty Stafford suits with a few gems mixed in. A lot of cheap brands will try to use luxe fabrics with their suits to seem high-class, which means you can’t just run your fingers across them to pick out quality. You basically just want to go down the rack and ignore anything that isn’t something you’d wear (for example, I’d never wear a double-breasted, so I ignore all of those. I would never wear a brown suit, so I ignore those. Etc.) Once you find something that looks like you’d wear it, dig a little deeper.
- Check the inside of the jacket; the brand or designer will be there. There will usually also be a white tag in the interior chest pocket that has sizes.
- European suits will be sized 10 sizes larger than American. A 50R European is a 40R American.
- The best suits are fully canvassed. To check this, pinch the suit at the bottom button and slide your fingerrs up and down. You should feel a loose piece of canvas between your fingers. If it isn’t loose, that means that the suit is fused, and lesser quality. It is difficult to describe, but the first time you stumble over a high-quality suit, try it with that and then with a cheap suit and notice the difference.
- Working button holes on the sleeves are usually a sign of quality, although recently there have been a number of cheaper brands who have been doing this.
- If you find an odd jacket for a suit, check the pants rack. Often times you’ll find the matching pants there.
General thrifting tips
- If you go to the sweater rack, put the back of your palm on the clothes and just run your hand down the rack. This takes 10 seconds, and you’ll immediately pick out anything cashmere.
- Check the women’s belts and scarves area. A lot of men’s belts get put there, and the scarf area will almost always have pocket squares.
- Check the jewelry counter; you can occasionally score some vintage cufflinks, tie bars, and possibly even a nice watch. Or pick up some nice jewelry for the girlfriend on the cheap.
- The best time to go thrifting is right after a big sale. They always put new stock on the floor after a big sale.
- Find out when your store brings out new merchandise; show up near that time. Often times it’ll still be on the cart before they have a chance to put it on the racks, just browse those. You’ll have your first pick at the newest stuff.
- Check off-season items. My best winter coats showed up in the spring.
- Smartphones are your best friend in a thrift store. If you don’t know the brand, you can google them and quickly get an idea of the quality.
To really get quality stuff out of thrift stores, you need to go often. You may only end up buying something 1 out of 3 times, but the more you are there the better chance you have of finding some great deals. Drop by during your lunch break, or when you are running errands, and make it a weekly occurrence. You are bound to find some quality clothes eventually, and save a ton of money doing it.”
There you have it! Thanks again to reddit user /u/zzzaz.
Collection is a column that features a themed set of clothing, shoes, accessories and jewelry, along with shopping tips and coupon codes for the sites where the items are found! This week’s collection is Audrey Hepburn-themed.
- Use eBates for cashback.
- Join the mailing list and get 15% off your next purchase at Katespade.com.
- Free shipping and returns at Nordstrom.com. (psst, have you checked out the new Rack website?)
- 20% off at Sole Society when you join their email last, and get a one-year subscription to Glamour with any purchase of $50 or more.
- 25% off select styles with code SOGOOD at Jcrew.com.
- 15% off at Saturday.com when you sign up for the newsletter.
- Free 2-day shipping for InCircle® members with code INCIRCLE, and 10% off when you sign up for emails at Neimanmarcus.com.
- Free shipping and returns (they’re SO fast!) at Piperlime.com.
Ahh, spring. Time to break out the bow-adorned flats, pastel pants and lighter jackets!
This post contains a very thrifty outfit. The Gap blazer that I am wearing was a gem of a find at National Wholesale Liquidators for $10 with the original tags on. The shirt is Eddie Bauer and a hand-me-down from a friend. The corduroy pants are J. Crew Factory ($20) and the periwinkle belt is H&M ($4).
Necklace ($30), bangle ($20) and rope bracelet ($20), all Kate Spade, found on eBay or in a Kate Spade Surprise Sale.
These flats are perhaps the favorite pair that I own. They’re Kate Spade, found on eBay for around $30. I love the shimmer and it’s a way for me to indulge in the metallic accessories trend without delving into disco-ball territory. Plus, I can walk around campus in these without spraining an ankle, as much as I love a pretty pair of heels.
I’m obsessed with cords and own about five pairs right now, all in different colors. I like the way that the blueness in these pants and belt work together with the navy blazer. It’s still chilly in upstate NY though the sun has been shining here and there, so a blazer layered with a long sleeve shirt is a practical choice.
Lips are Rouge Dior Couture Colour Voluptuous Care Lipstick in 671 Deauville.
As always, the beautiful photos in this post are by http://tylerconstance.com/, who will be graduating with me in only a week. I can’t believe the end of the semester is right around the corner. Soon my partner in crime and I will be separated, *sniff*. However, Tyler will definitely be going on to do great things! It’s hard to get excited about summer at times, but there is plenty on the horizon for us.
There are so many things to enjoy about summer, like soft-serve and sandals. However, there’s another s-word associated with the warm weather and it’s called SWEAT. No one likes to admit it, but here I am declaring the truth: I am a sweater and it is not pretty.
Fortunately, I have developed an arsenal of products to keep me cool and dry in the summer. This post may be premature, but on the other hand is it ever really too soon to get excited and start preparing for summer?
1. Clinique Superbalanced Powder Makeup
Powder is a great way to ward off shininess, especially in the T-zone area. I like this powder because it’s really thin so it doesn’t cake or crease. This exact one has been discontinued but Clinique has a few similar powders here.
2. LA Fresh Oil-Free Face Cleanser Wipes
Wipes are an easy way to prime your face in the morning, especially if you don’t have that much time. These are really soothing and smell great.
3. Sephora Retractable Waterproof Lip Liner in 01 Nude
Runaway lipstick is one of the worst things that can happen to a makeup addict. Nude liner is my go-to since it disappears under pretty much any shade of lipstick that I layer on top. Plus, this retractable version eliminates the hassle of sharpening.
4. Urban Decay Cannonball Ultra Waterproof Mascara
I don’t need to tell you how unattractive panda eye is on any occasion, but it’s especially rampant in the summer. Be cool and invest in a great waterproof mascara like this Urban Decay favorite. I’ve worn this mascara in pools, lakes and oceans and it never budges.
I’d love to hear about your favorites, too!