Are thrift stores getting too pricey?

Items for sale in my etsy store!

It has been quite awhile since I last visited Goodwill, so I thought I’d make the trip this evening. I got some really amazing finds this time, and I am really excited to get it all cleaned up and ready to photograph for you all. (Though they were great finds, they need some serious TLC — including dry cleaning.)

But… something is bothering me. Every time I visit Goodwill, I see the prices go up and up. Intellectually, I understand that stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army bolster valuable charity programs. That’s awesome! However, these stores are selling used goods, often in need of dry cleaning, laundering, and sometimes repairs. Today I saw six fall and winter jackets that were priced at $50. That’s essentially retail price. Sure, they might be real leather, or “vintage,” but that doesn’t mean they’re worth the price of a brand new jacket. Many of these coats had dirt, stains, and tears on them. This is absolutely ridiculous. Just because an item is made of leather doesn’t mean its worth the price of a new garment. Just because an item is old enough to qualify as vintage does not mean it is worth the price that a curated vintage boutique would charge. Vintage shops sell items for higher prices because the items are still chic and fashionable and still in a wearable condition. No one is going to buy those jackets. They were in cuts and designs that are not translatable to today’s fashion, and they were stinky and in very used shape. Shouldn’t the price reflect that? Is Goodwill getting greedy? Who is determining these prices? These are all DONATED ITEMS. $50 is just too much.

Intellectually, I understand that stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army bolster valuable charity programs. That’s awesome! However, these stores are selling used goods, often in need of dry cleaning, laundering, and sometimes repairs. I am forced to wonder if they realize that it’s not just the people on the receiving end of the charity efforts who stand to gain from these types of thrift stores — there are a lot of people who do all their clothing shopping at second-hand stores because of low income. A lot of families cannot afford to buy retail, and stores like Goodwill offer them a chance to shop for a variety of styles, brands, and seasons that would not be available to them otherwise. They get a chance to have some say in their personal style because of the variety second-hand shops offer.

How do you feel about this issue? Personally, if I want something bad enough, I will buy it anyway. The fact that part of the sales go to charity makes that easier, but now that they’re upping the prices on more mundane and generic items as well, I am disheartened. Is the art of the thrift store hunt in danger? Let me know what you think with a comment. Click the text bubble next to this entry’s title to chime in.

More Eyeball Jewelry: Eyeball Ear Cuff

 

I am eyeball obsessed these days. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I work for an optometrist? And for some crazy reason, eyeballs are all the rage right now. I found this rad ear cuff on eBay. Seriously, people, eBay is the new frontier for fashionistas. There is a lot of crap to dig through, but you can find some real fashion gems on eBay. I got mine from this seller for $1.49.

About a week ago, I got this lovely bracelet in the mail, also from ebay:

 

The next piece I need is an eyeball ring, which I am in the process of making, once I get the ring bases in the mail. Thanks eBay!

 

 

Small End of Summer Yard Sale Haul and Yard Sale Tips

 

 

 

Went to a few yard sales today with my grandma, who has recently started her own etsy shop. I haven’t had much luck at finding good stuff at yard sales this summer, but today my luck changed.

I found an awesome old bag that I assume was for a camera. It’s real leather, but the strap is very dried out and it’s cracking, so I will probably have to replace it. The best part — it was free! Then I found a wicker handbag at a Mennonite garage sale for $0.50. Not too shabby. At one garage sale, I found a neat bag of old Halloween decorations, which had these two blinking buttons that you see pictured above. Not pictured, I found three pairs of vintage earrings that need some TLC, 90s Tupperware brooches (I know, weird), and an old advertising yard stick for my workspace/craft room. (Oh, yeah, I made myself a work space that I will have to share with you guys. It’s furnished completely with second-hand awesome-ness, including a mid-century TV stand I found on the curb and carried home.)

Yard Sale Tips

1. Here’s a good tip I learned from my grandma — a lot of yard sales start on Thursdays, so it’s the best time to get the good stuff. Antiques dealers and vintage hunters get their early for the best stuff. They’re your competition!

2. Late Saturday afternoon is the best time to get cheap prices, because sellers are ready to throw in the towel. They are probably more willing to negotiate, and start throwing items to the curb, free to anyone who wants them. Being late has its advantages!

3. Check the free boxes! That is where I find the weirdest, coolest stuff. I found that cowhide bag in a free box. Once, I found an 1800s Bible that sold on eBay for $60. So, you just never know! Just be shameless and raid those boxes! Remember, they want that stuff gone.

4. An effective  haggling maneuver at yard sales is bundling. If a seller has items marked higher than what you’d feel comfortable paying, suggest a single price for multiple items. Take them to the seller and ask, “Would you take $5 for all of this?” and insert your offer as you see fit. The seller feels like they are getting more money and you get more for your buck.

5. Try to see the potential in an item, while still being realistic. For example, today I saw an awesome black wool coat that looked like it was from the 40s at a garage sale. It was marked $5. I thought about haggling, but I smelled it, and it smelled like mildew. Mildew is a difficult thing to get rid of, and in the end it was going to cost me too much, so I decided to pass.

6.To build on the last point,  use all of your senses to help you make the right choice. Be realistic about whether you will give an item the TLC it needs. I have a lot of stuff sitting around that I said I’d fix up, but haven’t. Don’t be like me!

Good luck with your yard sales while the weather permits!

 

DIY Skeleton Hand Collartips

 

Took some leftover skeleton hands from crafts of years past, glued lapel pins to them and attached a chain. So easy, it’s stupid. Saw the idea on tumblr. By the way, why don’t you check out Thrifty Cent’s tumblr?

 

 

I picked up this lovely collar necklace at a local antique mall called Route 30 for $5. The price seemed a little steep since it probably isn’t any older than the eighties or nineties but it was one of those times where I felt like I’d regret it if I didn’t get it.

And here are some snapshots of the jewelry I’verecently made for my etsy shop, The Betwixt Boutique:

For my rad readers, I have created a coupon code for you for The Betwixt Boutique. Enter coupon code THRIFTY at checkout.

 

Favorite Sandals of the Summer

I actually got these sandals back when it was still cold outside. I had an Amazon Gift Card I received for a work project, so I decided to splurge and spend it on these. At the time, I paid something like $39 for these. Excuse my awful feet. Ahem.

Blowfish /Seadream Flat Sandals 

Ebay Find: Metal Bird Claw Bangle

Really Big Talons

I very recently scored this sweet bird talon bangle on, believe it or not, eBay! I first saw something like this on Nasty Gal, a site I like to ogle but can NOT afford, and was intrigued but wrote it off as out of my bank account league.  And then, the amazing youtuber Jen Im of CLOTHES ENCOUNTERS wore a metal claw bangle in one of her videos. I saw how awesome yet effortless it looked on her wrist. When she said she bought it on ebay, I paused the video and went directly to ebay. I actually found the very same bracelet, bought it, and also found the one you see above. I paid $1.04 (including shipping!) for it.

And here it is with the rest of today’s arm jewelry. The faceted stone ring is from Forever 21 (for $3.80) and the big weird red ring is from a dollar store in my local mall (for $0.99).

A quick update!

I’ve been through a whole bunch of crazy lately — computer viruses, chronic broke-ness, and a broken camera. (Thank my cute new kitten for that one. Long story.) I am now plus one camera and minus all computer viruses but still broke (because of the new camera). But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been thrifting! It’s going to take me awhile to catch up on all the treasures I’ve found and all the things that have filled my mind, but we’ll get there.

Stay tuned!

New shoes from TJMaxx

I need some new heeled shoes for work, so I picked these up at my local TJMaxx, a discount clothing store, for $34.99, a bit more than I usually pay for shoes. They normally would have retailed for a higher price in a normal store.

In some cases, you get what you pay for, and cheap shoes just don’t last.  At an event for one of my work-study jobs in college, one of my shoes broke, so I was stuck wearing my snow boots for the entire evening. The shoes were $15 from K-mart. Live and learn, right?

They remind me of these shoes I have been seeing on Japanese and Chinese fashion blogs:

 

Thanks for reading, thrifters!

Three Reasons Why You Should Give the Peplum Skirt a Chance

Peplums in every shape and size.

1. Instantly creates an hourglass figure.

  • If you have broad shoulders, a peplum dress or skirt will balance you out.
  • For those who have a little extra love in the tummy area (like me) it will help give back that hourglass figure by contrasting your waistline.
  • If you have a slender frame (or even just a straighter frame), this will enhance your curves.
And the people does all of this without making your legs look bulky, because the skirt itself is typically fitted. Otherwise, it’s just a ruffle. Peplum elitism here, folks.

2. Adds playfulness and femininity to an otherwise stuffy ensemble.

If it weren’t for the peplum effect of the blazer, this look would be quite serious and a little too matronly for a woman of Kate Middleton’s age. It also adds curves to her slender body.

3. It’s readily available in thrift stores!

The peplum has been around long before the 1980s! It’s the modern way to wear a bustle, representing a stark contrast to the loose-fitting garments of the 1920s and 30s.

Thanks for reading, thrifters!

Thrifting Haul – Spring Inspired

So I haven’t been doing as much thrifting and yard sale hopping as I’d like to (dumb full-time job work schedule — curse you!), but although they are few and far between, I have found some real gems.

Find #1:

I picked up this cute little needlepoint shoulder bag for $3.50. I reminds me of the old-fashioned needlepoint handbags (like this) but with a more rustic pattern. I don’t think it is vintage, in fact it seems quite new. But, hey, at $3.50, I’m down with that.

Find #2:

I also found this cute watermelon-esque polka-dot scarf for $1.  It needs pressed, but I think this will help me add some color to my work outfits. I tend to slide into either too much black or too much beige at work.

Find #3:

I am totally enamoured with this high contrast 90s Gitino cross-body. $2 from a church thrift store in the next town over.

Find #4:

This poor bag is a little worse for wear, but I still love it. It’s a 1960s pillbox handbag from an awesome vintage boutique in Harrisburg called the Atomic Warehouse. The owner gave me a good deal on it: $10! I have seen these only a handful of times, and usually priced at $30 to $60!

Find #5:

This skirt has side pockets and buttons up the front. I found this for $3.50. Not sure if this will become part of my skirt collection or if it will end up on etsy. I need to give it a test run. I have an outfit concept in mind, but I am not sure if I’ll be venturing too far on the granny side. I was inspired by this:

 

Don’t worry, there’s plenty more to share! Stay tuned, thrifters.

 

Win Nasty Gal for life! Nasty Gal Hosting a $10,000 gift card giveaway!

Hey, I’m in!

Enter at Nasty Gal’s website, nastygal.com. The clothing and accessories for sale at Nasty Gal are super rad, but also super expensive. Wouldn’t it be amazing to have $10,000 of pure mad money to spend shamelessly on your wardrobe?

This is not a sponsored post! I am just really jazzed about such a crazy giveaway and wanted to share a chance to win with my readers.

What is this Glossybox thing, anyway?

The beauty corner of YouTube has been inundated with reviews and unboxing videos of something called Glossybox. You may recall a little while back I reviewed JustFab.com, a shoe subscription service — well, it seems a lot like that.

Glossybox is a worldwide company, but is just now coming to America. In order to raise some hype, they’ve sent boxes free of charge to a whole lotta Youtube beauty vloggers, not just the big name gurus. This shows a transition in the way fashion and beauty products are marketed to young consumers. While we may still covet our issues of Vogue, we are spending more time browsing Youtube, blogs, Chictopia.com, and Lookbook.nu than magazines for fashion and beauty “inspiration.” I mean, these days you can even watch people unbox new shoes on Youtube with a detailed review — times are a-changing, people! (Which is sad for all of us who hoped to be magazine editors.) Lots of companies are offering free products in exchange for blog updates and vlogs.

Let’s take a look at my favorite Youtube fashion/beauty/paranormal blogger, Grav3yardgirl, as she opens her free Glossybox:

From what I gather, you pay $21 each month for one monthly box filled with five different travel size beauty products (a nice way to dress up what seems like samples to me) curated by “beauty experts.” I am not sure if you can skip months or not, like you can with JustFab and ShoeDazzle. They are packaged very nicely, and some of the products actually are full size, like OPI nail polish. The company promises that all the brands are high end or luxury. So, is it really worth the $21 per month?  That’s $252 per year, and as grav3yardgirl says, that’s potential shoe money. Perhaps the added retail cost of all the contexts is enough to draw you in. I definitely want to see more.

The whole thing is still in the “beta” stages for America, but I am intrigued. Their marketing tactic has certainly succeeded in creating a lot of buzz.

Alexander McQueen: Into the Woods

This month, Sarah Burton (who took over as designer after Alexander McQueen’s passing) threw a fashion show in McQueen’s native London for the Fall 2012 McQ line as a celebration for the launch of a new store location. She has been able to maintain the McQueeny-ness of the late designers aesthetic while still creating original and exciting new pieces. The McQ line is tailored to a more everyday look. This collection has earthy, woodsy colors (browns, forest greens, deep autumn reds) but there’s nothing bland about it. It really feels like fall. Nothing too vibrant. Enjoy!

{Photos via Vogue.com}

Whitney Houston has passed away. Let’s remember the good times…

Love the big hair!

Review of online shoe / accessory store JustFab.com

Tempted by those commercials of women admiring shoes on the internet at work, I decided to take a look at JustFab.com for myself. I wasn’t really planning on buying anything, but when I saw a one day only deal for 50% off my first purchase of shoes I frantically searched for an acceptable pair.

So, I thought I’d pass my experience on to those curious about this store.

Pros:

1. You will always get a discount (of some kind) on your first order — at least 20% but I was lucky enough to get 50% off.

2. Shipping (except expedited) is always free.

3. Exchanges are free. They pay the shipping for exchanging.

3. Nothing on the site is over $39.95.

4. They predict what types of shoes and other accessories you might like.

5. With every purchase you make you earn points which can eventually be redeemed for free shoes.

Cons:

1. Nothing is under $39.95. Every single thing is the same price, like Dollar Tree. Some things — like the jewelry are not worth the price. Now, to be fair, sometimes they do have deals going on, like select styles being two for the price of one.

2. When you sign up, you take a style personality quiz, but it isn’t really in-depth enough to capture your personal taste. It just forces you to pick your favorite out of a number of lukewarm items and celebrities. In my case, almost every question’s choices were all unappealing to me, so the “stylist hand-picked” shoes in my personal boutique weren’t really things I liked.

3. When you make your first purchase, you become a “VIP” member, which basically means that unless you opt out each month by the 5th day, they will charge you $39.95 and send you more shoes. You cannot opt out of this “VIP” thing unless you cancel your account altogether. However, you can decline each month by clicking “SKIP THIS MONTH” on the homepage, but again, this be done by the 5th of each month.

4. Browsing their items is tiresome. You cannot simply type in a keyword and search for what you want unless you know the specific name of the shoe or accessory. You can’t see all of their shoes at any given time. I am not sure why this is. What the “stylists” chose for me was pretty limited, and didn’t really reflect my style.

Here’s what I settled on:

They send them in sturdy packaging, and they ship quickly. I ordered on a Tuesday night and had my shoes by Saturday. They come in their own shoe box just like shoes from a real store. My pair has creases around the ankles as if someone wore them already. Maybe they were returned? It’s not a huge problem, but it makes me think that they were made very, very cheaply. They feel kind of cheap. I will definitely need to put insoles in them as there is no padding for the balls of my feet, which is the part that you put a lot of your weight on when wearing heels.

All in all, the shopping experience wasn’t ideal for me. A lot of the shoes I really loved were out of stock. I would rather not see them at all if I can’t actually buy them. I like to search directly with keywords to find what I am looking for, not hunt and click through pages and pages looking for something to pique my interest. I really dislike that you have to remember to log on every month and opt out unless you want to buy shoes. The site would be better if you could just buy what you wanted, when you wanted, without all that hassle. Seems to me that they just want you to forget so they can charge you another $39.95.

Shortly after getting my shoes, I joined ShoeDazzle.com out of curiosity. They have a more stylish selection of shoes, but other than that, it’s basically the same store. I will try them next. They have Jeffrey Campbell “Lita” lookalikes, but you have to get on a waiting list because they’ve already sold out!

Critique of Kat Von D Los Angeles Spring / Summer 2012 Collection “Treasure Coast”

The fashion world was pleasantly surprised when Kat Von D unveiled her first wave of Fall 2011 designs last year. No one seemed to suspect just how chic it would all be. (I, of course, knew it all along. Ahem.) Kat offers her “Red Label” collection as a cheaper alternative to the more elegant (translation: high priced) “White Label” collection. As I began to peruse the lookbook for the Spring/Summer collection “Treasure Coast,” my expectations were high.

As seen with this baroque jacket inspired by Beethoven, Napoleon, and other strong-shouldered icons of days gone by, Kat's first collection expressed a love of the darkly romantic. Gothic but elegant. Edgy but still refined. I loved every bit.

As a die-hard Kat lover, this is painful for me to concede, but… I’m disappointed. Kat has said that she wanted this collection to appeal to a wider audience, and thus the aesthetic has been (drastically) toned down. So much that for me, the clothing has little appeal.

Granted, there are still looks that exude Kat Von D-ness. As the collections name would suggest, it appears that Kat and her design consultants wanted a pirate-slash-maritime theme.  My favorites from the lookbook are as follows:

I love this tunic. She's called it a sweater, but it clearly ain't gonna keep you warm. I like the thin gauziness of the fabric, and the circular cutouts that represent the black spot, the symbol of mutiny from legend and pirate movies alike.

This jacket is a cleaned up version of the tattered shirts and wind worn jackets of pop culture pirates. This could have been tacky, but instead it's glorious. It has a dark, sharp feel to it that I love.

I love both the top and the skirt. While we've seen similar designs in the past skirt-wise, it seems like a workable piece to add to one's closet. I have a maxi skirt in the exact same tie-dye bleached fabric. Perhaps not office appropriate, but it's a rad skirt to wear day or night with a pair of combat boots and sheer black pantyhose. The top is an ode to the pirate wench with an Asian spin. Love it. Looks like a denim type fabric. It would look great layered over a chiffon peasant top or button up.

That said, some (or most) of the looks are drab and kind of tacky:

I can see scraps of piratey inspiration here, with the knotted gilt yarn closure and the high captain's jacket collar, but the tailoring is all off. It looks thrown together. The pants are something most of us already own. The outfit looks too contemporary.

The leggings look cool, but I imagine they buckle up when the knees are bent. Not practical if you like sitting or moving. The top looks tacky. I don't have a problem with fringe. I love fringe, BUT it has to be done in the right way. The fringe paired with the swirly metallic look of the graphics on this top are fighting each other. It doesn't seem like Kat at all.

These garments, especially this in particular, are items that could have been designed by any old clothing company. I’m thinking Kathy Ireland, Jaclyn Smith, and all the other “every” woman labels. Things you arbitrarily buy for work just because you think they’re office appropriate, not because you really like them. I get the feeling that Kat put all her eggs in one basket with the first collection. Perhaps, not wanting have the Spring / Summer collection be too similar, Kat tried to expand her aesthetic. Instead, the aesthetic was almost lost, muddied with pieces that don’t fit in with the them and don’t feel true to the Kat Von D style. If you cut out all the tacky, humdrum looks, then you’d have a more cohesive, more personal collection, but then again, you’d only have a few looks.

Maybe I’ve just watched too much Project Runway, but it seems like there were two polar opposite designers – one designer is an evolved continuation of the debut collection – dark, tough, but still elegant. Kat has conceptual focus with the “good” looks, however, the “second” (imaginary) designer (presumably Kat’s “average” alter-ego) is trying to design for too broad of an audience, causing the output to be unfocused, uninspired, and bland. The “bad” looks just don’t seem like anything Kat herself would wear. I am guessing the schizophrenic differences between the looks may end up being what separates the “White Label” items from the “Red Label” items this time around. The Fall 2011 had cohesive variety; it really didn’t need to toned down.

To channel Reading Rainbow, “But don’t take my word for it!” View the entire lookbook here and see for yourself.

Earrings Anonymous

I’ll be the first to step up and admit that I have an earring problem. I love them way too much. My bedroom doesn’t appreciate it, and neither does my boyfriend, but pish posh. A girl’s gotta have her earrings. These particular earrings are a set a made a few nights ago.  I think they are chunk and funky, and those are qualities I value highly in jewelry, if you know what I mean. What to you think?

What kind of fashionista are you?

 

Discount Line to Watch For: Jason Wu for Target

As we all know, only a select few determined and (probably) tough fashionistas actually nabbed anything from the Versace for H&M line in Fall. The day the line was released, a news broadcaster on NPR radio commented on how H&M employees had to hand out wristbands and numbered tickets because of the amount of people waiting to bust through the doors to snatch a piece of Versace gold. Most stores sold out within the day. And the Missoni for Target line wasn’t much better. I breezed into my local Target only a few days into the release of the Missoni line to find nothing but a few infant items that the employees had placed on the Women’s displays in a desperate attempt to keep the racks from looking barren.

Maybe, this one’ll be different. You may remember First Lady Obama’s gown Inaugural Ball, the one she wore as she danced with the President to Beyonce’s rendition of At Last. If you don’t, here’s a refresher. Well, that gorgeously poofy dress was designed by Jason Wu, a now 29 year old Parsons alum whos designs are known for being “fuss-free” but still striking and chic. On February 5th, he will be releasing a ready to wear line with Target that promises to capture the simplicity and chicness of his designs with a much lower price tag. In fact, prices will be decently gentle on your wallet, ranging from $19.99 to $59.99.  The line will include accessories, like bags and scarves.

Click here to see Target’s page on the upcoming line. They don’t offer much more that a few glimpses as of now, but it does wet your palette. Personally, it an not into printed shirt-dresses unless the prints are something crazy, like cats, but we’ll have to wait and see what Mr. Wu has up his sleeves. Mark your calenders. This line will only be available online and in stores from Feb. 5th to March 6th, 2012. I’d recommend getting there early!