Posts Tagged 'thrift stores'

Pants Thrift

After some quality time at the Salvation Army on Little River Monday, I finally have pants.  It is a glorious feeling.

new pants

I also found a sweater that is covered with alpaca, and also probably made from alpaca.

alpaca sweater

I will wear it and dream of the day I have my own alpaca farm.

I also found: some stripy shirts appropriate for impending spring; a green fleece for me with elastic cuffs to keep me warm on the bike; a thin black fleece for V (he’s really into layering); an orange sweater that I might wear, or maybe it will fit V, or I will make it into something else; a couple of skirts; and a large green thing that might be a dress.  Not pictured are a necklace for me and one for a friend.  Big album of all this is here.

purple and green skirtsgreen dressstripy shirtsorange sweaterblack and green fleece

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Why Yes, I Have Been Thrifting

And it’s been so long since I posted a trip that you get three in one. I think I spent about $60 all told. Yes, I did, because I can check that in my online banking now! More on that to follow.

But here you are. The big album, and the selected thumbnails.

When I am thrifting, I occasionally find myself buying items simply because no one else will love them for their own ugly selves, like I do.  For instance, my new bowling outfit:  you see it to the left of a button down printed with a topographical map, which the GF wears handsomely.  Poor shirt.  I will give it closet space, and find a 70s party to wear it to occasionally.  It is safe with me.

It gets classier, though.  I found a Banana Republic blouse with a back-button detail, and a blouse that appears to have frilly gills.  Plus, I got a (second) pair of pants- navy Dockers.  My jeans thanked me.

Then there are the wonderful things.  My skirt with polka dots!  I will wear it with boots.  Plus, a boxed set of Italo Calvino’s novels- I’d been reading If on a winter’s night a traveler on loan from the library, and it’s the kind of book I need to own.

Thrifting makes me ask myself the hard questions.  Why do I not wear more sequins, for instance? How come I haven’t worn a belt in 10 years?  How many colors can I combine and get away with? Most retail stores have one style that they sell, and you might as well wear a cookie cutter (unless it is cold).  Thrift stores have everything from nice to ludicrous, and you get to pick your combos. It’s an odd sensation, having clothing that I enjoy wearing, and it causes all sorts of irrational exuberance when I get dressed these days.  For the longest time, my personal style has been “does it smell clean? is it pants? ok”.  It is high time to shift that to “I do feel happy in whatever this outfit is”.

Showing off

thrift store 1-4thrift store 1-1Here’s what I found at the thrift store this weekend, in my search for a dress to wear to a black-tie event. All these are from the Unique in Silver Spring, MD, which has a very large selection of clothing and house stuff. I’d like to note that all this was just laying around on a busy Saturday afternoon, several days after their last shipment of new things. The green bag was $2.50, the tank top was $4, and the sweater was $5. The coral dress was the best thrift store 1-3find at $7- and no, it won’t work for the event I had in mind. Though, thrift store 1-2after some dry cleaning (see previous post) and a few alterations- including in my diet and exercise regime- it could do for another event later in the year. And yes, from now on I’ll be posting the awesome things I find at second hand stores, for your inspiration.

Sunday Special: Give a Little

It’s about that time to start wondering about the holidays- at the very least, to wonder about how to unplug those ridiculous store speakers blasting holiday music. But that’s a start, and while you’re plotting vengeance on jingle bells and window displays, save some brain space for considering how to make your holidays happier and more sustainable. No, seriously- sustainability may be the last thing on your mind in the rush of parties, last minute gifts, travel, cooking, decorating, family, and whatever else one lists in lists of potential holiday hassles, but it’ll save you money and stress.

So, Brilliant Holiday Advice (BHA) part 1: The Gift Guide.

First Rule: Before you buy someone something, figure out if they’ll actually use it. If it’s a purely decorative thing (say a bauble or perhaps a knickknack), is it “their style”? If you have no idea, don’t waste money (see gift ideas below).

Second Rule: Shopping involves ethical decisions, and those decisions don’t go away just because there’s a lot of stuff to buy. Buying fair-trade and responsible items or organic foods or sweatshop-free or recyclable and recycled things matters, and especially now, there are a lot more opportunities to shop ethically this year with a little research (good thing you’re starting early!).

Third Rule: People appreciate the thought most. If they don’t, kick them. Instead of mailing random stuff to people to indicate that you remember them, send them a handwritten note- they care more about hearing from you than odd boxes. If you have skills, make something for them. Give a huge favor- Grandmas love lawn care.

Fourth Rule: If you’re close to the giftee, talk to them about what they want: a surprise, a new microwave, jewelry, slippers, nothing. This works best with close friends and family and will save you the worry of meeting expectations, self-doubt, second guessing, and set appropriate gift levels.

And now, good gift ideas. These aren’t the only good ones by far, so if you think of more, let me know (I have a list to make…)

1. Gift Cards: Impersonal? Only if you do it wrong. Indicative of a lack of caring or thought? Not at all! Sometimes the most loving impulse is acknowledging that you have no idea, based on long distances or generational divides, what people need or want for Christmas/Eid/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Festivus (are there Diwali gifts?). Keep in touch better next year, but don’t saddle them with random things they don’t want or already have so you feel more connected and personal. Gift cards to stores you think they will like, or to places you know they do like, with a long, personal handwritten card- everybody appreciates that. Plus, they’re small enough to mail in a regular envelope: smaller shipping cost, both in fuel and money.

2. Take a stroll through local Goodwill, Salvation Army, and thrift stores. These places sell lots of random things and their selection changes all the time. On a good day, you will find glassware, jewelry, pottery, records, books- anything, really- just right for that blank spot on the list, maybe with a little cleaning up first. Bonus small price tag, and instant thoughtful gift!

3. Reusable grocery bags: Try this on someone who’s more likely to actually want to use them- hard to make it a loving gift when you have to explain what they are and give a lecture on the ecological reasons for using them. Any bags will do, but preferably they’ll be at least as large as the plastic grocery bags, not too large to carry when loaded, strong enough for a gallon of milk, and contain separate sections for breakable items like eggs. Personalize old tote bags you have lying around. Crochet your collected grocery bags into a few new ones. Sew some bags for them on your own. Find interesting bags around: everybody sells bags. Local libraries, restaurants, operas- get bags from places they like.

4. Planet Earth series: If you think nature documentaries are lame, admit new evidence. The Planet Earth series has astounding footage of the earth earthing and animals doing animally things they’ve never been seen doing before, thanks to new camera technology and infinite patience. It’s least expensive at Amazon and Costco, and perfect for families, people who like the outdoors, people who hate the outdoors (bring it inside for them!), and, you know, everybody. Not exactly a sustainable tip, but it is awesome, and it involves the promise of technology and respecting the earth because it is pretty and can also eat you, so.

5. Jewelry: Fair Trade or responsibly made, for sure. greenKarat makes jewelry from recycled gold and gems, or find vintage items at thrift stores or consignment shops. Somehow, recycled and lab-grown diamonds say “I love you” much better than the ones currently financing wars and causing ecological and human damage- different post, though. Fair trade jewelry may also be made from recycled items, and Ten Thousand Villages carries a really interesting selection of it- styles range from modern to exciting. Some of their stores are in Old Town Alexandria, Richmond, Baltimore, Bethesda, and Rockville, though there are more in the area. Their wares are all fairly traded, and they also carry lots of other likely gift items and decorations.

6. Solar chargers: For the gadget types, I mentioned a few solar powered chargers for phones and music players in my post on the Solar Decathalon. They’re useful, sustainable, and something nobody else has yet! Perfect gadget for anyone who sees sunlight ever.


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