Part 1 – a thrifty soul
Maybe it was the scent of Fabulous-ness wafting from New York’s Fashion Week? Maybe it’s the cooler temperatures and our first world ritual of back-to-school shopping sprees? Maybe it’s because I recently discovered that I could watch Project Runway to my heart’s content online thanks to Hulu.com? Whatever the reason….lately I’ve become even more fashion & design obsessed than usual. I LOVE clothes!!
I shelled out almost 5 bucks for the September issue of In Style magazine with Hilary Swank on the cover which boasted “600 pages of Fall Fashion”. It’s big and heavy and full of too many ads, but Man, are there some gorgeous clothes in there. Chanel’s fur and wool jumpsuit! The amazing 1950’s styling of Louis Vuitton featuring a dramatic full-length leather circle skirt and herringbone bustier! Linda Evangelista looking fierce in an A-line cheetah print jacket available at Talbots of all places. I have to admit, I got a bad case of the gimmees. But sadly almost everything in there is well well well out of my price range, seeing as my “price range” is usually anything under $10. Sigh.
Not to be discouraged I opened up my closet, hit a couple of my favorite thrift stores for some “new” pieces to inspire me, and got back into the art of dressing for less. While the In Style fashion editors have to somehow manage to get all their new fall favorites within a $1000 monthly clothing budget, I thought I’d share a peek into how us mere mortals do it with no clothing budget at all.
I made a few great thrift-store scores this month that I wanted to show you, as well as introducing you to some other frugal ‘fashionistas’ (I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I know that word is so totally over used, but I had to do it) who succeed in rocking the sidewalk way better than any runway!
It all started when I found this great shirtdress at Eco-Thrift on Fruitridge Rd in South Sacramento. I don’t usually go to Eco-Thrift much, although I have many thrifty homegirls that swear by it. The parking lot is always crowded and I think their prices are a little high – but that’s just me. I have to think long and hard before I’ll spend more than $5 on a single item at a thrift store. This dress was priced at $4.95 but was so unique that it was worth every penny. It kind of had all things going for it: a shirt-dress in a very flattering cut, fabric like those vintage Indonesian batiks that you sometimes see as sarongs, and colors which are perfect for fall – an olive base with nut-brown, navy and white details. Best of all it’s totally unique because it’s obviously hand-made (and well done at that – it’s someone’s home design project that they eventually parted with). Plus it looks great on and I get tons of compliments in it. So for less than five bucks…I’ll take it!
My usual stand-by when I’m in the mood to shop is Thrift Town. There is one in my part of town on Stockton Blvd. and another out in Carmichael that is totally worth the drive. According to the Thrift Town website there are chains of this store in California, New Mexico, Texas and Utah.
While trolling the Thrift Town site I also saw they have a blog to keep up with the times. I like what the writer Kari does with her posts but at first I thought it was a stretch, this idea that you could have the ‘latest’ fall looks by shopping at TT. But after my last few forays I’m becoming convinced. Check out these finds:
This woven ‘infinity symbol’ belt. Looked kind of weird on the rack but I could see the potential, besides it was marked 99 cents on a purple tag (which were 50% off that day)…so for a couple of quarters, it was mine. It was just the thing to freshen up this jersey knit dress which my son found at the back of my closet. “Mom, this is pretty!” was all the inspiration I needed.
Dress – Found at a swanky boutique on Balboa Island in Southern California. It was on super sale during the off-season so I got it for around $20.
Long sleeve T – dreamy soft James Pearse t-shirt with a lovely amount of drape. I can see why those LA celebs pay over $200 for a simple T. Not me though, this was a hand me down from my step-mom, therefore free.
Wooden necklace – birthday gift from my friend Mia, I think it was a thrift store find too.
Hmmm….Maybe I should start a spin-off blog?: “All dressed up…and nowhere to go but the kindergarten yard!”
Also found – this sweet polka dot scarf in yummy chocolate brown (40 cents) and these electric blue and white bangles with slightly ovid dots ($1 each but worth it for their total funkiness) from The Thrift Store. This place is kind of a hole in the wall and has a weird mix of used items and new, but super cheap, accessories and plastic virgin of Guadalupe statues. I never fail to leave there feeling like I got great deal, like my favorite gold-sequined ballet flats which I found gently used, for 80 cents!
Tuesday, while home working on this post, ding-dong the doorbell rang. I found a USPS box on my doorstep (always a thrill!) and inside were the platforms I lent Ursula at Modaspia for her catalog shoot (more on this in a moment) as well as two of the highly coveted Judah Ross floral hairclips. which I promptly wore:
As an aside (and I am a totally impartial reviewer – for those of you that don’t know Judah Ross is the line created by my sister, our beloved East Twin) the hairclips are great!! I like the industial size clip and the strength of the stitching. They stayed in my thick mass of hair all day and even survived the wear and tear of my little boys.
Later in the week I found myself at ThriftTown yet again, this time actually getting rid of clothes – donating four big bags of stuff. But since I was there, I just had to go in for look-see if you know what I mean. I need more clothes like I need a hole in the head, so I tried to stick just to the housewares department. There I found a great little ½ gallon water jug (BPA-free !) with a carrying strap and sports cap for $1.49 to replace the one my husband lost months ago. These retail for around $10 so I counted this as an awesome deal !
My two-year old Royal trotted off to the toy section, ignoring my admonishment that we were “only looking and not taking home”. Since I was trapped awhile next to the handbag section, Royal playing happily with old cars and other broken plastic crap, I started to dig….
I found a several good bags and a couple of great ones. It was hard to choose! I was struck with a sudden inspiration that I should start a new crafting project of ‘up-cycling’ old purses and bags. A hot-glue gun, some fake gems, a few felted flowers here, some “RP” flair there, and I’d be in business. Whadda ya think?
In the end I went with the tomato-red soft leather tote with the metal studs for a rock and roll edge ($2.99) and this awesome top-handle bag in the perfect autumn colors and a Chanel-esque nubby plaid ($3.99). Score!!
Recently I also got to dust off my old stylist hat (figuratively speaking) and do what I love best, play with clothes. A few weeks ago my friend Ursula (aka Modaspia) asked if I would be willing to come up to her studio in Placerville and help her sort through her Spring line and brainstorm on accessories and styling ideas. She was getting ready to shoot her look-book in preparation for taking the line to market during NY’s fashion week. She said she compensate me in clothes. Say no more!!
Ursula has a beautiful and airy upstairs studio on the main drag of downtown Placerville (if you never been there, it is a charming old mining town cradled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas). Her space is all brick and good light and of course racks full of her amazing clothes. We had a fun time and share a similar styling aesthetic (think Japanese sweetheart meets European schoolgirl). I couldn’t make it to the actual photoshoot, but they did a great job and you should definately check out the full line of the Modaspia Spring 2011 collection
Part 2 – Color of the Day
In Waldorf Education there is ‘device’ used to bring rhythm to the school week for the children. The idea is that without defining the days of the week in abstract terms by naming them, the children simply come to know which day it is by the colors worn by the teachers. This is my simplified explanation of a complex pedagogical theory but you get the drift. I found this groovy website which offers explanation of how color of the day could translate into every day living.
Just last week my middle son Lincoln started kindergarten at a Waldorf-inspired school. There I met Miss Pattie, a full-inclusion aide for a student in the kindergarten class. Miss Pattie is a vision of color of the day! She’s like a cross between Cyndi Lauper and a Fairy godmother and has an excellent sense of personal style. I’ve even heard a rumour that she drives converted mail truck complete with hand-made curtains, but I haven’t seen it yet.
I’ve been so enjoying Miss Pattie’s interpretation of the color of the day tradition that I asked her if I could document her for a week so as to share it with you, my faithful readers. So you are:
Here we see Pattie using red against a contrasting palette of green. Very sweet. I also couldn’t resist fellow kinder-mom Eva’s bold patterned skirt, adorable with cropped leggings and flats. Eva said she found this skirt out thrifting and probably paid less than $4 for it.
My favorite thing about Miss Pattie’s style is her attention to detail and the repetition of her theme in fabric choices and accessories. Check out the b & w polka dots mirrored in the pear brooch and the intricate filigree pattern on the skirt which is picked up again in the crocheted headband with butterflies. Simply awesome!
I knew I was getting obsessed when towards the end of the week, my kindergartener started to get run-down and tired, and I found myself praying that he didn’t get sick. My driving motivation to make it to school on Friday was to see what Miss Pattie would wear!
Finally readers, if you haven’t had enough, here are some more of my favorite sources of fashion inspiration lately:
The considered ensemble – fashion blog with no pictures. Love the precise descriptions of what they wore, by the hip and styley.
UO blog – full disclosure, I used to work for Urban Outfitters but this isn’t a plug out of loyalty. I just really love the daily mix of art, fashion and music that otherwise I’d have no access to. Makes this mom in her minivan feel like she’s got her finger on the pulse.
Till next time…..
Special Thanks for making this edition possible go out to:
* Bean – for trusting me with her Nikon, even though I dropped a lens at last weekend’s wedding. Thanks girl!
* Lincoln – for acting as First Assistant in styling and shooting this week. He took some good pix for a 4-year old huh?!
* East Twin – as always, for taking time out of her Saturday to re-size my images.
* Miss Pattie Gibson – for being a willing model and all round funky fashion diva!
I’d like to dedicate this post to the memory of Jennie Haydel. A lover of the arts and sewing and an incredibley creative woman. I’ll always be grateful to you for the time you spent with Maceo, caring for him and making art. May you be in a better place now.