Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Winner!!! And my new plan...

There's just nothing more glamorous than posting an Excel formula to open a blog post!

Remember that delectable scarf from Kathkath that they offered to us last week?

KathKath_Riad_SilkSquareScarf
Riad scarf - Kathkath

Well, Lorrie, send me your contact information so that I can forward it to Kathkath - because IT'S YOURS!

Congratulations to Lorrie, and thanks, as always, to all of you who hang around here with me and share my day...

I don't think I've mentioned it before, but Belovedest and I are moving, at the end of June. Just down the hall, but we've been given an irresistible offer on a REALLY irresistible apartment with a spectacular lake view, and so we're going to accept...

The new apartment is a 1 bedroom, which is a big step up for those of us who have always lived in studio apartments! But so far we've been very lucky - someone gave us an absolutely amazing bed and dresser, along with enough bedding for a small army! (and it's not just ANY bed - it's a hardwood sleigh bed, with a matching "dry sink" dresser; I could not have chosen nicer furniture if I'd looked for a month...)

But we do have a couple of things we want for the new place - a pair of bar stools (I'll post pictures of the kitchen once it's built - it's going to be all new from the cement floor and the studs up and out!), and a large framed mirror. And we're ONLY looking for things that are second-hand; there's so much used furniture in the world that we really don't need to have someone cut down a tree and manufacture something just for us...

And that got me to thinking about clothes, which is never far from my mind. Since I already have SO many clothes - more than enough - why don't I commit myself to buying only second-hand clothing for a while. Like a year...

So, starting today! I am only buying clothes that have already been purchased at retail by someone else. Things might still have tags on them, they may have never been worn, or they may be "gently worn", but I won't be the person carrying them out of a store in a shopping bag. Exceptions: lingerie, and running shoes. (used running shoes - not a good idea!)

I know that many of you make your own clothes (I'm still awed by some of your work!), and that many of you are vintage and resale experts. This is going to be a new challenge for me, but one which I embrace in the spirit of thrift and ecology.

Tell me of your "already depreciated" clothing adventures!

love,
Janice

NOVICA


38 comments:

  1. Beautiful morning to you! I recommend browsing the consignment & thrift stores before you need anything. This way you can scout out which places work best for you. Some have a higher quality of stuff, some are better organized, some have better prices. For instance, now is a the time to find the places that carry the best selection of outer wear like trench coats & leather jackets. They will be marked down a bunch over the next 90 days.

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  2. Oh my goodness, this brings back happy memories of browsing the Chicago thrift stores for hours and hours, on the hunt for whatever was my obsession at the time! For awhile, I refused to buy knitting yarn, but found yummy wool and cashmere sweaters which I unraveled and washed and rolled into balls - men's sweaters are the best for this purpose, so much yarn :-). Of course, there was no way I'd ever live long enough to actually use all that yarn, so ended up donating it back to the thrifts, just in a different form...

    I agree with the above poster, and scout out the different thrift stores before you really need something. But the real key is just browsing, and going back often (stock changes regularly), and jumping on things that fit your style when you see them. I would love to thrift now that my style has been honed and refined; I wasn't as particular about my clothing before reading the Vivienne Files. Thanks again, Janice, and have fun!

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    1. This is how I learned to design my own sweaters! Because in college, I couldn't afford retail yarn, and no pattern specifies "unravel one Goodwill sweater..."

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  3. First of all...sounds like you are living the dream with this new apartment...how wonderful to have the view!! I just quit my job after almost 20 years at the same place...so I just might join you with that second hand commitment for awhile. I am a Goodwill ambassador and we have great ones here in San Antonio...so this could be a lot of fun. I love treasure hunting. Hope the move is an easy one!

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  4. I have been very lucky with my local thrift store, finding excellent quality and excellent bargains! It really helps to know how to assess the quality of a garment (looking at fiber content, quality of manufacture), and also to be a bit crafty (or know a good tailor). I've bought jeans and had them shortened, I just bought a sun-dress and turned it into a skirt (didn't like the top), and have even gotten oversized cashmere or other luxury fiber sweaters, which become my go-to lounge-wear in the winter. Since there's no way to know how things will fit, my recommendation is to a) know -- generally -- what you're looking for, and b) take arm-loads of stuff to try on. And be open to serendipity!

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  5. What a great idea! Since I got home from Mexico, I have felt overwhelmed by the number of belongings that I have. I have vowed to eliminate and donate. If I "need" something, I will think hard about it and try to purchase "used" where possible. I've taken one bag to the thrift but paring down is hard work. Good luck with your move!

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  6. There must be some mistake. That is not my name listed as being the winner of the scarf. ;) Congratulations on your new apartment! And, good luck with your challenge. I'm doing the KonMari thing myself, so right now I don't need anything - and I have a credit at Twice, that I can't seem to justify using!!

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    1. Did I hear KonMari? I love her method and am too working my way through my stuff. I love having all the clothes I need (plus a few) and not shopping anymore. I go with friends and marvel at how much stuff they pick up without even thinking. I have reorganized my clothes (even though I need to get rid of more) and am slowly working my way through the rest of the house. Every room or space that I 'tidy' just brings me joy. I haven't bought much clothing at second hand shops, but I may have to give them a chance.

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    2. Kon Mari makes me so happy!

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    3. LOVE the KonMari method. I bought extra copies of Marie Kondo's book to share with friends (and my mother, who's a packrat). I just finished Kondo-ing my wardrobe. I dropped off 85 items to consignment today, and have donated 4 large garbage bags of clothing. I feel SO LIGHT!! Now I'm onto Project 333 for my summer wardrobe choices. I still have too many clothes...

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  7. I lived in Evanston for one summer. There I got a great haircut and discovered excellent thrift stores, which perhaps are still there. Evanston is 1. an extremely affluent place in itself and 2. home of an excellent and expensive university whose students discard a lot of great stuff. That combo = great secondhand shopping.

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  8. Don't forget yard sales, either! I have gotten some of the most amazing pieces of furniture at them and my best score yet was an Anthony Mark opossum lined (lining comes out and is a vest) leather jacket in perfect condition from Nordstrom's for $35.00.

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  9. First of all, congratulations to Lorrie!

    Secondly, congratulations to you and B on the new apartment and included furniture! Good luck with the 2nd hand shopping.

    When my Mom passed away 3 1/2 years ago, I decided that I needed a black skirt to wear to the funeral. I was going to go to Dress Barn but instead of turning right, I turned left into Goodwill. I must have tried on a dozen skirts before I found one that I liked and fit well enough. I paid $4.00 for a skirt that originally came from DB. I wore it to the funeral, washed it and returned it to Goodwill. (I never wear a skirt to work since I never know when I might need to crawl under my desk to play with the computer equipment there.)

    I'll be retiring later this year and may start looking for "gently used" or "pre-loved" items shortly after that..

    Louise P

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  10. The Style Core seems to have very good luck at estate sales! I used to buy second hand when I was young, had little money and already loved clothes. Now I sew instead.

    Deb from Vancouver

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  11. Back to add: I still go to thrift stores for fun, but now, with Tradesy, Poshmark,Thredup and others, one hardly needs to spend hours slogging through the racks. I've pretty much redone my wardrobe this spring with items that I would normally be too cheap/frugal/poor to buy. Tons of Eileen Fisher out there.

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  12. Isn't it uplifting when opportunity knocks on your door! Congrats on 'the move to a view' and the furniture.
    I'm selling my house and in the process decluttering like crazy, yes, we had the big garage sale and my walk-in closet is looking more spacious with less clothing.
    I am lucky to have sewing abilities and when I realise certain clothes are being ignored, I take a good, hard look to figure out why. Once I've decided I like the garment enough to keep and wear, I re-design it. I have a dress that is going to become a skirt, crew neck tees that will turn into wide neck, off-shoulder styles. A fringed shawl cardigan that will be a vest in the near future.
    I live in a small rural town with only two charity shops (Sally Army / Humane Society), They don't have much in clothing (except my donations). We used to have a consignment store but that didn't do well. Not much choice in this area.
    I love markets though and have bought some of my cheapest, most loved shoes, bags and clothes from different countries.

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  13. I am thrilled to see my name up there as the winner of this scarf. It's a perfect match for my mostly blue/grey/black/navy wardrobe. Now to go back and read the rest of the post! Thank you, Janice and KathKath.

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  14. I have frequented the Junior League Thrift Store in New Orleans for years. I have been lucky to score Saks Fifth Ave Label pants, along with a few Talbots pieces and multiple cardigans! At $6.00 a piece I am proud to say I stay within budget and am able to spend a little more on a shoe or handbag purchase.

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    1. I love that store and I love the mission of the JL. I used to get almost all the clothing for my family there pre-Katrina. Since then, I haven't had much luck, but maybe will try again.

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  15. Congratulations on the move to buy second-hand. I have been thrifting the majority of my wardrobe for 25 years. What others have said about scouting out your shopping options holds very true in my experience. Many thrift stores curate their goods, a lot don't. Thrifting or shopping on consignment takes a lot of time and you have to do it regularly with a plan and shopping list in place in order to not waste hours and hours as well as your money. The number one piece of advice I can give you is to examine every inch of a piece of clothing you are looking to buy. Often items are in the thrift store because they have holes or are ripped or are permanently stained. Sometimes these items are still worth buying if you are willing to fix them or pay to have them fixed. But be ruthless while you are in the store because most stores have a no-returns policy. And always always always immediately dry-clean or wash whatever you purchase. You do not want to bring home bedbugs or other creepy-crawlies. I walk straight to the washer with the shopping bag when I get home from a thrifting jaunt.

    So what have I had the most success thrifting? Cashmere and fine merino sweaters for $10 or less. No joke. It never fails to amaze me what people get tired of and donate after very little wear.

    Good luck!


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  16. As an ardent thrifter myself, I love this idea, and look forward to reading about how this new challenge goes for you.

    I'm especially curious about how secondhand shopping might change your view of the items that you source for the collages you present on The Vivienne Files. If you shop secondhand there's a kind of translation that has to happen to make use of these sorts of collages since you can't just go down to the Goodwill and pick up that lovely sweater in your size. That's not meant to be a criticism of the beautiful items that you source and pull together for us! Rather, I'm just wondering if your challenge might result in you developing an additional skill that would be useful for the rest of us as well, so would love to hear any insights you can share.

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  17. Whoa; you almost unseated me with the Excel spreadsheet opener, since I'm trying to load my inventory into one . . . but the "dare" of no new new clothes for a year is kind of irresistible. I think I may give it a try!

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  18. I confess I'm a bit bummed because I've been using your blog as a shortcut to actually shopping (that is, combing through racks and looking at garments) myself--which I hate--and taken to buying pieces I particularly like when I see them here in order to stay stylish. I've learned about sources and different lines of clothing, many of which I've had to order online because my mid-size midwestern town doesn't come close to having wonderful shopping. This is not to say that I'm above second-hand, only that I don't live with access to great thrift shops, either, so I'll be living even more vicariously or hunting the online venues (I've been doing that for years for my size 5 feet). Thank you, though--I've learned a lot about mixing tones and colors, repeating shapes in accessories, and packing everything in a carry-on (my husband especially thanks you for that!)
    --Mary Y

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    1. Check in the kids section for shoes. You'll probably fit a 3 or 3.5.

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    2. Thanks for the suggestion, but that doesn't work well for me although it used to. Cranky feet, I guess as I've gotten older. Kids shoes aren't shaped the way adult shoes are. What is interesting (at least to me) is that shoe manufacturers have "re-sized" their shoes, much the way apparel has, and the shoes are larger but labeled smaller. so I don't always know when a 5 is a true 5. For example, Stuart Weitzman used to fit, but now is way too big, same is true for Clarks. This is a real problem buying online used because I won't know whether it's "old" Stuart Weitzman sizing, or "new & improved" so to speak.

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  19. I have been on a nearly completed journey with building up a selection of burgundy items. An early puchase was a burgundy/blue pair of patterned jeans, followed by accessories plus sewing several tops. However I hadn't found any suitable jackets or jerseys. So I was very excited to find a barely worn good quality jacket that blended in really well. It had a ghastly gold chain, entwined with black velvet ribbon edging everywhere but that is now gone. It was like the missing piece and will enable me to put those jeans and tops to even better use, so a great find. Op shopping can be great when you find what you are looking for........ :)

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  20. I am very new to the Vivienne Files. And I am inspired! So much so that I purged my closet this weekend and rid myself of all the clothes that didn't fit...or that weren't fit to be worn! I then began to establish a color palette and made a shopping list to fill in the gaps for a basic wardrobe capsule. How can it be that I own NO black pants??!! And NOW, I have been moved to try to shop primarily thrift; gently-worn and looking for a good home! Surely there's enough black pants out there!! I look forward to your next post!

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  21. If you bring your patience with you when you shop you will find amazing things. Enjoy the thrill of the hunt. Last year I found a vintage 1981 Hermes scarf, Les Courses, at Savers for $3.99. I found it online with a retail value of $454. My best find yet!

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  22. Hi Janice. There used to be a really good consignment store on Oak Park Avenue about 3-4 blocks south of the El tracks. I don't know if its still there or not. Although, if you do check it out...there's also Val's Halla down the street (or has she moved too?) who has some of the best and coolest used CDs around. And apparently the Salvation Army store in Lincoln Park is supposed to be the best for furniture. I'm told that it looks really scuzzy from the outside but great finds inside. Best, Carla.

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  23. Congratulations to Lorrie! and on your new apartment. A good view is priceless.
    Can't wait to hear about your thrifting adventures.

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  24. Congratulations, Lorrie! Many years of happy wearing to you.

    Exciting new things ahead, Janice. A new lake-view AND a new fashion-view. Chicago is amazing for thrift and resale clothing, and the Evanston/Skokie area has always been particularly good for furniture, jewelry, and housewares at estate sales. Bon voyage!
    - Sue G

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  25. i LOVE op shopping - what we call it here in australia (opportunity shops) For my birthday last year, my DH gave me a card with $50 in it and the 'mission should I choose to accept it" was to visit at least 5 op shops with him and spend at least $5 in each one!!! He had them all mapped out and he very patiently spent a whole day with me while I gathered some beautiful pieces to go into my newly adapted 'capsule wardrobe'. I had come across your blog and became very enthused. Navy Blue, Camel/Beige basics, with highlights of cream, coral (actually I have lots of coral - all shades!) and turquoise and red. I came home with bags full :)

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  26. I found a Hermes scarf called "Ingrid" (Bergman!) in perfect condition at a monthly retirement home sale for $1.25. It's beautiful and in my colors. I nearly fainted with joy when I got out the door. Older women often have very high quality accessories and take good care of them. Found a great Dooney Bourke bag for $5 at a humane society thrift store. Got there when it opened and it had just been put out. My friend found a black St. Johns knit skirt for $5 at Goodwill - perfect cond. Oh yes, take what you select to a window and examine it for grease spots and snags and stains. What you buy should fit you well and be in very good condition or have a flaw that is easily repairable. Ball point ink marks can be taken out with a little hair spray - but test it on an inside seam first.

    Had great fun this aft. going thru my closet and putting complete outfits onto 24 hangers (2-3 pieces to a hanger). I paired tops and bottoms using pieces I rarely wear because I never took the time to be creative in assembling an outfit. I have been wearing 20% of my clothes - the old reliables. Dressing is going to be so much easier and fun. In time, I'll re-boot the combinations for new looks. Even added some scarves to the hangers. Tossed a couple things that didn't go well with anything. I had already purged the worn-out pieces. This wardrobe exercise is a great prelude to shopping. It shows what items you really do need!
    - Jan Leanne

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  27. Dear Janice,
    As a decades-long thrift shopper, I have found many amazing things. Perhaps my greatest was a black, Giorgio Armani wool jacket, at a "Discovery shop" (cancer society) in Rancho Mirage, CA, for only $38. As mentioned above, it's great to find things in upscale communities. At that same one, I passed on a Burberry man's raincoat for $110, but it "doesn't rain in Southern California" and I have enough to cover me when traveling, but... Anyway, silk scarves are great buys, as the ladies who bought Hermes scarves can attest to, and wash beautifully. I use a little spray starch when ironing them and voila--magnificent. I "hate" to pay more than $3 for one, including for YSL, Oscar, etc. I had not worn scarves for years, but am enjoying my finds. I also buy jewelry, and mostly, cut pieces up and remake them into more modern or interesting pieces. Ah, yes, so many thrift shops, so little time! Your posters above all had great ideas and I do shop in a similar manner. By the way, Eileen Fisher really is often available. This past winter, in Palm Desert CA I bought a 75% alpaca/25% silk EF cardigan, which is fabulously warm!
    Cashmere sweaters abound in thrift shops, especially in warm climates as people wear such warm clothes so seldom. I have given many to my granddaughter, who goes to school in freezing Ithaca, NY! Even if you don't sew, you can make cool infinity scarves, just by cutting a cashmere sweater around, in the desired width! They don't even need hemming.
    I am pleased you will be living in a wonderful new space and hope you show us all some pictures!
    Your fan,
    Kirsten Giving

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    1. Oh dear. When I wrote about washing scarves, I did not mean to imply I would wash an Hermes scarf. I only meant silk scarves I have thrifted, though only one red and cream one had colors which ran. So sorry for any confusion. Kirsten

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  28. I've enjoyed reading your blog and dreaming of outfits that you've shown. When you mention "gently used" purchases, I'm right there with you. For the past 8 years, thrift stores have been my first shopping choice. It really is amazing what you can find.
    Congratulations on your upcoming move. I hope you'll share pictures of that view.

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  29. Janice - check out today's LATimes' story in the Calendar section about a new documentary film "The True Cost." Look at the photo of a leather tanner in India whose face is horribly disfigured by the toxic chemicals used. This is the price workers in Cambodia, Bangladesh and China pay for making very cheap clothing we buy at discount stores. We hear and read about this but I think this film will be a huge blow to the profiteers with no conscience. The film was shot in 13 countries and "the cotton fields near Lubbock, Texas," which strikes pretty close to home. I'm going to see this film to strengthen my resolve to stop buying sacrificial clothing.
    Jan Leanne

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  30. I just scored an L.L. Bean chambray shirt, practically new, for $1.99 at a thrift shop. It is much less overwhelming when you go in with a plan.

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