Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Have a Listen: Halloween!


I am shamefully without a costume today, the weather has just been too awful to wear anything but comfy clothes. But, that doesn't mean I can't listen to creepy music, eat candy, and otherwise revel in what is usually one of my favorite holidays! I hope you enjoy these songs as much as I do, and if you're game, you can head on over to the ModCloth blog to check out my latest post, which features my all-time favorite film, Rocky Horror!

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tips for Successful Thrift Shopping

Thrift shopping has always been a big part of this blog, because it's always been a big part of me. Whether I was looking for a more interesting alternative to the neighbor's hand-me-downs in middle school or searching for vintage dresses to alter in college, I've been thrift shopping for one reason or another for most of my life. So you could say that at this point it's become second nature. When I was asked by Propelle to speak at the recent Style Summit, I immediately knew what I would be speaking about- thrift shopping and shopping second hand. Second hand items take up about 85% of my closet- these are items bought on consignment, at thrift stores, or swapped- and more often than not, these second hand items stick around far longer than items bought new, I still wear thrifted clothing that I bought in high school (not so, for the baggy jeans and skate tee's that I preferred new as a teen)! Thrift shopping is budget friendly, environmentally friendly, and a good time in my opinion.

This is a post that I've been meaning to write for a long time per many, many requests, and to be honest the task of putting it all into words was daunting. Or maybe I just made it daunting. Whatever the case, I finally sat down and wrote it, so, without further ado, my tips for thrifting. Please feel free to add your own tips in the comments section!

To me, the ideal days of the week to go to a thrift store are Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. If you think about it, people are usually spending their weekends cleaning out their attics, basements, closets, and garages and dropping off their donations on Saturdays or Sundays. So, midweek you're not only competing with fewer people, but the selection will usually be better. Obviously, if you work a regular 9 to 5 job, it can be difficult- or near impossible- to make it to a store mid-week, so I also recommend going early in the mornings. I'm not big on late nights, so I'm usually up and out the door super early on Saturday mornings.

Where? Get Outta Town!
If you live in the city, chances are you've visited many a picked-over Goodwill or Salvation Army within city limits. While these thrift stores aren't completely without reward- they're great if you don't have a lot of free time to devote to thrifting- but you're also competing with college students and high school kids looking for that perfect 80's Night or Halloween costume.

So, where to go? Get out of the city. Rural church and charity shops are not only great places to find actual vintage, but they're typically much cheaper than stores within city limits. You're competing with far fewer people, and those that do shop at these stores most likely won't be looking at that insane 1970's maxi dress.

One of my favorite things to do if I have a little free time while traveling is to find a local thrift store. I did this all the time as an Admissions Counselor, and it always paid off. Plus, you get to meet interesting people! Sometimes.

Size *Doesn't* Matter!
Because women's (and men's) sizing has changed so drastically over the years, sticking to your sizing section alone is pretty pointless. I have thrifted items that span a range of sizes- from size 1 to size 16- and each one fits differently. Look beyond your size and you'll most likely find things you would normally pass right over.

Additionally, look everywhere else too: The men's section is great for vintage Levi's, flannels, button-ups, oversized coats, and grandpa sweaters. Check out the children's section for shrunken jackets, denim vests, school uniform separates (think solid sweaters and pleated skirts), and I've found many an early-nineties mini-dress hiding amid all those pastel Easter frocks.

The same goes for shoes. How many times have you tried on a pair of shoes only to set them back down in the wrong sizing section? Look at them all.

Learn to Recognize Quality!
This goes for quality leather, quality dyes, quality fabrics, and quality cuts. A vintage/ second-hand sweater from Saks is going to have better quality dyes than the same style from Target from five years ago, compare and contrast, and eventually you'll be able to discern a quality piece without even picking it up off the rack. While I'm not necessarily opposed to purchasing Big Box brands new, I skip over them in thrift stores because the shelf life of the garment has usually already expired. But that's just me.

Do you love a specific brand? Learn to recognize the markings of that brand. I personally love vintage Coach and Dooney & Bourke bags, and I know now to look for a specific type of strap and style of clasp when scanning the purses section, which makes it easier to pick out any gems that may be hiding within the chaos.

Thrift shopping is a great way to add higher priced fabrics to your closet that you may not be able to justify purchasing new. Keep an eye out for silk, cashmere, linen, and good quality leather.

Steer Clear of "The Challenge"...
So, I used to have a big problem. I used to buy ridiculous things. I would find something that could be totally awesome (!!!), if only the hem was shorter, the bust was taken in, the sleeves were cut off, and the collar replaced. Yeah, one giant basket of "to be altered" clothing later and I've learned that all that stuff is never going to happen. Let me be clear that I do fully support altering clothing, and I would love to think that I had the extra time or patience to actually alter all those things. But I don't. If you do, more power to you. But I guess what I'm trying to say is: be honest with yourself. If you're not going to alter it, don't buy it. Same goes for reselling things. And for things that are Just-So-Crazy-Wouldn't-It-Be-Funny-If-I-Wore-This-To...


Ask Yourself...
Can you wash it?
Can you fix it?
Will you actually bring it to the dry cleaners?
Is that a surface stain?

Keep a Shopping List...
Keep a running list of items you're hoping to add to your closet. An inspiration folder works great too. Take this list or folder with you when you're out shopping, and keep an eye out for those items. I know it sounds crazy, but there's nothing wrong with putting it out into the universe that your looking for something specific. If anything it will make you more focused when you're shopping.

It Takes Time, Baby.
The perfect, untouched thrift store chock full of vintage bags and dresses doesn't exist. Remember that building up a thrifted wardrobe takes lots of time and patience. I usually go to a thrift store or two every other week or so, and come away with two or three things. If you stick to it and have patience, thrift shopping will pay off.

Thrift shopping is an amazing resource for building up your wardrobe, trying new trends (oxblood, anyone?), and sticking to a reasonable clothing budget. If you stick with quality pieces, your thrifted items will be with you for years to come. Also, it feels pretty great to say whatever amazing article of clothing you're wearing cost a whopping three dollars.

Do you enjoy thrift shopping? Any tips of your own?

ps- East Coast friends, I hope everyone stayed safe throughout Sandy!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Weekend Links

1. Ruche Lace Collared Dress 
2. InfinEight Triangle Earrings 
3. Lulu's Scalloped Flats 
4. Spotted Moth Studded Bag 
5. Bluesville, USA Grey Sweater (save 15% with the code orchidgrey)
6. ELF Illusion Clutch (save 10% with the code ORCHID)

I can't believe it's the end of October. Windier days, leaves blanketing the ground- darker colors, neutrals, and sensible shoes are on my mind.

A few more...
// The perfect oversize coat, like a sweater...and a coat...all at once. 
// A pretty, pastel sweater-dress- would look perfect with burgundy tights!
// A surf cookbook would be a nice way to feel closer to the ocean.
// Phone accessories I need in my life: a VW phone cover, Cat Jacks!
// Two videos that made my week: Lady Pens (I love Ellen), a group of ladies I want to sing battle cries with.
// Why I continually end up cross-dressing on Halloween (The Star Wars costumes are truly unfortunate).

Hope you're having a great weekend!

Friday, October 26, 2012

This Week I...

Above: Photos from my walk through the woods with Veronika and Bryan

// Visited Veronika in Philadelphia // Went to a flea market // Traveled to NYC for eight hours // Took two airplane rides and managed to hold myself together // Worked from home // Drank too much coffee // Was nearly run down by a deer in my backyard // Celebrated one year in Pittsburgh // Celebrated one year at ModCloth // Went to Banjo Night // Got back on the healthy eating wagon // baked two batches of cookies // Plan on attending the company Oktoberfest tonight // Am looking forward to Saturday // Tried- and failed- to take self-portraits // Cleaned the house // Wore shorts and a tee shirt on October 25th // Enjoyed this week, but am glad it's over // Also, kind of digging the larger photos // 

[edit] A cat update (because I know you all are on the edge of your seats!): Today was the first real foray into possible re-friendship. As I type this, I am very nervously sitting in the same room with the two of them, watching like a hawk. They're currently lying across from each other, staring deeply into each others souls... I know we're not out of the woods yet- far from it- but I'm optimistic. I can't thank those of you enough who shared similar stories and/or have left me supportive comments. If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you know how obsessed with my cats I am, so it means a lot to me to hear similar stories, and stories of success.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

NYC for Less Than a Day

In this outfit:
Coat: Gentle Fawn from ModCloth
Blazer: Thrifted ($3)
Stole: Family antique/ Great-Grandmother's
Sweater top: Vintage/ Allen Company ($19)
Jeans: Madewell (sale 2011)
Loafers: Thrifted/ Bass ($3)
Bag: Thrifted/ Coach ($5)

Where I wore it: To New York

Yesterday was a strange one. I've never flown to a destination and then back home in the same day, but that is exactly what a coworker and I did. We had a meeting in the city for work, so we woke up not-so-bright and early (4 AM), missed our first flight, and were in New York by 10am. After our meeting there was just enough time to make a whirlwind trip to Beacon's Closet, before jumping back in a cab and heading back to LaGuardia to catch our flight home. I was back in Pittsburgh having dinner with Chris by 8:15pm.

Since we weren't staying in the city, I wanted to travel as light as possible. Admittedly, I didn't need the coat- it was pretty warm out- but the rest of this outfit worked out well. No jewelry and slip-on loafers made going through security a breeze, and my bag was large enough to stuff my camera inside. And throwing my hair up into a bun is pretty much all I can be asked to muster at 4 AM. It was by far the easiest travel day I've ever experienced, but yes, quite a whirlwind.

PS- my pictures are huge, I know. Photobucket is messing with me, I'm trying to figure it out.

[EDIT] Emily just asked me a great question: "... I don't have any ethical qualms about vintage fur but I have always felt a little nervous or self-conscious about wearing them out and about - has a stranger ever given you a hard time about wearing fur? How did/would you handle it?"

My answer: No one- stranger or otherwise- has ever given me a hard time about this antique stole. I should be clear that I do not in any way endorse the production of NEW fur. However, I have thrifted a couple vintage fur hats, and this particular piece belonged to my great grandmother, it already exists in the world, and it's something that I've had and cherished since I was a child playing dress-up. If someone were to ask me about it, or give me a hard time, I would explain this story to them and hope that they would understand. But, it's also impossible to make everyone happy, and I think that's an important thing to keep in mind.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Life Lately & Friday Favorites

(this pretty much sums things up)
This week was pretty typical: I worked, I'm happy I was able to hang out with lady-friends at Tuesday's swap, I finally got back to the gym after two weeks off (which was rough, but incredibly necessary to take the edge off the stress I've been feeling lately). Exercise has become an essential ingredient in my well-being, and when I don't go running or get to the gym at least a couple times a week, I get...cranky. I need those endorphins.

Well-being. This is something that I've been thinking a lot about lately. Our schedules are jam-packed these days, and with the cat-issues we've been having, I've been craving peace. Peace of mind, peace of body, and peace and quiet. What used to be my relaxing morning-time has become 45 minutes of cat-shuffling and feeling badly for whoever is meowing. I've been looking into meditation centers around the city, and think I'm going to try and start going at least once a week. Also, yoga. Judging by the knot between my shoulder blades, I think I could benefit from some yoga. These are all things that I need to make time for, but honestly, it's hard to find the time. There are so many things that I want to fit into my life, but it feels like there isn't much room at the moment.

Thank you to everyone who has left kind words and thoughts as to the status of our cats. And I'm sorry I keep talking about it, but this has seriously disrupted the...synergy (gross word) of our household. For the past two and a half weeks we've had to keep them separated, because Zeb attacks Zephyr when they're downstairs together. We've tried everything from the plug-in, to different sprays, to calming treats, to slowly re-introducing them. So, we brought them both to the vet on Tuesday- which was awful, they used to be so chill!- and Zeb has been prescribed...Prozac. Yep, the poor thing is just too stressed out about life as a cat. So hopefully this will help get things back to how they should be. Because we can't move apartments right now (which, believe me I would love to do), and other than re-homing him, the pills are all that's left.

Anyways, fun things to look forward to this weekend. The trees are gorgeous (Pittsburgh, you really are pretty). The weather is perfect. And I'm working on that thrift-tips post for next week!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Jewel Tone

In this outfit:
Dress: Darling (ModCloth)
Jacket: Thread & Supply (ModCloth)
Scarf: (ModCloth)
Tights: AA super opaque ($25)
Wedges c/o Spotted Moth
Necklace c/o InfinEight

Where I wore it: To the office & to a friend's clothing swap

Yesterday started off on a pretty awful note with our visit to the vet's office, I'll just say that I'm happy I decided to wear jeans and a tee shirt and dress for work after the whole affair. Normally very calm, both cats were nervous wrecks and both attempted to hide in the garbage can in the exam room. The vet was incredibly kind though, and it looks like poor Zeb will have to go on medication for a little while to help with his sudden aggression.

All that aside, once we all got home, it was time to dress for work, and dress I did. After a stressful morning, I really just wanted to feel nice, so I put together a favorite dress, two new items I ordered last week, and these amazing leopard-print shoes. I've actually been wearing these shoes non-stop lately, but every time I try to get a photo-- it rains! I love this fall weather, but getting outfit shots has become something that needs to be a well-timed activity.

Anyway, after work I headed over to Kate's house for a clothing swap, which ended up being exactly what I needed to finish out a busy day. Oh, how I've missed swapping! I came away with a few great items, though most of them are a little too summery for right now.

Do you have a strategy for dressing on busy or stressful days? I'll admit it was nice to have a few new things to wear, but usually I'll head in the direction of a favorite dress and easy shoes.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Meow We're Talking

In this outfit:
Top: Etsy/ Allen Company Vintage ($19)
Skirt: Etsy/ Friendly Fox Vintage ($40 promo sale)
Belt: Thrifted/ Vintage Dior ($2)
Shoes: Forever 21 ($13 sale, old)
Bracelet: Vintage (gift)

Where I wore it: To the Propelle Style Summit

Saturday was a particularly run-around-type of day. After a busy week, and knowing I had a busy weekend ahead, I woke up early and got out of the house to enjoy the morning before I had to be at the Propelle Style Summit. I grabbed a coffee and headed off in the direction of a favorite thrift shop, you could say I was cutting it close time-wise, but I call it research. Once I returned home, I threw this outfit together, and was off again, this time to set up my table and get ready to speak about thrift shopping at the Summit. Everything would have gone perfectly, had I not hit traffic!

I can't say completely that this outfit was serendipitous, once I bought this skirt from Annie I was on the lookout for a light pink top, and this one from Allen Company fit the bill. But, really, let's talk about this skirt. Because it's covered in cats. The cats from Lady & the Tramp to be exact. As soon as it was listed, I pounced (harhar).

And speaking of cats, I'm running out the door to bring mine to the vet! I'll have more pictures from the Propelle event later this week, along with some thrifting tips!

EDIT: In my haste to run out the door this morning, I forgot to provide the story behind this skirt, which Annie posted in the item description: This skirt was manufactured as a kit after the release of Lady & The Tramp in the 50’s. Consumer’s could purchase the kit, and assemble the skirt themselves. Two versions were offered, one featuring Lady & The Tramp, and the other (this one) featuring the two Siamese cats, Si and Am. I prefer the cats.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Over the Weekend: Mt. Davis

Chris and I dragged ourselves out of bed woke up at the crack of dawn yesterday to drive out to Mt. Davis and meet-up with an outdoors group for a hike. We've been members of this group since last November, but to be honest, this was the first time we were actually able to go on an outing, and I'm so glad we did. Mt. Davis is the highest point in Pennsylvania at 3,213ft., and a hike in mid-October was the perfect time to see it, the trees were gorgeous and the drive out there was absolutely beautiful, And the weather! It was supposed to rain but the conditions ended up being perfect (and made me glad I dressed in layers, by the time we were at the top, I had shed my fleece and windbreaker and was starting to regret not wearing a tank top). The loop we did ended up being around eight miles and was a mixture of rocky paths, fire trails, and a short stint on a back road. It was great to meet a few new people (one even from New Hampshire!), get outside, get exhausted, and see a bit more of the state we now call home.

Did you have a nice weekend?

(if you're curious, my hiking boots are from LL Bean)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Saturday Favorites

Here's what caught my eye this week...
This dress from Ruche would be perfect for layering with sweaters and boots.

Loving these handmade, cute flats from ELF.
Receive 10%off your order with the code "ORCHID"

This velvet circle scarf from Spotted Moth is so pretty!

These boots from Lulu's would be perfect beneath maxi skirts for winter.

This simple necklace from InfinEight would be perfect with a simple outfit.
Can't get enough of this amazing polka-dot jumpsuit from Bluesville, USA
Receive 15% off your order with the code orchidgrey

A few more...
// Love this post about simplifying life from Create*Loves
// I want to eat these.
// This outfit of Elizabeth's is so pretty.
// After seeing this post of Sydney's, I officially want faux-fringe.