second-hand

Diary of a Frugalista:Stamped Denim

Diary of a Frugalista:Stamped Denim

When it is gloomy and rainy outside, it is the perfect time to stay at home and start some DIY projects!

Today I will show a sequel of my  Bleached Denim post. Let’s stamp!

My inspiration was these bleached-n-painted jeans shorts. I loved the idea of combining a bold black and white design with the subtle denim texture. The problem was… I could not do it by hand because I am so bad at drawing! What could be the solution? Stamping! Stamping is perfect for me. It is very easy to do, and gives a greater uniqueness and personal touch than what you can find in stores.

To my surprise, it was not easy to find good stamping accessories in Montreal. Some stampers were available at the art store DeSerres. Stamping kits were there too, but they were paired with a regular paint that is not suitable for fabric. Even Dollarama failed to help: I was only able to find toy stampers for kids there.

Of course, I could have bought the accessories on the Internet. But I did not want to wait – it was time to get creative!

I made a stamping inkpad out of a dish sponge that I cut through the middle. Small air-tight plastic containers from Dollarama became inkpad cases. The fabric paint was bought at DeSerres. Also, I bought a few floral and heart-shaped stampers there and got a bag of toy finger stampers at Dollarama.

 

At first, I did some sample tests. I diluted the pink paint with a bit of water and poured it on the sponge.  Then, I stamped the fabric and realized that- surprise, surprise! – results are better when stamping is done on a flat surface.

After stamping is done, the design needs to become permanent! The paint gets fixed by ironing for 5 minutes in cotton selection. Once fixed, the design resists machine washing and dry cleaning.

After waiting for the paint to dry, I washed the samples. Woo-hoo, it looks so cool!

Floral stamps looked pretty too.

Although I liked the resulting floral pattern, I wanted to make a geometric ornament with circles and rectangles. To do that, I bought an eraser and used its wide side as a stamper. The circle was made out of a finger stamper with the shape part removed.

The result was not perfect enough for me. The surface of the eraser side was too large, and the paint got unevenly distributed across the surface. The same happened with the circles.

After experimenting more, I decided to use the most narrow side of the eraser. It greatly improved the quality of the prints. Hurray!

I liked the brick pattern the best. Instead of the circles, I decided to use the star finger stamper.

Ok! So the pattern and the technique was all set! It was the time to prepare the shorts.

I bought a pair of jeans at a thrift store.

Then I cut and bleached them using the instructions I have recently published.

Stamping time! Making the very first prints was so exciting!

The left part was stamped with stars. Some stamps turned out to be untidy, because the circular edge of the stamper left marks. Another hint: to get a good quality print, use good tools!

On the back, I only stamped the pockets.

Before fixing the design, I waited one hour to let the paint dry.

Fixing by ironing was long and inconvenient, so I decided to use a different method! I baked the shorts in the oven for 5 minutes with the temperature at 300F.

(OMG, my oven is so dirty! Have not noticed before!)

Here comes the result! I rolled up the trouser legs and sewed them underneath in a few places. After baking, the fabric got some yellowish tint. The tint was resistant and survived washing, so I decided to pretend it was by design!

The view from the back. The flaps need to be ironed after every washing.

Stamping is cool!

A few practical tips from my experience:

  • Quality of the print depends on the quality of the stamper, so it is worth to spend money on accessories.
  • Do stamping carefully on a flat surface; to make sure the fabric was  flat, I put a magazine inside the shorts.
  • The fabric should be stretched and secured with pins.
  • Whitebright paint will probably not be visible on a light cloth; while choosing the paint, pay attention to what fabric it is designed for (darklight).
  • It is much easier to dry the paint in the oven than doing so by ironing; of course, it will work only if the garment has no plastic details or buttons.

This is it! Happy stamping!

My blog: dushonok.com

5 Spring Tendencies to Reinterpret

written by Marie-Ève

Hello! My name is Marie-Ève Laforte and it is with great pleasure that I am joining The SWAP Team as a guest blogger. I am a mother of two young kids, namely a 5-year-old boy and girl of one and a half. On my own time, I work as a florist for special events, as well as manage a personal blog along with another blog focusing on food for Sympatico Lifestyle.

Since I was little, I have always had a great liking for fashion and a soft spot for vintage, and consider myself a professional collector and inquisitor. Having children led me down a road with many questions that urged me to turn over a new leaf and maintain a healthier lifestyle, from nutrition to beauty products and even our impact on the environment. In short, this is who I am.

For my first entry, I thought of showing you guys five tendencies in fashion, this season, which could easily be found through hand-me-downs, second-hand clothes shops and swapping. Quite simply, these are pieces to be interpreted in your own way, since that is essentially what style is: to observe and acquire through personalization!

1. Oxford Shoes

Classics and yet casually chic with a wisp of androgyny, these oxfords can be found everywhere this season. Finding a pair that is used does nothing but adds to their charm: the leather becomes even more supple and fair through age, while the fitting is even more comfortable than a pair of slippers. But more stylish!

Image by etsy. These are for sale on the website

2. Colour!

Image : LOVELYish

3. Military-style vest

Image : Pure and Noble

While forgetting the total camouflage look, the vest inspired from the military is still the rage. The idea here is to find a vest that is rigid and adorned with a few sharp edges, yet with a structured silhouette, in hues of khaki and that could quite possibly have leather trimmings. The more it was used, the better.

4. Floral Prints

Image : Ruffled

The small ethereal dresses with romantic floral prints are usual quite easy to dig up. Think of vests or even pants as well. Whether a small cottage in the prairies or even the 70’s, the effect remains unchanged!

5. Colour blocking

Image : Parsimonia

Rather popular in the 60’s, this style offers us large blocks of colour in a fabulous contrast, usually quite bright, on the same piece of clothing. We can also create about the same look with a colourful belt on more neutral pieces, or with clothing of different hues.

I'm going to the swap, now what?

I'm going to the swap, now what?

Miss Palermo always does it right. It's all about proportion and mixing patterns.

I’ve taken part in three clothes swaps. I’m no swap veteran by any means but having organized two of the three, I’d like to think I can offer a piece or two of advice. If you’re like me, you’re super psyched for this Sunday’s swap. Honestly, I’ve been creating a mental list of items I hope to find based on the gorgeous pieces I’ve seen in the Bay catalogues or online. I’ve been very good at not buying a single thing over the past month because I knew I’d score big this Sunday (fingers crossed).

So, what should you be doing in preparation for the big day? You most likely already dropped off your clothes at the designated drop-off locations but if you haven’t yet, not to worry, you can bring your clothing with you to the swap. Just don’t forget to purchase your ticket in advance!

Ok, moving on to the good stuff. You’ve emptied your closet and donated your clothing. But if you’re like me, you still have a closet that is bursting at the seams. So go ahead, attack it again. Don’t be shy, comb through each piece. When was the last time you wore it? Does it flatter your waistline? Does it wrinkle oddly around your chest or sleeves? Does the colour wash you out or bring out your eyes? Can you wear it to work and then out for drinks or is it limited in its versatility? Build a pile of ‘maybes’ and leave that aside for a day or two. If you don’t miss any of its items or think of wearing anything in that lonesome pile, you know you’re ready to let it go. More for the next person!

Until Spring shows her true colours, I'll promote fall coats :)

Now, what’s your game plan? Are you just going to show up, browse, and grab whatever strikes your fancy? GREAT! But if you’re the planning type (like yours truly) you’ll come in with a game plan. I thought I’d share mine with you in case you want to copy and paste and make it your own. I like to have a plan so I come home with useful, fabulous pieces that I’ll enjoy for a long time and not think: “What was I thinking!?”

  1. Flip through your latest fashion magazines or your fave online shopping sites and pick out a few items you really, really want. No guilt, no: “I don’t REALLY need this.” Just pick out some things you would love to have.
  2. Now go through your closet and think about your lifestyle and your clothing needs. Do you work in a professional office? If so, do you have a couple pairs of versatile pants? How about a skirt? A few dress shirts, vests and one or two must-have dresses that you can easily throw a fitted blazer over. Look at what you have and think of one or two pieces that you could add to the mix to really shake things up and make better use of your other pieces. Maybe you’re a student and you want young, stylish pieces that go from classroom to pub. Well, jeans are always key, but the real clincher is one or two fun, flirty tops that you can wear in class with a cardigan and spring coat and dress up with a bold necklace. Are you a young entrepreneur? Looking for the perfect in-between outfit that is comfortable and fun but professional for those off-site meetings with clients? Gentlemen, don’t shy away from a fitted pair of jeans (show off your assets, PLEASE – you don’t have to worry about cellulite ok?). Pair it with a dress shirt and a v-neck sweater to add classic elegance to your fave blues. Top it off with shiny, brown leather lace-up dress shoes, an oversized leather-strap watch and you’re golden.
  3. Next, think of upcoming events and trips you have planned. Southern destination? Do you need a light beach dress? Flats? A big hat to ward off those nasty UV rays? Maybe you’re heading up to a friend’s cottage, doing some gardening or just staying put, enjoying the city. Regardless, consider your potential wardrobe needs such as hiking boots, a windbreaker, summer shorts, or a jumper. It never hurts to have a plan.
  4. Now leave room for a few of those ‘I want but don’t need’ pieces. You’ll love them, wear them and maybe leave them eventually but it’s a free item so go for it.

With your list of need-to-have items in hand, you’ll be able to face the swap with confidence, skipping the nice-to-haves for the must-haves and loving the feeling of leaving with an armful of clothing – for free! Enough said.

For more styling tips, visit Ef Magazine or email editors@efmagazine.com. Follow Ef’s editor-in-chief, Malorie, on Twitter @MalorieBertrand or her behind-the-scenes blog, What in the Ef?

Love a man in one sweater, two - take me now.

I just love her frickin' bone structure, never mind the earrings!

Delicate top with heavy boots, please note.

Great office wear, structured, professional, chic.

The queen of street wear - Kate Moss.

Diary of a Frugalista: Get Inspired

Diary of a Frugalista: Get Inspired

written by Nadya Ershova

If you follow this blog at all, you know how much I like second hand clothes! I shop at the Salvation Army and at Renaissance all the time, and I have almost given up first hand shopping. At some point it even made me think I am special…but recently I have realized that second hand stuff is more trendy than I thought! In fact, modern fashionistas wear second hand enthusiastically.

While shopping at Renaissance I often see trendy dressed girls with big piles of clothes in their shopping carts. It is always a huge temptation for me to look inside the carts to see what they have found and what I have missed.
In my fashion blog on Chictopia I made a poll “Do you like second hand stores?”. Here are the results I got:

  • 48% – Yes, it is cheap to shop!
  • 52% – Yes, a perfect place for inspiration
  • 0% – No, do not like to wear used clothing
  • 0% – No, I like only new things

As we see, the second hand stuff has been well adopted by the trendy wardrobes.

One of my favorite fashion blogs is Hel Looks, a blog about street fashion in Helsinki, Finland. The Finnish fashionistas often dress in second hand; for me, they are an unlimited source of fashion inspiration!

Let me show you my ten favorite Hel Looks.

Suvi, 23
“I’m wearing a Sfera hat and skirt from Spain, a Vila jacket and second hand boots.
I like hats, hoods, reddish and down-to-earth colours and interesting details like the sleeves on my jacket.”

Stephanie, 26
“The dress, the hat and the jacket are vintage, the shoes are a gift from my mother and I knitted the scarf I’ve knitted myself. I like old clothes, the 60s is definitely my favorite decade. Frida Kahlo, Patti Smith and the women’s rights movement inspire me.”

Sandra, 24
“I have a thing about vintage dresses. It’s harder and harder to find good vintage, but there are still good addresses in Paris and London where I shop. I don’t want to look like everyone else. I like fashionable clothes but with a twist. The film Gone with the Wind and the decades from the 50’s till the 70’s inspire me. Coco Chanel and Sonia Rykiel have always been my favourite designers.”

Jeonga, 30
“I love primary colours. They make everyone happy. Now I’m wearing second hand which I’ve bought in Australia and in Finland. The hat, the socks and the scarf I bought at UFF yesterday. I mostly buy second hand, because it’s unique, fun and cheap.”

Anna, 23
“The cape is from Vintage Ansa and it’s also called Anna. The beanie is a gift from a friend, the scarf is self-made, the pullover and the bag are second hand. I like nude, beige and other down-to-earth colours. I like loose, comfortable and droopy clothes like big pullovers.”

Jade, 21
“Today I have a black day. I’m wearing a hat from Vintage Ansa, a Weekday dress, shoes from Zio and a Fjällräven backbag. Right now I’m inspired by the colour orange and my pink hair colour.”

Anna-Sofia, 20
“I made the vest out of an old men’s shirt. The high platforms are handy when standing in the festival crowd. I like brim hats, straw hats, cropped t-shirts with high-waisted jeans, capes, knits and layers.”

Meeri, 23
“I just came from Barcelona where I accidentally found a store called Me and My Bitch. I bought 10 things, including this shirt and pants. The handbag is my grandmother’s old. I like vintage, especially the 50s. I appreciate ethic production, naturalness and handicraft in clothes.”

Annika, 21
“I’m wearing a vintage hat from Beyond Retro in Stockholm, a vintage Max Mara coat and shoes from Lilly. I like soft and comfortable clothes. I couldn’t live without hats and other accessories. Italian movies from the 50s and the 60s inspire me.”

Molla, 32
“I’m wearing a second hand shirt and a self-made skirt and bag. To celebrate Ofelia market I added some steam punk inspiration like brown colours and the magnifying glass necklace from Sofia. Crocheting inspires me. My style often resembles an urban commando, with men’s trousers and combat boots. I would like to wear more 50s elements though.”

What inspires you?

Diary of a Frugalista:Volunteering at a Mega Clothing Swap, July 2011

Diary of a Frugalista:Volunteering at a Mega Clothing Swap, July 2011

by Nadya Ershova

The S.W.A.P. Team organized a mega clothing swap on July 9-10 in the Grand Foyer Culturel (indoors) of the Place des Arts in partnership with Zoofest and Renaissance. I was a volunteer for both days.

The First Day
On Saturday my shift started at 7 AM, and that wasn’t an easy thing to do. I am definitely not an early bird, and on weekends I usually wake up around noon. This shows how motivated I was to participate in the event and to see how things would be going from the very beginning. 🙂

However, coffee early in the morning is a must — our managers felt the same way and took care of that. Everything goes a lot easier if you have a coffee in your one hand and a croissant in the other — mmm !

Laura Vizbara (on the right)

Our designer Neelan Rach showed us how to arrange the racks — we wanted our visitors to feel excited about swapping right away!

Neelan Rach, Jana Piest (both on the right), and volunteers

We also had to lay out the shoes. There were so many of them! I spotted lots of items that I gave away for the event. When the swap started, I saw girls trying on “my” stuff and felt very happy. The items would find a new  home and would not end up in a landfill somewhere! Swapping is good.

Dresses and shoes waiting for new owners

Now, if you want to see some nice swapped clothing, look no further than the people organizing the event! Here are some examples:

Aleece Germano

On the first day, Aleece Germano, President and Founder of The S.W.A.P. Team, chose a lovely second-hand pink dress.

The next day, Aleece was wearing a black dress with a red belt. She got the dress at the swap we held at the YWCA back in February.

 

Sabina Tang

I liked Sabina’s dress. On Friday night she went to the volunteers’ swap where she found a few nice items such as this red leather belt. She decided to wear it with her outfit the very next day.

 

Neelan Rach

Neelan’s outfit was both practical and stylish. I simply fell in love with his Chanel purse!

So, of course, seeing so many people swapping (there were over 400 visitors all in all!), you cannot help it but sneak through the clothes a bit as well and try something on, when you have the chance — just for the fun of it!

Look at our first finds! Annie (Annie Cliche, Montreal Chapter Director) found a white jacket with a leopard collar. Stephanie was having fun trying out a funny summer hat with a matching purse.

Annie Cliche (on the left), Stephanie (on the right)

The dress in the following picture was one that I had already noticed when arranging the racks. It was made out of silk and had a balloon skirt. I would have loved to take it home with me. Unfortunately, it was a small size, and it didn’t fit anyone else but the very skinny Annie.

Sabina tried on a velvet beige vest with flower shaped holes, but eventually decided to leave it.

Annie Cliche (on the left) and Sabina Tang (on the right)

Cole, Annie’s daughter and our youngest volunteer — she is only 8 years old! — dug out a nice head scarf and a matching purse. Look at her, this girl will definitely become an advanced thrifty fashionista in no time!

Cole Cliche

The fitting rooms simply looked like magic. They were constructed with white, slightly glossy curtains and were lit up with red LED lamps from the inside. In front of the fitting rooms was standing the dream of every girl — a personal style consultant. Stylist Jeff Golf of Montreal wardrobe consultants Ludique was mainly there to help out with one crucial question: “Shall I take it or not?”

Stylist Jeff Golf

Aleece giving the opening speech (on the right)

The Second Day

On the second day I came at noon when the first public swap session started.

I was super-busy during most of the day.

First, I was assigned to the PR team and had to check the stamp on the visitors’  hands before allowing them to go into the swap area. Also, I answered questions from people passing by. DJ THE WIG from Boston was playing music at the event all day long, which attracted lots of attention.

Later, I was helping out at check-in. Looking at the participants, it was very clear from the beginning that guys were a rarity at this event — but the ones that came, gave away some really nice stuff, like designer jackets, leather bags and wool sweaters. Believe it or not, some of the women coming to the event brought along their suitcases! They left the swap with their luggage filled with nice clothing.

Later on, I joined the sorting crew and helped them put more items on the racks that people had brought to the swap. Busy!

Since The S.W.A.P. Team was partnered with the Zoofest, we also had some artistic and music performances during the event, like the group Street Hearts:

Street Hearts (on the left)

Small cardboard labels were attached everywhere. They presented some interesting statistics about clothing consumption and recycling.

Statistic labels

While working on the floor and refilling the racks with clothes, I suddenly spotted another item I brought for the swap! It was a brownish orange jacket of great quality, made in Russia by a local designer. I used to like it a lot — however, I recently changed my color scheme to bluish gray, so this piece didn’t fit my wardrobe anymore.

The orange designer jacket I brought for the swap event

At five o’clock my shift was over.

I spent two great days full of excitement and joy. I worked with nice and dedicated people who care about nature and the environment. I liked this volunteering experience very much, and I will definitely help out again at the next event.

And of course, I did find something for myself. 🙂 Three nice dresses and a few other items. I will write about my finds in the next post.

Stay tuned!

P.S.
I totally forgot! A picture of me appeared in the 24H newspaper, July 11. I am the girl in the middle with her head tilted down. Wooh-hoo!

Liberating Your Closet Through Downsizing

Liberating Your Closet Through Downsizing

By Nicole Longstreath, writer of smartmouthblog.com

I can’t remember what it was exactly, that inspired me to shift my consumption toward greener habits.

It was late 2010 and I think I was overwhelmed with the holiday season and some shaky finances. I was mulling over how I should spend the bonus I was anticipating; I had plenty of bills to pay, but I knew I needed to put some work into my wardrobe too. And with the retailers I liked, what little bonus money I had left was going to go fast.

You see, I was in a conundrum because I had a maniacal lust for JCrew cardigans. Cashmere, merino; long cardigans, skinny cardigans; cloud-blue or warm olive. And the catalog mailers I was receiving weren’t helping. It was December, I wanted cardigans and I couldn’t bear the thought of walking away with only 2 sweaters after I had just received a bonus.

Shopping at the antique market in January in my winter uniform: cardigan, scarf, coffee.

Then I remembered my love of second-hand and vintage fashion. So I looked up some consignment and thrift stores in my area, and I discovered a shopping method to help guide me in overwhelming and crowded thrift stores.

After attending a few clothing swaps where I cleaned up big-time, I was hooked. At the beginning of the year, I decided I was giving up clothing from the mall indefinitely for swapped and thrifted clothing. I figured I could build an inexpensive, unique and stylish wardrobe for less than $100 – which is what I might pay if I was going to splurge on just one “bonus” cardigan.

Unexpectedly, I was able to liberate myself from over half a closet of old clothing which I just hadn’t been wearing. I had been keeping them because they were expensive and I wanted to get my money’s worth … somehow. Instead of letting them collect dust in my closet, I donated all of the things I wasn’t wearing back into the second-hand clothing pool. Getting rid of those clothes and shoes felt fantastic.

I never thought I would be able to downsize my closet to where it is now. I had been hanging on to stuff I didn’t even like, and I was starting to hate my entire wardrobe because of it. Once I downsized and rebuilt my wardrobe with clothing I actually liked, I was instantly more confident. It’s still a work in-progress, but I feel like I have a far more diverse and personalized wardrobe.

The best part is, I’ve lost my lust for JCrew; I don’t shop there anymore, so I’m not constantly trying to squirrel away money to buy cardigans.

I know I can find one out there – out there in my new “shopping universe” of swaps and vintage stores.

Snapshot: Secondhand Clothing Market in Amsterdam

Snapshot: Secondhand Clothing Market in Amsterdam

by Allison Gryski

On Amsterdam Clothing MarketMonday mornings in Amsterdam, the Noordermarkt has numerous stalls of secondhand clothing.  The popular display method seems to be heaps of clothing (or shoes) laid out on tarps or tables.  It’s bustling with people digging through these piles of clothes, looking for a stylish bargain.

clothing market in AmsterdamThe Dutch people are said to be very keen on bargains and the popularity of such markets seems to support that.  To give you further perspective, there was a recent grocery store ad campaign where the selling point was a savings of 21 cents (on a grocery bill of approximately 64 €) compared to the competitor.  This works out to just 0.3% cheaper.  I wouldn’t expect this to be a compelling difference in many places, but it apparently works for the Netherlands.  I think clothing swaps would be popular here, but so far I’ve only run across mentions of small scale, semi-private ones. (See more more pictures from the market).

clothing marketDo you know of any clothing swap events in the Netherlands?  Share them in the comments!  Are you interested in starting a chapter of The S.W.A.P. Team in the Netherlands (or anywhere else)?  Here’s how to Get Involved!

Allison Gryski is a Canadian living in Amsterdam. She describes herself as a bookish artist, exuberant baker, usability snob, discerning gourmandise, and occasional freelance dragon seeker. She’s also passionate about thrift store bargains, bicycles, and afternoon naps. http://allison.gryski.com

Second-Hand Shopping:Eco-Friendly and Chic

Second-Hand Shopping:Eco-Friendly and Chic

By Nicole Longstreath

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “one man’s trash is another’s treasure.” I would like to revise this to “one person’s hand-me-down clothing is another’s latest wardrobe.”

For over 15 years, I’ve been in love with shopping and swapping second-hand clothing. In my teens, it was all about vintage, and in my twenties, I cherished my pre-broken-in jeans and tees. Not only was second-hand shopping cheaper, I was shopping a selection that was exclusive and unique – not available anywhere else. Plus, swapping clothing with my friends helped extend my wardrobe.

Me in some of my favourite swaps and finds

I know I’m preaching to the choir, so those reading can probably relate to the experience of finding a cute, second-hand pair of shoes in your size and in excellent shape. It’s like winning the lottery. A pair of shoes, the perfect bag, a vintage cardigan — something that’s going to be your new favorite — was brought to you by the Universe. It was meant to be. It was fate.

Shopping second-hand requires patience and hard work (you can’t just buy an item and return later that month if it doesn’t fit right), so it’s no wonder that shopping off-the-rack at the mall or a large department store is so much more popular. The sad truth is that just about everything you see is mass-produced in the cheapest way possible and imported.

The clothing we import is made to low standards, and it hasn’t always been that way. Disposable clothing is bad for the environment but is expected with the megamarts of the world.  But now, even more upscale retailers’ clothing is not made to the standard it was even ten years ago. New and shiny becomes misshapen and pilling before you know it.

Once you’ve watched the Annie Leonard from The Story of Stuff explain how these kinds of mass-production hurt the Earth, you’ll never want to buy another clearance accessory at Megamart.

Although a brand new pair of shoes ain’t bad, a second-hand shopping spree or a clothing swap event is an adventure – you never know what might be waiting for you. Instead of simply buying what others are wearing off-the-rack, we choose to hunt. Swapping and shopping second-hand is what the cool kids do.

Come January, I’ll be adding some used and vintage pieces from my favorite, local consignment store to my wardrobe and can’t wait to share what I’ve found!

Nicole Longstreath is fumbling her way toward a life of less consumption. She blogs about it at http://aviewfromtheedge.net/blog.

Diary of a Frugalista: Get inspired

Diary of a Frugalista: Get inspired

Text and photos by Nadya Ershova

Do you love second-hand clothes? I sure do!

beige blazerWhen I go to a thrift store or a clothing swap, I’m not necessarily looking for inexpensive clothing or well known brands. New clothing that wasn’t cut properly still doesn’t work for anyone. However, vintage fabrics and good cuts, unusual details and interesting colors are my targets while ransacking the racks. I’m looking for inspiration.

This beige blazer (pictured, left) was a great find. First of all, a favourite on the catwalks and in casual wear alike, beige is a very trendy color. It is a great neutral and can be mixed with any other color. Secondly, the blazer is made of finely woven pure wool that has a silky texture and is pleasant to the touch. It is old-fashioned good quality that surely cost a pretty penny back then. Thirdly, it is in great shape. It has all of the original buttons, and no stains — well, maybe a few tiny dots on the right sleeve. The lining is strong, well attached and has no holes (it is surprising given the age of the piece – the inside labels tell us all the truth about its age). And what is also very important is that it is my size. This blazer fits me perfectly. Generally speaking, it’s quite rare to find a classic blazer that fits, so this time I got lucky.

The blazer reminds me the coats that my mom used to have many years ago. They were hanging in the closetbeige blazer, and I was not allowed to play with them. They were treasures that my mom picked up on the odd day that some clothing store received a sudden shipment of decent goods (side note: I was born in the USSR in the times of utter scarcity!). I was secretly touching the coats and imagining myself wearing them and looking all grown-up and trendy. Well, it’s funny now how my childhood dreams have come true: this blazer was made around the same time period as my mom’s clothing.

The cut of the blazer is simple and classic with some subtle vintage details. It has feminine shoulder line and tight-fitting sleeves, but the bottom part is inspired by a men’s double-breasted suit jacket. The neckline and the collar are also reminiscent of a man’s jacket. It makes me think of “the boyfriend” style outfit that is so in style right now.beige blazer

As for pants, I have chosen navy blue hemmed jeans with a loose-fitting cut. Beige looks great with white, so I added bright splashes by putting on a white tank and socks. To bring out the beige even more and add a feminine touch, I wore sand-coloured high heel wedgies. The platforms are add more length to my legs, which would otherwise look shorter because of the hemmed pants. The beret adds a relaxed feel that downplays the sharp, angular lines of the jacket.

All this makes for a boyish yet feminine outfit inspired by a vintage blazer!

The best part? The blazer only cost me $6 🙂

Unbelievably frugal!

Nadya Ershova grew up in a small village near Moscow, Russia and graduated from Moscow Aviation University. At age 25, Nadya married and moved to the USA. A year and a half later, she and her husband settled in Canada. She works as a software developer, and her hobbies are photography and blogging.

How to find “The Good Stuff”: A guide to second-hand clothes shopping

by Allison Gryski

Do you have one of those friends whose cute outfits always turn out to be some crazy bargain from a clothing swap, a Salvation Army, or Goodwill? Do you wish you were that girl (or guy)? For me, it’s my older sister: from gorgeous vintage items to Italian leather shoes, I can always count on her clothes coming with a good story (and a small price tag). Over the years, I’ve learned a trick or two, and sometimes, I even get to be that girl.   Whether I’m at a clothing swap or scouring the thrift stores, here’s how I find “The Good Stuff”.

Persistence

For many of us, walking into a used clothing store seems futile. You look through the racks, and you see a bunch of dowdy things that won’t fit and are sitting in a charity shop for good reason. Here’s the secret: it’s like that for everyone most of the time. You need to go often to find those hidden gems. Don’t expect to find something every single time.

Timing

Most second-hand stores (clothing or otherwise) will not have that many great items and everyone is hoping to find them. Aside from having a little luck, you can up your chances if you go before others have picked it over. Many stores have specific days or times when they put out new stock and all you have to do is ask. If they don’t have a set schedule, think about when others will go and try to visit earlier. Visiting Saturday afternoon is much less likely to yield a treasure than Saturday morning, or even better, at lunchtime on Friday.

Location

Let’s be honest, some cities are just more fashionable than others. The good stuff has to be given away into the second-hand market in the first place, if you’re going to find it. Larger or more wealthy cities tend to have the best selection of used clothing. Even if you’re stuck looking in just one city, see if there’s a larger headquarters store, or stores located in more fashionable or wealthy neighbourhoods. For a higher percentage of nice things, you can try the vintage or consignment stores, but for the best bargains, stick to the charity shops and local clothing swaps.

Technique

So you’ve found a great store, you’ve come at the best time, and now you’re faced with miles of racks … how do you find that one worthy item? First of all, drop any specific ideas of what you’re looking for. That hidden treasure might be a pair of shoes, an accessory like a belt or tie, or a fabulous coat. I favour the scan-and-sweep method for the clothing. Walk down each row and run your hand along the clothes as you look at them. You will quickly learn to feel the difference between cheap fabrics like polyester or acrylic and finer quality fibres like silk or wool. If you only like certain colours, scan quickly for those hues. Pull out anything that catches your eye and check for condition (underarms often show the most wear), fabric type, and size. If you think it’s a possibility, carry it as you continue and try things on in a batch.

Companionship

It’s up to you whether you prefer to shop alone (more focus) or with a friend (more fun). For the latter, choose a friend who’s either a very different shape or dresses in a totally different style. That way, you can help each other watch for stuff rather than compete. Nothing is worse than seeing someone else find your ideal item just before you get to it

Over the years, I’ve found Fluevog boots, silk Liberty ties, a black Calvin Klein suit jacket, a Fairyesque skirt suit, a funky Diesel top, a variety of skirts, and some nice accessories like belts. Some items have seen more wear than others and that leads to my last bit of advice. If it’s not really your style, doesn’t fit properly, or has something wrong with it, leave it behind. It’s not a bargain if you’ll never end up wearing it.

Happy treasure hunting!
– Allison

Allison Gryski is a Canadian living in Amsterdam.  She describes herself as a bookish artist, exuberant baker, usability snob, discerning gourmandise, and occasional freelance dragon seeker.  She’s also passionate about thrift store bargains, bicycles, and afternoon naps.  http://allison.gryski.com