Thred Up

In the last few weeks I’ve stumbled across a website called ThredUp, which is basically online thrift. They send you a “clean-out bag” which you then fill with your unwanted, gently used clothes and send back to them, all for free. They then pay you for what they think they can sell. I sent in a bag half-full and got a $40 payout, which is pretty good considering none of my items were anywhere near designer.

On the shopping end, the prices are somewhere between true thrift (Goodwill) and your more specialty consignment shops. And you still get that thrifting thrill of sorting through loads of things you don’t like until you find something unexpectedly awesome. The only possible drawback is that shopping online makes me, at least, less likely to take risks in the same way I would for a $4 item at the Salvation Army, which means you don’t always go for that wonderfully unusual piece that you’re not sure about at first but ends up being a staple in your wardrobe. That being said, though, everything I’ve ordered so far from ThredUp has been perfectly lovely and I am very satisfied.

Some highlights:

This skirt was $10 on ThredUp, and originally from Topshop, so definitely a good deal. I paired it with some thrifted heels and a $6 shirt from eBay.

This skirt was $10 on ThredUp, and originally from Topshop, so definitely a good deal. I paired it with some thrifted heels and a $6 shirt from eBay.

This jacket was $15, and was heavier than it looked on the website. Still, it came just in time for some snow days so all turned out well in the end. And I get to try out the female equivalent of a Canadian tuxedo (denim on denim).

This jacket was $15, and was heavier than it looked on the website. Still, it came just in time for some snow days so all turned out well in the end. And I get to try out the female equivalent of a Canadian tuxedo (denim on denim).

This shirt was $5, and originally from Forever 21. Very springy and vaguely vintage, I paired it with an Urban Outfitters skirt ($10 on sale) and American Apparel shoes.

This shirt was $5, and originally from Forever 21. Very springy and vaguely vintage, I paired it with an Urban Outfitters skirt ($10 on sale) and American Apparel shoes.

I am totally in love with this dress! It's navy with a daisy pattern, though I initially thought the background was black on the website. Still, it fits really well.

I am totally in love with this dress! It’s navy with a daisy pattern, though I initially thought the background was black on the website. Still, it fits really well.

This coat was $22, and like the jean jacket was a little heavier than I expected. It's very cozy and soft though, and I like the fleece collar. I paired it with a $10 dress from ASOS.

This coat was $22, and like the jean jacket was a little heavier than I expected. It’s very cozy and soft though, and I like the fleece collar. I paired it with a $10 dress from ASOS.

Overall, I’m very happy with my purchases and highly recommend the website if you enjoy shopping in your pajamas at two in the morning.

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Outfit of the Day – February 21st, 2015

So I’ve had four days off school for something called “snow” and yet only managed to get dressed twice, filling in the remaining time with watching documentaries about airplane disasters in my pajamas. What a life I’m living.

For those of you who follow me on instagram, you may have already seen this outfit because I’m trying to win another contest. Hope you like it!

Price breakdown:

Sunglasses: beach shop in Chincoteague, $10

Crop top: eBay, $11

Overalls: Hollister, $19 (on sale from the original price of $69.95)

Shoes: Durham Rescue Mission, $8

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Outfit of the Day – February 14th, 2015

When it comes to Valentine’s Day, I find myself conflicted, which is an easy thing to be when you don’t actually have a Valentine. On one hand, I consider the holiday mostly bullshit cooked up by greeting card and candy companies to pick up sales in the dry spell after the the winter holidays. On the other hand, the notion of going out of your way to show your significant other that you love and appreciate them is not something I can really get angry about. Especially considering the fact that as a single person the holiday hardly affects me, save the possibility of discount chocolate tomorrow. Any thoughts?

Anyways, here’s the outfit of the day, showcasing some warm colors with a hard edge.

Price breakdown:

Sunglasses: ASOS, $22

Crop top: Amazon, $8

Jacket: Forever 21, $30 (literally I wear this jacket so often it’s ridiculous)

Skirt: thrifted at TROSA in Durham, $5

Shoes: American Apparel, retail $125 (free for me)

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Outfit of the Day – February 7th, 2015

This week I’m still exploring the full breadth of my gifts from American Apparel, and so naturally that’s reflected in the outfit of the day. I’ve gone with a vaguely seventies look, especially in the pastel green paired with the pastel pink of the watch (picture on my instagram: @margueritealley). For some reason I just find that color combination very visually pleasing. Anyways, here it is.

Price breakdown:

Sunglasses: ASOS, $22

Jacket: American Apparel, retail $85

Dress: American Apparel, retail $54

Tights: ASOS, $11

Shoes: thrifted at Deerborn Goodwill in Seattle, $6.

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Outfit of the Day – February 1st, 2015

Hello everyone and sorry for my absence!

I’ve decided to start doing an outfit of the day sort of thing. I probably won’t post every day but perhaps a couple times of week I’ll put something up since most things I wear do have some element of thrift or sale. In terms of thrift city profiles, the next one that will be up on the blog will likely be Washington DC some time in the next few weeks.

Today I apologize for my Sunday hair and give you a quick look at one of the lovely items I won from American Apparel 🙂

Price breakdown:

Sunglasses: Generic beach store in Chincoteague, $10

Jacket: Forever 21, on sale for $30

Dress: Nathalie du Pasquier for American Apparel, free for me (retail $90)

Shoes: Amazon, $15

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Thrift Cities: New York City, NY (Midtown)

There are almost no words for how much I enjoyed my short time in New York City, except that it was just wonderfully lovely and inviting. It was like no other city I’ve ever been in, on a scale so massive it was impossible not to keep looking up. There was something warm and safe about the canyon-like streets that I didn’t expect to find. The crowds, though massive at this time of year, were comforting too. There was never a moment of loneliness and yet it wasn’t overwhelming. It’s not hard at all to comprehend why people feel such allegiance to this city.

We stayed in Midtown, between Times Square and Hell’s Kitchen. We saw an excellent play with Michael Cera, Kieran Culkin (my personal crush), and former fashion blogger Tavi Gevinson. We even went to the top of the Empire State Building even though the line was ludicrous. Though I didn’t get as much time for thrifting as I would’ve liked, I did enjoy visiting the Housing Works in Hell’s Kitchen and found some really good quality stuff for reasonable prices. I also made the pilgrimage to American Apparel (and I won that contest that I was trying to win before the holidays – they’re sending me $1500 worth of free clothes!!!) and Gudrun Sjoden in SoHo. There was also just great street fashion in general all around the city. Not a huge surprise, of course, because it is kind of a fashion Mecca, but it was still great fun just to watch everyone else’s outfits.

Here’s what I found. Tell me what you think!

This skirt, $5 at Housing Works, was originally from H&M. Paired with a crop top (American Apparel, $22) and my mom's Borne sandals it's got kind of a nice nineties vibe.

This skirt, $5 at Housing Works, was originally from H&M. Paired with a crop top (American Apparel, $22) and my mom’s Borne sandals it’s got kind of a nice nineties vibe.

I added a bouclé coat to add a little visual interest to all the solid colors (Forever 21, $40).

I added a bouclé coat to add a little visual interest to all the solid colors (Forever 21, $40).

This dress was $15, and everyone knows I love the swing skirt cut.

This dress was $15, and everyone knows I love the swing skirt cut.

A closer look at the pattern and colors.

A closer look at the pattern and colors.

This scarf was $8, and I bought it on impulse only to later realize that the colors matched perfectly with the dress.

This scarf was $8, and I bought it on impulse only to later realize that the colors matched perfectly with the dress.

Black leather, naturally, makes everything better (Forever 21, $30).

Black leather, naturally, makes everything better (Forever 21, $30).

I love this city. I’ll be back.

Does anyone out there love New York as I much as I do?

Thrift Cities: Durham, NC (Part II)

Thankfully, I have made it to winter break. And as per usual, being faced with actual free time has spurred me to spontaneously forget what I like to do and I have now resorted to lying on the floor with a blanket. Lately I’ve directed my obsessive energy toward trying to win an American Apparel contest (not very thrifty, I realize, but for once in my life I want to win a sweepstakes), and so I think I’ll just spend the next fourteen days worrying about that and spamming everyone on Facebook with my constant entries.

Oh, and I’ll probably blog too.

Last weekend I visited the Durham Rescue Mission thrift store and had my mind blown. The place is massive and full of exciting treasures. I will, without a doubt, be returning at some point in the future. This visit, though, I picked up only a few things, one of which is a long jean skirt which I realize is totally out of fashion. It’s a risk, and the verdict is still out, but it was $4.99 so my worries are not too severe. Anyways, it’s pictured below so tell me what you think!

(Upcoming: I’m going to NYC for the first time a couple days after Christmas, and you can bet your ass I’m gonna be thrifting like mad. Hopefully, my finds will be on the blog by the new year. Wish me luck!)

I've been looking for a pair of tan heels for a while now and was delighted to find these for $8.

I’ve been looking for a pair of tan heels for a while now and was delighted to find these for $8.

As you may have noticed, I'm absolute sucker for maxi skirts. The high slit in this one makes it especially elegant. $5.

As you may have noticed, I’m absolute sucker for maxi skirts. The high slit on this one makes it especially elegant. $5.

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I just bought this poncho from Forever 21 for $27, and even though it’s not thrift it goes pretty well with the lines of this skirt and I’m completely enamored with it.

I love the figure flattering cut of these sort of button up shirts. The tag says it was originally from Eddie Bauer but I got it for $4.

I love the figure flattering cut of these sort of button up shirts. The tag says it was originally from Eddie Bauer but I got it for $4.

Added a red scarf and a red coat (not pictured) to insert some warm colors into the winter.

Added a red scarf and a red coat (not pictured) to insert some warm colors into the winter.

And now for the finale: the controversial skirt. I can't bring myself to have a single regret because of the lovely waistline. I added my dad's service belt from the Coast Guard (he no longer needs it, don't worry) and a chambray shirt from Old Navy ($10).

And now for the finale: the controversial skirt. I like the waistline quite a bit and it’s vaguely rugged air. I added my dad’s service belt from the Coast Guard (he no longer needs it, don’t worry) and a chambray shirt from Old Navy ($10).

I just got this coat for my birthday from H&M, and it makes me feels like a cross between a cowboy and a Game of Thrones character. I love it.

I just got this coat for my birthday from H&M, and it makes me feels like a cross between a cowboy and a Game of Thrones character. I love it.

Stay tuned for Manhattan thrift, coming soon!

Thrift Cities: Durham, NC

Though several of my peers are desperate to put their hometown in the rearview mirror, Durham and I have a pretty good relationship. I don’t necessarily want to live here forever (I don’t necessarily want to live anywhere forever), but the thrift stores would certainly support me if I chose to do so. I’ve visited many lovely thrift and vintage shops in the area, but in this post I’ll start simply with the new TROSA thrift store and a brief mention of the Goodwill on Garrett RD.

Something that I’ve been ruminating on for the last week or so has been how and why some people consider your usual, department store/mall shopping excursion to be a social experience. In the past, when I’ve gone non-thrift store shopping, I’ve always been on a mission, looking for something very specific that’s going to look a certain way. And there always seems to be great pressure to find that particular item or concept, at least in my own mind. I can’t imagine who would want to accompany me while I try on six different styles and sizes of generic skinny jeans and then agonize over whether they make me look wide(r).

Thrift shopping, though, seems to alleviate some of that pressure, perhaps just because I can accept the fact that it’s nearly impossible to go in and expect to find exactly what you’re looking for. It promotes a calmer, more zen-like attitude, in which you just have to let go of assumptions and allow yourself to be open-minded. I realize this all sounds very quaint, but I have noticed that I am much more likely to enjoy the company of others while thrift shopping. Thoughts? Comments? Questions?

Anyways, here’s what I found (comments welcome!):

It's nice to find a sweater with a suitably wide neck, so that your hair remains intact when pulling it off. Rarer than you may think and $5.99 at TROSA.

It’s nice to find a sweater with a suitably wide neck, so that your hair remains intact when pulling it off. Rarer than you may think and $5.99 at TROSA.

This dress, though somewhat charming, is a size too big for me and though workable in everyday life, it may be better suited as a bathing suit cover-up. I made the mistake of spending $19 on it, but am not entirely filled with remorse.

This dress, though somewhat charming, is a size too big for me and though workable in everyday life, it may be better suited as a bathing suit cover-up. I made the mistake of spending $19 on it, but am not entirely filled with remorse.

Add a sweater and it almost works for autumn.

Add a sweater and it almost works for autumn.

I like the split side in this skirt and the warm colors. My love affair with maxi-shirts in general continues unabated.

I like the split side in this skirt and the warm colors. My love affair with maxi-shirts in general continues unabated.

This golf themed skirt is the perfect example of the kind of thing you'd balk at in a regular store but would take a risk on when thrifting. I like the vintage flare and the ridiculous pattern is just a bonus.

This golf themed skirt is the perfect example of the kind of thing you’d balk at in a regular store but would take a risk on when thrifting. I like the vintage flare and the ridiculous pattern is just a bonus.

This is the reason no one watches golf on TV.

This is the reason no one watches golf on TV.

This shirt is a Goodwill find from some years ago and though it is, quite literally,  just someone's ragged t-shirt I love how it hangs.

This shirt is a Goodwill find from some years ago and though it is, quite literally, just someone’s ragged t-shirt I love how it hangs.

This jacket was also found at Goodwill and I couldn't resist the print. It also adds a unique edge to casual outfit.

This jacket was also found at Goodwill and I couldn’t resist the print. It also adds a unique edge to casual outfit.

Close up of the detailing. Exquisite.

Close up of the detailing. Exquisite.

Though perhaps not on the scale of larger metropolitan areas, I can’t find much to complain about it when it comes to Durham thrift.

(cover photo from http://law.nccu.edu/about/durham/)

Thanksgiving

So, it’s rapidly approaching the time of year when people are meant to reflect on what is most important in their lives and what is worth being grateful for. Usually I say something along the lines of Daniel Craig’s thighs or Dan Auerbach’s beard. In all honesty, though, the real answer is clear: friends and family.

And since I am shamelessly (or so it would appear) self-absorbed teenager I will go on to say, specifically, the clothes of friends and family.

This is, of course, the season for giving, and the whole concept of thrift is based wholeheartedly around this: we give to thrift stores as much as we get in order to continue the cycle. It’s the circle of life. But there is another resource for those who are willing to accept it – and I assume anyone who has siblings will probably have a pretty good grasp of the idea of the direct hand-me-down.

Thrift, in essence, is really just getting hand-me-downs from strangers. But in the quest for looking fucking fabulous and not emptying your wallet at the same time it cannot be ignored that there are lovely people out there who want to get rid of stuff that they no longer fancy or that no longer fits and that you, as a friend or relative of these people, would be remiss to say no to if you get the offer.

This is the kind of generosity that someone as self-absorbed as myself could learn from. Not to mention I’ve gotten some great pieces from those looking to pare down their closet.

My point is happy almost-Thanksgiving and remember to thank your friends and family not only for being alive and well but also for giving you stuff. Because that’s what the holiday season’s all about. Or something.

Some of the greatest hand-me-downs there have ever been (comments welcome!):

This shirt is remarkable for a number of reasons. First is that it's fit me for six years now. Second, it was passed to me from the daughter of friends in Paris, as she had grown out of it some years before. So it had already been worn well when I got it, and yet it shows few signs of any wear and tear. It's been a key part of my wardrobe and I haven't the faintest idea what I'd do without it. Here I've got it with a skirt from the Urban Outfitters sale rack ($10).

This shirt is remarkable for a number of reasons. First is that it’s fit me for six years now. Second, it was passed to me from the daughter of friends in Paris, as she had grown out of it some years before. So it had already been worn well when I got it, and yet it shows few signs of any wear and tear. It’s been a key part of my wardrobe and I haven’t the faintest idea what I’d do without it. Here I’ve got it with a skirt from the Urban Outfitters sale rack ($10).

This sweater is a relatively new hand-me-down from my mom, who historically has been one of my great sources of clothes in general. My favorite part of this top, besides the boat neck, is how it lines up so well with this skirt, also $10 from Urban Outfitters.

This sweater is a relatively new hand-me-down from my mom, who historically has been one of my great sources of clothes in general. My favorite part of this top, besides the boat neck, is how it lines up so well with this skirt, also $10 from Urban Outfitters.

Another sweater from my mom, and I'm in love with the plum color. Goes moderately well with a maxi-skirt (Forever 21, $13 on sale).

Another sweater from my mom, and I’m in love with the plum color. Goes moderately well with a maxi-skirt (Forever 21, $13 on sale).

These tasteful earrings used to be my piano teacher's, who has been especially magnanimous in giving me excess food and make-up brushes as well. Not to mention teaching me piano.

These tasteful earrings used to be my piano teacher’s, who has been especially magnanimous in giving me excess food and make-up brushes as well. Not to mention teaching me piano.

These earrings were left at my uncle's house by some girl he used to date. He passed them to my mom, who eventually gave them to me. The earrings seem to go with every outfit I throw at them.

These earrings were left at my uncle’s house by some girl he used to date. He passed them to my mom, who eventually gave them to me. The earrings seem to go with every outfit I throw at them.

These earrings are from my late grandmother's collection - a woman who clearly had elegant taste.

These earrings are from my late grandmother’s collection – a woman who clearly had elegant taste.

Thrift Cities: Seattle, WA

Now I know exactly none of you will be surprised when I tell you that Seattle has bitchin’ thrift stores, however you may be surprised (and slightly horrified) by the fact I managed to fit all the clothes I bought (see below) into my carry-on luggage for the the flight home. It was one of my greater triumphs.

Seattle, of course, is the hometown of Macklemore, who shoved thrift shopping even more into the mainstream than it already was (for the record, I was thrift shopping before the song solidified its coolness). So, naturally, the main thrift store we flocked to in Seattle was the largest Goodwill in the country, and apparently the one Macklemore frequented. I have still not recovered from how overwhelmingly gorgeous it was. I imagine it will haunt my memories as one of those halcyon experiences of youth.

Some of the many highlights (comments welcome!):

First, I got some excellent deals on shoes. These are Clark boots that are usually upwards of a $100. I got them for $15. They have since become a major staple in my wardrobe.

First, I got some excellent deals on shoes. These are Clark boots that are usually upwards of a $100. I got them for $15. They have since become a major staple in my wardrobe.

These Oxfords were only $6 and I have a deep appreciation for what they do to my ankles.

These Oxfords were only $6 and I have a deep appreciation for what they do to my ankles.

It should first be noted that I am a huge proponent of the unconventional maxi-dress (as opposed to the conventional floral muumuu idea of a long dress) and so I fell in love with this pretty quick. The fabric is delightfully thin but not see-through.

It should first be noted that I am a huge proponent of the unconventional maxi-dress (as opposed to the conventional floral muumuu idea of a long dress) and so I fell in love with this pretty quick. The fabric is delightfully thin but not see-through.

And if like me you believe the mantra that black leather makes everything better, than it's a good time to be alive.

And if, like me, you believe the mantra that black leather (Forever 21, $30) makes everything better, than it’s a good time to be alive.

This dress is comfortable enough to be pajamas but can sharpened up with black stockings (or fishnets) and Oxfords. The sweater is a cast-off of my mom's and adds to the vaguely autumn color scheme.

This dress is comfortable enough to be pajamas but can sharpened up with black stockings ($6 on Forever 21 or fishnets from elsewhere) and Oxfords. The sweater is a cast-off of my mom’s and adds to the vaguely autumnal color scheme.

This one I'm a bit proud of, mostly because I like the red tights (Forever 21, $6) with the black and tan of the hat ($4 at a beach store in Chincoteague) and dress. The dress was approximately $5 and was recommended by the illustrious Margaret Kramer, who is the most masterful thrift shopper there has ever been.

This one I’m a bit proud of, mostly because I like the red tights (Forever 21, $6) with the black and tan of the hat ($4 at a beach store in Chincoteague) and dress. The dress was approximately $5 and was recommended by the illustrious Margaret Kramer, who is the most masterful thrift shopper there has ever been.

The crowning jewel of this visit is this dress, which has no tags and would appear to be handmade. It seems to be a minor miracle that it happened to fit me.

The crowning jewel of this visit is this dress, which has no tags and would appear to be handmade. It seems to be a minor miracle that it happened to fit me. Lately I’ve been combining it with your average black heels. I feel as though it would be a good Christmas party dress, or maybe better suited for a melancholic summer evening. Or perhaps just an unusual prom dress, depending on who you are. Hard to say.

A closer look at the pattern and how the neckline perfectly frames a pendant.

A closer look at the pattern and how the neckline perfectly frames a pendant.

Seattle has set a whole new standard for thrift and thoroughly blown my mind in the process. Next time I go out there I’m bringing an extra suitcase.

(cover photo from http://mccormickbarstow.com/seattle-washington)