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/)

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)

Thrift Cities: Providence, RI

Providence, in the last thirty years or so, has improved in myriad ways and accordingly the thrift scene has improved also. This is likely because it’s pretty thoroughly a college town and if there’s one thing I imagine college students are into it’s cheap stuff. I have relatives in this lovely city and so whenever we visit we’ve made a habit of making the pilgrimage to the chain thrift store Savers, which is the size of a suburban Wal-Mart and far less evil. The thrift is high quality too, which I assume is because there are enough rich people in and around the city who need some place to get rid of their cast-offs. Savers also often has 50% off sales that send the masses swarming in to buy unhealthy amounts of clothes and shoes. It’s basically heaven.

Some notable pieces that I’ve encountered there (comments welcome!):

Usually, I'm not one to endorse sparkles but I'm undeniably captivated by the neckline of this dress.

Usually, I’m not one to endorse sparkles but I’m undeniably captivated by the neckline of this dress.

Add a coat (Forever 21, $40) and you've got a pretty nice outfit to go out in for winter.

Add a coat (Forever 21, $40) and you’ve got a pretty nice outfit to go out in for winter.

My mom bought these shoes at Savers on a solo trip a while back. They were too big, so she passed them on to me. It's been about a year since then and I've worn them literally everywhere. They've survived two music festivals and a trek through Reykjavík. I fear for the day when they finally fall apart.

My mom bought these shoes at Savers on a solo trip a while back. They were too big, so she passed them on to me. It’s been about a year since then and I’ve worn them literally everywhere. They’ve survived two music festivals and a trek through Reykjavík. I fear for the day when they finally fall apart completely.

This shirt has stuck with me through the years because though it's mostly your conventional crop top, the lace on the bottom has always kept me interested. Paired with high-rise leggings (Forever 21, $6), it's served me well in casual circumstances.

This shirt has stuck with me through the years because though it’s mostly your conventional crop top, the lace on the bottom has always kept me interested. Paired with high-rise leggings (Forever 21, $6), it’s served me well in casual circumstances.

You may say that this is simply a Gap t-shirt, and you may be right, but there's nothing wrong with simplicity. It's flattering, it's versatile, and it's easy.

You may say that this is simply a Gap t-shirt, and you may be right, but there’s nothing wrong with simplicity. It’s flattering, it’s versatile, and it’s easy.

Adorn it with a scarf and you've got a nice little fall ensemble.

Adorn it with a scarf and you’ve got a nice little fall ensemble.

This vaguely vintage number was picked up by aunt at Savers, then passed to me when she decided it didn't suit her. The skirt is silky and light and champagne color is tasteful with a little edge to it.

This vaguely vintage number was picked up by my aunt at Savers, then passed to me when she decided it didn’t suit her. The skirt is silky and light and champagne color is tasteful with a little edge to it.

My favorite part, however, is the back, which has the same lovely "v" shape as the front.

My favorite part, however, is the back, which has the same lovely “v” shape as the front.

Then of course we have some delicate $2 earrings.

Then of course we have some delicate $2 earrings.

These have got a spring feeling to them and could be paired with a floral skirt of some sort.

These have got a spring feeling to them and could be paired with a floral skirt of some sort.

The verdict, of course, is that Providence thrift is killer. It’s been a while since I’ve done a real shopping binge in that area but this just reminds me I need to return for another orgy of cheapness. I highly recommend it.

(cover photo from http://community-wealth.org/content/providence-rhode-island)