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Orange & Brown

I have about a dozen new items to share, and I promise I will do that in the near future. For today, I want to share this outfit which includes a few of those new items, plus many things I love.

I suppose a good camera, or at least a camera not attached to a phone, would be helpful.
I'm starting to get the hang of how to shop for my body! Yay! Even better, I'm gradually defining my own personal style, which as I've mentioned has been nonexistent for years, and was highly questionable before that. On top of all that, I am pretty quick to grab items from the racks that I would never have considered wearing before. Case in point: this vest.

This is what I wore to meet my daughter for lunch today, and I love everything about it. The jeans, vest, and booties were thrifted on my last trip a few days ago. The vest was $7, which is at the higher end of what I'm willing to pay per piece, but it fits like a frikkin' glove and has some cute detailing which I'll show when I list my recent additions. It's also a beautiful peachy/rusty/orange that doesn't properly show in this pic. I love how it nips in just a little at the waist, and I have to say, I've never been a vest girl but I am won over. I wore it over my previously thrifted turtleneck.

The jeans ALSO fit like a glove, and hug my booty, which my 20-year-old son wouldn't have captured if I begged him, which I wasn't about to do anyway. I'll also save that for a future post, but needless to say I squeeled a little when I put them on. They feel like pj's and the length is perfect for me. Since I usually wear flats, jeans like this that just skim the floor end up being just right.

They are actually darker, like in my full-body pic.

The booties (is that right?) are a caramel-brown and super soft, so comfy, and were brand new with the stickers still on them. I finished off the outfit with a bangle that I got for 50 cents on the same trip. Anyway, I just wanted to show this outfit that I felt so good in. :) I'll list my recent purchases, including these, soon. I know I've said it a few times now. I'm trying to convince myself.


Oh, I almost forgot to mention, I love wearing orange and brown together. That's all I have to say about that.

Vest: Coldwater Creek $7
Jeans: Merona $3.50 (1/2 off)
Booties: Franco Sarto $6
Inlaid bangle: 50 cents



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Jacket vs. Jacket







Argh.

I bought both of these last weekend, and I like them both, but I just can't decide about the grayish one. It's vintage wool. I feel all kinds of powerful with those sweet, sweet shoulders, and I love the single button at my smallest waist area, but I just don''t think the length suits me. Maybe with heels? Hmm. On the other hand, the red one strikes me as being better proportions for my body, but I actually look wider in it. Hmm.

I actually went back to Garland Road Thrift today with the intention of exchanging the vintage jacket, but I brought the wrong receipt, so it's still here with me. I wore the red one, and people kept trying to steal it from me! Once, I went in the dressing room and came out to find it gone. Gasp! I asked the closest employee, and she had grabbed it from my cart and stuck it on a rack and wheeled it out of sight. The second time, I was trying on scarves in front of a mirror and turned around to find it gone. Gasp! A 20-something "girl" had it at the counter asking about the price. I walked up and said, "There isn't one, because I wore it in."

It was in the cart right behind me, woman! Who does that? Sheesh.

Anyway, got these last Saturday.

Total spent - $14 ( $7 each )
Number of pieces - 2
Favorite item- red jacket
Remorse? - maybe? I still have time to return the vintage one. 

PS-I scored like crazy today. I'll post tomorrow.




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Earrings


This is what $5 worth of thrifted earrings looks like.
Last weekend, I hosted a thrifting class at one of my favorite local shops, Garland Road Thrift Store. It was a fun experiment, and I intend to blog about it, but my life is pretty hectic with an active employment search, so an in-depth post will have to wait. I went in with the intention of finding a few tees and a blazer. Maybe I was just tired, but I didn't have any luck there. I did end up with a jacket which I adore, and I'll post pics of that soon, but my favorite finds were in a bin at the register. 

99 cent earrings, for the win!

These are my fav! Aren't they groovy? 
I'm not even going to add these into my $200 total budget. These are bonus. :)

This is the outfit I pulled together for the class. I *really* love the chambray dress I snagged for about 4 bucks - it's so versatile, and I have to resist the temptation to wear it too often. Actually, I already owned everything else in this outfit, some of the few things that made the cut when I raided my wardrobe and got rid of everything useless or total crap. The blue dress brought them all together.



The actual dress is this piece:



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Casual Friday


I'm playing around with different ways to mix-n-match the wardrobe I'm building and help myself to pull outfits together. So far, I'm having the most success with finding images of similar items and just bring those into a slide, so that's what I'll stick with for now.  
                                                           
Today I have no interviews, no plans, nothing. Well, I met my daughter for lunch, but that involved  walking the 5 minutes to her school and back again 20 minutes later. Other than that, it's an easy day at home just resting, cleaning, cooking, and preparing for a fun event I'm hosting tomorrow. 
                                                                                       
I'm also recuperating from the massive blisters and mild shin splints from yesterday's run in heels. Argh. Hence the cozy Vibrams for the times I'm not totally barefoot, like right now.

I couldn't find a pic online to approximate this top, so I just grabbed a pic of another graphic blouse. Yes, it's the same top I wore yesterday. 

Plus my free specs from Firmoo. I have another pair coming in the mail, maybe today. I ordered the same pair, but in tortoise. So, not thrifted, but free except for $6.95 shipping! I have a few other pair saved with other companies. I'm starting to love glasses, which I never really did before.



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Success!




My interview today was a success! I mean, I haven't received an offer, but I did interview with two attorneys at the firm and felt wonderfully confident and comfortable.

I decided at the last minute to wear this top instead of the blue one I had picked out yesterday. This top is actually a sort of fuschia and midnight blue/plum sort of blend, and it really looks great with my yellow skin tone. I actually missed a bus downtown, and with only 30 minutes until the interview and 2.5 miles between me and the uptown office, I decided to walk it. More like run it. Long story short, this top is much more, um, sweat-friendly. So glad I opted for this one!

There's more to this second pic, though. See that tucked in top? See right below that, just at the waistband of those pants I love so much? See that round thing? That, dear friends, is my belly.

<sigh>

I'm on a mission to be kinder to myself, and that is actually an integral part of this wardrobe project. I eat a healthy diet which is mostly vegan and all vegetarian, and I exercise (walking and running - totally thankful for that today!) yet my body still insists that I have a tummy and a booty. Fine. I'm done hiding behind baggy clothes, done waiting to lose some pounds, done wishing this or that body part were a little different. Done done done.This is me, 40 years old, size 14, showing the world my little belly and smiling all the way to the...interview. And you know what? I felt great,and confident, and heads turned. THAT sure as hell never happened in my red tent dress.

Running in heels did a number on my feet, though.They're literally shredded and it looks like I'll be losing a toenail. Yowza. Next interview, I'm tucking my Vibrams in my bag, just in case.

PS I need a haircut. Every time it gets so round and poofy I think of Steel Magnolias and brown helmet head.  I'm growing out a short boy cut that I loved and might do again. Like this:




 But I found this and like it, too,so I'll maybe do something like this next. All I know is that I'm not rocking good hair right now.




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$75 & An Interview

Thrifted Interview Outfit
I have a job interview tomorrow that I'm pretty excited about. It's an entry level position, but in a field I want to enter, so it would be a great foot in the door. Of course, as soon as I scheduled the interview, I realized I need a suit. Unfortunately, I still only have a teensy little income, so I hit up a favorite thrift store in pursuit of a suit I could tailor and have cleaned in a few days.

I tried on about 20, and the ones that weren't too small (Calvin Klein gray suit, new with tags, just a size too small, grrr) or outdated and hideous were either too large - meaning too much tailoring for my time frame - or too frilly or casual for the occasion.

I decided the next best thing would be to pull together a crisp and professional outfit that would be comfortable enough for me to feel confident in. I'm all about comfort. I think that's part of the reason I've avoided more tailored clothing.  There is a common opinion that fitted clothing lacks comfort, and I think that can certainly be true, but as I break out of my old habits in building this new wardrobe, I find that comfort definitely does not have to be sacrificed.

Anyway, I had $25 maximum and 3 hours to spend. In spite of not scoring a suit, I'm pretty happy with what I bought. Bonus - very little tailoring! All I had to do was hem the pants.


$3

$3

$5 new

$7 new with tags

$5
Total spent - $23
Number of pieces - 5
Favorite item- gray pants
Remorse? - nope!

Of course, everything I bought will mix and match with what is already in my wardrobe. By now, I'm about $75 into my $200 thrifted wardrobe. I have 20ish new items, and the decent start to a semi-professional wardrobe. I'm writing a little mix-n-match post to show you what I've purchased and how many outfits I can make with them. It's fun! But first priority = getting a full-time job.

Wish me luck!

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Personal Thrift Shopper (for a day!)


I got to be a personal (thrift) shopper for a random stranger last week! It was so much fun. I had a few hours to kill and $10 to spend, so I went in search of little Christmas gifts for my daughter, Imme (scored 5 brand new Hello Kitty craft books and an unopened Connect 4 game for $4.50 total) and on my way in I saw a woman who looked so much like my sister that I said so to her.

I bumped into her a little while later. She was sort of halfheartedly pulling out clothing items then putting them back. I recognized the pattern - it's what I do when I have no idea what I'm doing, meaning when I'm not shopping on purpose. I struck up a conversation with her. Turns out, she is dating again after a divorce and has no date-worthy clothing and very little money. I told her about my thrift project ($200 full wardrobe $20 at a time), and just point blank asked if I could help. So about an hour later, she had 7-8 new mix-n-match items that all came in under $40. :)

I desperately wanted to photograph her in an outfit, but I felt like I already pushed my limits by asking a plus-sized total stranger to be honest about what sizes she wore and what she liked the most about her body. :P

How fun! I gave her my number. I hope she gets in touch at least to let me know how everything works out.




She outright hated the scarf.  It was tagged as pashmina, which is questionable, but I just loved the pattern and color, so I snagged it for myself!

$5 fringed scarf

I also bought this recently. It's a pretty emerald-ish green that my crappy camera phone doesn't properly capture. I just love the fit, but mostly I fell in love with the color and sleeves. So pretty.

Marc Bouwer fitted zippered cardigan $3.50

UPDATE:  I went back and found a couple of the items that we had picked out back on the racks. Bummer, but I also understand. They were already a little outside of her comfort zone, and I know how hard it is to change your ways, especially when you're not fully convinced you're already beautiful. Or, maybe she was just being nice to the crazy woman. Who knows. 
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Happy Feet


$5
 Picked up a pair of like-new Minnetonka moccasins for my daughter, Imme.
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$20 - Take Two

So, now that I bought my first five basic pieces and started mixing them in with what I had on hand, I was ready to set out thrift shopping again. This time, my focus was less on professional pieces, and more on accessories and a pair of jeans. Thrifting jeans is a tricky, tricky thing, so I figured if I struck out on jeans then I'd substitute a pair of casual khakis, and if I just couldn't find anything to fit my post-4-babies body, then I'd settle on a denim skirt. Although, denim skirts are also notoriously tricky on the thrift level, because every decade's bad denim is on those racks. When it comes to thrifted denim skirts, it's all about wash and length, but we'll get to that another time, because I DID find jeans!

My list this time was pretty simple:

1. Tan or other neutral shoe
2. At least 1 scarf
3. At least 1 belt
4. Jeans.

Anything else was a bonus. I think this trip was a great success!

Camel slingbacks, like new $6

Rust woven thin belt, casual or dressy $1

Mock turtleneck shell, perfect for layering! $2 (50% off)

Dockers jeans, $3.50 (50% off)

Ann Taylor Loft supersoft navy striped top, $2

LOVE this versatile knee-length chambray dress! $3.50 (50% off)

Dior  silk scarf, possibly vintage? No idea. Love. $3
I handwashed and it's all wrinkly now, but it's huge and gorgeous
and goes with everything. 
Total spent - $21
Number of pieces - 7
Favorite item- chambray dress
Remorse? - yes! I regret not having enough in my budget to buy the $5 handbag that would have been perfect for interviewing! 

Total so far =$40 With what I had on hand when I started and the dozen or so items I've purchased, I now have about 30 mix/match outfits. Granted, there's a lot of repetition in that 30, but still, it's a start!

---

Oh, I picked up one more goody on this trip! I found this amazing vintage Greenlea faux fur belted coat, and I DESPERATELY want it to fit me, but my stupid big arms (I love you, arms!) won't let it be. So, while I consider taking it apart and stitching it back up to fit my proportions, I have it listed in my brand new shop. You can own it, if you get to it before my scissors do!



You'll find it at The Thrifted Shop. 
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$20 = The First Five Pieces

The planned pieces - a simple black dress, a black jacket,
 a neutral turtleneck, a black  pencil skirt, and a floral  or patterned knee-length skirt.
In preparation for spending the first $20 toward my new wardrobe, I first went through every clothing and accessory item I owned and ruthlessly purged. It literally took ten minutes. I threw everything into 1 of 4 piles:

1. Stylish and fits.
2. Stylish and doesn't fit.
3. Nasty, torn, doesn't fit.
4. Maybe stylish, sort of fits.

Most of what I had went into the dumpster. It sucked to part with a few "wishful thinking" pieces that would fit if only I lost a few pounds, but I haven't lost those few pounds in a year, and it's time to be brutal, so I donated. A few items were questionable. Missing buttons, or needed hemming. By a few, I mean five, not a dozen. I set those aside because I could, since there's almost nothing else in my closet, and because I have the skills and tools to make those things happen. I basically ended up with about a dozen usable items, not counting athletic clothing/shoes and undergarments. I had no jeans, no pants, nothing to go with the few dressier tops that I did have, and only one pair of unscuffed, unmarked shoes - a pair of basic black pumps. I did keep the red tent dress, a 90s throwback that appeals to something unnamed deep inside me, because I am certain I can infuse it with some sense of style.

I started digging around on Pinterest for some common themes on how to pull together a random mix of clothing items. I had a total of $20 to spend on my first trip, and since I'm actively submitting resumes and hoping to interview soon, I really wanted to focus on some more professional pieces.

I played around on Polyvore, too, and finally put together a snapshot of the items I had decided on:

1. A simple black dress
2. A neutral turtleneck
3. A black jacket
4. A black pencil skirt
5. A floral/patterned knee length skirt

Armed with my snapshot, I put on my red tent dress and my Vibram Five Finger Sprints, and set out to one of my favorite thrift stores.

Three hours later, I came home triumphant! I'll have to find a better way to photograph but for now you'll just have to overlook the funky shadows and overall poor lighting.

$3.50 (50% off) zippered, sued-y jacket

$4 skirt 

$6 Old Navy 3/4 sleeve, faux wrap dress

$3 (50% off) H&M floral knee-length skirt

$2.50 (50% off) gray turtleneck with pleated detail
Total spent - $19
Number of pieces - 5
Favorite item- black skirt
Remorse? - nope!

PS - I tried on a couple suits out of curiosity, which I don't think I've ever done. One of my goals in rebuilding my wardrobe is to try something new, which for me means wearing more fitted clothing. Anyway, I didn't buy a suit for  two reasons. It wasn't on my list, and none of them really spoke to me as far as cloth, cut, or color, but boy howdy do I look good in one! That's a post waiting to happen. :)

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Rock Bottom

I'm not sure when it happened, or why, but at some point I lost my style.  First I turned 30, then I was a single mother of 4, got desk jobs,  turned 40. I lost and gained weight, life happened, and along the way clothing marketed to my age groups changed so gradually and with such subtlety that one day I woke up and noticed my jeans were creeping precariously close to my rib cage. Sneaky sneaky. 

Then I started working from home and, because there was nobody around making me pretend to care, I stopped pretending to care. Between (trying to) work and running errands and being a mother and finding time to create and/or sleep, I'm pretty sure I wore the same thing for 3 or 4 straight days. Not only that, but none of my existing clothes went with anything else except for the same 5 items, which were so worn, torn, and threadbare that they were no longer presentable in public.

I got an interview for a job I was somewhat interested in, and managed to pull together a short sleeved button down with a missing button (which I pinned from the inside) and a pair of, ahem, wide leg gray capris. <sigh> They were badly pilled on the inside legs and too tight in the waist. Shhh. It's even worse than that. I wore sandals. 

I ended up not getting the job because someone else much more qualified came along, but really, it could have easily been any single detail of my really horrible outfit. 

That was my first wake-up call. Another day, I went to meet my daughter for lunch at her school in what was essentially a large maroon (oxblood - hah!) tent. There were several more mini-epiphanies before I really took notice and made the decision to reclaim my style and rebuild my wardrobe.  

Since I'm a lifelong, hardcore, happy thrift store shopper with about 2 pennies to rub together, that's the route I'll be taking! I'm pretty lucky to live in a major metropolitan area and have access to a few large thrift stores, but I've also had just as much luck in very rural Pennsylvania. The trick is to know what's good and how to find it. As long as you know what you're doing, you can find some pretty sweet goods just about anywhere.

Another part of this project, and just as important in my humble opinion, is being kinder to myself and my body. I am in the gently rounded zone where my body naturally goes. I have my eye on my health, of course, because I love living and would like to avoid death for as long as possible. But all of that aside, I'm frankly just tired of sucking in my belly. I'm weary of hiding behind long skirts because I have big legs and chubby knees. My arms jiggle. So what? Who, in a hundred years when I am long forgotten, will give a shit about my big bones and fluff? I've had enough of waiting to be something I'm not in order to be nice to myself.  Where did I learn that crap in the first place? It's certainly nothing I would ever want for my daughters, or even my sons for that matter.

I feel pretty without Critical Beast, so Critical Beast must go.

I am taking this opportunity to remind myself of what this body has accomplished, how it made four entire humans and fed them, how it can run like the wind when I want it to, how it houses my mind and keeps me alive without my really knowing how. How it informs me of my surroundings and keeps me whole through emotional turbulence. Most of all, how it so beautifully communicates my deepest thoughts and heartfelt emotions to those I hold dear. I mean, that's fucking incredible. Really awesome, right?!  What would you pay for a tool that did that, if you weren't able? Can you even put a price on something like that? It's an amazing piece of organic machinery, and I really need to be nicer to it. And buy it pretty things. And take it on dates. Maybe even get it drunk and take advantage of it. You never know....good things could happen.



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