I don't know when I first realized how wonderful a bargain thrifting was; or how much more fun it was to look for buried treasure in racks of musty garments and boxes of half-heeled shoes. It's been a part of my life for nearly as long as NYC has been: so forever, off and on. I can't remember who took me thrifting just before my freshman year of high school, either, although I do remember the thrill of my very first score: a blue velvet jacket with a mandarin collar and frog buttons-- not actual frogs, but the silky Chinese, buttony kind. I also remember wearing the jacket to my red belt high school in the south, and I remember that I sort of knew what I was doing, too.
That is: I knew what a revolutionary act it was to wear old vintage blue velvet in the land of uniform khaki. I also knew they were voting for superlatives that day. I was not completely flabbergasted when I was voted "Most Unique", probably, mostly on account of that jacket alone. It wasn't exactly a compliment, either, though it was for boys-- the boys that won that category usually also won "Most Popular" or "Funniest" while the girls were considered simply odd. However, it wasn't exactly the worst thing ever to be singled out for something in a school of 3,000 souls. At any rate, whether insult or compliment, the power to use fashion to express a feeling or an attitude hooked me, although for a while I did merge myself with the khaki sea around me, tired of fighting the tide. Still, I did eventually grow up and get out, and ever since, thrifting has been a major hobby of mine. I would now consider myself more of an expert treasure-hunter than a lucky duck. Instead of happening onto the buried loot, I know how to zoom in on where x marks the spot. However, I know a lot of people are intimidated by all the options out there, so here are some of my tips from a misspent youth for thrifting success!
1. If you are overwhelmed by thrifting, ask yourself this basic question first:
Let's call this: square one. What's your favorite color? If you gravitate towards racks with colors that vibe with you-- dove-gray lavender or brilliant lemon or sparkly emerald or prismatic purple-- I assure you, you will find something you love. I 100% guarantee you will pull something off the rack that will delight your soul and your wallet. (And, since it's secondhand, it's pretty nifty for the planet as well.) The odds will be even more in your favor if you add my next tip to the equation.
2. Find a Fancy Neighborhood and Check Out the Thriftstores There!
The best thrifting I've ever found has been in the wealthiest neighborhoods. A lot of people have the terrible habit of wearing things ONCE. ONCE. And then tossing them. It's unfortunately become a habit for people in any socio-economic strata, which is its own issue for another post, but sustainable issues aside, because of this habit, you can find amazing designer steals in neighborhood's where people buy designer clothes. I tend to hit a handful of favorite spots over and over-- Housing Works on Crosby Street or their branch in Park Slope on 5th Avenue or Bring N Buy in Ridgefield, CT or Greene Street in Chestnut Hill. Using this tip, I have found Burberry coats and Jimmy Choo Mary Janes and Theory leather jackets and cashmere sweaters and designer denim galore in spots like that. I even found the spot where the Vogue accessories director was dumping their closet for a bit-- I scored some Jimmy Choo gladiator sandals off that one! However, not everyone lives near or in or close to a fancy neighborhood. If you can't drive or Uber to a hot spot or if you're encumbered with babies and can't peruse the racks for hours, then check out my next tip.
3. Repeat after me: eBay is LIFE!!!
EBay can be pretty overwhelming, I know. I avoided the site for years. The key to success here is a simple two-pronged approach: you either a. search for something extremely specific like a maxi Reformation dress in size 6 or that pale lemon Christy Dawn dress you've been eyeing on Instagram or you b. check in with specific shops on eBay. My favorite eBay shop is called Linda's Stuff. Amazing selection and the prices hover around $24-- even for whisper thin Ulla Johnson tops or that aforementioned Reformation maxi dress.
Do you enjoy thrifting? If so, what are some of your treasure hunting tips? I'm always honing my hunting technique. If you don't enjoy thrifting, I'd love to here from you as well. Also, what's the best thing you've ever found thrifting? Check out my Pinterest board for a few ideas as well!
I love the word sartorial, because it's an embodiment of the argument that fashion can be art!! "Sartorial" rolls off the tongue, straightens itself like a graceful ballerina on the tip of the teeth, and makes one graceful leap of abstraction. "Sartorial" makes fashion sound stately and important and almost holy, which I think it is. If you treat your garments with care, you can almost always feel the same sense of calm satisfaction while wearing them as you do after indulging in a hearty meal, which is most definitely a holy thing. (Check out my latest food post for this vegetarian corn chowder we concocted this July 4!) Sartorial actually comes from the Latin for "tailor" and it's also the name of the muscle (or the "sartorius") used to move your leg into the seated position for doing some tailoring. So cool, right? Please make your sartoriuses cozy, let's all pretend I used that word correctly, and check out what shows have been keeping my own sartoriuses crossed in one never-ending, seated position this summer!
1. Love (Netflix)
Love is an odd, funny, touching, and sometimes painfully realistic love story between two unlikely candidates for love-- narcissistic Mickey and codependent Gus. Don't get me wrong: I love Mickey and Gus, but, honestly, I stayed more for all the secondary characters who make LA look like the capital of Quirk, not to mention Mickey's fabulous mix of vintage, thrift, and designer fashion on display each episode. The show's costume designer, Jennifer Eve, equates Mickey's style with " a hung-over Alexa Chung", and her costumes are as fun as that sounds! In fact, they're the inspiration for my hot weather outfit above! (More about the bag, one of which I've paired with Baiae to give away, below! And more deets about this outfit on my IG @IsabellaDavidVintage.)
2. The Time In Between/ El Tiempo Entre Costuras (Netflix)
This show set in Spain and Northern Africa in the '30s made me long to occasionally indulge in the odd tailored outfit and maybe even a hat or two as in the pic above. You'll fall just as in love with its plucky heroine as with her incredible costumes. See some of the best looks here (Just scroll down if you don't read Spanish!)
3. Call My Agent/Dix Pour Cent (Netflix)
They're remaking this show about an acting agency in Paris in English (of course). But as is, whether you speak French or not, it's one of the wittiest, smartest, sweetest shows I've seen in a long time, and it's set in the rarified, secretive acting world of Paris. Seriously, how are they going to top that?! Get past the first episode, which I found a little dry, and you'll love it! Plus, the Parisian It Girl has attained near mythical status. Check out this show for the real thing! And by that I mean the "real" real thing as many famous French actresses play (ridiculous, hilarious versions of) themselves each episode.
4. The Handmaid's Tale (Hulu)
This isn't the obvious choice , but watching a world where everyone, or anyway every woman, wears no makeup, scraped-back hair and horrible cloaks in muted blue, hospital-scrub green, drab gray or even, my favorite color notwithstanding, a bright red makes me delight in wearing whatever I'd like. Gimme allllll the lipsticks!!! This series shows, not tells, how powerful a statement a woman's fashion can be like nothing else I've ever seen. Plus, this is for the hesistant crowd: it's so grim it can be kind of funny, especially if you watch it with a man who will find such a female-centric show about uniquely female suffering as foreign as we find the dystopian elements. Less funny: my husband has taken to calling me "Ofryan". Not cool, dude.
5. Younger (Hulu)
It's a little hard not to mention Sex and the City on a list like this, but Younger is as good as-- if not better-- a show to fit into my top 5 list as that other show. Just like Sex and the City, it's chockfull of incredible actresses like two-time Tony-Award winning Sutton Foster, the very fabulous Hilary Duff, hilarious Miriam Schor, and the queen of deadpan humor: Debi Mazar. They all look incredible, too, of course. After all, Patricia Field is responsible for costumes on both Younger and Sex & the City, and it's fun to watch her more contemporary and only slightly more down-to-Earth takes on the fashion scene! Read more about Field's stint as Younger's costume designer here.
What are you bingeing this summer? What other shows do you think I've left off this list?
P.S. Speaking of sartorial bliss, I've partnered with www.shopbaiae.com to giveaway this chic straw circle tote. Super easy entry until July 15! Click on the photo below to check my IG for details!
It's pretty telling that one of my toddler's favorite games is sitting on mommy's bathroom floor while I'm getting ready for the day, pawing through the easy-to-reach cabinets below the sink, asking again and again, "What dis, Mommy?"
"Cream," I've taken to telling him over and over regardless of the product, although, recently, he started calling me on my nonsense.
"No, DIS one, dis ONE," he now shakes his head, one chubby hand wrapped around a little blue bottle of rewetting drops he's been using to create a rainscape over my daughter's My Little Pony, the other clutching a glass jar of Burt's Bees that I'm forced to pry from his tiny fingers before he smashes it on the ground. My daily routine is usually pretty harried and rushed for this reason, so you can see why I've grown to prize my at-home spa routine come Sunday morning.
I will keep lying to him regardless, because I just don't feel like "Korean Beauty Miracle" or "Bliss Honey Moisturizer" are essential additions to his vocabulary at this point. Confession: yep, his mama is a beauty junkie, and while I don't feel like that knowledge can benefit my 2-year-old, I do feel it can benefit women closer to my age group who want to prevent issues before they arise or who are seeking to feel better about themselves!
Interesting aside, the axiom "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" was actually coined by Benjamin Franklin, and since I'm currently living in Philadelphia, a city obsessed with old Ben, please forgive me for getting all clichéd! Overused as the phrase might be, it rings as true now as when Franklin wrote the words under an assumed name, while actually discussing fire safety (of all things, ha). Some (okay, a lot of people) might say face masks for helping you to feel good about yourself aren't as important as fire safety, but I trust that my building's superintendent has the latter under control. Feeling good about myself is something that's up to me, and my Sunday at-home spa time handily provides the cure! That said, here are my favorite preventive, organic, cruelty-free remedies!
1. Bliss In the Honey Moisturizing Mask, $12.99
I've only recently discovered the Bliss line, and I'm a fan! I was also blissfully-- (see what I did there? Okay I'll stop trying to be all axiomatic like Ben, hehe!)-- ahem, blissfully excited to hear that they've recently relaunched and stopped shipping to countries that require animal testing like China. They're also currently in the works to be certified by PETA! Read more here. While on a recent mommy run to Target, I was drawn to the large, blue sign that read "cruelty-free" and the price was an added incentive for this beauty junkie. While this mask is only $12.99, I can 100% vouch for the fact that it performs as well as masks I've purchased that are ten times the price such as SK-II's Facial Treatment Mask. (Incidentally, you can buy those in singles. It's definitely worth the occasional splurge for the cooling effect while grabbing a nap. FYI a GREAT gift for headache sufferers or new moms/ same thing aiaiai.) I've taken to applying my Bliss honey mask before I apply my mainstay Sunday mask, sometimes even leaving it on the night before while I sleep. Basically, as you might gather from this post, I'm a huge fan in general of napping in a mask. Have you guys ever tried the combo? It's another great way to mimic a real spa experience from your home. Lately, I've actually taken to alternating my nightly honey mask, which you can purchase here with this next favorite, recent purchase (below).
2. Bliss That's Incredi-Peel Glycolic Resurfacing Pads $19.99
This product truly delivers what it promises: a few swipes at night over clean skin and, talk about fire safety, you wake up absolutely glowing. However, I haven't experience the trouble side effect they mention: glycolic acid peels in general can increase sensitivity to sunlight. Personally, I don't have sensitive skin and don't burn easily, but exercise caution for sure if you're planning to be in the sun the next day. Otherwise, swipe away! This stuff is magic! You can order it online here or find it in any friendly, neighborhood Target infested with happy, squealing mommies like myself. (What is it about big box stores that fills mommies with unmitigated joy and peace? Oh, I don't know Izzy: rows of great summer reads (I'll be reviewing some faves this week!!!), beauty products galore, all the necessaries like diapers and produce in one spot, endless solutions for every household problem that might have arisen during the week. Plus snacks and coffee= yep, mommy heaven.)
3. Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial $80
Okay, this one is pricier, but this is why my love for this miracle mask is twofold: a. it's very, very, very effective and b. a wee bit goes a loooonnnnggg way! I've had my initial purchase since March, I've been using it at least weekly if not bi-weekly since then, and it's lasted for almost 20 uses. That's way less than ten dollars a face mask so far, and the bottle still feels substantially full. Actually, that's something I've noticed about all the Drunk Elephant products. They're made with super high-quality, vegan, cruelty-free ingredients, and a little goes a long way. As a true believer, I've recently purchased Drunk Elephant's "The Littles", this cute little bag with samples of their whole line. I'll be back to report on my faves soon!
Or 3. Hanacure the All-In-One Facial $110
Basically, after washing off a face mask that I applied the night before in anticipation of my Sunday soak, I apply a more expensive, intensive mask like the Drunk Elephant's Babyfacial one I just reviewed above or my newest purchase: the Hanacure All-In-One Facial. I only recently purchased Hanacure, so I've only had the opporutnity to use it once! If you're not an insane beauty junkie who has to jump on every Instagram beauty trend bandwagon and $110 seems a little crazy to plop down on a mask you've never tried, you can also buy a single one to sample from Amazon. It's available here for $45. I liked it, but I didn't apply it thick enough to warrant one of those silly, little old lady selfies that have helped popularize the brand. I was also sold on the face that the masks are also cruelty-free-- you might have noticed that's as important to me as a mask's efficacy!!-- and they're also formulated without parabens, phthalates (whatever those are, but they do sound bad!) or sulphates. Best of all, I can report it does feel gentler on the skin than either the Drunk Elephant Babyfacial or Bliss's Incredi-peel. If you have sensitive skin, this might be worth the splurge!
That's it! Step 1: a mask the night before combined with step 2: a morning mask and a quick soak to wash off the week and I feel prepared for (almost) everything the next week has to bring! I've also noticed a big difference in my skin since I've started taking the time to apply these masks when I have the opportunity or force my family to (ahem) respect the opportunity. What are your favorite masks? Any home remedies? I used to be more into home remedies when acne was an issue-- egg yolks can work magic!-- but lately it's all about moisture and brightness for me. I'd love to hear your suggestions for either kinds! I think organic home remedies would be fun to test out and would make for a fun Sunday self-care post! Have a great week!
P.S. On a quick related note: my husband and I also chose to destress by, as we call it "crushing it"-- pizza, wine, fries, sushi-- aka food, the other pathway to bliss next to big box stores. The result was one fine day recently neither of us could fit into our pants! We've adopted the "Fit Into Your Pants Diet" and it's going great. So far this week, I lost a pound and a half. Read more about it, and the many dietary benefits of drinking celery, here.
A Slow Fashion Diary