Celebrating in Edited Style

A couple days after my dad’s birthday, there was another birthday to celebrate.  My grandmother was turning the big 8-0, and we knew as a family that we needed to do something more than just a cake and a big happy birthday.  We had started planning months before the big day; we had people involved, we had a location secured, and we had a food plan.  What we hadn’t planned on was my uncle losing the lower half of his left leg in a motorcycle accident on June 10.

It was around 9 PM, and my uncle decided to ride into town on his motorcycle, just two or three miles down the road.  My dad said that if he could have foreseen what would happen, he would have driven to his house and slashed his tires.  On his way back, my uncle’s motorcycle was clipped by a woman in an SUV who apparently didn’t see him (how do you not see an on-coming headlight?!).  I won’t get graphic with the rest of the details, but his lower left leg was severed on scene and everyone considered it a miracle he’s still with us.  After numerous surgeries and a month and a half in the hospital, he was finally able to go home at the beginning of August.  His struggle is anything but over, but going home is at least one little start.

Needless to say, this whole situation put a damper on our family, and as a secondary thought, the party planning.  It certainly took an emotional toll on everyone, so instead of pushing everything along and acting like we’re all in the mood for a large room of people, we decided to have a smaller party, one that would involve my uncle in his new rehab hospital he was in at that point.

So what is a girl to wear to a surprise party at a hospital?  I thought something festive but casual.  Something like this:The tank top is from Gap Outlet for $5 (on sale at the time), and the skirt was from Goodwill for $4.99.  The hair flower was something I had already made for our wedding rehearsal dinner back in 2010.  The colors would work well with the party attitude, and the skirt made it a little more formal.  I paired it with navy blue flip flops to round out the casual vibe.  The party was pretty successful.  Tons of Chinese food and cake were eaten, presents were opened, and my grandmother was surprised.  Was it the party we wanted to give her?  No.  Definitely not when compared to what we originally had planned.  But sometimes life needs to be edited in order to celebrate what you have.  Sometimes you just never know.  So we celebrated a big birthday and celebrated being a family. 

That’s what’s important.

Pre-Birthday Date Goodwilling

My husband is ridiculously adorable.  For the past two years, he has taken it upon himself to plan a special date day for me right before my birthday (April 28, for those of you who are counting).  My birthday is two days after my younger sister’s, so we have to share our birthdays typically.  My actual birthday is either a weekday, so no real time to go out and celebrate, or taken over with family plans because of the double birthday.  I certainly don’t mind celebrating double birthdays with my family, but it’s so nice to have a great day out with B.

This year, B surprised me with a day out in Portland.  We started off by going to the Goodwill Buy the Pound location, which really says something about how much B loves me.  He detests thrifting because it takes so much time and it’s not organized.  But for me, he made an exception.

For some reason, the bins seemed to be filled with only children’s clothing.  Good for people with kids, but people, I’m only turning 26.  Is this some sort of cosmic sign from our mothers?  Erin, see?  Look at all of the little clothing at Goodwill.  You know you want to create a person to go into them!  Um, not now, universal messages.  I’ve got some clothing to dig through.  This is what I found after some major digging:

Dexter bronze ballet flats: Retail: $22.99

Brand new with tags still on them!  Who says you can’t find new stuff at Goodwill?

Nine West cross-body white leather with gold chain purse: Retail : $69

Nine West chestnut brown satchel: Retail: $89

Nine West chocolate brown tote bag: Retail: $109

Nine West purple purse: Retail:  $69

Estee Lauder camel colored large tote:  Retail: ~$30

Belts! (Two colorful random ones and a Banana Republic leather red one):  Retail: ~$15 + $50 + ~$15 = ~$80

Bonjour colorblocking in that last one!  Love it!

Scarves! Dark purple pashmina, brown printed pashmina, mint green linen infinity scarf, Apt. 9 box blocked scarf:  Retail: ~$15 + ~$15 + ~$15 + ~$20 = ~$65

Mint green!  I found something in that color!  Weeeeee!  The last scarf is super soft and for B.  He’s a very dapper gentleman.

Express navy blue cable knit V-neck sweater:  Retail: $59

I know it seems kind of silly to be getting sweaters right now, but the three that I got were too good to pass up.  You never know, I could still face sweater weather here in Maine before summer actually begins.

Soffe baby blue sports skirt: Retail: $8.99

No brand magenta summer cover-up dress: Retail: ~$20

The tags were all cut out, but with a belt, this dress will be great for summer.  Without a belt, it kind of does a tent number off from my chest.  I’m wondering if I should make the neckline into a V neck.

GAP cream crew neck sweater: Retail: $59

Express red silk mix V-neck sweater: Retail: $59

All told, I think we made out brilliantly.  B also picked up a copy of the Bible to do some reading as he prepares for graduate work.  I suppose some spiritual work may come out of it, too.  So what was the damage?  Well, check this out:

What I would have paid shopping retail:  ~$749.98      What we paid at Goodwill:  $15

DIFFERENCE:  ~$734.98

Beck also got me this awesome blue NAS clutch/purse for Easter.

NAS cobalt blue clutch (style number 370GY):  Paid: $2.49 / Retail: ~$30

PEOPLE!  Why isn’t everyone thrift shopping?  I get to be a name brand snot AND not pay much at all.  You can be really picky about clothing and purse conditions and still get great stuff.

After our Goodwill run, B whisked me away to the Portland Art Museum.  They currently have some great exhibits, my favorite being one where a woman went into the homes of every person she’s friends with on Facebook to photograph them in real life.  The concept between real friends and online friends and how they seem to have replaced each other is fascinating (that may be my psychology minor talking).  The photos were intense.  And, like every single time I go into an art museum, I got yelled at.  What did I do wrong this time?  I wasn’t carrying my purse far enough forward on my body.  Yep.  I get yelled at for dumb stuff in art museums.  Some gelato after totally made up for it.

We also decided that we had enough time to run by the Maine Mall (yes, that really is its name.  Maine doesn’t have a ton of malls.  Live with it.) and I browsed Forever 21 because I had a gift card from a birthday probably three years ago.  I was determined not to spend more than what the card had on it ($10), so I got these two pieces:

Price: $6.80

Price: $1.50

Seriously, who can resist a little neon yellow locket?  I thought it was too cute to pass up – especially after the bracelets ended up being far too big for my gumby hands.

Overall verdict?  Birthday date 2012 was a complete success!  B can plan dates with the best of them.  I plan on going to Goodwill on my birthday this week because I get 25% off on the actual day of my birthday, and I know what I’ll be looking for:  jewelry.  I am on an accessories kick right now.

Have you gone thrifting lately?  What did you find?  If you don’t thrift, what are you waiting for?!  Go, go, go!

Off From Lent!

When Easter rolled around, I was SO READY to be done with Lent.  I had given up shopping for clothing, and after watching so many haul videos on YouTube (why do I watch those?!  They are so addicting!), I was ready to see what I could find with some of the current trends.

I went to Goodwill with a gift card I had, and I ended up making out pretty well!  And, because I wanted to try it again (and look dorky), I decided to give the whole YouTube haul video a try again.  Egads.  Good luck watching it!

What have you purchased lately?

The Search Is On!

With Easter finally hopping in tomorrow, Lent is coming to a close.  Thank goodness!  I gave up thrift shopping for Lent because it was something that I loved to do, and to me, I find it important to give up something you really like or love in order to show your sacrifice.  For me, that was thrifting.  But now that it’s over, I feel like I have put thrifting back into perspective.  I can’t afford to shop all the time, and when I do shop, I need to keep it within certain restrictions.

That being said, I do have some trends and pieces that I want to try and find in my next Goodwill excursions.

1.  Mint and coral

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Mint and coral colors are very very in right now, and I would love to jump onto the bandwagon.  I could very easily turn these colors into work appropriate pieces, summer pieces, and generally great-for-any-time pieces.  Sounds like a win!

2.  Handbags

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I have such a craving for different handbags.  I am the type of person who gets stuck in a rut with handbags because I almost never change the one I have every day.  Shame on me…  I really need to get better about that.  I am on the hunt for handbags with color, structure, and just all around appeal.

3.  Dresses

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I want some spring and summer dresses because, well, I want the warm weather we got a little taste of back.  Now, please!  I love the feminine touches dresses bring to a season, and I want some that aren’t incredibly dressy.  I mean, I’m not going to cocktail parties all summer, and even if I was, a girl needs some variety, am I right?

4.  Jewelry

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Like handbags, I am craving some bracelets and necklaces.  I want different pieces that bring a little bit more intrigue to an outfit.  I tend to get compliments on my jewelry the most at work, and I can tell you that most of my collection is super cheap costume jewelry.  Why not see what else I can add to it?

5.  Sunglasses

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It’s getting brighter.  A girl needs glasses.  Enough said.

6.  Sandals

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This, of course, means I need to give myself a pedicure, STAT.  But who doesn’t want to have colorful feet that are cool and comfy?

I guess the longer I stay away from shopping, the more time I have for window shopping.  That may not have been a good thing… Time to go clean out my closet!

What are you on the hunt for lately?

Swap With Friends

Have you caught it yet?  Spring cleaning?  You know it will get you as the weather starts to get a little warmer.  I think we all go through times, maybe not even in the spring, when we just have to get rid of the stuff we don’t use anymore.  We have the urge to purge clutter and get something newer and fresher in.  Maybe it’s from staring at it too long during the winter.  Maybe you have changed weight over the winter and need something new.  Maybe you’re moving.  Maybe you are just incredibly bored.  Maybe your students have made your clothing choices into a game to see how many times you wear the same type of pants in a month… oh… that’s just me?

Getting a whole new wardrobe seems out of the question, though.  I mean, with everything I just had to pay for with taxes, there is no way I could ever afford to buy a bunch of new clothing, even at Goodwill and thrift store prices.  A few pieces here or there would be cool, but a full new wardrobe?  My husband would have my head.  So what is a bored girl to do?  Clothing swap!

For those of you who are new to swaps, they are when you bring a bunch of clothing you wish to be rid of and have others do the same.  You then swap your old clothing for new-to-you pieces that others have brought with them.  It’s pretty simple in concept and pretty awesome in execution.  I went to the SwapMaine event last October (can’t wait for their spring event!), and it ROCKED.  I was hooked on swaps from there.

Then, when I was still on that misguided adventure of only spending $10 a month on clothing, my friend Amy sent me a giant box of clothing she didn’t wear anymore.  Amy lives in Texas, and I guess their thrift shops down there just aren’t as great as here, so she thought her clothing would do more good with me here in Maine.  And when I say it was a giant box, I mean giant.  Look, I fit into it!Within that box was a treasure trove of clothing, some of which I have made good use of and some of which will be going to the SwapMaine event for the spring.

New York and Company Streetwear Gray Linen Skirt:  Paid: $0 / Retail: $29.95, on sale right now for $8.98

Verdict?  Keep for now.  I think I can rock this when it gets warmer at work because of its length.  The waistline is a little on the big side, though, so I might pass it on if I reach my lower weight goal.

Gap Tan Bermuda Shorts: Paid: $0 / Retail: $39.95

Gap Black Bermuda Shorts: Paid $0 / Retail: $39.95

Verdict?  Both are keepers.  Again, these are pieces that fit and I can wear to work when it gets warmer.  They are also incredibly soft and in great shape.

Gap Tan Shorts: Paid: $0 / Retail: $39.95

Gap Brown Shorts: Paid: $0 / Retail: $39.95

Gap Teal Shorts: Paid: $0 / Retail: $39.95

Verdict?  Keep, keep, keep!  I am always in need of different shorts that fit, and these fit the bill.  The teal is also super on trend for the summer, which will add some lovely color to my wardrobe.

Gap Tan Pants: Paid: $0 / Retail: $49.95

Verdict?  Well, originally, it was keep, but now that I have worn them once, they need to go.  I could button them all the way up and then pull them off without undoing anything.  I don’t think that means they fit.  They are great pants, but they could be great pants on someone else.

H&M Gray Wide-Leg Pants: Paid: $0 / Retail: $34.95

Verdict?  These will be leaving me as well, only because the legs are way too wide for my taste.  I like pants with slimmer profiles, and these don’t fit into that category.  They fit okay, but if I don’t like the style, I am sure someone else will get better use of them.

Old Navy Black Side-Zip Trousers: Paid: $0 / Retail: $29.94

Verdict?  Super cute, and they will be staying.  They fill a niche that my other black pants don’t fill, so they add a little bit of variety to my black pants menagerie.  Well… as much as black pants possibly can…

Old Navy Red Terry Cloth Skirt: Paid: $0 / Retail: $26.94

Yuva Wide-Leg Trouser Jeans: Paid: $0 / Retail: $35.00

Verdict?  They’re going.  Both of them are waaayyy too big for me, and with my weight goals, I don’t want to keep any clothes in my wardrobe “in case” I get larger.  No thanks.  I was really hoping that they would both fit, but sadly, they didn’t.  Someone else can rock them!

WWF “Green Chic” T-shirt: Paid: $0 / Retail: $31.00

Verdict?  It’s pretty cute, but the fit isn’t totally what I want.  I’m keeping it for now, but it may end up in the swap pile last minute.  We’ll see.

Iz Black Dress with Studded Belt: Paid: $0 / Retail: $48.00

Verdict?  Keeper!  I know how many black dresses I have, but this (yet again) is a different style.  I like it, and the belt is awesome!  Worst case scenario, I keep the belt and get rid of the dress at some point.

So I got some great pieces for spring and summer just by encouraging people to donate clothing.  Sounds pretty awesome, right?  Well, you can do it too!  Get some friends together and swap!  You can start small with accessories or you can just go for it all at once.  Try it out!  It’s totally worth the effort.

If you would like tips for hosting your own swap party, check out this post on Goodwill New England’s blog (nope, I didn’t write this one!).

So, thanks Amy!  I love the clothes, and the ones I’m not keeping will be loved by someone else as soon as SwapMaine hosts their spring event.

Have you ever gone to a swap event?  What do you do when you get tired of your clothing?

Sightful Sunday: It’s So Easy Being Green

Did everyone survive St. Patrick’s Day yesterday?  I certainly hope so!  B and I went to a hockey game with his parents and did a whole lot of lounging before that.  I know, it sounds so very appropriate for the holiday.  Oh well.

I love St. Patrick’s Day, though, because of the green.  I love the color green, and I wish people would try wearing it a lot more.  Who wouldn’t want to get into some of these looks?

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Maybe it’s easier being green than we thought!  Look out Kermit, here we come!

Have a wonderful week!

Sightful Sunday: Everything’s Coming Up Flowers

Whoa!  Where did that whole time change come from?  I’ve been working with very little sleep this week, thanks to my drama club’s competition, so I just wanted to sleep in this morning.  By the time I woke up, it was already “10:45 AM.”  Ugh, time change… why do you have to be like that?

Either way, we have had a couple of days of spring temperatures this week, so I wanted to celebrate that with a post on the quintessential spring print:  flowers!  Who can resist a great floral print?

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Or, if you don’t really want to wear flowers on your clothing, you could always rock it on your nails!

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Hopefully this will make you so much more excited for spring!

Have a great week, everyone!

Salivating Over Salvation Army Finds

Once my goal of only spending $10 a month on clothing was over, I kind of went a little nuts at Salvation Army.  I mean, when the typical person thinks of going nuts while shopping, he or she might think about spending hundreds of dollars.  I think of spending $20.  Yeah… there is a little bit of a difference…

I ended up finding some great pieces for my wardrobe and a couple of pieces to try some Pinterest clothing projects I had tagged for some DIY posts.

Brown faux-snake skin belt:  PRICE ON TAG: $0.99 / PAID: $0.50 / RETAIL: ~$15

Liz Claiborne navy linen button-up:  PRICE ON TAG: $3.99 / PAID: $2 / RETAIL: $74.25

Banana Republic plum button-up: PRICE ON TAG: $4.99 / PAID: $0.99 / RETAIL: $59.50

Faded Glory gray and blue polo for Pinterest project: PRICE ON TAG: $1.99 / PAID: $0.99 / RETAIL: $8.87

Vintage San Moire pink pleated skirt: PRICE ON TAG: $3.49 / PAID: $0.99 / RETAIL: ~$30.00

Old Navy men’s red t-shirt for t-shirt scarf necklace for my cousin Jess:  PRICE ON TAG: $1.99 / PAID: $0.99 / RETAIL: $9.94

Jos A. Bank red with blue pinstripes silk tie for B:  PRICE ON TAG: $0.99 / PAID: $0.99 / RETAIL: $69.50

OTHER COOL ITEMS FROM THE SALVATION ARMY

The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot for my classroom library: PAID: $0.50 / RETAIL: $13.85

Imitation cut glass vase (not heavy enough to be real):  PRICE ON TAG: $3.99 / PAID: $0.99 / RETAIL: ~$20.00

TOTAL:  PRICE ON TAG:  $22.92 / PAID: $8.94 / RETAIL:  $300.91

Savings?  $291.97 without taxes on anything.  You know what?  I’ll take it!  Most of these items have already been worn and loved quite a few times!

Location, Location, Location: Salvation Army

Next to Goodwill, the Salvation Army is my second favorite thrift store chain in my area, one that I wouldn’t have found if it hadn’t been for my zero dollar budget to dress my drama club kids.  You see, my school isn’t very well funded to begin with, so coming up with money to fund the drama club isn’t always of the highest priority.  Thankfully, I am creative (otherwise, why would I direct drama?).

Salvation Army is a wonderful place to be creative on the cheap.  Their pricing is quite different than Goodwill’s set-up, and there are differences in policies.  Different, however, can be good.

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The Mission

The Salvation Army is a religious, socially driven institution that provides help to those who have fallen victim to disasters, be they personal or weather-related.  They receive funding to support those in need through their seasonal kettle drives (you know you have seen – and hopefully donated to – those people ringing bells with the red kettles during the holiday season), through sponsorship, and through their retail stores.  It’s very similar to Goodwill’s mission, but seems to have more to do with the church.

One point of controversy that can come up when you research the Salvation Army online is their stance on the gay community.  I’m not 100% sure of what their specific stance is, but because of their religious affiliation, I think I can safely assume that while they do not openly support gay rights (which is dumb, and if I lose readers because of this, so be it), they don’t ask people what their sexuality is before trying to assist them.  I could be wrong though.  If you know for sure, please let me know.  As much as I love their retail stores for thrifting, I don’t want to support an organization who does not support the ones I love.  Plain and simple.

The Money

Salvation Army’s pricing structure is different from Goodwill’s, and it took me a little bit to get it.  In all honesty, I still don’t completely understand their schedule, but I will explain it as best as I can.  The basic price structure is pretty simple.  All prices end in .99, and the overall price is typically based on its assumed worth.  For example, a shirt that is in great condition from a big name brand is going to cost more than a shirt that is from a cheaper brand.  While not always true, it is more common than not.  Every price is marked on a colored tag attached to the item for sale.  Unlike Goodwill, there are no common base prices; everything is priced individually.  On the other hand, the price of each item reflects the tax bracket of the area, just as it does at Goodwill.  If you are in a richer area, you can expect to find fewer items marked at $0.99 before sales.

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To go along with the individual prices goes colored tags.  While everything may have a different price, the prices are written on colors that correspond to when the clothing, etc. came into the store.  The tags can be yellow, pink, green, blue, or white.  These tags will help you figure out what clothing is on sale.

Tricks of the Trade

Organization

This is one of the toughest adjustments to make if you are only used to Goodwill.  There is no organization of size at the Salvation Army.  You have to dig to find the size you want.  Think of it as more of an adventure (but make sure you plan to spend more time here).  The organization structure is based on what type of garment it is (shirt, sweater, jacket, jeans, skirt, trouser, etc.) and color.  When they can, the workers organize each clothing type into a rainbow-like assortment.  If you want an orange shirt, there is a section for that.  Want some purple pants?  If they have some, they will be lumped together.  It is very helpful that way.

Sales

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a discount card that SA.  They do, however, have two types of sales:  50% off a color and the $0.99 sale.  They also host family night where families can get a certain deal if they bring in a bag of clothing to donate before shopping that day.  The main two sales, though, are what drew me in.  And when they overlap?  Look out!

The 50% off sale is what it sounds like.  Each week, a certain color tag goes on sale for 50% off.  They have what color it is each week posted somewhere near the front door so you know before you get elbow-deep in browsing.  If it isn’t posted, just ask.  The employees will definitely be able to tell you.

The $0.99 sale is the best thing ever.  Who doesn’t like getting awesome clothing and accessories for $0.99 or lower?  Every week, a separate color from the 50% off sale goes on sale for $0.99.  Everything, no matter how high it is marked, goes on sale for $0.99.  You could score a jacket that was originally marked at $15.99 for $0.99.  Um, yes please!  So what if something is already marked at $0.99 before the sale?  Well, it jumps down to $0.79.  Awwweeesssoommmmeee.  I have gone $0.99 color tag shopping before, and I walked away with ten items for $10. 

Sometimes these two sales happen at the same time.  I usually find that this happens at my local store on Saturdays.  This is completely up to the individual store, though, so I would check the schedule at your local retail shop.  Take advantage of being able to get 50% off and $0.99 pieces.  It’s great and cheaper than Goodwill.

Know the Goods

I like to know what I can find at each thrift store.  In my local area, I know that if I want to buy home goods, I need to skip Salvation Army and go to Goodwill.  The Salvation Army near me doesn’t carry very many home goods, and what they do carry is pretty mundane.  If I’m looking for a better selection of purses or ties, though, I will probably go to Salvation Army.  Take the time to get to know what types of merchandise your local stores carry the most.  This will save you time and frustration in the future.

Have you tried the Salvation Army lately?  What have you found?

Sightful Sunday: They Call Me Mellow Yellow

Is that song about drugs?  I am always the last to know what those songs are about.  Some of them are just too deep in metaphor.  Either way, I like yellow, not drugs.  Hugs not drugs, kids.  For real.  And who couldn’t use some sunshine in life right now?  This girl could!  Bring on the yellow!

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And yes, that last one is me and B at our senior prom.  I really like yellow!  Good Lord, we look so young.

Have a great week, everyone!