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.

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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!

Birth of Fashion

When I turned 25 last April, my parents gave me the best gift a daughter could ask for.  Life?  Well, yes, of course.  Food, shelter, and undying support?  Okay, okay, maybe it’s not the best gift I could ask for, but it certainly was a very thoughtful one.  My parents gave me a Visa gift card for my birthday.

Record scratch.

Yeah, they gave me a gift card.  I know gift cards get a really bad rap most of the time, but this was perfect for me.  Since getting married, I have felt as if buying myself clothing was selfish.  Now, I’m not the type to go out and buy hundreds of dollars of clothes on one shopping spree (that only happened when I was growing up for school clothes because nothing would fit at the end of the summer), but even buying a $15 sweater made me think, “Couldn’t I be spending this $15 on our grocery bill or student loans instead?”  I would never buy any clothes unless it was an absolute necessity, like a short sleeve professional shirt for the first weeks of school.  But with this birthday gift, I had specific instructions to go out and spend my gift card on myself.  I needed to go out and shop.  My mom said to spend it in Boston specifically when I went on my birthday trip, but there wasn’t anything I found.

Until a few weeks ago.  It started with a pair of earrings that were on sale at the Dress Barn.  They were originally $10 and were marked down to $4.  Nice!

I kept the gift card in my purse a few more weeks and then got inspired by this video:

I was just starting on my YouTube video kick, and this video happened to tap into my thrift shopping hobby as well. I usually passed over the clothes at Goodwill because I still had the idea of them being “dirty,” but I realized that was just plain dumb.  After watching more videos, I was jazzed (yes, trumpets were blowing and all).

Inspired to see what I could find, I went to Goodwill to see what there was.  I ended up finding two lovelies:

Taking the advice of the videos I had been watching, I looked for some accessories that wouldn’t be hard to find problems with, belts being one of them.  I have noticed a lot of trendy looks with belts, and though B thinks they are only to hold up pants, I wanted to try new looks with them for cheap.  This cute belt has a faux crocodile finish in a grayish beige color.  It’s about an inch wide, so it is a great skinny belt for dresses and sweaters.  The sweater above it was a random find in the sweater section.  Deep green, three-quarter sleeves, small cable knit, pristine condition, originally from the Gap.  LOVE IT.  Now that B washed it with some fabric softener, it’s one of the softest sweaters that has ever graced my torso.

The next Saturday, my mom and I decided to go shopping at the mall.  Now, if you are anything like me, you like to drool over the pretty pieces but loathe paying retail.  I try to make it a point not to pay full price, but if I find a piece that is a must, I try to go as inexpensive as possible.  I look for discounts wherever I can.  Knowing that teachers get a discount on full price clothes at Anne Taylor Loft (seriously, teacher friends… go shopping with knowledge!), I pulled my mom in the store’s direction.  We just happened to pass Express, who just happened to be having a HUGE clearance sale.  I found these two keepers, both of which add a little dimension to my wardrobe.

Both pieces can be worn in the summer and under sweaters during the school year.  How cute are they?!  What this photo doesn’t show well is the detail on the black shirt.  It has soft cotton ruffles and eyelet ruffles to create subtle layers.

When we finally made it to Anne Taylor Loft, I went straight to the clearance section again.  I had been eying some pieces online, but they always said that they were no longer available.  Not surprising since ATL was offering an additional 40% all sale items.  But lo and behold, almost all of the pieces I had picked out online were available at the store!  I grabbed an armload and made a bee line for the dressing room.  I emerged with a winning dress, which I cannot show you since B reads this blog and it’s a secret dress for our anniversary.  I’ll share it after July 17, I promise!  I also found two amazing necklaces in the clearance jewelry section and snatched them up.

With my gift card dwindling, I had one more conquest in my sights:  jeans.  All of my jeans have been dying slow deaths, and I wanted to use the money I had left to get a good pair of jeans.  I went to Target with B because I tend to like the fit and price better than bigger name stores.  I tried on four different pairs, almost all of them different sizes.  It turns out that even when the jeans are made by the same company, the sizing is completely different.  B was perplexed when I walked out with two pairs of jeans that fit and they were two very different sizes.  Yeah, me too, B.  Me too.

Shoes were next, and I discovered that this Target had a HUGE clearance department (are you seeing a theme here?).  I needed to find a pair of black flats to replace my beloved dying pair, but I looked around at everything else.  I ended up falling in love with four pairs, but decided to buy three with a lot of help from and modeling for B.

Yes, those are snake skin print and they. are. fabulous!  I got a pair of black heels too because I don’t have a pair that I would consider remotely comfortable or versatile.

Okay, so you’re thinking, “HOW MUCH MONEY DID THAT CARD HAVE?!”  Well, I’m going to be completely honest.  The card had $150.  The only two objects the card didn’t pay for were the two pairs of heels.  How does that work?  Check it out:

Earrings:  Original – $10          Sale  – $4

GAP Sweater: Original – $40     Sale – $4.99

Belt:  Original – $20           Sale – $1.99

Express Striped Shirt:  Original – $30         Sale – $15.99

Express Black Ruffle Shirt:  Original- $49.90       Sale – $23.99

ATL Dress:  Original- $69.99          Sale – $29.99

ATL Chain and Crystal Necklace:  Original – $49.90          Sale – $2.93 (YEAH!  I KNOW!)

ATL Beaded Chain and Ribbon Necklace:  Original – $34.50           Sale – $8.99

Mossimo Dark Wash Jeans:  Original – $24.99                    Sale – $9.98

Mossimo Distressed Wash Jeans:  Original – $19.99          Sale – $5.98

Mossimo Patent Leather Flats:  Original – $14.99

TOTAL:                        ORIGINAL – $324.26 (without tax)                       WHAT I PAID – $150.00 (with tax)

SAVINGS:  $174.26

The two pairs of high heels shown were originally $24.99 each and were on sale for $6.24 each!  How awesome is all of that?!  Not only did I get to shop for myself, I got to shop for myself MORE because of my thrifty finds.

How do you save money on clothes?  How thrifty are you?