Monday, July 13, 2015

A Night Out On The Town - Plus Size Goodwill Style

I've recently relocated to Las Vegas, entertainment and glamour capitol of the world. I spend my days working and never really take advantage of what the city has to offer short of free parking on the strip and a Walgreen's on every corner. Late last year, while on a thrifting adventure, I came upon a dress I fell in love with. It was comfortable, fun... and way too short for my small town I was living in. I've held onto this dress, waiting for the perfect opportunity. That opportunity finally came in the form of free Boyz II Men tickets via a co-worker! It was a last minute night out, but thankfully, ole faithful was still hanging in my closet-- waiting for me.

This dress was $2.00 from Goodwill! - It originally hailed from Maurice's. I paired this with patent leather toe black flats. At the time of the photo I was still trying to make these killer heels happen... but I know gravity all too well, so I passed on those in favor of shoes I wouldn't meet my maker walking to the venue in.
The Boyz were AMAZING by the way. Do recommend.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Weekend Roundup: Thrifted Work Outfits and a new series announcement!

As a plus size woman from a small, rural area, buying trendy clothing locally is tough. It's a hard world out there for us bigger gals anyway, and when you throw in the fact that I can't just hand money over like candy (I'm looking at you, plus size retailers who think $60 for a t-shirt is acceptable) it's even harder.

This is a fashion round-up of sorts. All of the photos are taken from my instagram (@artseediva) where I post most all of my daily outfits. I'm thinking of doing a Fashion Friday weekly round-up around here, so that's in the works and coming soon. Without further rambling, let's get into the outfits.

(L-R) Black lace top was from Cato's (clearance $7.99), Skirt is a vintage skirt from Goodwill ($1.99), Belt came with a dress back in the day so I honestly don't know. Next is one of my FAVORITE dresses. The blue cardigan is Old Navy but I got it at Goodwill ($1.99) and the dress is ALSO from Goodwill but it is a Motherhood Maternity dress (and I'm DEFINITELY only pregnant with a food baby) and it was ($3.99). Lastly for the top is a gray Cato's blazer that I purchased from Goodwill ($2.99) and the tank top came from Maurices a few years ago on a clearance sale ($9.99). The pants are from Torrid a few years ago, and I don't know how much they were. Sorry guys.
(L-R) I ended up loving this first outfit more than expected. The pants came from Clothes Mentor ($10) while the tank is Maurices ($6) and the black blazer is from Goodwill ($1.99). The next outfit is more casual, as it was worn on a casual day (the first was too since the pants are technically denim). The jeans are from Goodwill (not sure of the brand, but they were only $2.99) and the tank is another Motherhood Maternity top that I found at Goodwill ($.99). The blazer is Cato brand but as you already know, it came from Goodwill as well ($2.99). The shoes are an added bonus, as I found them at Goodwill BRAND new for $1.99. The last outfit pictured is another easy favorite of mine. It's entirely thrifted if you take away the belt. The best part was that every item was on sale at Goodwill, so the total outfit came to $6.00! The tank is Ann Taylor Loft and the cardigan is Maurice's. The skirt is vintage and didn't feature a tag.

I really enjoy sharing my outfits, and I look forward to Fashion Friday Round-Up, and I hope you guys are too. Along with this, I am planning a post about plus size thrifting and how to get the most out of your trip.

Are there any tips or things that YOU would like to see here?
What's your favorite thrifted clothing find? Let me know in the comments below!

Friday, August 16, 2013

5 Things You Should Buy from the Thrift Store!

...or yard sale, estate sale, you get the idea!

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that you probably already have your go-to items that you look for when you're out shopping. You are either there with purpose, or you have a general idea of what you're looking for. If you don't, you should! I thought it would be fun to offer up my personal suggestions on things you should always try to buy at your local charity/thrift shop. These are items that, if possible, are best served buying second hand because of the absolutely STEAL you can come across with them! Stick around until the end of the post and see what some of my friends look for also!

1. Books.
I have found some amazing books while thrifting. I actually have a whole huge books-a-million bag full (irony?) of recently purchased thrifted books that are awaiting photos for blogs and videos so that they can be read and enjoyed. You can literally find ANYTHING. I'm going to need a new bookshelf soon to house all of my books found for mere CENTS. I never pay more than 1.00 for a book, regardless of value. One of the most recent finds was at our Habitat for Humanity ReStore where my son found a GIGANTIC ($40) book on Spain (of which he is obsessed) for .50!!

2. Cast Iron Cookware.
I do realize that this is a specific item and not so much a category of things, but I wanted to really stress how great of a find this stuff is. Cast Iron almost (read: never with the right skill set) becomes unuseable. Keep your eyes peeled for this stuff anywhere you go. I've known people who even found some great cast iron during curb alerts. There are an abundance of online tutorials that teach you how to re-season your cookware, so don't shy away from rust. Trust me, all it takes is cooking with it once and you'll never go back to anything else. I could go on and on about how great cast iron is and how you can literally throw it in a fire and it does nothing but help it, but I'll spare you those details and let you find out on your own.

3. Furniture.
Not the cheapish Ikea/Walmart/Target kind. I'm talking about the real deal. The good stuff is sturdy, and it's just a blank canvas waiting on you to sand it and paint it to fit your needs. In my most recent 10 Tips to Successful Thrifting  post, I talked about the importance of seeing things with an open mind. If you are able to look past the fabric or the knicked up wood on a piece, you can really strike gold for a fraction of what you'd pay for something of much less value. I've purchased a couch for $30 before. It's amazing.

4. Home Decor.
Paintings, Vases, Candles, Shelves, Linens, the list goes on and on and on. Depending on your area, you may notice a "theme" that runs throughout some of your stores. I noticed when I lived in Orlando that there was never a shortage of a certain male mouse, and in my current location (college town); no shortage of vibrant dorm decor. It's not all the same things though, and that's the beauty of it. I live for the unique and slightly weird when it comes to what I put in my home, and I couldn't achieve my personal style WITHOUT thrifting. There's something for everyone.

5. Accessories.
If you've read any of my previous posts, you'd know that I recently found a very expensive (at least for my pockets) J. Crew bubble necklace in my local Goodwill for an amazing price. Second hand is a GREAT way to get accessories. Personal style often changes, and with that many people clean out and donate. I buy most of my accessories this way now, but I do warn that you should have an idea of what things go for. You never know when something you may overlook is actually of great value. If you plan on shopping for jewelry, do a quick google search of how to tell real gold or silver from costume jewerly. This may help you profit off of your trip if you choose to do so. Thrift stores are also a great way to get an eclectic collection of belts, shoes, and of course... BAGS!

Honorable Mention: Clothing
I have a whole series planned on this topic, which is why I didn't include it on my list. I feel like clothing should be a given, but if it isn't, I urge you to give it a go. It's an incredible resource for building a brand new wardrobe for next to NOTHING. It's the only way I am able to keep clothes on my child, and it's also great if you have sewing skills. I've got a post coming up where I turn an old, ugly dress into something fun and "now". Keep checking back soon as I start a series on why kind of clothing you should look for when you go shopping at thrift store.

I recently took to my personal Facebook page and asked what some of my friends' go-to items are when they go thrifting. Here are a few answers:

Heather- Children's Clothing
Mayte in Miami- Tin Lunchboxes and Home Decor
Stephanie- Photo and Poster Frames
Jacqui- Cast Iron and Glass Cookware
Donn- Camo Prints

What items do YOU look for every time you shop?

Friday, July 26, 2013

A Crafter's Mecca: Awesome Find

I went thrifting today, with no intent to do such. I find that often times, the "accidental" trips tend to be the most giving. Today was no exception. There will be a separate post of a few of the clothing items that I found at a later today, but I couldn't wait to talk about my box of mystery that I purchased today!

At first glance this box is suspect. There's a potentially used tourniquet (that I refuse to touch.. I'll get to that) but overall, it doesn't look like much. The price tag of 2.99 made me stop simply to see if the old sewing box was worth keeping. It doesn't have a closure and it's pretty broken up on the inside. I actually have a smaller of this same style that was my grandmother's. Overall it's in poor condition, but something made me keep looking. That's when I found mini Christmas:

Score! I doubled checked with the employee at the counter that all the items inside were included in the price, and I got a shrug with a "sure". Good enough for me! So for the price of one pack of bias tape.. I got multiple packs, multiple zippers, vintage closures and lace. There's a bunch of things down in there that I need to sort though. I think I'll clean it all out and clean up the box and see if it's worthwhile to keep in my dining room for holding thread (my crafting room is the garage, and this 98 90 perecent humidity just isn't working for that.) or if I should chunk it. At the very least, the box part should be good for temporary storage of things that need a place to live.

So, that's my find! I was killing time while I waited to meet a friend (ironically, to drop off an upcycle project that I did for her) and ended up loading up with all sorts of goodies!

If you're a crafter, what's the coolest thing you've scored at a second hand shop?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Debunking the Myth: All Thrifted Clothing = Ugly

This is what I hear all the time as one of the age old excuses to not thrift. The clothes are ugly. Someone else wore them. They smell. All are fixable or able to be placed up for debate, but tonight I plan to focus on the first one.

The clothes are just SO UGLY. 

Now, let me start by saying that we all have VERY different styles. One major purpose in setting out to start this blog was to not just talk, but SHOW, and I will do that in time. With all of that said, just because you don't appreciate the style that I may show off here, it doesn't mean you can't find your own personal style at the local Goodwill. Part of the thrill and fun of it is that you literally have everything from whattheheckwasthispersonthinking to HOLYCRAPICANTBELIVEIFOUNDTHISHERE. It's a beautiful marriage.

I have found some of my most on-trend items via thrift stores. I'm not HUGE on trends, as I wear what I like, but that does change frequently and there are some trends that I enjoy taking part in. I don't, however, enjoy spending big bucks on a trend that may not last from Spring to Fall. That's when my habit comes in most handy, because I can score things to mix and match (or just score a killer piece!) on a dime. I can go into the world, dressed to kill and nobody else knows any different.

I mean, why spend $100 on a pair of jeans that with enough patience I can find for $3? Yeah. Exactly. I have a closet full of clothes that aren't ugly, they aren't even SORTA ugly. They are all fantastic and I love them-- and I paid next to nothing for it.

I want to show you two things that I've recently purchased from my local Goodwill. They were both on the higher end of what I like to pay for one item ($6 and $7) but they were both well worth it. They are also both very much so "on trend".

Notice anything about them? No? How about the factory packaging and the fact that they were brand freakin' new!?

I found these bad boys for $6.99. I actually didn't quite pay that because they were the color tag, so they were half off. I love them. They are comfortable, and they are new. They are also wedges, and wedges are goooooooood.

The next item I want to show you may actually be the most valuable accessory/clothing item that I have found. It's J. Crew. It's gold. I paid $4.99 for it. I do want to apologize for the lack of a full photo-- I grabbed this off of my Instagram, so it's the best I can do for now. 

Yep, that's right. I scored a J. Crew bubble necklace. 

It's actually sold out on their website, but it's listed for $150.00. ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY DOLLARS. I paid 5. FIVE BUCKS. 

These are just two examples, but that's all it takes for me to know that the clothes are NOT ugly. There are great things to be found in your local second-hand store. It just takes patience. You'll have days where you go in and you load the heck up. I got both of the above on the same shopping day, and I actually didn't realize the value of the necklace until I got home. I grabbed it because it was cute and I had wanted one, so everything else was just a happy accident. I had to be open to that, and I had to take advantage of it when I found it. That's why shopping with an open mind and shopping often are so important. If you haven't checked out my previous "10 Thrifting Tips" post, I urge you to do so. 

I look forward to debunking more "thrifting myths" for you over time. I also look forward to sharing my thrift finds and outfits with you all as well!

I pose this question to you, dear readers: 

What is your favorite &/or most valuable thrift find?

10 Tips to Successful Thrifting

I could make 50 of these lists (and who knows, I might!) but I wanted to start things off with my top 10 thrifting tips to live by. I can tell you countless times of hearing of  "thrifting failures", so here's my informerical promise to you: Live by these tips and you WILL succeed.

[1] List out things you want (even if it's not a priority) and the things that you actively need.
Leave nothing untouched because you never know what you will find! I have a running list in my carry around notebook of things that I need for home, in my wardrobe, or for projects. This makes it so much easier when I am in the store and find things that I "may" want.. I can reference my list and help to make my decision. This is also a great place to keep a list of things that you want in your wardrobe.

[2] Grab now, think later.
One of the beautiful things about thrifting is that there are usually no two things alike in the store. One thing that I always coach people to do is to put anything you have the potential of wanting in your cart, shop it around and then decide. Two things come from this. The first is that you secure that item in your posession, instead of the hands of the person coming down the clothing line behind you that may take it if you don't. It's better to put something back at the end of a shopping trip, then to think of something while you shop around, only to return and find it gone (and that WILL happen.). Talk about disappointment! Once you're finished shopping, you can then assess your loot and narrow down the items that you truly want to take and the ones that you want to put back on the shelf/rack. This editing process is crucial if you wish to avoid impulse purchases that lead to over spending!

[3] Think Creatively.
Just because something is dirty, doesn't mean it can't be washed. Liken many things to a cast iron product. It's pretty much never dead until it's in pieces. Unless an article of clothing is terribly damaged, it can be fixed. Housewares can be painted and things can find a new life in new ways. I often buy things for certain elements, I get it home, take those off and reuse the rest. Part of thrifting as a lifestyle is to have an upcycle mentality. Without that, you're missing out on half of the greatness that you can pull from a killer thrifting find.

[4] Know Retail Prices.
I don't mean that you need to be a walking price gun, but it is a good idea to have a running rate of things that you typically shop for. Most thrift stores are great at pricing, while others just take a shot out in the dark and end up over charging for some items. Have a grasp on what your clothing and accessories typically run (especially for smaller pieces like belts, wallets, etc) and have a general idea of wall art and appliances, as those are often priced higher than things such as clothing. I rarely run into this as a problem, but this tip is super useful for the newly minted facebook sales groups that are popping up. Don't get "had" by folks out to make a quick buck, know your retail prices!

[5] Shop Often.
You will find new things while you shop, so imagine what you're missing when you only thrift once in a blue moon! Go often, and if you can, go when they put out fresh stock! Many stores will run super discounted specials also, so it's great to know what is going on and when. We'll get to that a little later though.

[6] Map The Sales.
Know your stores in the area (or area that you are going to) and if at all possible, know the sales. Know if they run $1 sales from 10-4 or if they do dot sales on certain days of the week. From there, you can organize your trips and optimize to hit each sale to the best of your ability. This may sound extreme, but once you find your pattern, it won't be a huge deal at all!

[7] Look around the store at least twice before leaving.
I always do a twice and sometimes third around when I go to the thrift store. Things may be put back on the rack, or come fresh from the processing table while you're looking in another section. This is often when I find my best finds, so go ahead, do your store pattern, and then do it once more and see what you find!

[8] It's okay to leave empty handed.
Epic fails are to be expected. You will win some and lose some, but the wins will more than make up for your failures. The more you shop, the better you will be at spotting something that's a great find. If you end up empty handed, get back in there in a few days and try again. The great part of thrift stores is that they aren't chain retail establishments that carry the same stock for months at a time; every day is a new day for "new" things!

[9] Shop at LEAST 3 sizes up and 3 sizes down.
I'm a really big girl, the kind of big that you can't find often in normal stores, but because of an open mind, I have never had trouble finding things that I enjoy. I've purchased sizes that I'd never dream of fitting in a traditional store, but because many items are vintage or made from brands that aren't commonly seen, you'll find the fit to often be even better than off of the rack. This rule is also useful for those items that have been "hidden" for future purchase (because someone decided to not follow tip #2). I've found things hidden everywhere, so get to hunting!

[10] Set a spending limit.
I have my own way of doing this. I have an ideal limit, and then my "OH MY GOD I FOUND ALL THE THINGS" limit. They are often within 10 dollars of each other, but a limit will keep you in check. It's easy to get carried away and impulse buy things you don't really need, so when you get to the editing phase of tip #2, you have a limit to reference so that you don't spend out of your means!

Spray paint is your friend. So is sanding, drilling, cutting, seam ripping, and barrels of acid (okay, not the acid.. unless you're doing some hardcore upcycling). The point is, look past what you see and know that there's nothing a $2 can of paint can't fix!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

My Thrifted Closet: The beginning

A year ago (almost to the day) I found myself going through my closet. I realized that I was gaining more and more thrifted pieces. It made me feel good to know that not only was I saving money (and yes, if you buy quality thrifted garmets, you are saving a butt-ton.. not a ton, a butt-ton) but I was saving clothing that may otherwise land in a landfill because it was disgarded.

You see, I wasn't always on this thrifting train. I'm sure that one day I'll track everything back to when I first discovered the greatness that was the goodwill, but for now lets just bask in the glory that is second hand refashions. 

I plan to detail my closet in this blog. I'm not sure in what capacity this will happen, as I don't have a huge closet (or budget), but I feel like this is a voice that needs to be heard. It breaks my heart when I hear people say that they can't shop at a thrift store because _____________________ [insert any form of excuse: size, quality, smell, yuck factor.]

I think all of the above are non-issues with the proper amount of patience and determination. To go back to my original statement, I set out then to by this time this year, have a close that was 70% thrifted, and by a year from this year, be 100% thrifted, refashioned or homemade. I'm proud to say that I am at that 70%. I'd actually go as far to say that it's closer to 80%. 

I hope that you find something in this little part of the internet that helps you, changes you, or helps to start your own journey. 

I've got many ideas for this thing. I want to do OOTD's (Outfit of the Day), Refashions, Tutorials, as well as stories that help you along your way. I'm not sure what will happen, but I don't want to force it. I want to be a light at the end of the tunnel for someone. I want to help you save money and open your eyes to a whole new way of life! I hope that through this new adventure we can learn and grow with each other.. and I hope that by next year at this time I can post and say that My Thrifted Closet is at 100%!