Category Archives: Thrifting

Tales from the Thrift – Another Clothing Addition!

In my last installment of Tales from the Thrift – the Clothing Edition, I shared some of the great everyday pieces I’ve discovered this year.  Since I retired from the corporate world in July, I haven’t really been on the hunt for work clothes.  In fact, I have a full closet of work clothes that I may start unloading soon – meaning, they will soon find their way to the thrift store for someone else to enjoy!  I do want to hang on to a few classic styled items including great jackets.  Those always come in handy and sometimes are hard to replace at a reasonable cost.

I like to have a strategy when I go to my favorite thrift stores on how I go about finding things.  Something I’ve discovered over time is that it’s good to check the return rack outside of the dressing rooms.  I mean, these are clothes that people have taken time to select items that didn’t work out for whatever reason.  Maybe the size wasn’t right or the fit wasn’t perfect.  At any rate, I always check out the return rack before I start going through the general racks.  Last week alone, I found three items that I ended up buying from the return rack.  Not a bad haul!

I also like to check the ends of the racks before I get seriously into the hunt.  For instance, at my favorite thrift store in Hoover, there is a large wall that is completely mirrored.  People will take clothes and try them on in front of the wall mirror and if the clothing doesn’t work, they just put them on the rack by the mirror.  So I’ve made it a point to check the ends of all the racks too and I luck up on some great pieces.

I found this red Kasper blazer jacket on an end cap earlier this year.  It’s the perfect color for me and I’ve already worn it for a photo shoot for a project I was into a few months ago.  It’s just such a classic jacket so it’s not going anywhere except back into my closet!

Red Kasper Jacket

Earlier this year I also found this lovely knit jacket with the Ming Wang label.  Honestly, I had never heard of this label before but the jacket really had a classic quality to it.  I liked it immediately so tried it on and was sold!  I then did a google search to find the label and learn more about it.  Yeowza!  These are some expensive knit jackets!!!  I learned that the label was founded in 1986 and the only place in town that I found that carried the line was Von Maur.  I paid a little more for this jacket than normal – $9.99 – but these types of knit retail for over $300!  I always got a lot of compliments when I would wear this jacket to work!  I also found this black with white polka dot shirt by Foxcroft.  I wasn’t familiar with this brand either but when I googled once again, found the retail on a shirt like this would be around 80!  I paid a cool $4.99 for it and have really REALLY gotten a lot of wear from this shirt!  In fact, it’s the shirt I wore on my last day of work!  So I guess you could say it’s a little special to me!

This vintage Banana Republic olive-green jacket was quite a find too.  I paid $4.99 for this beautiful piece.  I really like the structure of this jacket – you can dress it up or down and it will be down more than up from now on!

Vintage Banana Republic olive jacket

Doncaster is another brand that has some great pieces.  This is clothing that is available through trunk shows or home shows.  In fact, I remember going to one such show early in my career many years ago.  The clothing was beautiful and I wanted everything I saw that night but it was pretty pricey.  So when I run across a Doncaster piece I always pay extra attention.  This jacket is a real classic in my book and so well made!  It’s a dark gray color and I love the pocket structure and the fact that the sleeves can be rolled up for a slightly different look.  This jacket cost me $4.99 – and similar jackets on the Doncaster website run over $400!

Doncaster jacket

This St. James sweater jacket in red caught my eye primarily because of the color.  I love a good red jacket!  Again, another google search ensued…the label has that it is made in France.  I found other beautiful pieces online but the bottom line with all the things that I end up buying is that they feel good when I wear them.

You can always tell a good piece by the way it fits and feels.  All these items I’ve mentioned in this post fit that criteria.  I’ve discovered labels that I never knew too, like St. James and Ming Wang!  It’s always a treasure hunt at these thrift stores and I love the hunt!

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Tales from the Thrift – the Clothing Edition

I’ve written a lot recently about my thrift store finds and how I use them in my home.  In my post Tales from the Thrift Part Tres, I mentioned that my thrifting finds aren’t limited to household items and decor.  Sometimes I find some pretty nice clothing too!

I tend to get pretty lucky with jackets and tops.  Pants tend to be another story though.  I don’t know what it is but I have a problem with pants in general – finding the right fit and also with the length.  But every now and the I luck up on some!

Some of the brands I like to look for are J. Jill, Banana Republic, Chicos (more current items), Jones New York, Ralph Lauren and every now and then I find a great Eileen Fisher piece.  Naturally, just because it’s a brand name doesn’t always mean it’s a good deal.  I make sure to look for stains, tears and general wear and tear.  Some items have seen better days, as they say!  Occasionally, some show up at the thrift store with the original price tags!  I’m sure we’ve all done that before – bought something and maybe wondered – “what was I thinking” – when you got home and then put it in the back of the closet.  Then months later it ends up in the donation pile.  Like I said with the Chicos brand, I look for more current items but the same goes for most labels.  Every now and then though, I discover a vintage piece which is great!  Those are always nice to incorporate into your wardrobe!

As with household decor, these days I’m currently looking for things I can wear right now.  Since I’m no longer in the corporate world, I’ve stopped looking for blazers and dressier items.   In fact, I’ve sent quite a few items BACK to the thrift store these past few months.  That’s another thing that is always fun to me – seeing the things you’ve donated on the racks and the pricing on those items!

On a recent trip last week, I found several long-sleeved tops.  I don’t know what it is with me and stripes, but when I spotted this black and white stripped Ralph Lauren sweater, I hoped it would look nice when I tried it on.  Well, it did and I walked away with it for $2.99!  It’s sturdy but not too heavy and feels great on!  I also found this Banana Republic blue-green long sweater with pockets in front.  This one was $3.99, is lightweight and will work well with a jacket over it.  I like that both of these are long enough to go with yoga pants or heavy tights and boots.  It’s fall after all, y’all!!!

Getting excited about a plain white tee probably sounds crazy, but you can’t go wrong with a white tee, especially one that is both cotton and spandex.  These Chicos ultimate tees really hold their shape well and I decided to add it to my basket with the two sweaters for $2.99!

Chicos white tee – great go with anything piece!

J. Jill clothing is always so comfortable and I’ve found my share of great pieces over the years.  Earlier this year, I found this Pure Jill (a J. Jill line) red quilted jacket.  It is SO comfortable and this is the perfect weather for it!  I can match it up with that Chicos white tee, some black tights and my boots for a great weekend look!  I paid $6.99 for this jacket.  I also found this dressier jacket – I know, I know – I said I wasn’t buying dressier items but this J. Jill black jacket with the flower design is another comfy item and I’ve already worn it.  Interestingly, it was only $4.99 – two dollars less than the quilted jacket!

Originally tagged items are always a fun find.  I spotted this short sweater by INC for $3.99 with an original $69 tag on it!  I had on a long shirt when I tried it on and it looked great with it as a way to dress up a casual look.  These two Karen Kane long sweaters were another bargain at $3.99 each!  Original price on both was $128!  Seriously…I can’t imagine paying that much for these items!

Finally, pants…it’s a struggle sometimes but then other times the thrifting gods smile upon you!  These J. Jill dark gray stretchy pants feel great on and were $6.99.  They look like they’ve barely been worn too, but I’m sure I’ll take care of that!  And these brown stretchy Jones New York brown pants are a nice change from the black pants and yoga pants I wear all the time.  These were also $6.99.  Honestly, it seems like every pair of pants I find are priced at $6.99.  Must be a rule or something!

I’ll share more about thrift store clothing in another post including my strategy for working a store.  Until then…happy thrifting!

Tales from the Thrift – Part Tres

Thai temple rubbing found on a recent thrift store visit.

If you followed my previous Tales from the Thrift posts – part 1 and part 2 – I talked about trying to be a little more deliberate in the things I choose to bring home this year.  In July, my husband and I started the process of repainting three of our four bedrooms after our son Charlie moved out and our daughter Emily was set to move back home from Tuscaloosa.  Things around our house were quite a wreck for several weeks but as you know, it’s a process when you are redecorating and reorganizing.  And I worked hard to maintain my sanity because I am a bit of an organization freak!!!

I had quite a few things I wanted to use in the new rooms – some family related and others were thrift store finds.  I took my son’s room as my “she shack” – more about this in a later post.  Emily took our married daughter Anna Marie’s room and Emily’s room became the guest room.  Yay!  We finally have a guest room again!  Anyway, it felt great finally putting things back together and trying out “things” in the rooms.

One of my finds a few months ago was this Thai temple rubbing.  I rounded a corner and there it was…I was flabbergasted to say the least!  My parents have a set of five very large temple rubbings that they got when we lived in Thailand.  I was born there so they have a special significance to me.  Typically they are done on rice paper so they are very fragile.  I’ve learned through some research that rubbings at the temples are rather limited these days but you can find them online…and apparently you can find them in a thrift store!  I snapped the frame up and declared it mine…all for $4.99!  When I showed it to my mother, she had the very same reaction that I did to it.  Our new bedroom color is a blue-gray so this framed piece is perfect for our guest room.

When you find things with the original price tags and somewhat wrapped at the thrift store, it always catches my attention.  In this case, I walked in and made my way through the furniture section as I always do.  And there it was…a mirrored end table with the tag and with the drawer pull still wrapped.  It was brand new and beautiful and just what I needed for my She Shack!  I pulled the price tag off that end table and carried it with me until I checked out.  I also googled similar tables at close to $200.  I’ve seen them too at places like Z Gallery and always thought they added a special something to a room.  I paid $60 for this one!

A note on why I pulled the tag…a few years ago I found a farm style table for $75 at this store.  I had never bought furniture so wasn’t sure what to do.  Do you get someone to stand next to it?  How do you buy it when a store is so busy and you might have someone else walk up and want it too?  Well Stanley, who works at the store saw me standing there, said I needed to take off the bottom half of the tag and keep it with me.  He said, you could be standing there with your hand on the table and if someone else walks up and grabs that tag, you’ve lost the table!  That was my education on buying furniture at this particular store!  Plus, it was my introduction to this nice gentleman who always looks out for me when I shop there.  From that point on, when I would walk in he always asks me if I needed a buggy?  I generally say “no, I’m good!”  Next thing you know, I’m walking around juggling a bunch of items and he sees me struggling and walks up with a buggy.  That has become our banter when I walk into that store now.

One more item I found that I’m loving right now is this glass jewelry box.  I noticed the filigree detail around it from across the store and quickly made my way over to check it out.  When I turned it over it was a Pottery Barn item and the thrift store price was $4.99.  I looked it up on the Pottery Barn website and found the original price was $79!  The inside had to be cleaned up a bit.  It was a little dusty…but now I use it in my She Shack for a few collectibles.

Pottery Barn jewelry box for $4.99 at the thrift store! Retails for $79!

My thrifting finds are limited to household items.  I’ve also run across quite a few great clothing pieces too!  I’ll save those for a future post because this one is getting a little long!

Tales from the Thrift – Part Two

J Crew statement necklace for $1.99 – thrift store find!

As you read in Part 1 of Tales from the Thrift – I love a bargain!  I’ve been perfecting my thrifting “style” over the years and I believe I’ve turned a new leaf this year when it comes to the hunt.  This happened when I began photographing my finds and keeping track of these new-found treasures.  When I find something these days, I ask myself a few questions…(1) do I really like the item?  Sometimes it’s a name brand item but it’s not my style.  This could be clothing, dishes or glassware, jewelry or collectible items.   (2) Will I use it?  This could mean, does it go with any of my collections or is there a spot in my house that needs sprucing up and this would make the difference?  Will i wear it?  and finally (3) Is this something I can I’ll use while entertaining or for an event?  For instance, I host an annual cookie swap party, so is it something that I could use as a theme for that party or another?

This past year, I’ve lucked up on a lot of great jewelry at the thrift stores!  Last year, I wrote a post about all the vintage Christmas pins I found.  I have a collection so this fit right into my criteria and I do love using them during the holidays.  This year it’s been about silver jewelry and pearls with a dash of statement necklaces!  During one trip I found two very different pearl bracelets…one gray wrap bracelet ($2.99) and the other a white pearl and gold cuff ($3.99), still with the original tag on it, I might add!

On another trip, there were a multitude of silver jewelry to choose from and I walked away with another bracelet and 3 pairs of earrings.  The bracelet was really an exciting find for me.  It’s a Mexican Cabochon link bracelet with all the markings on it.  I paid $9.99 for it which was a steal when I’ve seen them for as much as $80 on Ebay and other online places!  I have two others already, one from my mother and one I found in an antique store.  I paired all three together for a beautiful look recently.  The earrings I found are all very vintage looking and very timeless.  One pair is a drop pearl, and you can’t go wrong with pearls!  The other two can be change based on your wardrobe – casual or dressy.  I like stuff like that!

Finally, I love a good statement necklace!  I have several I’ve collected over the years and I look for unique pieces that you don’t see coming and going.  This amber stone necklace has a Chico’s tag on it and if you’ve been shopping at that store, you know these are rather pricey!  When I saw this one I knew it would be a great fall piece because of the color.  It was $5.99!   The other statement necklace is from J.Crew and was $1.99.  I plan to wear this over the holidays because it has bling! (This photo is posted at the beginning of the blog post.)

Chicos statement necklace – great fall color!

Finding Mexican made items is also something I’m always on the lookout for, especially talavera pottery.  It turns up here and there and I’m always thrilled!  Recently I found this planter for $2.99.  I have several in various colors and designs and I love adding more to the mix.  I also walked into the thrift store a few days before Day of the Dead this year and found these punched tin lanterns.  They were perfect for my dining room altar and are marked Mexico.  Timing is everything plus when I find things like this I always have the belief that they were there just waiting for me to come and get them!

Fiesta dishes are also a love of mine!  A few years ago I decided I wanted a set in every color I could find at the time and Kohl’s had a great sale and I took advantage of THAT sale!  I’ve been able to find various Fiesta vintage pieces while thrifting.  A few weeks ago I lucked up on bowls, mugs and plates in three colors.  Each were priced individually at $1.99.

Wow…I still have more to share so I guess there will be a Part 3 after all!  Stay tuned for more Tales from the Thrift tomorrow!

Tales from the Thrift – Part 1

Vintage Coach handbag from the thrift store!

If you’ve followed by Instagram or Facebook page, you know I’m a big thrift store shopper.  I blame my sister Kanista!  She got me started many moons ago and I was always amazed at the incredible things she would find.  I wasn’t all that into it for a while because I never seemed to be able to find cool things like my sister did.  But once I started going with her and watched how she worked through a store, I started to catch on!

Now when I walk into my favorite stores, I have a system that I follow – much like my sister.  Some days it’s about clothes and other days it’s about the tchotchkes!!!  Some days it’s even about furniture…more on that later…

This year, I decided to do something different with my thrift store finds.  I started a photo album of everything with an explanation on how much I paid and other information, like how much I found it online for and so on.  So when I was preparing this post and downloading photos to use, I realized I was going to have to separate this into several posts or this one would be too long!  Mind you, this was even after selecting only my most favorite items this year so far!!!  So here goes Tales from the Thrift Part 1…

This has definitely been the “year of the bag” or “bag lady” year for me.  I’ve found several gently used or brand new purses.  The beige and black Franco Sarto was brand new and I have used it almost daily since I found it for $6.99.  Incidentally, most of the handbags seem to be priced at $6.99 at The Salvation Army.  I don’t know why that seems to be the magic number but I’ve bought several for that price this year.  I also found two Coach bags!  The first one – a very light beige bag was priced at $14.99 but it was Memorial Day Weekend and everything in the store was half off so I score big time on that purse!  (Incidentally…I gifted that purse to my sister Kanista because she loved  it so much when I sent her the picture!)  Then a few weeks later I found a brown Coach purse for $3.99!  I like this one because its small, goes easily over my shoulder and forces me to NOT load it up with unnecessary items!

My glass obsession took a huge turn this year when I found almost an entire set of Mikasa crystal!  When I walked into the store I saw the set and I think they must have just put them out!  This was one of those times when the store wasn’t real crowded and I didn’t grab a buggy or a basket…you wonder…should I run and get a buggy?…should I take a few with me and grab one?…what if someone sees I’m interested and comes over and grabs some from the set???!!!  Such a dilemma!  Ha!  I did a little research into these glasses and they are a discontinued line called Jamestown with a platinum trim.  You can still get some of them at Replacements, Ltd. so of course I went there to see the replacement costs.  Most were about $20-$25 while I paid 99 cents for each glass!

My sister is also hooked on glassware and tends to go for mid-century modern designs.  She told me about Dorothy Thorpe glassware when I visited her last year in North Carolina.  Then in January I was in the Hoover Salvation Army and a bunch of boxes had been put out waiting to be placed on the shelves.  Usually people are swarming around these containers but that particular day there weren’t that many people in the store.  I spotted a glass that was part clear and part gray and silver.  Then I spotted another…there were six total!  I knew I had something special because of their “look.”  So I quickly googled and discovered that I had a set of Dorothy Thorpe vintage silver fade “ombre” highball glasses priced at $1.99 each!  When I googled this set I found it anywhere from $45-$75, the higher price included a caddy!  My sister Kanista “might” get these for Christmas…just thinking out loud!

Dorothy Thorpe vintage silver fade ombre highball glasses – found at the Hoover Salvation Army for $1.99 each!

I love finding pewter and talavera items too.  This year I found three pewter crosses in one visit.  Someone must have been redecorating and I benefited from it!  Bonus is that they are all “made in Mexico.”  Finding the small talavera cross was a nice addition to my downstairs hallway.  The colors are a perfect complement to my décor.

Sometimes after I post a great “find” I get comments and people who want to go thrifting with me.  I’m game anytime folks!  Some want to know the best time to go thrifting.  That’s harder to define because it’s really hit and miss!  I mean, when I’m looking for something specific, that’s when I’m not going to find a thing.  Other times, I stumble upon some unique and valuable items…like the Steuben glass vase I found a few years ago for $2.99 (on Ebay for $135) or the House of Black Diamonds Goldstein mink coat I found for $60 (on Ebay for $3K!!!)   I tend to find the best things when I have ten minutes and I just pop in to see what’s there.  My store strategy – the way I work the store – seems to be working for me!

I also think the key for me is to go into a thrift store with a creative mind-set.  When I do that, everything in the store takes on a unique quality.  Like the amber chandelier I found just a few weeks ago.  I picked it up, turned it over a few times and thought….hummm, how could I use this?  Then I remembered the gazebo tent on our deck.  Then I also remember thinking a few months back how fun it would be to have a chandelier hanging in the middle of the tent!  Eleven dollars later…and a hook from my husbands tool box, it was hanging in the gazebo tent and I was loving the look!

Stay tuned to Part 2 of Tales from the Thrift tomorrow!

My Lolita Wine Glass Obsession

Autumn Glory wine glass by Lolita – my newest in my collection!

It’s Saturday night…I had just finished decorating my dining room for Thanksgiving and decided it was wine time!  I grabbed a delish bottle of Sauvignon Blanc that I opened the night before and poured it into my new Autumn Glory Lolita Wine glass and all was good!  Amazing how much better wine tastes to me in any of my Lolita wine glasses!

Designer Lolita Healy was out with friends one night in 2001.  While ordering drinks from the martini menu it occurred to her that the glasses could be more decorative and reflective of the drink personalities being ordered.  Her hand painted glass collection was born from this night out and she continues to create unique glasses that appeal to so many people – especially me!

Most of my Lolita wine glass (and martini glass) collection. Since this photo a few weeks ago I’ve added several more from my thrift store visits!

I became familiar with Lolita wine glasses when my mother worked for Hallmark and the store she managed carried them.  I thought they were cute and quirky and they came in a round box – already packaged and ready for gift giving!  One unique thing about these hand painted glasses is that they come with a drink recipe on the bottom along with the “name” of the glass design.  These glasses were also a little pricey and not necessarily something you bought for yourself.  Instead you wanted to buy one for a friend or family member for a special occasion.  I remember buying these glasses for gifts over the years but never for myself.  It seemed like such a splurge to get one for myself.

Then one day I was at the thrift store and I spotted one…it was a design I was familiar with sitting on the shelf with the other glassware.  My mother’s store had this design and I always loved it.  I picked it up and turned it over and there it was…the recipe and the name!  I was thrilled!  And I was equally thrilled that the price was just 99 cents vs. the usual $25 retail!  SCORE!

That Witch if Back Lolita Wine glass – I did a little google search a few days ago and someone was selling this one for $299!!! What the heck? I got it for 99 cents!

Soon I was finding these glasses all the time when I would go thrifting.  I could spot one across the store and make a b-line for it!  The second one I found was a Halloween design – a witches green hand complete with black lace wrap around the stem.  The recipe on the bottom is called “That Witch is Back” and after googling it later I found out it is a retired Lolita design.   I love using this one the entire month of October!

After that I hit the mother-load of Christmas designs.  The first one was a snowman design and he’s melting on the bottom.  The next was more elegant…a frosted white glass with silver shimmery snowflakes.  The final one is a female santa suit with a red feathery boa wrapped around the stem called Hot Mama Claus.  I always place these glasses on my kitchen counter top where I keep my wine paraphernalia by season and alternate using them – depending on my mood.

I’ve managed to find a few in their original boxes which is always fun.  I found the Little Black Dress glass that I gave my daughter Emily for her 21st birthday.  She had an Audrey Hepburn Breakfast at Tiffany’s theme so it seemed perfect for that.  I also found a wedding wine glass that I gave to my daughter Anna Marie for her lingerie shower.

My first Lolita martini glass – this was is called New Year’s-Tini

Lolita also makes beer glasses and martini glasses.  I found a beer glass for my husband and he has used it a few times.  The martini glasses are also pretty elaborate.  The New Years themed glass has a disco ball hanging from it to resemble the ball dropping in NY on NYE.  I have several other martini glasses – all Christmas themed.  I like using them for mints and nuts on my table during the holidays.

I’ll admit, my love for these quirky glasses was fueled by my ability to find them at the thrift stores.  But I’ve also paid retail for glasses in recent years.  When I spotted the Day of the Dead sugar skull wine glass at Von Maur several years ago, I knew I had to have it!  Then I found a gold and red poinsettia Christmas glass on Amazon and had to have that as well.  And in the spirit of Christmas giving, I bought this same glass for two of my friends last year.  They loved it and now have their own obsession with these glasses!

My latest is the Autumn Glory glass, again from Amazon.  It reminded me of a tree in my neighborhood that I love to photograph each fall as the leaves turn to gold.  The glass reminded me of that tree and it has now become my November wine glass.

I don’t see this obsession slowing down any time soon.  As long as there are occasions for wine, I feel certain there will be a creative and quirky Lolita wine glass for me to use!  Cheers y’all!

A Little Bit of Africa in Hoover, Alabama

Our room at Hunters Namibia Safaris -

Our room at Hunters Namibia Safaris –

When my husband and I were in Africa, the attention to detail where we stayed – at Hunters Namibia Safaris – was impeccable!  From the homey breakfast table’s lazy susan to the beautiful dinner each night with the Patrick Mavros Tree of Lights centerpiece …it was a page out of safaris from a by-gone era.

One of the most delightful details to me was the decanter of port wine in our room.  Now, that may now sound like a bit deal to you, but for a wine drinker this was heaven!  As I got ready for bed every night and settled in the chair at the foot of the bed to write in my travel journal, it was just the right touch to make the day perfect!

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I really missed having a “nightcap” of port wine when we got back to the US.  In my mind, I was trying to create a version of this in our own bedroom.  And then one day, it all came together.  I was browsing a thrift store in Homewood when I found a giraffe lamp for $10.  It was just perfect since seeing the “safari of giraffe” on our last day was one of my most favorite memories of the trip.  When I got home, I got to work on creating a little bit of Africa in Hoover.

I moved furniture around upstairs and put a green upholstered rocker chair in the corner.  Next to it, I added an end table and placed the lamp on a crocheted doily my great-grandmother made.  I found crystal glasses at another thrift store along with a beautiful decanter.  I feel like the spirit of Africa was with me in finding all these things at once to turn this corner into my vision.

My thrift store decanter and glass with a special bottle of port I had been saving for a special time.

My thrift store decanter and glass with a special bottle of port I had been saving for a special time.

Next, I raided my wine collection and found a bottle of Warre’s Warrior Porto Wine Reserve that I had been saving…apparently just for this perfect opportunity!  I poured it into the decanter and placed it on the end table and VOILA!  But Wait!…something was missing… I added a photo of me and my husband in our safari hats and that completed my vision!

I don’t always have a moment to sit in that chair and enjoy the port wine as I did in Namibia, but it’s nice to know it’s there and ready for me when I do have time.

A little piece of Africa in Hoover, Alabama...

A little piece of Africa in Hoover, Alabama…