Tag Archives: Thrifting

The Vintage Beaded Sweater Made in Hong Kong

This cashmere beaded sweater came from Hong Kong in the 1950s – my dad bought it for my mother on their honeymoon.

I have a beautiful vintage beaded sweater that belonged to my mother.  She gave it to me many years ago when she was going through some old clothes and I tucked it away to preserve it.  It was already showing signs of age and I didn’t want it to get worse, so I bought a good garment bag and stored it in my guest room closet.

This week I was at my favorite thrift store and was about to leave when I made one more pass through the jacket section.  That’s when I spotted it…an off-white colored beaded sweater with a Hong Kong label.  It was gorgeous and in incredible shape and only $4.99…and as I picked it off the rack, that’s when all the memories rushed back to me about the beaded sweater from my mother.

After my parents got married in Cambodia, they went to Hong Kong for their honeymoon.  My dad was always insistent about buying quality items.  I remember one Christmas when I was in high school, I wanted a small stereo and I knew money was tight so found one at a discount place for about $50 and showed it to my mother.  When Christmas rolled around, I didn’t get that discount place stereo.  Instead, my dad went and bought a Magnavox stereo complete with stand and headphones!  I had that stereo for years too.  So I can just imagine my dad in Hong Kong with his new bride making sure it was a memorable experience.  I think this is when he bought mom two beaded sweaters…one in black and one in off-white.  Both were cashmere and both were stunning!  I remember as a little girl putting them on and they were – still are – quite heavy!  The detail in the beads was always amazing to me.  I could not imagine the time it took to create these masterpieces and I would turn it over and over admiring the detail of the beaded design.

These sweaters symbolized glamour to me.  When I tell people about my parents, where and how they met in Bangkok, and then tell them about their wedding in Cambodia, people always comment on how exotic and exciting their lives sounded.  Growing up I loved looking at my dad’s photos of their time in Cambodia and Thailand and also the photos he took of my mother. before all us kids came along.  I especially loved the photos of mom all dressed up for nights out with dad.  My mother had the glamour factor going for her big time in my little girl eyes.  She would wear her blonde hair up in a French twist and dress up in one of her hand-made (to fit her figure) Thai silk dresses or suits.  She would then add her favorite black peau de soie spike heels and on cooler nights out, she would add one of the beaded sweaters.  She looked like Grace Kelly to me.

I know my dad probably took many pictures of my mother wearing these beaded sweaters but I’ve only come across one in the slides that I’ve scanned and archived.  In this photo, mom is at a dinner party in Puerto Rico in the mid-1960s wearing a blue Thai silk dress, the peau de soie shoes I mentioned, and the black beaded sweater.  There is also a photo of mom and her best friend Gladys and another woman (not sure who she is) before they left for the party.  The more I looked at that photo the more I think Gladys is wearing the off-white sweater!  The photo is a little overexposed and while I worked on it to see if I could identify the sweater, I wasn’t able to say for sure.  Still…mom and Gladys were very close and don’t girlfriends share clothes at times?  I’m going with the idea that Gladys IS wearing the sweater.

It’s funny how a piece of clothing can bring back such memories.  I need to talk to my mother about these sweaters again.  We’ve talked before but I need a refresher and I always love watching her face when she reminisces about these early years.  Meanwhile…I’m still on the hunt for a photo of mom in the off-white sweater!

 

 

 

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!

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 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!

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…

Just Add People

img_3172Tomorrow, the Odom clan will descend upon our home to celebrate Thanksgiving!  For the longest time, we have always celebrated the weekend before the holiday, on Sunday.  However, beginning last year we moved the gathering to Saturday to make it easier for several of our clan to travel.

Thanksgiving has always been a favorite holiday of mine.  For as long as I can remember, this was the holiday that brought the family together the most.  I still feel that way so even after the family leaves on Saturday, a small group of us will meet again at our home to do it all over again!

This year I found quite a few new things to add to my Thanksgiving decorations.  I was going though my boxes and decided some things needed to go and luckily I lucked up on a few new items at the thrift stores!  To begin with, I found this huge porcelain turkey several months ago.  I could see it as the centerpiece of my Thanksgiving table when I bought it.  Of course, after I got it home, it found a home on my teacart.

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Another item I found were a bunch of fall corn with long husks.  They were piled in a plastic container next to one of the displays.  I pulled one out and it had an original price tag of $10.99 on it…and I thought “$10.99?? That’s nuts!”  Of course the thrift store price was 99 cents so I bought everyone they had and thought I could use them as accent pieces on my table and buffet. A few weeks later I found a couple of small pumpkins and squash in orange in a large plastic container.  In fact this time the store was lined with plastic containers because they didn’t have room to put them on the shelves.  They have the words “Thanks to God” and “Give” written on them and as I looked through all the containers I found more and more!  So I left with about 20 of these pumpkins and squash at 69 cents a piece thinking they would look great in a basket!  I added the pinecones to give it a little texture.

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Target’s Dollar Spot section is also a good place for season finds.  You have to hit them early to get the best selections thought.  Let’s just say I’ve learned the hard way!  I found fall placemats that say “Grateful” on them and some plain ones too.  I was able to get an entire set for 12 people from two different stores.  They also had table runners – I picked up two.  They aren’t as long as I would like but when I showed my daughter, Anna Marie, the table she like it.  Target also had some plaid leaves and I figured they would come in handy.  Yep!  I placed them on my coffee table to accent the bronze pumpkins that I’ve had for a few years.  I think I got them at Target at one of their after season sales!

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The final new items are a table runner found at Big Lots for half off and a Target wreath for $2 that is hanging on my large mirror over the buffet.  With this, all my new items have been integrated into my Thanksgiving day décor and now all we have to do is…just add people.

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Vintage Christmas Pins

Beautiful vintage Christmas pin I found at Prime Time Treasures in Homewood recently.

Beautiful vintage Christmas pin I found at Prime Time Treasures in Homewood recently.

And now a brief break from Thanksgiving planning to check out all the Christmas pins I’ve found thifting over the past two weekends!!!  I have a rather large collection of Christmas pins and I love clustering them on a coat or jacket in December each year.  This year I feel like I hit the mother lode!

The wreath and tree on the right are ART(c) marked and considered very collectible Christmas pieces! I love the colors on the tree to the left - no markings on this pin but very art deco looking.

The wreath and tree on the right are ART(c) marked and considered very collectible Christmas pieces! I love the colors on the tree to the left – no markings on this pin but very art deco looking.

Several of the pins I found would be considered vintage.  About 8 have markings so I got out my magnifying glass to look a little closer and started googling.  Three of the pins are marked “ART” followed by a small “c.”  I was able to find the pins on ebay and etsy and a little history of ART(c) company.  Arthur Pepper was in business from the late 1940’s making jewelry signed Mode Art, later changing the name to ART(c).  The Christmas tree pins are considered the most collectible and I found “my” Christmas tree pin going for $65 on ebay!  They definitely have a distinctive look to them.

ART(c) Christmas boot, Christopher Radko penguin pin and Gerrys Jewelry Co. puppy dog pin.

ART(c) Christmas boot, Christopher Radko penguin pin and Gerrys Jewelry Co. puppy dog pin.

Another pin is marked “Gerrys” – it’s on a gold tone dog pin holding a red Christmas stocking in his mouth.  I found it on ebay for $49!  Remember, I pretty much paid a high of $1.99 for these pins or low of 99 cents!  Anyway, Gerrys Jewelry Company or Gerrys Creations was in business from 1950s to 1996 and is considered affordable costume jewelry.  I just thought the pup pin was cute and kitschy!

The tree pin on the left is a JJ(c) Jonette Jewelry Company piece. The tree on the right has no markings.

The tree pin on the left is a JJ(c) Jonette Jewelry Company piece. The tree on the right has no markings.

JJ(c) marked a really sweet and faded looking Christmas tree with tiny colored rhinestones.  Jonelle Jewelry Company was named for the parents of Abraham and Nathan Lester – John and Etta.  Abraham first started the Providence Jewelry Company and when his brother joined him in the business they changed the name.  They started using the JJ mark on their jewelry in the 1970s.

These pins have no marking that I could find. The Santa in the sleigh moves along with the other pieces attached. Pretty unique!

These pins have no marking that I could find. The Santa in the sleigh moves along with the other pieces attached. Pretty unique!

Finally, I was surprised to find a Christopher Radko Christmas pin!  First, I didn’t know Christopher Radko made pins…I just thought he was known for those beautiful and colorful glass ornaments that I would love to have a tree full of…but I digress… The pin is a penguin wrapped in Christmas lights.  Very sweet and looks like something I had when I was a little girl.  I found these pins online between $16-$24.

These pins look newer but cute all the same!

These pins look newer but cute all the same!

There are still several more weeks to go before Christmas – I feel like I’m on a roll with these pins and I’m ready to find a few more of these cute and vintage pins!