Thrift Store Shopping – The Agony and the Ecstasy

Thrift ShoppingI spend an inordinate amount of time shopping in thrift stores.  At least two to three times a week, you’ll find me in any of the six local thrifts that I haunt regularly.  I mainly shop for “inventory acquisition” (the ‘polite’ term that vinties like to use), but I also shop for myself.  And I mostly love it.  I’ve been shopping thrifts since I discovered them as a teenager, and I’ve never quit.

There is just something so thrilling to me about thrifts.  Malls and department stores bore me silly with their sameness.  At thrifts I never quite know what I’m going to find, and everything is unique.  I get a feeling of anticipatory excitement in the pit of my stomach when I enter the door…where to look first, what to see, what to do!  I actually enjoy going through the racks, digging through bins, and finding things placed randomly throughout the store.

I’m all-business when it comes to thrifting.  No distractions for me please;  no cell phone, no iPod, no shopping with others.  Pretty much a laser focus to scope out the goods.  I know which days are the sale days, “color tag” days, and are the most and least crowded.  I know a lot of the clerks personally, and enjoy a good jaw while checking out.

Of course, it’s not all fun and games.  There are actually quite a lot of annoyances that I have resigned myself to live with while shopping thrifts.  Probably my biggest beef is loud people, be they screaming kids, yelling moms, or people screeching into their phones.  Thrifts are full of them.  I have to work myself into a “zone” to carry myself through.  I like peace and quiet…but I know I’ll never find it at the thrift.

Another annoyance is people who sidle.  I can be the only one in the aisle and sure enough, there will soon be someone who is right next to me going through the racks.  This is something that is so irksome to me that I usually leave and go to another aisle.   But then I have to consciously calculate to come back to that same aisle when all is clear.

The one thing that I’m on the fence about is the amount of “unique” characters that thrift stores seem to attract.  Since I’m a regular, I’ve learned pretty quickly that there are also a lot of other regulars who shop there too.  Some are highly amusing; others are just plain creepy.  One thing for sure is that it is never a dull experience.  They probably feel the same about me too!

It used to be that shopping thrifts was kind of an alternative, funky thing to do.  A lot of people wouldn’t set foot in such a place.  Now it seems like thrifts are getting to be more of a cool, economical thing to do.  That’s okay, the more the merrier.  And the more I hope people will donate and recycle.  Thrifting may not be for the faint of heart, but it will always be unrivaled!

Happy shopping!


The Lure of the Snuggie

My SnuggieFirst of all, I will freely admit that I am now the owner of a Snuggie.  Yes, that one.  “The Blanket That Has Sleeves!”, 100% Polyester, and Made in China.  I wear it too.  This is a bit weird for me, as I have always thought that they were completely ridiculous.

It all started a couple months ago on the eBay Vintage Clothing and Accessories Discussion Board.  One vintie posted a thread about a site where you could order a free Snuggie.  We all started bantering about the Snuggie, but then more and more of us actually went to the site to order the free Snuggie.  I did too.  What’s odd is that I started kind of obsessing about the Snuggie and hoping it would soon come in the mail.   Weeks went by and I never got it, no one else on the board did either.  But my quirky longing never went away.  So last week I went to Target and found the Snuggies with all the other “sold on TV” items.  The only color they had left was a red burgundy.  So I bought it.

I am actually quite impressed with its quality.  The deep rich color is really pretty, and the “Super Soft Fleece” really is that.  It is amazingly soft and plush, with a velvety texture.  It is not skimpy on size either; it’s positively huge!  The open-at-the-back design is kind of strange.   There are two back panels that you can overlap, which is okay for sitting, but any movement will cause it to gap.  The sleeves are a nice feature.  I used to wrap myself in a combination of shawls, scarves, and blankets to cover all my limbs, now my arms will stay covered.

I will say that it is great for sitting, where you won’t be doing a lot of movement.  I like it when I use my desktop computer, or for reading on the couch.  The problem is when you have to get up and walk, very cumbersome to have to pick up the enormous length of the Snuggie.  The shoulders tend to fall off too.  I would definitely not try to cook or use the bathroom in it!

As long as you can cuddle up in it and not do a lot of moving around, it is fabulously warm and comfy.  You can also do what any practical fashionista like me does…read the latest issue of Vogue in it.  I wonder if Vogue Editor in Chief, Anna Wintour, wears a Snuggie?  Doubtful, but you never know!

Stay warm!


Cashmere and a Mixture of Scents

Now that winter’s here, my sweater wearing is on full-force.   My personal yarn of choice is cashmere.  It is incredibly soft, thick, and luxurious…and is really the only natural wool that I can wear next to my sensitive skin.  It adds needed warmth without unnecessary bulk;  I don’t like looking like a linebacker in those thick, chunky sweaters!

Of course, most of my cashmere sweater collection is vintage.  I look for the thick, plush cashmere, preferably made in Scotland.  There is just no comparison to most of the “whisper thin” cashmere sweaters that are out there today.  Good quality cashmere can last a lifetime, so it’s a good investment.  In fact, several lifetimes, as someone wore these sweaters a long time before me!

I love how cashmere retains scent.  One of my favorite things to do is wear a different vintage perfume each time I wear a certain sweater.  The scent gets picked up and blended with the others, forming a whole new evocative aroma.  They become pieces of  poignant delight, a magical signature, which is especially nice on these dark, dreary days.  I’m a bit sad when I have to wash the sweaters though.  All that captivating scent down the drain.  But it just gives me the chance to start a unique combination anew.

I shall remain forever devoted to cashmere, but sometimes it’s good to spice it up!


Orange You Glad I Didn’t Say Green?

It’s the last day of 2009 and time for New Year’s resolutions to be made.  I have decided that I will only make one resolution for 2010, and that is to “Go Orange”.  This has been brewing in me for a while now.  You see, I feel that I have finally reached my personal tipping point in the whole “Go Green”  thing that’s being pushed upon the public with increasing force.  Let me say that you will probably not find a greener-living person than myself.  It is something that I live every day with every fiber of my being.  I am just getting tired of being marketed and lectured to by high-living celebrities, politicians and writers who want me to ‘do as they say, but not as they do.’

This finally hit full-force for me last week when I was shopping for a new 2010 calendar.  As I searched rack after rack, they all seemed to be labeled “Recycled Paper” or”Eco-Friendly”.  Calendar after calendar of “Living a Greener 2010” or “365 days of Save the Earth Tips”.  I finally bought the only calendar than didn’t have a hint of ‘green’ in it;  a gorgeous calendar of colorful calligraphy.  And it felt liberating!

So I decided that I want to go orange!  I really love the vibrancy and warmth of the color orange.  It is the color of desire, excitement, independence and enthusiasm;  all desirable traits in my book.  Being a natural redhead, I’ve felt comfortable all my life in living with orange hair.  I like to wear orange too, in moderation of course, too much orange can be a bit overwhelming.  It is a fun, optimistic hue – and a great way to start the new year.

So while I will continue to live a ‘green’ life, I will be fully embracing the orange.  And guess what?  2010 will be the Chinese Year of the Tiger…and, of course, tigers are orange!

Go orange!


Mod Romantic 60s Yardley of London, Oh Yeah Baby!

Yardley of London – any fashionista who lived in the late ’60s/early ’70s will remember their fab advertising campaigns; I know I do!  My blog post on vintage bar soap spurred Yardley of London, oh wait, now it seems to be just “Yardley London” to send me an assortment of their bar soaps to try (more on this later).  This inspired me to look through my collection of  late ’60s/early ’70s Seventeen magazines, knowing that I would find some great examples of the vintage Yardley of London ads that intrigued me so.

Who coImage (101)uld resist the beautiful English actress, Olivia Hussey, who played Juliet in the film “Romeo and Juliet”?  She was featured in a flowery romantic ad for Oh! de London fragrance in 1968.  “Oh! Romeo, Romeo, Oh! Falling in Love, Oh! Happy Dizzy Wonderful World, Oh! Rapture”.  Just incredibly effective advertising I’m sure, given the smashing success of the movie.  It was the “Twilight” of the day.

Another ad from 1969 featured the impossibly gorgeous (English, of course) model, Jean Shrimpton.  Dressed in country Victorian attire, in pigtails (?!) Jean glowingly hawked the Country Treats soap/skin care line.  “Remember the way girls used to be?  Innocent…shy…They smiled a lot and their skin had a pure glow, fresh as rainwater…the soft fresh country clean, Image (100)men dream about…the clean that’s really beautiful…the way girls used to be…the way YOU can be now.”   Wow – makes me want to go scrub my face right now if I want to look like Jean Shrimpton!

Anyhoo, back to the soap.  As I’ve said before, I love vintage bar soap, so I was eager to try the current Yardley soaps.  They have a new natural soap collection which is fabulous, combining the great features of traditional bar soap with natural vegetable-based ingredients.  They have the gently cleaning and softly scented features I love.  I also got to try, once again, their traditional English Lavender soap which they have been making since the 17th century (now that’s vintage)!  It has the very poignant, familiar scent that is so lovely.  It is nice to know that vintage-type bar soap is still being made, and I don’t necessarily have to hunt it down in estate sales!

It was good to be reminded of fond vintage memories of a great product.  Yardley may not have the splashy ad campaigns of the past, but it’s nice to know that they are continuing the tradition of creating fine luxury soaps in this day and age!


Walking In My Newfangled Antishoes

walkingI really love taking walks around my neighborhood.  It’s good exercise, I get fresh air, chat with my neighbors, and it’s free!  No membership fees to a sweat-filled gym for me.  While I enjoyed walking,  it really wasn’t necessarily meeting the workout requirements for me…or at least I wasn’t feeling much benefit.  So when I first started hearing about the rolling rocker exercise walking shoes, my interest was piqued!  They looked big and clunky and were expensive, so that threw a wrench in my plans for awhile.

Well this all changed a few weeks ago when I found a pair of MBT (Masai Barefoot Technology) “antishoes” (as they call them).  They looked brand new, were in my size, and yes, they were at a second-hand store – hooray!   I was finally going to be able to try them without breaking the bank!  MBT’s are based on a principle of natural instability, like walking barefoot on natural ground such as sand.  They are supposed to activate muscles, improve posture, and help the back.  Worth a try!

Trying them on for the first time, I felt like I was putting on Herman Munster boots!  They are definitely big and clunky – quite heavy too.  Walking around the house, they actually started to feel good.  Trying them on my walk was really fun.   Once I got into the rolling rhythm, I was chugging along or rather, gliding.  My posture improved greatly as you just naturally stand up much straighter wearing them.  I feel like a well-oiled walking machine in them.

When I took them off I had the same sensation I feel after I take roller or ice-skates off  – kind of like getting my land legs again.  I definitely felt muscles twinges (activating?) and more like I had a workout.  So I really think there is something to these shoes.  It has only been a couple weeks, but I’m feeling the benefits already and hope to reap more.  In fact, I already have my eye on the sandal antishoe…thinking ahead to those hot summer walks!