Retail therapy

LogoI’ve never indulged in retail therapy. I don’t shop because I’m feeling lonely, stressed, depressed, or bored. I confess that the fact that I live 85 km (53 miles) from the closest mall might have something to do with that! On Tuesday, I travelled that 85 km to spend two hours sitting in a dentist’s chair. On the way, I stopped to have several vials of blood taken for post treatment testing. No one could blame a girl for adding a bit of shopping to a day like that, could they?

Just before I left home that morning, I checked my emails and discovered that Payless ShoeSource had a BOGO (buy one pair, get a second pair half price) sale starting that day. Of course, I had to stop in and check it out!

In my world, there are two kinds of shoe shopping. If I’m looking for shoes (or boots) that I’ll be doing a lot of walking or hiking in, I want quality, support and comfort. I’m willing to pay for that and Payless isn’t the place I usually go looking. If, on the other hand, I’m looking for something fun and I don’t want to spend a lot, it’s definitely my go to. I’ve actually been surprised, however, to discover that most of my Payless purchases have stood up well and have been very comfortable. Hopefully that’s true of Tuesday’s purchase! Here they are, the Fiona Pointed Toe Ghillie Shoes by Brash.

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I knew they were going home with me the minute I tried them on! They’re perfect for wearing with summer’s shorter pants. Here, I’ve styled them with a pair of capris that I bought off a sales rack in the middle of winter and the white sateen crop pants that you’ve seen several times before. You first saw the black lace top here.

Shopping Payless, especially their BOGO sales, is a bit like thrift store shopping in that they don’t always have a particular shoe in the size you wear. I was lucky to find this pair in my size, but I couldn’t find a second pair I wanted, so I bought a package of socks to take advantage of the BOGO savings. I can always use more socks, especially at half price. The shoes themselves were a fantastic buy. Marked down from $49.99 to $16, they actually rang in at $13! Bonus!

I’ll be back to town for more dental work next Tuesday and the Tuesday after. Hopefully retail therapy doesn’t become a bad habit!

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An unusual find

LogoAs many of you know, I love thrift store shopping. It’s the thrill of the hunt and finding something unique or special that keeps me going back. That, and the prices! It’s not looking for something that I need, but finding something I can have even if I don’t need it because every item in the store is so affordable.

When I saw this particular garment, I knew I needed it. Well, actually I just wanted it really badly! I wanted it to fit perfectly. That’s the only problem with thrift store shopping; everything is one of a kind. If it doesn’t fit, there aren’t any other sizes to try on.

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As is often the case with second hand clothing, the size tag had been removed, but it looked like a possibility, so I headed for the dressing room and discovered that I was in luck! $2.50 made it mine!

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I’m not actually sure what to call it! Made of delicate translucent polyester with slits almost to the waist in front and on both sides, it clearly isn’t a dress. Perhaps tunic is the right word.

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Whatever it is, it’s incredibly lightweight and comfortable and the black piping is a nice finishing touch.

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In these photos, I chose to wear it with black and white camis and last year’s white sateen crop pants, but it looks great over black leggings too. Though I haven’t tried it yet, I think it would also look good worn unbuttoned as a long vest which gives it added versatility. Its final advantage is the fact that it packs well taking up almost no space in a suitcase and adding virtually nothing to its weight, something that I almost always consider when buying clothes.

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Fast fashion is not frugal!

logoI almost never buy “fast fashion”, or disposable clothing as I like to call it. Fast fashion refers to a phenomenon in the fashion industry that sees retailers introducing new products as often as multiple times a week. Garments are manufactured quickly and inexpensively allowing consumers to fill their wardrobes with trendy styles without spending a great deal to do so. These clothes are usually characterized by shoddy workmanship and low quality fabrics.

I seldom enter retailers like Forever 21, H&M and Zara that specialize in fast fashion, but I made a rare exception about three months ago. Walking through the mall, I spotted the cardigan that you’ve seen before here on a rack at the entrance to one of these stores.

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On a dreary February day, it was the blush pink colour that caught my eye and made me think of spring. At $15, it was definitely an impulse buy and one that I knew wouldn’t last long, but after just a handful of wearings, look at the way the fabric is pilling!

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Fast fashion has also come under criticism for contributing to poor working conditions in developing countries where these garments are churned out, not to mention the garment factory disasters that have claimed the lives of many workers. It also has a very negative impact on the environment. Producing the staggering number of fast fashion garments that are sold worldwide requires tremendous amounts of energy and releases enormous quantities of harmful bi-products into the environment. In addition there’s the problem of disposing of the used garments which, like my cardigan, don’t last long and aren’t worth passing on to the second hand market. Instead, they end up in the landfill where the mostly synthetic fibres take hundreds of years to break down.

I’m proud to refer to myself as a frugal fashionista, but frugal is not buying cheap, poorly made garments; frugal is buying quality items at bargain prices. Buying fast fashion is definitely not frugal!

Pretty in plaid

logoThere are a few classic prints that never seem to go out of style. Though their popularity may wax and wane, they are a safe bet in a modern woman’s wardrobe season after season. Stripes, florals, animal prints, polka dots and plaids are timeless.

 

Last time I volunteered at our local thrift store I came home with this basic black and white flannel shirt, a steal at just $3 and oh so comfortable!

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I’m especially impressed with this hidden feature that eliminates the possibility of gaping at the bust line.

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Though the look may be a bit too matchy matchy, for the purpose of this post I also donned another recent purchase, my new rubber boots!

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I’ve been eying cute patterned boots every spring for the past few years, but my plain old navy blue ones, purchased more than four decades ago when I first visited my in-laws’ farm, refused to wear out and since I usually only use them for camping, investing in another pair seemed wasteful. This year, however, the old rubber finally deteriorated and a split up the back of one of the boots sent me shopping for a new pair! Considering how long I might have them, what could be better than a timeless pattern like plaid?

Given that the weather forecast is calling for lots of rain while we’re here in Vancouver, I’m glad I brought them with me. Whether it’s checking out the creek that runs through our son’s backyard or going on adventures in the forest with our grandsons, I’m probably going to need them.

How to host a successful clothing swap

logoThey say that you should write what you know, but this time I’m going out on a limb and writing about something I’ve never tried. Everything I suggest here is based on what others have written.

A clothing swap is a party where you and each of your guests bring an agreed upon number of garments and/or accessories to the event to trade with one another and thus breathe new life into your closets without spending a cent!

So, how does this work?

1.  Choose your guests

The first step to hosting a successful clothing swap is to decide who you’ll invite. Include friends of all sizes and shapes making sure that no one feels left out because there isn’t anyone in a similar size for her to swap with.

2.   Choose the time

The best time to host a clothing swap is toward the end of a season when people are likely tired of what they’ve been wearing and ready for a few new pieces to freshen up their wardrobes. They may be planning to clean out their closets anyway and your party will be just the incentive they need.

3.   Set some rules

Decide on a minimum and maximum number of items that each person should bring and include this information in the invitation. You want to ensure that there are plenty of items to trade but not so many that it becomes overwhelming to look through everything. It’s also best to ensure that you don’t have a situation where some people bring lots and others hardly anything at all.

Encourage your friends to bring accessories as well as clothing. Shoes, handbags, scarves and jewelry add to the fun and ensure that everyone, regardless of size, is able to find something that fits.

It should go without saying, but make sure to stipulate that everything must be clean and in good condition. It’s also a good idea to remind your guests to empty all pockets so that they don’t inadvertently give someone a cash bonus or find themselves trying to track down lost ID after the party is over!

4.   Set the scene

Presentation is important. If possible, have a hanging rack available as well as a table or two so that items can be organized and displayed attractively. No one wants to feel as if they’re digging through someone else’s laundry!

Designate one or two rooms for changing and have at least one full length mirror available. It’s also a good idea to have a belt or two on hand for your guests to use when they’re trying things on. Belting a loose-fitting dress or top might be just the thing to make it work for one of your friends.

5.   When your guests arrive

Start by going over some basic ground rules and then let the fun begin. Set a time limit for the swap so that when it’s over you can all relax and enjoy some wine and cheese or whatever you decide to serve. It is a party, after all!

Depending on the size and make up of your group, you may want to consider dividing the time into five minute segments allowing each person to choose only one item per round.

If two or more friends have their eye on the same thing, have a predetermined method of determining who gets it. Having them each model the item and letting the group vote on who wears it best can be fun, but if you’re afraid of hurt feelings, flipping a coin might be a better idea.

No one should go home with more than she brought.

6.   Serve snacks

Wait until the swap is over to bring out the goodies. This helps keep things moving along during the exchange and also helps prevent spills. Keep it simple. You might even want to ask each guest to bring something to share.

7.   When the party’s over

Choose in advance a local charity or thrift store that will appreciate the overflow from your swap. Give each guest the option of taking home anything she brought that wasn’t chosen, then pack up the leftovers to be donated.

Have you ever hosted or attended a clothing swap? Do you have any tips or suggestions?

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Shopping Sue’s closet

logoMy sister-in-law, Sue, loves to shop and has a larger clothing budget than I do. She has excellent taste and knows what looks good on her. Many of the sales clerks in her favourite mall know her by name and are familiar with her personal style. I am often the lucky beneficiary!

As a child I didn’t wear hand-me-downs, not because we were well off or because I didn’t want to, but because I was the oldest daughter in the family and had only one female cousin who is ten years older than me. There wasn’t anyone to hand clothing down to me. As an adult, however, and a frugal fashionista, I am more than happy to wear pre-owned clothing, especially Sue’s! Though I’m taller, we are very similar in size and can usually wear one another’s clothes without alteration. Though Sue tends to wear dramatic colours (she says I need more colour in my wardrobe!) and I favour neutrals, we have similar taste in clothing and we love to shop together.

Last month, we got together for our annual girls day out… lunch and shopping. Though I bought a couple of items, most of what I came home with came from Sue’s closets! Before I arrived for the weekend, she had done a major closet purge and I was met with several large bags of clothing to sort through and try on. What fun! I came away with one dress, one skirt, four sweaters, three golf shirts (like me, Sue is an avid golfer), three dressier tops, a warm fleece pullover and two handbags. That was just a tiny fraction of what was in the bags which then went to my daughter and, after she chose the items she wanted, to a thrift store.

Here’s my favourite item from Sue’s most recent castoffs. I love its loose fitting blouson style. With elastic at the hem, it’s great at camouflaging a midsection bulge and the colours coordinate with so much that is already in my wardrobe. I know I’ll wear this one a lot especially when the weather gets warmer.

This is far from the first time that I’ve benefitted from Sue’s extensive wardrobe and her generosity. In the past, she has also acquired a few items from me, but I’m a minimalist in comparison, so her gain has not been as great as mine. Shopping Sue’s closet started me thinking about clothing swaps in general. I’ve never taken part in a clothing swap party, but I’ve been reading up on the idea and I’ll share what I’ve learned next week on Fashion Friday. See you then!

Leggings are not pants!

logoAt a recent gathering of women, I was delighted to hear a stylish young lady proclaim that “Leggings are not pants!” I couldn’t agree more. Leggings are one of the most comfortable things you can wear, but there are ways to wear this go-to wardrobe staple well and ways that they ought not to be worn .

In most cases, I’m not a proponent of fashion rules of any kind, but I do believe in dressing modestly and when it comes to leggings it shouldn’t even have to be said, but please cover your butt and cover your crotch! Even if they are completely opaque, unless you’re wearing them strictly as exercise wear, don’t wear leggings with a short top. Longer tops, tunics and oversized cardigans are the perfect choice. Secondly, for a more flattering look, choose a loose fitting top to offset the narrowness of the legs. A clingy, tight all over look really isn’t becoming.

Personally, I’m not particularly fond of brightly patterned leggings, but if you do like wearing snowflakes, reindeer or other colourful prints on your legs, just go for something simple up top. Here, I’ve paired my only patterned leggings, Safari from cabi, with a top that I bought in Japan several years ago to create a comfy, evening at home look.

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The skirt over pants trend is big this season. Growing up in the “olden days” when girls had to wear skirts to school, I remember wearing pants under my dresses on cold winter mornings and taking them off when I got to school. Perhaps that’s why I’ve had trouble adopting this look, but I do like the less bulky alternative of skirt over leggings.

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Here, in a photo clearly taken before winter arrived in Alberta, I’ve paired a lightweight pair of leggings with a simple pencil skirt that I’ve had for years and the thrifted black lace top that I first mentioned here.

Wondering what kind of footwear to wear with your leggings? There are plenty of options. For a casual, sporty look try wearing them with a cute pair of sneakers. For a dressier look pair good quality black leggings with something more formal, such as a blazer, and wear them with a dressy pair of sandals, flats or pumps. Leggings worn with an oversized cardigan and knee-high boots is a classic look for fall and winter. A pair of knitted or crocheted boot cuffs, all the rage at the moment, add a bit of polish to the look.

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The cardigan I’m wearing here was another thrift store purchase. The t-shirt, from Reitmans, was a gift from a friend, the leggings are from Jockey, and the slouchy black Brash boots are from Payless. I’ve had all these items for at least two or three years, but worn together they create a look that’s right on trend.

It’s a good idea to consider the length of your legs when deciding whether to wear heels or flats with your leggings. If you are short your legs will appear longer if you wear wedges, stilettos or high-heeled boots, but if you’re tall, like I am, flats will also look fine.

Just remember, though, whatever you wear them with, leggings are not pants!

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