Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Thrifting Crisis: Controlling the Situation

As Laurie explored the other day, sometimes what we find ourselves thrifting doesn't make any sense. Not that there is always rhyme or reason, or cohesion between the items that we thrift, but usually there is at least the sense that the items we thrift can be viewed as something that "Holly would buy" or "Laurie would buy" or whoever buying the item would buy.

Then there are the times when you find yourself with a cart full of crap that you are, in the deepest darkest depths of your soul, questioning. You may be questioning your cart contents, the items that, out of all the items in the store, you selected as being at least worthy enough to be added to the cart. You may even question your grip on reality and your own self-worth. Sometimes this is result of forcing yourself to go thrifting when you really shouldn't be thrifting. Sometimes it is merely an indicator that your style is shifting, or that you are trying a new look out. Sometimes it is just because the thrifting gods are not on your side.

So why all this ranting and raving about feeling disconnected with one's thrifting flow? Well, it is because the other day, I decided to go to one of my favorite thrift shops in the Twin Cities area, ARC Value Village in Richfield. I have found some amazing finds at ARC, which keeps me going back, despite the fact that it is on the pricier side. Keeping this in mind, I decided that it might be "fun" to limit my spending to $10 ($15 max!) and started conceptualizing the whole trip as a sort of "challenge" to share with all of you.

Once at ARC, I found myself in some what of a tailspin. Determined to spend at least $10, I started adding items to my cart that I normally wouldn't consider, but thought that maybe this challenge would include trying to piece together some random finds to make up this $10 total. As I was not finding any pieces that immediately jumped off the rack at me, I thought that perhaps this was one of those thrifting challenges, sent by the gods of thrift, testing my ability to see the beauty in items that, at first glance, may seem at odds with my personal style, ridiculous, or just plain ugly.


My rejects. Notice the nasty printed top I grabbed due to its key hole back and the "Florida" slip skirt. WTF.

If that wasn't enough to cloud my normally clear thrifting vision, I kept hearing the volunteers talking about how beautiful it was out and how everyone was busy celebrating St. Patricks day, which led to a mounting sense of panic that one can only experience when they have suffered through a Minnesota winter and are faced with one of the first beautiful days of the year. Determined to stay on task, I tried to keep my head in the game by reminding myself to take advantage of the lack of shoppers (due to the holiday).

But the time I reached the dressing room, almost two hours had passed, I had a cart full of junk that I wasn't really excited about AND my panic about how much time I was wasting on a seemingly wasteful excursion was reaching major proportions. That is when I saw it.

Bronze Vintage Sequin Dress

An almost perfect vintage, bronze covered-in-sequins cocktail dress.

This was it! The dress was hanging on a rack near the dressing rooms, obviously on its way back out to the floor. It never got there. I yanked it off and ran into one of the rooms, knowing that, no matter what, this dress was going to be something I was leaving with.

It ended up being fabulous. There was a small rip in the seam of the top shoulder, which can be easily fixed for even the most clumsy of sewers (i.e. me). The fabric is amazing and stretchy and while one may consider the dress as "large" on me, the cut is such that it looks boxy in a very good way.

Bronze Vintage Sequin Dress (detail)

Check out the amazing sequin detail! The entire thing is covered like this, so it weighs about 20 pounds.

Bronze Vintage Sequin Dress (back)

Check out the low v-neck back on this number. Totally sexy.

I had found a thrifting gem in a land of duds. At $12.99, I was over my $10 limit. I knew I was going to get the dress, no questions asked. But what about the remaining $2.01 I had left to the $15 maximum? Fast and furiously, I started editing the items I had compiled over the past two hours, should there be some gem that I forgot about, or at least some item that priced low enough to keep under the $15 total.

Linen Embroidered  Top
Linen Embroidered Top (detail)

I only found a couple items priced low enough to not max out my total. But I did resurface this number: a linen embroidered
top. Priced at $3.99, it put me over my maximum, but I couldn't question it. Even the color scheme fit with the dress. It was like no other top I have ever seen. It would look great with my new rust colored shorts, my new leather shorts, or, for maximum wackiness, my new vintage plaid skirt.

I left ARC going $1.98 over my "maximum" limit. Despite not meeting this challenge, I felt satisfied, with no regrets. I had found two amazing, unique pieces that I felt one with. And that, my friends, is a thrifting success.

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