Monday, September 12, 2011

Unexpected Treasures—Portage, WI exceeds expectations, blows mind

As a short disclaimer, I have to share that, in keeping with Laurie's suggestion that we do our joint Portage piece over the weekend, I had meant to post this yesterday. Unfortunately, a series of egregious events, which mainly revolved around my misplacement of my notebook/journal from the past four months, prevented me from doing so. Fortunately, having a clear mind and a new day resulted in my 7:45 am discovery of said notebook behind our bookshelf, so all is now well in the world. And with that, we are off!


As a general rule, I avoid thrifting at Goodwills. In my experience, the merch is often less than desirable (think cheap mall fashions from five years ago) and everything is way overpriced (like a very cute 90's rayon mini I purchased a few years ago for $6.99. SIX NINETY NINE in Green Bay! I can only claim temporary insanity on that one, especially since the thing ended up being too small to wear comfortably).

Sometimes, however, you have no other choice. Such as the case the day after our lovely friends' Cortney and Andy's wedding in Portage. As it was Sunday, chances of other thrift shops in this small town being open (on the Lord's day?!) were slim. So, after an unexpectedly wonderful brunch (crab cake benedict for under $9?!), Laurie, Chris and I found ourselves at the Goodwill.

First observation: though prices were still steeper than the average small town thrift store, they were, for the most part, within acceptable ranges. Tops for $3.99, skirts for the same, belts for 99¢. My major complaint was how dresses were pretty much priced at $6.99 across the board, which led me to tossing all of my dress finds aside as none were special enough to justify that price tag.

Second observation: The selection was actually fantastic! By the time we were ready to try items on, I had piles of cute tops, long skirts and the aforementioned collection of 90's floral dresses. Even with these better than average Goodwill prices, my selection ended up being heavily edited. Witness, if you will, the gems that stood out:

First, an Operation Sparkle first—a gold studded black suede jacket. A first because, as Laurie just shared the other day, this piece was actually part of a set with her suede studded pencil skirt. It took all my will power to accept that the skirt did not fit me comfortably and thus should be passed to my thrifting partner. Hence the first Operation Sparkle spilt of a rocking two piece for the benefit of all (even if it killed me a little inside to do it).

In keeping with my 80's/90's New Years theme, I present my sheer Judy bond black and metallic top. I actually found two of these in a similar style (one of which I passed onto Laurie, which you just saw). Before you start thinking about how generous and non-competitive I've gotten in my thrifting, let me assure you that I kept the better of the two. Love the pattern and the metallic weaving in the waistband. Those stories about me wanting to kick Laurie in the shins for finding that colorblocked purse and that silk scarf are also totally true.

Then we have my amazing selection of belts. Now, finding a good belt (much less several good belts!) can be difficult when thrifting. Despite a rather small selection, however, I found these four gems:

A tiny, basic black leather belt to replace the last tiny, basic black leather belt I thrifted that was, as it turns out, about two inches too tiny.

The "dressy" black and gold leather belt. I was probably feeling the influence of my party jacket and top when I selected this one. But for 99¢, you can't really go wrong with something that is simple and a bit flashy in all the right ways.

A multicolored woven leather belt. Simply rad.
...and for when I am feeling a bit less colorful, a deep dusty blue leather woven belt. I love the color of this piece and one can't go wrong with woven leather belts.

Despite finding bucketloads of short sleeve shirts during my browsing of the shop, this simple button down sleeveless striped number was the only one to have made the cut. I dig its simplicity in color and its versatility in styling options (loose, tucked in, or, my new favorite, tied at the waist). The big pockets on the front are pretty good too, and useful, to boot!

Since I have been the prowl for good maxi skirts for a couple of years now, I was stoked to find a bunch on this trip. After some careful editing, however, I only came away with this one, which, upon first glance, did not get rave reviews. Laurie scrunched up her face, telling me she didn't like it. Reality set in then and she softened, offering the fact that "well, maybe with fall it will work." That's how I see it. Though the pattern is initially a little bogus, especially when temps are in the 80's, the colors work for cooler weather, the length is perfectly long, buttons down the front=good times and the fabric was soft—as opposed to the, at first glance, infinitely more superior black and white print skirt I was considering—proof that it pays to try things on.

To wrap it up, my already posted about multi-color bikini. I win!

In the end, even if I spent more than usual for what I got ($29), it sure beats buying one crappy top at the mall!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Special Trips! Portage, WI: What is Wedded Bliss Without Sweet Deals?

Just a month ago I had the pleasure of having the excuse of two of my dearest friends, Cortney and Andy, getting married, to book a plane ticket to Wisconsin for a random weekend in August. I love weddings. You get to see old friends, you have awkward run ins with your friend's family members, you get way too drunk (for free!!), and are otherwise wrapped up in the demimonde created by the occasion. You can read all about Cortney and Andy's picturesque beyond picturesque farm wedding in Cortney's hometown of Portage here, but do that on your own goddamn time, because I have more important things to talk about. Those things being deals.

Months before the wedding, when Cortney asked me to help set up the day before and of the wedding, I plead for a two hour leave of absence to explore Portage's thrifting scene. This was an opportunity that I could not possibly let slip through my fingers, not even for friendship. Luckily, my presumption that Cortney a) understands me, and b) would be the chillest bride on earth, proved to be true, and she did not bat an eyelash and said that she would point me towards all the good places.

What I have for you today is the haul I made in Portage on two separate trips; one a power-thrifting episode a few hours before the wedding, and the other, with Holly and her fiance (and my dear friend) Chris, the day after the occasion and a good night's sleep in a pop-up camper.

Firstly, I will show you my favorite find of the whole weekend, this color blocked purse:

The story of finding this purse is one of those moments of thrifting with Holly that I treasure. She was taking FOR EV ER wrapping up looking around while I was trying to get her to try on and edit our finds so that we could get out of the store and back to our friends, who were waiting for us. I camped out by the fitting rooms with our cart in an attempt to get my point across. She left me hanging there regardless, so I started aimlessly digging in the piles of things around me. That is when I found this purse buried deep behind all the rest, nearly invisible. When Holly finally made it over to me, I rubbed it in her face, and was able to see the jealously shooting from her eyes like lasers.

But boy did we turn around from that ugly bout of pride and envy fast! While digging through the massive mound of clothes in our cart, Holly pulled out a KILLER two piece black suede outfit with gold stud detail. It was epic. Beautiful. What one lives to thrift for. Rather than be jealous, I was just sad. But I had a feeling that from the look of the skirt, it might be that tiny bit too small on Holly that is just big enough for me, and that I could perhaps get lucky. I was right, and I managed to convince Holly to keep the jacket (which you will get to see in tomorrow's Portage Part II segment) and give me the skirt. SHARING! Selflessness in thrifting. It doesn't happen often, but it does happen.

This is an epic party time find, without a doubt.

This two piece outfit I kept all for myself.

I think coordinates are classy. Especially ones with printed lace motifs.

Speaking of classy, nothing says GLAM like a metallic top. My favorite aspect of this top is the knit cuffs and hem detail, making this, essentially, a glorified sweatshirt.

You can never have too many tropical/animal printed anythings!

A paint-streak-stripe printed short sleeve button down shirt. This shirt reminds me of what eight year old boys wore when I was in 3rd grade, and what lesbians wear today. But Holly and Chris insisted that it was sweet, so I bought it.

An oversized sleeveless space dyed magenta sweater. Bright colors are so in!

For all those times that I thought to myself, "I wish I had a below the knee acid wash denim pencil skirt, that would go perfectly with this", comes the answer to my prayers:

Below the knee!

Even better is the priceless 80's denim detailing tag, which reads:


Which is basically really good poetry.

Although a "single trip" that is "valid forever" seems a bit's probably just over my head.

Rounding out the apparel and accessories portion of my finds is this F-ing beautiful silk scarf that makes up for all the shitty scarves that I have bought over the years wishing they were better than they actually were. The colors are amazing, the pattern, amazing, and it's actually silk.

This find made Holly rage pretty hard too, which is always a cherry on top.

Now, let's swing by housewares on our way out!

A commemorative wedding trinket, to commemorate a wedding:

Cortney and Andy, may your love.....oh wait, nevermind.

There was even a wall art score that day, which I stumbled upon but knew that I could not commit to, and so handed off to Chris. Thankfully, he was able to give it a good home in his band's practice space:

It is bizarre indeed, and a real photograph, of some long lost extra from some indecipherable, long lost Monty Python sketch.


Those weren't the only sweet finds I got to bring home from Portage that weekend! I also purchased from Holly, at a deep discount, these preselected, hand-delivered castoffs from her trove:

They really make a beautiful triptych.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Maximum Beach Outfit x2

I'm not sure if you knew this, but today is the first day of September, which made yesterday that last day of August.* As my seasonal depression/fear of winter is so intense that last year I burst into tears when I saw my first changing tree of the season, this monthly transition is always a difficult one. On one hand, we tend to have hot weather (today it was in the 80's and crazy muggy), on the other we start dabbling into the fall, with chillier and darker nights and more knits. While this makes for lots of fun clothing options, it is also the last month in which my tanks, little shorts and swimsuits get to be paraded around before being stuffed into a plastic bag for the next 8 months.***

In supreme defiance to this upcoming weather shift, I insisted on visiting the beach today (the 80 degree humid weather certainly helped as well). Happily, I realized this would be a perfect time to rock out in one of my new thrifted bikinis!

Yes, after a disappointing showing of my collection in last spring's Swimsuit Thrift Off, I was able to better my stash this summer with two new bikinis! The most miraculous thing about these bikinis? That they were clearly made for me because I don't know anyone else who has small enough ta-tas to fit into these tiny, tiny tops.

First, this little black knitted/crocheted number I found thrifting with Laurie in the GBC last memorial day.

I love the structure to this piece (pieces?) and the knit detailing. The best thing is that the padding in this piece is so out of control that it gives me cleavage like I never have, and probably never will again, experienced.**** Unlike the black one piece of a similar knit that I got as a youngster at the Kmart in Shawano, this top will not fall down, even when you are going hog wild on a tube in the lake.

While so far my lack of beach going (and yes, I know, summer is over) has relegated my knit bikini to the occasional backyard layout, I chose to debut this multicolored beaut during today's beach excursion.

This was the first piece I grabbed the second we walked into the Portage Goodwill a month ago*****, and I swear it is magic. Even with the impossible french cut of the bottoms, it fits. I mean, granted, there was a lot of blinding white light reflecting off of my toosh at the beach today, but there was still full coverage, which is a must for a thrifted bikini. I am absolutely in love with the pattern and the little tie detail in the front.

Just think what would have happened in that Thrift Off if I had these little numbers in my possession then! Best not to regret how things turned out, though, because thrifting works in mysterious (and magical) ways.

*Which we commemorated last night into the wee hours by listening to Bob Seger** and drinking a sangria mix that bordered heavily on the edge of wop.
**I'm just now realizing that Bob Seger is so much better when you are drinking.
***Seriously, it is killing me to write this.
****I am not really a "boob" woman per se, but when you endowed like me on top, it can be really exciting to have actual cleave.
*****For a major unprecedented successful Goodwill trip, stay tuned for our special "wedding edition" Special Trip. Not all who wander are lost, my friend!