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!


  1. Well, you seem like a blogger I can show off to my international friends, good old fashioned thrifting American style. I've only read a couple of pieces, but will be back again. If not, look me up at SMJ VoirreyDirector on Facebook, or Voirrey herself at Voirrey SoVoirrey on Facebook as well. I am so glad you are advocating those unstoppable woven belts, and retro jackets. Take care.

  2. Thanks Voirrey! We will be sure to do our best ;) !