Wednesday, May 7, 2008

It’s SOOOO Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca

Minus Humphrey Bogart. And the War.

Tip Of The Day: I know you don’t really need an excuse to go shopping. And perhaps the best way to be frugal is to stop buying stuff.
However, thrift store shopping is cheap and fabulous, and I have a few tips on what to be looking for now, and what to do with stuff that’s almost perfect.

Tip For Tomorrow: Group Therapy Thursday’s topic will be (drum roll please) the big super-hero reveal. Tell us which super-hero you would be if you could be anyone and what super-hero powers you already possess.

Further Elucidation Of My Cheap Deal: When I went to Saver’s last Friday, the fateful trip during which I scored the red dress (see post below), I was on a mission. A mission I’ve been on all spring – find an amazing winter coat for next year.

I was looking for something dramatic yet classic, warm yet shapely, and made from something super-fabulous, like a wool/cashmere blend. Basically, I wanted perfection. Is that too much to ask for?

I sense your confusion – why was I looking for a winter coat in the springtime? Especially since I’ve been cursing winter’s continued hold on MN, why would I want an item of clothing which symbolizes that dread season?

Because the best time to buy a winter coat at a thrift store is in the spring. Think about it – when do you clean out your winter closet it? When do you dump all your less than perfect winter gear, to make room for kicky summer clothes? And where do you take all those cast-offs?

In short, most winter gear is donated in the spring. And since most people don’t want to buy winter gear in the springtime, most thrift stores mark the prices down for a quick sale.

Case in point, Saver’s in Bloomington. During the fall and winter of 07, they had maybe, MAYBE 3 or 4 coats in my size at any given time… if I was lucky. And most were hideous, not fabulous.
However, last Friday it was like winter-coat-apalooza up in that store. I found at least 10 different coats in my size, and then had to narrow it down from there. I settled on a Forecaster of Boston wool/cashmere coat, which I picked up for a mere $7.99:

Now all I need is a cool fedora, and I am SET.

There is one slight problem with my awesome new coat – the sleeves are a mite too short for my insanely long gorilla-esque arms. But help is at hand! Larue offered to make velvet cuffs for the sleeves, ones long enough to bring the length to where they will cover my wrist bones.

And, being Larue, simple cuffs are not enough. Oh no. She’s making them interchangeable, so I can have one set in plain velvet, one set in embroidered velvet (silver on black, probably a Celtic-y design), and one set in faux fur. They will snap to the bottom of the sleeve and fold over to cover the seam. Beautiful and complicated and fancy. Because that is how Larue rolls. She’s a “More is More” kinda gal, like me.

Anyway, here are a few thrift store shopping tips, in a handy list format for your reading pleasure:

1. Shop your thrift stores now for winter gear. I recommend Saver’s, myself.
2. If you find something you love, but it needs a bit of work, buy it anyway – especially if it’s a good deal.
3. Remember, a good seamstress can let out a hem, take up a hem, remove unsightly pockets, add a cuff, or replace a zipper. And even with that cost tacked on to the price of the item, it should still be a steal.
4. Always check for set-in stains, iron marks and tears in the fabric. These things are harder to hide or fix, and may not be worth the bother.
5. However, look past the wrinkles and removable stains and pet hair. Some clothes just need a good bath and a bit of ironing.

I also bought this work bag for $9.99 during my shopping bonanza. What can I say? It was a good day at Saver’s.

Now let me ask you this – what has been your greatest thrift store score? What is the very best thing you’ve ever found at a thrift store or consignment store? And what did you pay for it?


LaRue said...

I got a pair of men's Ugg boots (new) for $7.99. I have found several American Girl dolls. I found brand new silk Pottery Barn drapes for $4.99 a panel. I have found Oilily children's shoes. Real Dale of Norway sweaters. $200 Riedell ice skates.

Actually, I have terribly good luck at Savers. The only thing is you need to go often and know what you are looking for. And what kind of fur have you found for your cuffs? I need to get you on the calendar, you know.

Anonymous said...

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol 1, hardcover, mint condition, Goodwill (years ago), $1

There will never be anything better because NO ONE except a garage sale sells a hardcover top of the line cookbook for $1.

Most cookbooks in the thrift store are of the Microwave or Healthy Eating variety, and they are not cookbooks. They are a waste of ink and paper.

Nikki said...

I got a Kate Spade black purse in excellent condition for $4.99 last week at the Goodwill in Eagan. That's my best find to date.

mia said...

I grabbed this big bag of silk scarves for $1 at a thrift store. They were all folded very small into little squares (like magician's scarves). When I got home and unfolded them, I realized they were all those huge square limited edition silk scarves by Gucci, Prada, etc.

Ben said...

Steve and Barry's up in the Northtown Mall is selling everything for $8.98 or less right now. I bought a wool peacoat there a month ago at that price. Ridiculous!

Recovering procrastinator said...

My best find was probably a pair of Paper Denim Cloth jeans for $7 at Goodwill in West St. Paul.