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A Guide to Thrifting

  • December 8, 2016

I always talk about shopping at thrift stores in my style posts. That’s because I find a lot of my pieces in thrift stores! Today I wanted to share with you my top tips for shopping thrift stores, the best trending items to shop, and some great online thrifting websites (because yay for online shopping).

Ok!

My Top Tips for Thrift Store Shopping:

1. Make a  (Short) List

Know (in your head or on paper) what you’re going to look for. Whether it’s a shirt, pants, jacket, etc.. This will help you stay on track and not get sucked into the store. And trust me, it’s easy to get sucked in with so much “stuff” all around! Also, try not to have too long of a list. Finding a great item at a thirft store means you have to take the time to sort through all the junky pieces…if you’re looking for a lot you’re less likely to look thoroughly enough for each item, and you won’t find anything on your list.

2. Make a Route

If you’re planning on going to multiple stores I would suggest creating a game plan or route for your shopping day. That way you’ll save time by hitting stores in order vs. skipping some then back tracking to areas you’ve already been.

3. Make Time

You want to be sure you have alotted a full day to this adventure. Thrift stores are not known to be the most organized places. And yes, they do tend to carry a heavy junk to treasure ratio. So to find really great items you need time to sift through every single thing on a rack. Yes, you need to check everything! If you don’t you might miss a great deal/piece! So if you’re searching for jeans, you should be checking every pair of jeans on every rack of pants in the store. This is the only way to actually find something great.

4. Use Cash

Thrifting is kind of like Black Friday shopping. Everything is a great deal and a steal. This combined with the sheer amount of product thrift stores carry can easily cause you to get carried away. Bringing cash will keep you in a budget and make sure you don’t go wild from all the discounts!

5. Enjoy It

I know thrift stores can sometimes feel overwhelming for people because of the immense space and odds and ends packed into enormous warehouse-style rooms. Remember you’re shopping! It should be fun! Play around while in the thrift stores; laugh at some of the quirkier items they’ve housed.

Some people might feel a little bit “blehck” (that’s the expression that comes to mind) about rummaging through other people’s discarded items (and in some thrift stores you FEEL like you’re rummaging through other people’s discards). If that happens maybe that thrift store isn’t the right one for you. I have been there. Some stores are just yuck. But trust that someone has already checked all the donated items, and remember you will immediately go home and wash your items…So don’t be scared of second-hand stuff!!! Most thrifting adventures end with the discovery of treasure!

Top Trends to Shop at Thrift Stores:

1. Pajama Trend

Everyone has that one family member (probably your mom) that purchases special pajamas for you on holidays. You know the silky ones with a button up top and matching pants. Yes, those! And most people wear these one time, if that!

These trending items are great for thrift shopping because they tend to be gentley or never used. Something that is donated because it is no longer wanted or worn, not because it is out of style or too old. This means they are generally cleaner than some other items, newer, and in great condition!

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Shop pieces like: satin pajama tops, satin pajama pants, and satin shorts

2. Lingerie Inspired Pieces

I know I discussed this in Dust Yourself Off  (article on the Duster Coat Trend). The lingerie trend is going strong and thrift stores are a great place to find key pieces!  I think that when people donate lingerie pieces they are pickier with their items. These are clothing items that have been right against skin, not and overlayer. They have been worn intimately and thus are donated with an intimate thought.

That means they are less likely to donate something that is worn out or overused (because that’s honestly gross). Also, how often do you wear lingerie (teddy, nightgown etc.)? Exactly, rarely if at all. Again these items have less wear and tear. As I stated in that article, I am not saying to go get used, ratty old undies, but a great slip dress or silk cami would be perfect and easily obtained through thrifting!

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Shop items like these: Slip Dress, Silk/Lace Cami, Corset, Slip Skirt, Duster/Robe

3. Denim

Anything denim…levi’s, jean jacket, maxi skirt, cutoff shorts etc. Thrift stores are great for shopping denim pieces. True denim is hard to wear down and thus a great thrifting find. These pieces will usually be in tact and wearable condition.

Thrift stores often carry pieces that are out of style (trends come back around!). Which is the case with denim. Therefore, their great places to find original/classic levi’s to cutoff, distress, or recycle! As well as older denim pieces that are hot right now: denim trucker jackets, denim maxi skirts, overalls etc..

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Shop items like: Trucker Jackets, Classic Jeans, Denim Skirts, Jeans to make Cutoffs

For Levi’s or any classic denim be sure to also check men’s jeans…they often carry more classic denim styles. If you can find a size that fits these can be worn as recycled vintage jeans. You just need to cut the bottom for a crop and distressed hem.

4. Jackets/Coats

Who doesn’t use a jacket at least once in their life? Normally I would say it’s ok to splurge the extra money because you’re going to need it and it will last you awhile. But say you live in a warm climate and are going on a vacation to a colder area. Well why waste money on something you’re going to get barely any use out of? Perfect solution: find it at the thrift store.

Jackets are another awesome discounted find at a thrift store. Jackets are a hard item to beat up or wear down. On top of that, jackets only get worn a few months of the year (in most areas) and when they’re worn it’s usually for short periods of time (because who hangs out in the cold). Even better most jacket silhouettes carry on every year. This means that jackets in thrift stores are barely used (great condition) and in-style or current! (obviously give or take a few that are donated after years of use or from back in the 80s)

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Shop classic styles like: trench coats, faux fur coats, army jackets, bombers, puffers, and peacoats

Sometimes the older silhouettes/styles they carry can end up being great vintage finds!

5. Rock Band Tees/Vintage Tees

Rocker tees are in right now! And they are one of my faves!!! I hate the notion of buying a distressed rock band tee for $40, something brand new that’s made to look old. Why not just get it first hand? You have to be careful with these, because some thrift/vintage stores will over price these because of their demand. To get a deal you want to make sure you are at a thrift store!

These pieces are also VERY rare and hard to find in a thrift store. You will be sifting through racks of shirts for what seems like FOREVER. But if you ever find one, wow what a score! Remember to shop every t-shirt rack, not just women’s. In fact, most t-shirts like this will be in the men’s section because of the silhouette and graphic. You’ll want to check EVERYTHING.

(no picture needed…any graphic tee you like you can find something at the thrift store)

My Thrift Stores:

Thrift stores obviously vary from region to region, but there are some that are pretty consistent:

  • Goodwill – probably one of the cheapest (excluding any local places)
  • Plato’s Closet – buys secondhand items (more on-trend pieces)
  • Any Place Local – I find local stores usually have the best deals and inventory

Those are some basic places that will always hand out one or two gold nugget items!

Because thrift stores vary so much from place to place…here are some online thrift stores to shop! (although tip: it’s better to shop these places in person, items look better in person and you can test things out)

  1. The Attic
  2. Thred Up
  3. Swap
  4. Web Thrift Store
  5. Goodwill – yes you can shop goodwill online!
DIY Trending Tuesday

Updated Lace-Up Flats

  • November 29, 2016
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A few weeks ago I featured this season’s Ballet Trend on Trending Tuesday. The first item on my list of must-haves to master this trend was lace-up flats.

Lace-up flats have been a part of the shoe scene for a few seasons now, even though this ballet inspired trend is fairly new.  So…what’s changed? While we categorize any lace-up flats into the ballet trend category, the ballet inspiration can be more heavily seen in a rounded toe and a ribbon vs. string lace-up.  The problem: My flats are pointed toe and have a string lace-up.  While these are still perfectly acceptable to create ballet inspiration in an outfit, I want more! However, I don’t really like the idea of buying another pair of lace-up flats, especially when I don’t wear last year’s shoe….solution: Update Last Season’s Lace-Up Flats!

As stated above, true ballet inspiration comes from a pointed toe and ribbon lace-up. Obviously (I think) I can’t change the pointed toe….so onto the next feature: the ribbon lace-up!

Easy fix – To update last season’s lace-up flats swap out your string lace to any variety of ribbon for the lace-up!

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Seems easy enough, right? Just replace your shoe lace with a piece of ribbon the same length. Not only does this update your lace-up flat, but it opens up endless possibilities for your flats. Different ribbon will create various looks for your pair of flats….1 shoe turns into infinite variety!

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This idea seems easy enough, but the problem I ran into was the ribbon (even thinner strands). They are too wide for the eyelets of my shoes.  Below is a step-by-step guide on how to lace your flats if you too run into this issue!

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Step 1: Accordion fold the ribbon as small as needed for it to fit through the eyelets
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Step 2: Using a needle, pull a piece of string through the top folded section
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Step 3: Loop the string back through another time, to ensure the needle and string can’t be pulled from the ribbon
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Step 4: Now use the needle and string to lace the ribbon through the eyelets.

You will want to start lacing at the top (heel end) of the flat and lace from one end to the other.  If you start lacing at the toe, you’ll have to re-string the needle at the other end of the ribbon and lace one side at a time.

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Now these flats have more POP! I’ve already tried them with two different ribbons and have even more waiting!

Zara Oversized Check Shirt | Express Skinny Jeans | ASOS Moto Jacket | DSW Lace-Up Flats | Ribbon |

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Statement Sweater DIY

  • November 11, 2016
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A couple of weeks ago I made a shopping list of WOW Pieces I was craving for fall. And while I have shopped a few of these items (mainly reconstructed denim) I decided to take matters into my own hands.

I kept searching for the perfect statement sweater, but nothing stood out amongst the crowd of knits this season. So I ventured to my local thrift store (for some inspiration and DEALS) where I found a wine colored Chenille Sweater and some matching Plum Ribbon. I instantly loved the sweater but had picked the ribbon for a different project (coming soon…). Then I realized: “These match perfectly!!” Thus the DIY for a statement sweater was born. And what is more of a statement than bows tied around oversized sleeves?!

Here it is:

How to turn your oversized sweater into a statement piece with ribbon tie-sleeves!

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First things first, you will need a sweater. Any sweater will do, but preferably one that is oversized. The oversized sleeves will cinch nicely creating a bell flare with the ribbon tie.
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Materials: Ribbon, Needle, Thread, Scissors

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Step 1:

Measure how much ribbon you want per sleeve. Cut two strands of equal length. The length of your ribbon can vary depending on how you want to style your bows, maybe double wrapped, maybe long, maybe short, maybe flowing strands and no bow. Whatever you choose just cut two strands for that style.

Tip: Put on your sweater and play around with tying the ribbon. This will help you visualize the look and decide what type of bow-tie you would prefer. It will also give you a more accurate idea of the length of ribbon you need to cut (vs. just guessing and cutting).

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Step 2:

Most sweaters have a sleeve-length seam from the armpit to the cuff. This will be where we stitch on the ribbon. Make sure you are clear where the seam is on your sweater. If your sweater doesn’t have this seam (COOL!) find an inconspicuous place to attach your ribbon.

Tip: Seams are best for attaching and stitching items because sewing through the seam won’t affect the garment (i.e. no snags or holes). Under the arm is the most inconspicuous because normally your arms are down, leaving the stitching unexposed.

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Step 3:

Put your sweater on and determine where you want the ribbon (tie) to be placed. I chose around the wrist because my sleeve is not super loose. For a looser (bell shaped) sleeve I would recommend placing it higher up at the elbow area to enhance the bell shape.

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Step 4:

Now that you have determined the placement of your ribbon, mark the spot with a pin through the seam where you will be attaching your ribbon.

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Step 5:

Take one of your ribbon strands and fold in half.  This point will be where you stitch your ribbon to your sweater.

(You can choose not to do in half if you would like uneven length strands, or if you are not going to be sewing your ribbon to the underbelly of the sleeve)

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Step 6:

Pin your ribbon to your sleeve at that half-way point.  Keep the pin in while you sew your ribbon to your sleeve. It will help keep it in place while you are stitching it.

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Step 7:

Now stitch…just a few loops around will be fine. By loops around I mean I started from the inside of the sweater and poked the needle through the sweater and ribbon then pulled the thread through. Then a few centimeters from that point I stuck the needle back through the ribbon and sweater to the inside. Then repeated this for two more loops…easy, like sewing on a button! If you don’t know how to sew at all here is a simple video.

Tip: Use thread that is the same color as your ribbon for the best results. I used plain black; so you could see my stitch and also because it was the color closest to the plum that I had…and seriously the small stitch you will make is hardly noticeably anyway.

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Voila!! Now you have a simple way to create a statement sweater for fall. And it can be exactly what you are envisioning, and you don’t have to settle for what you can find in a store!

Hope you enjoy this DIY!!! I really did!

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DIY: Deep-V Graphic

  • October 21, 2016
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I think we can all agree Kendall Jenner is a style star.  It was this look that I couldn’t get out of my head. So I figured it was time I created this shirt for myself.

And here it is…a DIY to re-create this extra Deep-V Graphic T-Shirt.

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From Slides to Lace-Ups

  • September 14, 2016
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Espadrilles! Yes, we all love them–a summer ’16 must have. From the first sight I knew I had to have them. So I went on the lookout; I wanted a suede/leather, black, thick flatform sole, and ones that had straps to lace-up around my ankle.

While there was never a shortage of espadrilles anywhere, they were never exactly what I envisioned. Well, none within my budget (I was trying to keep <$60 but would compromise for the perfect pair). Then, I found these:

Gaimo Espadrilles ($28 at Marshalls). These are handmade espadrilles from Spain. And they are AMAZING! They feel like walking on small personal clouds specially crafted for each footstep. They were a must! Great Brand! Great Price!

However, they still were not exactly what I had envisioned. Don’t get me wrong, slides are amazing, but I wanted those lace-up ankle straps. After some debate at the store I knew I had to have them and would make them work.

All they needed was the ankle strap!

So, here is how I created my DIY Summer Lace-Up Flatform Espadrilles.

You will need a razor (box cutter, exacto knife, or anything with a thin, straight, sharp edge), a sharpie to mark with, and tweezers.  For the straps you can use whatever you like. For this I used material that matched the shoe: leather cord.

You can make the straps as long as you like, but you need that 4x over (2 straps for each shoe).  My straps were a yard each (4 yards of cord total).

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1. Indicate with a marker where you will make your first incision for your strap

Your straps should be attached in an inconspicuous place. I marked my incision as low and close to the corner edge (heel end) as possible. Be sure not to mark too close to edges; you don’t want your straps to rip out.

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2. Make another incision mark 2-3 centimeters from the first (toward the toe)

Make this second mark parallel to your first. The two incisions will create slits to weave in your straps and tie a knot.

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3. Now use your sharp edge tool to create the slits from your previous markings

The best way to do this is to use small strokes. You don’t want to make the incisions too small (your fabric won’t fit through) or too large (they will stretch and be loose or tear).

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4. Use the tweezers to hold the edge of your strap fabric

You need the tweezers because your slits should be tight enough to not easily lace your fabric through. The tweezers will help to create a taut end to shove through the openings.

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5. Place the tweezers through the slit closest to the heel edge from the inside

Be sure to start from the slit closest to the heel or your straps will face toward the toe of your sandals.

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6. Do the same thing for the other slit, this time pulling the strap toward the inside

To know you’ve done it right, the loop that you created should start from the inside, loop on the outside, and end back inside the sandal.

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7. Now loop both ends together to start a knot

You’re going to want your first loop of the knot to have your long end (your strap) to face toward the toe of the sandal.

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8. Loop the end together one more time to create a knot

Be sure to have your long end (strap) going toward the heel end of the sandal.  If it is tied the opposite way, when you go to tie your straps it will create a gap between the sandal and your foot.

Pull the knot as tight as possible to make it fairly flat and glue your knot.  The glue will help to make sure your knot stays tied (use hot glue or super glue).

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This is how your knot should look.

Repeat the steps 1-8 for the other side of your sandal. Try to make the other strap placement symmetrical to your first.

Repeat the process again on your second sandal.

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Now you have created a lace-up ankle strap for your slide sandals.

I realize now that slides are awesome! But when it comes to esapdrilles, lace-ups are the way to go!  I am still so happy that I turned these flatforms into lace-up sandals! They are easily my favorite summer ’16 shoe.

The next time you find sandals that aren’t ideal hopefully this article’s convinced you that with a few steps you can easily make them everything you wanted!

Tag me on instagram (@_ablankspace_) and show me your favorite summer DIY project!

 

DIY Trending Tuesday

All Choked Up

  • August 29, 2016
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The latest trend in jewelry, chokers! We all love to wear them, but do you like to buy them? I know I don’t. Sadly, I have fallen victim to this over-priced purchase before. I bought this choker from Aldo while on vacation, $15!!!

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You may have already realized that I’m a fan of a bargain and a little do-it-yourself to pinch pennies. So, here is my style hack for the leather/suede wrap-around chokers: Buy the strand of leather or suede straight from the source!

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Your local craft or fabric stores, such as MichaelsJoann’s, or Hobby Lobby, will carry various forms and colors of these fabric strands. You can usually buy them in a 2-3 yard package ranging from $3-4. Or if you prefer you can find the trim by the yard and have it cut in any increment that works for you. I typically just buy the whole package, and keep it the full length for maximum wraps around my neck.   This leaves you with various ways to style the chokers too!

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You can even add charms to dangle in the middle if you’d like. Or maybe you want it to have something at the ends like the one from Aldo. Whatever the case, doing it yourself will not only save you major $$$ but allow you to design it to your every desire.

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