1. Thrifted Clock Wednesday: On the Reliability of Clocks (by HMK)

    What: Gorgeous vintage green clock, via Goodwill
    Price: $3

    The summer of 2014 has been a summer of Clock Flux (as well as general flux), for me. Of course, as a dedicated Clock Obsessive, there is always a steady flow of clocks into my house. (Friend, asking me how many clocks I own: “I mean, are we talking ten? Twenty? Thirty?” Me: conspicuously silent. She stopped asking after thirty. That was wise of her.)

    But this summer, I have not just been taking new clocks in. I have been moving old clocks around (what was once in the kitchen is now in the bedroom, what was once in the bedroom is now in the living room, and so on and so forth, into dizzying infinity.) I have let the beautiful clocks which my ex-boyfriend got me go back out into the world, away from my home, as he has gone back out into the world, away from me. I have put batteries in the clocks which I never used and made them active, and have retired clocks which I have been using for years, transforming them back into objects of quiet decoration. This summer, I have been mobile, and restless, and found myself uprooted in ways which I had not expected. And in consequence—so have my clocks.

    In the wake of all this motion and flux, I do so very much want this new clock of mine to be steady. There is the perfect spot for her now open by my bedside table, and I do so very much want her to sit there, undisturbed and unmoving, in the days and weeks and months ahead.

    I want this clock to sit peacefully by me while I am sleeping (alone, now, again) for the rest of 2014, and to ring in 2015 by my side. Who can say what that eerily futuristic-sounding year has in store. But if there is at least the guarantee of a beautiful clock, ticking reliably and faithfully away by one’s side at its beginnings—that does seem to bode well.

     
  2. Thrifted What I Wore: Tuesday Edition. Everything but the earrings (which were a gift from Dad. Thanks Dad) is thrifted. Also, I take back every negative thing I said about winter. Summer heat is definitely the worst.

     
  3. Thrifted Skirt Tuesday: Dressing for Who We Are Not, and May Never Be (by HMK)

    What/Brand: Insane glittery gray and silver skirt, Express via Goodwill
    Price: $4

    I am not now, and have never really been, the right girl to wear this skirt. I wasn’t when I was a lass of 23, and I am certainly not as a woman of nearly 33. It is a bit much for me, in all respects. A bit too short. (Very well—a LOT too short.) A bit too glittery. (Very well—INSANELY glittery.) A bit too overtly attention-seeking. (Very well—EXTREMELY attention-seeking.)

    God knows where I will wear this beauty, or if I ever will. But as I contemplate and gear up for being a full-time teacher once again, owning a skirt like this somehow feels vitally necessary. As a professor, professionalism needs to be at the heart and center of what I wear, and how I act. And I don’t begrudge that. I am a professional, after all, and I want to dress and act accordingly.

    But that is not all I am. I may be too old and too tall and too (sartorially) conservative to wear a skirt like this, ever, in real life.

    But I hope not. I am comfortable being a professional, after all. That is a role, and an aesthetic, which suits me. I am not comfortable, even now, as a grown-up human female, in being the woman in the room who wants attention—the woman who is at ease with her body being visible, not as a means of perambulating knowledge from one end of the classroom to the other, but as a body. That is not now, and never has been, intuitive or natural for me.

    But it might be. Every garment which we own is, after all, a door which, if we choose to, we can step through the day we put it on. And I might not be ready to step through this particular door, and into those particular possibilities, today.

    But who knows. I may be, tomorrow. And this beauty will be waiting for me, in my closet, when, as, and if I am.

     
  4. This Week on Thriftanthology: Thrifting and Transition (by HMK)

    One of the best things about thrifting is that it is steady. Not everything in life is always guaranteed to bring delight to our hearts. We spend a week reading a book, and by the end of it, feel like that is a week which we might have better spent reading cereal box labels, or billboards, or blog posts about unsavory celebrities, or anything else, really. We spend an hour listening to a podcast, and feel like this is an hour which might have been more profitably spent in listening to white noise, or sad music, or nothing at all. We pay $15 to spend a day at the movies, and feel like that money might have been better spent on actual decent popcorn, or a copy of the book on which the film is based, or the donation box by the theater door. Our time is precious, and there are some things in life which unfortunately seem specifically designed to waste that precious time.

    But not thrifting. Thrifting makes few promises to us, and it keeps fewer, but one thing which it does reliably promise is diversion. I have been bored by books and podcasts and movies, but I have never been bored by thrifting. Even in the pokiest little store in the pokiest little town, you will find something intriguing and unexpected and strange. Thrift stores are steady rock of delight, in a sea of less reliably pleasant experiences.

    And as such, thrifting often serves as an anchor in times of flux. While we cannot know if we will like the next song we listen to or the next book we read or the next TV show we watch, but we CAN know that there is a thrift store just around the corner, somewhere, and that wonderful things dwell therein.

    Thrifting is consequently very useful this time of year, since as we slide into late summer, many of us (especially those of us who are teachers) find ourselves in flux—uneasily sitting in between one state of being and another. We are no longer entirely immersed in summer—the new semester is too frighteningly close for that—but neither are we in the full flush of a new year. We sit poised somewhere in between letting go of what has been, and of moving on to what is next. And there are worse places to be, I suppose. But there are also more reassuring ones.

    So this week on Thriftanthology, let us consider thrifting in times of flux—as we stand here on the dividing line between the summer and the fall—let us see where thrifting takes us. As we prepare to say goodbye to the summer, and hello to the year ahead, what do our thrifting hearts want? Down what strange and unexpected roads will our thrifting desires lead us? Let us find out…

     
  5. Thrifted Skirt Sunday: Somewhere Between Eyesore and Wonder (by HMK)

    What: Madcap patchwork Ann Taylor Loft skirt, via Goodwill
    Price: $4

    As Kelli and I have talked about on this Tumblr, there is great delight and great benefit to Thrifting in Numbers. Thrifting on one’s own is a tremendous pleasure, of course. But thrifting with others is also ripe with wonders and benefits. Not only is it more fun and festive, but it also allows one to rifle through one’s friends remarkable brains, for their remarkable thrifting insights. They pull a dress for you which you never would have considered. They talk you off the ledge when you are considering buying a shirt that you clearly do not like, but which for some reason you stubbornly feel compelled to purchase. Good people, thrifting friends.

    My friend Julie is just one such wondrous thrifting companion, in that she has an unerring eye for Things Which All Her Friends Would Like, knowing our taste often better than we know it ourselves. (“This shirt has weird ruffles on it, is super-baggy, and is in a dreary color. Very you!”) Well spotted, dear friend. Well spotted.

    Julie is, however, wary, when we thrift, in showing me garments which she thinks are excessively and comically terrible—because nine times out of ten, my eyes will light up, and I will grab them, try them on, love them, buy them. And then wear them in front of Julie, much to her amusement/horror.

    Because though I am also a sucker for the classically pretty (what a nice color! What a well-formed garment! What soft fabric!), I am an even greater sucker for the strange. The clashing colors. The odd shapes. The weird buttons. I am infatuated with them all. And every time I see Julie (who has unerringly good, original, striking taste) making a face over something, I know there is a 99% chance that what she is looking at is mind-numbingly hideous and unflattering to all human life forms, and that I WILL WANT IT TO POSSESS IT.

    I feel like this skirt is one which walks that fine line between so ugly that it is simply…ugly, and interestingly off-kilter. I love the clashing fabrics and the lumpy piping and the overall 1970s frumpiness of it. I think I hesitated for about two seconds before deciding that this was indeed dowdy, drab, did me no favors, and that I lovvvved it.

    In some ways, fashion is about the uncomplicatedly pretty—flattering silhouettes, soothing colors, elegant construction. And all of these things surely have their place. But so too does the discordant—the uneven textures and strange hemlines and odd details.

    Perhaps the most important thing about a garment is that it stops you in your tracks. To admire it or to puzzle over it—either way. As long as it fails to bore you.

    And so I will wear the clothes which Julie points out to me because they are lovely, and I will wear the clothes which Julie points out to me because they are hideous. And I will be happy, wearing them all.

     
  6. Thrifted Shoes Saturday: Full Suitcase, Blind Determination (by HMK)

    What: Remarkable tri-color autumnal heels
    Price: $5

    How a thrifter (this thrifter, anyway) thinks, when she is traveling, and has limited space in her suitcase in which to schlep any new thrifteds home.

    On Seeing These Shoes:

    There is no way in Hades that these are going to fit into your bag. Your bag is already full, missy, and these are not. Going. To. Fit. Into. It. Maybe if they were a shirt? You could totally fit a shirt in there. A dress, even, if you were careful about how you folded it. But shoes? No. No way. It is impossible. Put the shoes down, child. Walk away.

    But surely it can’t hurt to just see if they fit me? They LOOK like they would fit me.

    Ah. But they are not your size. So—they won’t fit you.

    But—worth trying, anyway? After all, maybe they are vintage. Maybe they are European. And all sizes are psychological, anyway, aren’t they? And doesn’t foot size fluctuate over one’s lifetime? I think I heard that, somewhere? My birthday is coming up. Maybe in honor of impending old age, my feet have grown. [Pause.] Lord, they fit me.

    Not perfectly, though. Look at that gap at the back of your heel.

    But I could wear leggings with them. Fill that gap in. No problem.

    [Snorts skeptically.]

    THICK leggings. And socks!

    Okay, okay, so they could work. But they CAN’T work. You DO NOT HAVE ROOM. Your suitcase is FULL. BACK AWAY FROM THE SHOES.

    But what do I have in my suitcase, anyway? Toiletries? Please. I can buy those anywhere. I will totally throw out my bag of toothpaste and face wash, if it would mean I can fit these beauties in my bag.

    [Massages temples as if getting a headache.] So, you’re getting the shoes, I take it? You are going to smush and cram and even jettison items, if that is what is required to get these loves in your bag?

    [Smiles with quiet determination.]

    And home they came.

     
  7. Thrifted Purse Friday: I Need Another Purse Like I Need A… Really, I Just Need Another Purse (by HMK)

    What/Brand: Glorious vintage tan purse
    Price: $4

    A brief list of things which, technically, I do not need any more of:

    -Books. I have shelves upon shelves, piles upon piles of them. At home, at work, everywhere. All books, all the time.

    -Clocks. As I have discussed elsewhere on this Tumblr, I am something of a Clock Fiend. I have more clocks than I have walls, many, many times over. And most of them don’t work. And I don’t care.

    -Shoes. My feet are starting to get very, very crotchety and are starting to have a very, very low tolerance for heels. You would think this would stop me from buying them. It does not.

    -Purses. SO MANY PURSES. How many things do I have to carry, after all? And how many variety of receptacles do I need to carry them in? Such practical considerations do not guide my purse-purchasing, in the least, I must confess. I have small purses and big purses, vintage purses and new purses, subdued purses and bright purses. So. Many. Purses.

    The fact that I have more than enough of these things does not, of course, prevent me from buying them. Because I lovvvve them. But I DO try to be a smidge more selective, when deciding which of these objects to bring into my home. I will not buy books which I feel like I SHOULD read, but which I do not actually WISH to read. I will not buy clocks which are pretty, but which are not bizarre. (Prettiness is fine. Bizarreness is necessary.) I will not buy shoes which are pleasant, but which do not stop me in my tracks.

    And I will not buy purses which it does not actually physically pain me to think about leaving behind in the store. And this purse is such a purse. I kept trying to put her down and walk away—and I simply could not do it. I loved her weird clasp and greenish-brown color and severe, angular shape far too much. And so, reader, I bought her.

    Life is too short to buy things which we do not absolutely love. And too short not to buy things which we absolutely do.

     
  8. Thrifted Skirt Thursday: Super-Short Skirts, Redux (by HMK)

    What/Brand: Stunning, ruffly, ridiculously short gray skirt from Forever 21, via Goodwill

    Price: $4

    Much like me, this skirt is rather betwixt and between. Its fabric suggests that it might be suitable for the workplace—it is constructed from that rich, crepe-y material that one often finds in sensible skirt suits (which one could theoretically wear if one was a sensible lady politician, or other type of well-heeled and high-powered professional lady. Which one, admittedly, is not.)

    And yet, the skirt is also craaaazily short (granted, I am quite tall, so it rides rather more scandalously high on me than it would on some folks—but still. Regardless of one’s height: very. Short. Indeed.)

    So the skirt is somewhere in between severe and flirtatious—in between tidily professional and wildly inappropriate.

    And right now I, too, am in between things. Physically in between where I grew up and where I live. Chronologically, between the full flush of summer and the beginnings of a new semester. Sartorially, between being the person who wears Very Short Skirts, and the person who wears things which are muted, unobtrusive, classy, and gray.

    It seems that we cannot quite settle, or make up our minds, this skirt and I.

    And really, when one comes to think about it—why should we?

     
  9. Thrifted What I Wore: Wednesday Edition. Shirt and skirt were thrifted.

     

  10. Anonymous said: Hello! I just saw the earring post about the small Old Saybrook thrift store and I'm extremely interested in going there, since I am from that area. I know the exact name and location of the store are somewhat forgotten, but I was wondering if you remember anything around it, that could help me find the store?

    Hello! Thank you for your question (and for reading our blog!). So, the person to answer that is Holly (this is Kelli), and I’ll make sure she sees your question. 

    Cheers!

    K

     
  11. Thrifted Shoes Wednesday: Shoes Fit For Vera Claythorne (by HMK)

    As a young Agatha Christie fan, my favorite book was, without doubt, And Then There Were None, and my favorite character was, without hesitation, Vera Claythorne. Let us leave aside the fact that (spoiler alert) Vera turns out to be a murdereress several times over. (She drowned a child this one time, and ends up shooting her quasi-love-interest through the heart. So. Her moral compass: a smidge off-kilter.)

    But somehow, that didn’t register with my 11-year-old self as much as her seemingly-boring-but-actually-intriguingly-dangerous overall character did. (I guess my 11-year-old self’s moral compass: rather off-kilter, too.) To most of the world, Vera appeared to be a dull “gamesmistress” at a second-rate boarding school (I wish, wish, wish my title was “gamesmistress,” except, I teach history, and not games, so it seems rather unlikely. Drat.) But in reality she was as tough, shrewd, and cool under fire as the caddish gun-for-hire who becomes infatuated with her over the course of the novel (and who, as aforementioned, gets an actual bullet through the heart for his pains. Subtle, Christie.)

    So while Vera seemed conventional and quiet on the surface, her subdued tweeds and sensible shoes masked some serious, perilous fire.

    And I lovvvved her.

    And these shoes somehow put me in mind of her. Muted and low-key at first glance—but with their high high heels and their wacky little bows—suggesting something rather different on a second.

    To wear Vera Claythorne-esque shoes (while avoiding most of her moral foibles)—I can think of nothing better.

     
  12. Thrifted What I Wore: Tuesday Edition. On me, everything is thrifted except the shoes. On L, ditto. Also, it’s so cold outside that we’re wearing pants. In July.

     
  13. Thrifted Earrings Tuesday: The Allure of the Unpredictable (by HMK)

    What: Really quite stunning, sparkly vintage clip-on earrings
    Brand: Generalized vintage insanity
    Where: Random independent thrift shop, Old Saybrook, CT
    When: July 2014 
    Price: $9, for both pairs

    I wish I could remember the name of the thrift shop where I bought these dazzlers. Said shop was tucked into a random building, which one can locate by taking a random turn, off of a random road. (I hope those directions prove helpful.) I do wish I could remember it more clearly, as this shop really did constitute the best of Small, Non-Chain Thrift Store Shopping.

    Now, my love for Goodwill is very well-documented. I love, love, LOVE Goodwill. Goodwills always have a nice layout and big changing rooms. Goodwills always have reasonable prices. Goodwills always have amazing, weird stuff. Bless Goodwill.

    But Goodwill is a chain, and chains do have rules. The price of something at Goodwill is its price, and they won’t change it, come hell or high water. Goodwill only allows six items in a changing room at a time, and employees will (albeit lazily) seek to enforce this dictum. Goodwill will ask to see your ID if you make a purchase with a credit card. These are not terrible rules, but they are rules, and one must (typically) abide by them.

    Independent thrift stores, now—those are something else, altogether. They are more lawless, anarchic spaces, a fact which, admittedly, works in both good ways and bad. I have never been interrogated about my personal relationship with Jesus at Goodwill. But at independent thrift stores, I have. Frequently. Yikes.

    On the other hand, here are some of the things which happened to me at this lovely Old Saybrook thrift store which never would have happened to me at a chain store:

    -On hearing me lament that I hated examining jewelry from behind glass, the cashier opened up the jewelry case for me. And left it open. And walked away. Wow. Trust.

    -When I kept vainly seeking to see how earrings looked on me by using my phone (unwise), the cashier brought me a vintage mirror to look in. Charming. (And so much more helpful.)

    -When I commented on how much I liked both of the pairs of earrings I was trying on, and needed to decide which pair to choose, the cashier casually told me I could have both for the price of one, since I liked them both so much. What.

    I guess it’s something akin to the Starbucks vs. indie coffeeshop thing. When on the road, there is nothing I am more grateful to see than a Starbucks. Somewhere which will reliably have nice drinks, gooey baked goods, and comfy chairs for me! Praise be! The predictable and the expected!

    Yet independent coffeeshops, like independent thrift stores, are delightfully unpredictable and unexpected. In independent thrift shops, I have been religiously badgered, and have had free Bibles shoved into my bag of purchases against my will. But. I have also had nice cashiers provide me with mirrors, and give me discounts, and trust me with their jewelry cases. And so. Unpredictability does seem to have its charms…

     
  14. Thrifted What I Wore: on me, everything except the watch is thrifted. On L, his shirt is thrifted.

     
  15. This Week on Thriftanthology: Complete Bloody Thrifting Anarchy (by HMK)

    For someone who travels a goodish bit, I am an impressively poor packer. I always insist on bringing more (heavy) books than I could possibly, actually read. (Sorry, iPad. I like turning pages.) I commonly forget where my travel size shampoo bottles and toothpaste tubes are, and as a result end up lugging along toiletries alarmingly close to normal, non-travel-y size. I am usually irrationally concerned that the weather will turn, and bring along a spare cardigan or two even when traveling in July. In the South. So. I tend to pack very badly, indeed.

    When embarking on my current jaunt, a solid 1,000 miles from home, I momentarily contemplated packing thrifted goods for me to talk about here, for the week of Thriftanthology ahead. Surely, I should bring an assemblage of coherent garments to analyze on this here blog? Surely that would be wise?

    And then I shrugged, and commenced shoving more books and clothes into my bags at random. I imagined that some manner of thrifting pattern would emerge from my vacation shopping. That I did not really need to come prepared.

    But now, contemplating my newly repacked suitcase, I am not sure this was the wisest of choices. Is there a method to my out-of-town thrifting madness? Does being out of town result in any kind of thrifting coherence, or in my purchasing things with no real connection to my usual thrifting taste, or to each other? Huh. Let us find out…