For the past 2 Makeover Mondays, I’ve been experimenting to see how many things I could make from a single shirt. First, I took the collar off to wear on its own, then I tried making a sort of cowl/scarf hybrid with the body of the shirt. And today, I have a quick and easy project to make with the shirt sleeves!
I’ve had a number of ideas for using the shirt sleeves, but I’ve narrowed it down to my favorite, the concept of which is to make a scarf that, when worn, looks like you’ve draped a jacket or cardigan over your shoulders, you know, with the sleeves hanging down in front, or maybe loosely tied. That’s the idea, anyway.
Let’s start by taking a look at what’s left of my increasingly-cannibalized shirt:
What’s left of my shirt, after taking off the collar and the body below the arms. Hmm, it does kind of look like a shrug…
Previously on Thrift-Shop Thursday, in Shopping Strategies, Part 1, I suggested developing your shopping strategy before going to a thrift shop; this boils down to getting as clear as possible about what you want. Today, I’ll continue with Part 2, in which I’ll take a sample shopping trip and see how well my Part 1 strategy works (or not)!
In my own Part 1 strategy, I decided that I was going to continue looking for Take Tango to Work! items. However, since this week’s Makeover Monday, where I took the collar off a shirt to use as an accessory, I’ve been thinking about all the possible variations on this theme, so I’ve revised my plan. Here’s my new shopping strategy for this trip, condensing the 3 steps from Part 1:
Pick a priority, make it as specific as possible, then pick a store. My new priority is to find shirts with (a) a collar plus a collar stand, and (b) some sort of visual interest in the collar. This could be just a beautiful color, unusual fabric, or embellishment, like beading, embroidery, or trim. The Value Village store that’s closest to me is enormous, and has a large selection of button-down shirts, so I’ll go there.
Tip: Take a tape measure with you! In thinking about my collar project, I realized that it wouldn’t have to be garment-size-dependent. In other words, I could take a collar off, say, a size 20 shirt (equivalent of XXL), and it would still work; it would just be looser around my neck. (This would make it lie more like a necklace, actually, so if you happen across a beautiful beaded collar on a garment that’s way too big for you, don’t pass it up!) So before I left for Value Village, I measured around the inside of my Makeover Monday collar, which was 15″ when buttoned. This is close-fitting but not tight on my neck, so I’m adding bigger-then-15″ to my strategy.
Off to shop! Here’s what my Value Village store looks like:
My local Value Village store. Enormous, non? And this photo doesn’t even show the furniture, housewares, books, etc. Now we can see the value of going in with a plan! (Click on the photo to find your Value Village.)
You know, it just occurred to me that you may not yet be familiar with thrift shops in your neighborhood. And I must admit I habitually go to the same 2 (mentioned in my last post), because they’re both within 5 or 6 minutes of where I live. Out of curiosity, I just did a quick search (“thrift shop” plus my zip code), and got some surprising results, including a thrift/consignment shop described as “upscale”; it’s inside a performing-arts venue, so I doubt I would notice it just driving by the building. Its website also says that profits go towards maintaining and improving the entire performing-arts facility, which means that shoppers are helping to support an important local organization. So in addition to the well-known thrift-shop chains like Value Village, Salvation Army, and Goodwill, you might just discover a local gem that’s also worth supporting!
Ooh, look what I just found: a national thrift-shop directory! Just put in your city or zip code, and voila! And this site includes an online community, as well as advice on thrift and consignment shopping. Even if you’ve already done your own local search, going to another search engine can yield surprisingly different results.
Happy thrift shopping, everyone! Oh, and please do let me know when you make a great thrift-shop score, okay? I’d love to do a regular feature out of your shopping triumphs!
After last week’s Thrift-Shop Thursday’s big debut (featuring the ever-popular replace-a-button tutorial), it occurred to me that it might be a good idea to talk shopping strategies for a minute, before going on to more thrift-shop-find projects.
Tip: These strategies, while thrift-shop-specific in this post, can also apply to any clothes shopping you do; the only real difference between the two is that you’ll have more size options outside of thrift shops.
Rather than just giving you a list of general shopping concepts, I’m going to use my current Makeover Monday/Take Tango to Work series to illustrate these principles in action. In my last MM post, I talked about how to organize a plan to develop a multi-functional wardrobe; here, I’ll follow up on those steps with details, including how I’m putting my own plan to good use at my favorite thrift shops.
Starting with your general plan, you’ll get a bit more specific:
1. Decide what types of garments are your immediate priority. Do you desperately need skirts? Maybe you’re short on trousers, or need more simple tops that can be worn alone or as layering pieces. From here, get even more specific, if possible: black knee-length skirt, classic navy wool trousers, colorful printed knit pullover tops.
What I’m doing: Since I need clothes that can go from work to tango (see my recent Makeover Monday posts for details), I’m focusing my shopping efforts on skirts and dresses, specifically, pencil skirts and sheath dresses, both of which are commonly worn in Argentine tango, and both of which are also work-appropriate. And I need professional-looking jackets and more colorful tops (I’m getting tired of black). I’m also adding a “wild card” space to my list, to cover those unexpected finds, like my pinstriped skirt that I found while shopping for tops. Continue reading →
Previously on Makeover Monday: Last week I told you about the launch of my wardrobe-wide makeover, that will transform my motley assortment into a cohesive collection. My most pressing need is for more professional wear, but I would also like to incorporate additional garments suitable for Argentine tango— without having to create 2 separate wardrobes. Hence my new and ongoing Makeover Monday project: Take Tango to Work!
My main issue: For me, virtually all clothing currently sold as tango wear is inappropriate, both as part of a professional wardrobe, and for a woman of a certain age. (Not to mention that tango clothes frequently come only in various combinations of red and black, neither of which is a personal favorite.)
What kinds of pieces would work? Even outside of dancing, I prefer wearing skirts, so I’m starting there. But even with the fashion latitude a creative professional enjoys, I don’t think slinky skirts and dresses are proper. So I’ll look for more structured pieces, meaning made with woven fabrics, including stretch wovens; these materials typically result in a more substantial garment, as opposed to one that would cling inappropriately.
Since I really wanted to get this makeover project off to a quick start (I have a tango lesson tonight, after all), I dropped into one of my favorite thrift shops, Value Village. (If you happen to be in the Portland area, the one I usually go to is the Tigard branch; this is a fairly large chain of stores, and you can search for the one closest to your zip code.) I was looking more for tops, of which I found a few, but my big find for the day was this skirt:
SCORE! My new gray skirt is a lightweight wool pinstripe from Jones New York, fully lined, with an invisible zipper, in like-new condition. And it fits me perfectly! (Skirt price: $7.99!)