Archive for the ‘Thrift Shopping’ Category

Button Bracelets

August 19, 2009

I’m super-thrifty and annoyingly finicky when it comes to accessories. I always wear one of two rings – either a delicate vintage engagement ring I inherited from my grandmother or a chunkier ring I scored at an art fair – and one of two charm necklaces featuring some beloved found objects, like a Canadian penny, dramatic diary keys, and a little gold wishbone. I refuse to buy accessories for specific outfits or occasions – I just want simple, chic pieces that I can pair with any of my ensembles. The most versatile of all of my jewelry is a button bracelet I made using antique buttons I picked up at a craft fair. After I lugged my bag of buttons home, I called some girlfriends over and we made bracelets in various color schemes, from ethereal white and yellow to nautical blue. Because I used mostly-neutral colors, my whimsical bracelets have become some of my daily wardrobe staples.  


button bracelets

To make a button bracelet, all you need are buttons and some thin, clear elastic (available at craft stores). Since the elastic has the tendency to slip out of knots, anchor it by looping it repeatedly through the button-holes of the first button you use. When you’re finished, loop the remaining elastic through the same button to create a continuous chain. If you’re not a DIY diva, check out some pretty, professionally-made pieces by artist Liz Landers.

Liz Landers jewelry

So P.O.S.H.

August 13, 2009

 I passionately believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and it doesn’t count unless it’s warm, filling, and piled high. That’s why I’m enamored with these cheeky mugs emblazoned with the phrase, “Pancakes Make People Happy” ($8). They make me reminisce about lazy Sunday-morning brunches at my favorite greasy-spoon diner, where I’d dive mouth-first into a buttery short-stack. These days, I’m always eating on the run, but I’m happy to gulp down a big drink of nostalgia.  


 Whether looking for charming diner-staples like these mugs or for slightly classier-fare, thrifty shoppers should flock to P.O.S.H., a well-edited vintage home-goods boutique for nesters who don’t want to skimp on style.  

The affordable housewares and eclectic goods are culled from restaurant warehouses and flea markets in the U.S. and Europe. The store stocks plates, bowls, mugs, tea services, and glassware in a variety of patterns, attracting buyers looking for anything from classy to kitsch. Some delicate floral patterns seem straight out of a bucolic English bed-and-breakfast, while other understated pieces in monochromatic palettes would be at home in a chic Parisian bistro. Other pieces are full of whimsy, such as a cheerful creamer decorated with an accordion-playing gnome.  

With many adorable items under $10 and $20, P.O.S.H. is ideal for shoppers who want to give their kitchen a cosmopolitan flair on a college student’s budget.  

613 N. State St.
Chicago, IL

Get the Look: Bust Out the Blazer

August 6, 2009

At Avant Gaudy we firmly believe you can reinvent your style without restocking your closet.  Here’s how you can turn that classic blazer into a fresh new look.

Inspiration: Louis Vuitton Fall 2009 Trends

Avant Gaudy Collection: Material Girl Bra & Back to Basics Blazer

How to Style It: Pair a lacy brassiere with your favorite blazer for an instant masculine/feminine mash-up.  Button up the blazer for a confident and sexy look.  Plunge it open for the after party.

Price: Material Girl Bra $48.00 & Back to Basics Blazer $45.00

I showed you mine, now you show me yours. Tell me about your favorite way to make an old piece look new again!

Fashion Sustainability Vintage Sale

August 5, 2009

This Saturday only, you have the chance to buy some of your favorite Avant Gaudy shoes and accessories, available for purchase during the Fashion Sustainability Vintage Sale at Heaven Gallery. You’ll have a first look at some of our newest shoes and accessories! And you can find unique and sustainable vintage clothing and accessories from other vintage dealers!

Avant Gaudy will be one of several retailers at this event, held on Saturday and Sunday, August 8-9,  from 1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Don’t forget: Avant Gaudy will ONLY be there on SATUDAY!


Other vintage designers and dealers include Style 4 Food, Sarah Katherine Green, Max & Chloe, Lum, Nicole Blaje and Renovar.

Location: Heaven Gallery
             1550 N. Milwaukee Ave.
             Chicago, IL

You can learn more and RSPV to Heaven Gallery’s Fashion Sustainability Vintage Sale here!

Will we see you at the vintage sale on Satuday?

Iris Impressions

August 5, 2009

My time spent in Seattle this week has really thrown me into all states of mind with the abundance of steep hills and winding brick roads.  You think there’s a Starbucks on every corner at home?   Visit Seattle, and every other business is a Starbucks.  The best thing about Seattle besides the view from my hotel is by far, the shopping.  After all, no city is a true city without cool and one of a kind shops!

So, I arrived at the Freemont Flea Market on the hot sunny day I arrived.  So much culture surrounded me from the assortment of Native American inspired boots to vintage jewelry.  Booths of colorful fabrics and embroideries covered the streets and it was just beautiful!  I had a hard time choosing which booth to dive into, but color drew me into one particular booth.  This so happened to turn out to be my ultimate favorite booth in my flea market history.

It was literally a dream come true.  Have you ever looked at a sari and admired the beauty of such vibrant colors and elaborate patterns, but never thought to wear it outside?  Well, a company named Iris Impressions takes recycled saris and designs them into wraps so they can be worn as a skirt, tank, or dress – for many different occasions! 

      Iris Impressions - Girl Wrap Skirt, $49.99 Iris Impressions - Long Wrap Skirt, $119.99

The wraps are sold at three lengths: short, medium, and large.  They all wrap the same way, and it depends on the length you want.  The wrap is made to have a top layer and a bottom layer with two ties that go around the top.   The sides then have a hole to tuck under the strap so if desired, you could wear it as a halter tank.  I bought the short one for $20 (a bargain!) that has green fabric underneath a top layer of a bold striped pattern.  There are eight ways in which you can wear the wrap, all listed in the accompanying book received when purchased.  If you’re interested in buying this item, check out the website at  The prices are relatively cheap, too.  Because I purchased mine at a flea market, the price I paid was cheaper than the price online.  The prices online seem to be about $50 for a short wrap, $89 for a medium wrap, and $119 for a long wrap.

Iris Impressions - Short Wrap Skirt, $55

However, they’re worth every dollar.  I feel like it’s fate that led me to that booth.  I love how you can wear it so casually – perhaps as a tank with skinny jeans and flip flops or you can go completely the opposite, and wear it is a gorgeous halter dress and pair it with heels and sparkly earrings for a night out.  For fall, I recommend you wear it is a high waist skirt with some cool black or tan boots.  You will look outstanding because no one has anything as unique. 

Plus if you go on weekend trip, just pack along this wrap, and it alone will serve you the entire weekend of play, sleep, and relax – no one will know your secret!

Alter Ego

August 3, 2009

In the realm of thrifting, there is some God-awful, ugly stuff. 

Take this dress for instance: A long sleeved, froofy, suffocating monstrosity made all the more ridiculous in an eye-damagingly bright, red.  As my dear mother would say, the number was in fact, “uglier than sin.” 

Not surprisingly, the price tag read ten cents. 

The stop-sign red hue of the “Christmas Day Nightgown” (as my colleagues fondly christened it), serving as a blatant forewarning for naïve bargain hunters, was not enough to hinder this blogger.  My retail salivary glands were working at the rapidity of a rabid canine.  Ten cents, why I can find a dime in the dirt! What a deal!  With a spring in my step, I handed a quarter over to the cashier.  Upon arrival at my apartment, the dress looked even uglier than I had remembered it.  As always, every cloud has a silver (er…in this case, stuffy polyester) lining.  This thing just needed a little TLC. 


Now, most folks are frightened of the term “sewing.”  To them, it may conjure up ghastly recollections from 7th grade Home Ec class projects gone awry.  It signifies that “Vogue Patterns” instruction booklet and a ball of discount fabric from Jo-Anns sitting forlornly in the back of a closet in a heap of frumpy defeat.   Not to fear, though.  If I can do it, you (with utmost certainty) can do it with ease! 

Snip Snip

I simply chopped off the arms, hacked off a foot and a half of  hem length, folded the hem over, ironed it, and stitched it up in order to avoid fraying.   

Extreme Make-Over

Voila–A cute frock for pennies!  Pretty nifty thrifty, huh?

Weekly Thrifting with Caroline

July 30, 2009

This week’s shop:
1900 Harlem Ave # A
Riverside, IL 60546-1672
(708) 442-3606

 Ready to be worn finds!

*Green Heels. [$2.99] 

Once in awhile I will find some cute one & a half inchers! These heels are not too special, but the bright green color is a snazzy and rare find. They are in decent condition and have a nice pointy toe.


*Samsonite Briefcase [$3.00]

This briefcase got me super excited simply because I have been looking for a nifty, yet safe carrying case for my laptop for a good four years. It is light slate blue on the outside, but the inside is a crazy ’60s purple & brown floral print! It has sturdy locking notches on the outside and some compartments inside, which are great for cords.          

Pinecone Wall Hanging. [$1.99]
Since I am pretty big into nature and my apartment has a lot of natural shades, I thought this pinecone decoration would be great on my wall. It was falling apart slightly, but it was simple to fix with a glue gun. I’m thinking that this would be a fun idea in the winter, but instead I think I might try making huge pinecone sculpture pieces!


 8Glass Cups. [Small: $0.39, Large: $0.99, Goblet: $1.99]
Goodwill has some of the cheapest glass wear which is great because I only use glass cups. I am sort of clumsy so they do tend to break often while I am hand washing my dishes! So when I am running low I head to Goodwill over any other thrift store! They also have a great selection of glass vases too!


 Bowls. [Turquoise: $1.99, Green $0.99]
Sometimes I’ll find nice bowls and plates at Goodwill, but it really depends on the week! Luckily I was able to find a nice white and light turquoise cereal bowl and a cute little pale green fruit bowl. 




Records. [$0.99]
Goodwill has a great deal on records and I typically stop over there compared to other places that sell cheapest at $2-5 dollars per vinyl. I often find lots of composer work, Christmas music & soundtracks, but once in awhile I will luck out with a decent artist or some real fun Polynesian music!


 12Outfit: Snazzy Lady. 

The buttons were what got me, and at $4.99 the price was pretty average for a dress at Goodwill. I’m still not sure if I like the sleeves on this retro orange dress, but it would be pretty simple to shorten or take off the sleeves. Even hemming up this dress so its a bit more mini would make it real fun to go out in! Paired up with a $0.99 burgundy skinny belt at the waist makes it fit a bit better instead of being so boxy. Matched up with a burgundy clutch for $2.99 completes the outfit, along with a Solid Gold hits from the ’70s/’80s for $0.99.


5Outfit: City Walker.
A bit more casual, this lightweight blue & white stripe collared shirt with three buttons was a decent deal at $2.99. This $2.99 skirt is a bit of an unlikely match for summer, seeing as though it is made with a thicker fabric, but it works well considering it is a mini. With an elastic waist band and some stretch, this skirt could be worn both at the hip or waist. Worn with a $0.99 royal blue and white waist belt and a $1.99 plastic turquoise heart necklace, this outfit is complete with soundtrack to the film Gigi for $0.99.

Get the Look: Polka Dot Style

July 21, 2009

Wear your optimism on your sleeve with this Pretty Woman-inspired polka dot dress. Polka Dots are making a major appearance in this summer’s collections and can be worn anywhere: as an accessory (headbands, jewelry, belt, purse, shoes) as tights, or the classic Pretty Woman dress .

Inspiration:  Rubin Singer Spring 2009 Collection

Dote on this AG Collection: Pretty Woman


How to Style It: Cinch it with a solid color belt and put on your favorite sun hat!

Price: $45 at Avant Gaudy.

Weekly Thrifting with Caroline

July 20, 2009

Background on Jackson Square Mall.

  • Jackson Square Mall is the place to go for antiques & vintage items!
  • The shop is set up by sections that are rented out by different vendors, which sell a mixture of items at a variety of price points.
  • There is some clothing, but not a large amount; I typically go there for kitchen items, furniture, fun accessories and silly odds & ends.
  • The shop is pretty large and has a secret stairway when you walk to the left past the cash-wrap, so be sure to check out the down stairs!

This week’s shops:

Salvation Army Thrift Store
1520 75th St
Downers Grove, IL 60516
    (630) 968-2270  

Jackson Square Mall
112 East Burlington Ave

LaGrange, IL 60525


Ready to be worn finds!
*gray & white square scarf. [$2.00]
*patriotic red & navy swirl scarf. [$0.90] scarves

I found these cute scarves hanging in the middle section of the Salvation Army Thrift store, they usually range from $0.40 to $4.00. I honestly own over a hundred from there alone, so if you are big into scarves, I recommend hitting up this thrift store!


*snazzy tan cocktail hat with feather [$12.00]


Jackson Square Mall is the place for vintage hats. There are some vendors that sell them at high rates, while others are pretty moderate. Every time I stop in I can’t resist adding to my collection. I even come across a wooden hat block which was in tip-top shape, which I use for my own millinery work.          

Bric-A-Brac: at Jackson Square Mallstrawberry
Strawberry Wall Hanging. [$3.00]
There was both a strawberry and a banana painted porcelain wall hanging sitting on top one of the shelves on the first floor. Considering I already own a banana wall hanging, I decided on the strawberry this time. In the back this piece has a small ribbon tie to get nailed up on the wall. I collect a vast amount of hang-able objects because my kitchen walls always need some more personality.


needleworkPoppy Needlework. [$7.00]
Yet another piece that I thought would look nice hanging on my wall. Typically, I like to arrange my wall hangings by color, with variance in shapes and sizes. I find that Jackson Square Mall has a lot of vintage signs and wooden crafts that are affordable.






bowlsFlower Bowls. [Large: $1.00, Small $0.50]
These bowls were a steal! Typically the vintage kitchenware I find is moderately pricey, but this vendor was selling them at a great price. My kitchenware collection is a mish-mash of different patterns and colors, so whenever I see cute glassware I usually can’t resist buying it!



Vintage Postcards. [$.50-$2.00]
I love looking through old postcards and reading what each traveler wrote to their loved ones. My interest in them began when I was living in Paris last July. I scavenged through Marche Aux Puces Market, only to come across a vast amount of vintage French postcards! Some of them were so bizarre, but really fun! Jackson Square Mall has a pretty decent amount of postcards that are well organized, alongside a large collection of old photos!


bobbinsBobbins. [$1.00]

Sort of a silly purchase, but for only a dollar I thought it would be cute to do something fun with these thread filled paper bobbins. I’ve never seen paper bobbins before, I’m so used to the metal and plastic ones, I thought these were pretty neat!




floralOutfit: Floral Explorer
Another trip to the Salvation Army for another fun outfit. I came across a sleeveless pastel floral dress with buttons in the front, for only $2.00. Paired up with a $3.00 short white vest adds a bit of a modern twist to the dress. A really neat navy/black braided belt I found, had a nifty metal buckle that I never came across before. The belt was $2.00 and luckily fits perfect around the waist although it has no way of adjusting the size. I had to splurge on the teal leather luggage for this outfit, at $12.00. When it comes to bags I have the hardest time resisting large leather luggage cases, this time the baggage I found was in great condition and had ample space for a weekend trip!

All You Need to Know about Vintage Clothing

July 9, 2009

What is the difference between antique, vintage and retro?

The earliest vintage items date back to the 1920s, meaning that antique items are anything dating before the 1920s.  Vintage continues for five more decades, up until the 1980s.  From there, ’80s and ’90s clothes are considered retro.  Whether antique, vintage or retro, all pieces are timeless in a way that they’re unique and can be given a modern twist.  This way you can have a look nobody else has.

What are some advantages of wearing vintage clothing?

The fact that it’s set apart from modern clothing, yet at the same time, is not.  I personally prefer vintage clothing to antique or retro clothing, because antique can be too outdated. Vintage clothing is elegant and classic.  I think the coolest thing about vintage is that it never gets old – you can recycle it as many times as needed. 

I was rummaging through my mother’s closet recently while she was at the grocery store and my eyes fell upon a jacket that melted into my eyes.  It was beautiful, with red leather push-up sleeves and a golden zipper!  I took it off the hanger to look at who made it and I literally fell over when I saw the Gucci tag.  Ahh!!  What struck me the most was that I could return to school in the fall wearing a jacket that nobody else has.  While people frivolously search the stores for a fall coat at American Eagle, I can walk confidently into school knowing that no one will ever have the same jacket.  It gives me confidence knowing this because the jacket is simply me.  This is why vintage clothing is the best.  It’s timeless, fashionable and sophisticated.

Where do I find vintage clothing?

You can find vintage clothing in a lot of places if you dedicate some time into finding the right pieces.  You could visit local boutiques that carry vintage clothing.  Boutiques in general often carry one-of-a-kind things, and you’d be surprised at what you find stuffed on a lonely, dusty shelf in the back of a store.  Thrift stores are also a good place to look because they’re unique.  A lot of people turn away form thrift stores because they’re previously owned clothes, but you’d be surprised at what you can find! (Check out where AG writer Caroline goes thrift shopping.)

Another trick of mine is to look in the obituary section of the newspaper because there are usually garage sales of the “stuff” they simply don’t need. Trust me, you can find outrageously awesome pieces at some of these garage sales you’ll find nowhere else.