Wednesday, October 27, 2010

For the Babes

Thrifting, if we haven't made it perfectly clear yet, is beneficial for the whole family. This week, I (Adele) set out to prove that once again. I hit up a local SalVal that I hadn't been to before, not knowing what goodness would await me. While there, I honed in on the massive baby section, as one of my husband's co-workers is pregnant and on the lookout for baby girl clothes. Oh, and as an added bonus, it was "50% off day" at SalVal! I admit, I went a little crazy. :) As the following pictures will show, I made off with a tremendous amount of baby clothing for a steal - ~$37!!! Many name-brand outfits can cost nearly that much -- for just one outfit! And, to make the financial blow even worse, baby clothing is quickly outgrown (and/or stained) and needs to be replaced frequently. Everything I found today carried a brand name that I recognized, yet none of the clothing cost me over $2.50 per piece! With that in mind, the Frugal Friendzies strongly stress the notion of being consistently frugal in the area of baby (and children's) clothing. And to make it easier to convince our readers, here's a visual sampling of what you just might find in your quest for frugality:

A selection of 13 onesies I picked up today. They range in size newborn to ~6mo.
Some cute little shirts/sweaters (they each snap shut) and three pairs of the same style pants in different colors.
Two adorable skirts no baby girl should be without.
Found this top and matching jeans on two different racks. Pays to search carefully!
Eyelet lace dress and bloomers. The collar is light pick with embroidered daisies. SO sweet!
Four dresses that were too dear to pass up!
Green gingham dress with embroidered pink flowers. Cuteness.
Pink eyelet halter dress. Sassy!
Gerber brand terry cloth bath blanket. Most expensive purchase here (I think around $6), but a necessity for a freshly-washed baby!
My favorite find of the bunch - GAP baby brand terry cloth zippered onsies/hoodie/cover up? Looks so snuggly! I want one!
Here's a shot of everything. All for $37!
So next time you're faced with a baby shower, pregnancy, or gift dilemma for a baby, give a thrift store the chance to help you out. We bet you won't regret it.

The Ten Commandments of Thrift Store Shopping

For any of you who walk into thrift stores and immediately become overwhelmed and want to run because of all the seeming chaos, this post is for you.

For any of you who love the concept of thrift store shopping, but never seem to be able to find anything good yourself, this post is for you.

And lastly, for any of you who just plain don't think you have the patience to go through what seems like a myriad of racks and shelves, this post is for you.

We feel as though we have proved so far with pictures that great finds can be found at thrift stores quite frequently, if you just know how to shop :)

1. Have a plan: make a list of specific items you need so that when you walk into a store, you can go right to the sections where those items would be found. Don't waste time or money in the coats section when you came in for a black pair of pants. If you don't find what you need after a thorough scan, leave. If you want, you can head to the next nearest thrift store and do the same thing, or keep visiting throughout the week, depending on how dire your need is. Thrift stores get new stuff every day, so you're sure to find what you're looking for eventually.

2. Scan for labels first:  Let's face it, you want still want quality items for your money, so why spend $5 on a Wal-Mart brand shirt at Salvation Army that would cost about $10-12 new anyways, only to have it fade and look like junk after two washings? To do really fast, effective clothes shopping, go to the section with the item you want in your size, and do a quick but thorough label scan. Don't even glance at the clothes themselves, just the labels. Only when you find a good label- The Limited, Express, Liz Claiborne, Calvin Klein, Gap, etc... should you pick up an item and look it over, try it on, etc... You can do this with purses too, btw.

3. Let others do the shopping for you: If you don't have a lot of time or patience, go to the fitting rooms and look through the rack of clothes outside that people have brought back to try on themselves but put back because they didn't fit. Some of our best finds have been hanging on that "didn't fit" rack because other people had already gone and sorted out the good stuff for us!

4. Never buy on a whim: Keep this rule in mind always: the whole point of shopping at thrift stores is to save money. We know how very tempting it is to buy something you don't need or will never wear at a thrift store solely because it's much cheaper than it would cost new. Doing this frequently can get you into trouble, because then you can buy too many such items and they sit in your closet untouched for a year until you end up dropping them off at a thrift store yourself. You may as well have made a donation to charity.

5. Thoroughly examine before you buy: Thrift stores run on donations, and sometimes people donate things because there is something wrong with them. Always always look over any item for rips, stains, missing buttons, etc, because in most stores all sales are final. Most times little defects are fixable: buttons can easily be replaced and OxyClean can get out most stains, but it's a good idea to perform a good inspection/fixability evaluation before buying.

6. Buy a complete outfit: This rule kinda goes along with rule #4, and really actually applies to clothing shopping at any store. Unless you know you have something at home that a will match that pea-green Calvin Klein skirt with a paisley pattern that's "Wow! only $3.00," leave it on the rack, or it will hang in your closet unworn forever. If you do find something you really really love but don't have anything to match at home, don't leave the store until you find something else to match with it. Buying a complete outfit ensures that you will actually wear your items and therefore get your money's worth.

7. Shop sales first: Thrift shoppes almost always have some type of rotating sales, whether it be tag color sales or category sales (for example all baby clothes 40% off on Wednesdays). To get even more bang for your buck, look through the stuff on sale that day before browsing anything else. Sometimes there is even a weekly schedule of different sales at the front register, so write the schedule down and try shop on the day that the items you want will be on sale.

8. Know all the stores in your area: Just like you usually know all the Wal-marts and grocery stores in your area, you should make it a point to know all the thrift stores in your area. Thrift stores can oft-times be a hodge-podge treasure trove of all sorts of things, but their inventory rotates all the time, and they only have what is donated to them. If you're like us and need staple clothing items from them, you need a broad base to shop from.

9. Find stores in the richer sections of town: Rich people buy a lot of nice, fashionable, expensive things, only lightly use each thing because they have so many nice things, and when the next fashion comes around or they get sick of said things, they buy more fashionable, expensive things, donate the items they don't want any more, and the cycle continues. They usually donate to the stores closest to where they live, and that is why you, my friend, should find these stores and shop there, now! We are willing to bet money that the GoodWills and Salvation Army stores in Beverly Hills regularly have Gucci purses and Jimmy Choo shoes.

10. Don't sweat your purchase mistakes: And finally, one of the best and most financially comforting things about thrift shopping is that even if you do occasionally end up buying a shirt that you really liked but never wore because it never went with anything, or a bought lamp you brought home and your husband said was ugly, the fact is you probably only wasted a few dollars, so don't sweat it.

Hope this helps, and happy thrifting!

-The Frugal Friendzies

Monday, October 18, 2010

This Week's Loot

I (Adele) went on a thrifting spree this week. I hit up four local thrift stores in a matter of two afternoons looking for the perfect finds. Unfortunately, these trips didn't yield many stellar finds, but I attribute that fact to a few reasons:

1) I was rushed both days. I didn't explore as thoroughly as I could have. Therefore, I didn't maximize my chances of finding all the diamonds in the rough.
2) My wardrobe and home is basically complete. I don't need a ton of clothes or things for our house. So I'm pretty picky when I'm out thrifting. Even at rock-bottom prices, if I don't 100% need it, it's a waste of money to buy it.
3) Selection just plain might be slim. The pickings could be as slim as they appear. Selection will vary throughout the year, so I will have to try these stores again and again. Hopefully with more patience and more time in the future.

As for the stores I utilized this week, I hit up a rather large Community Aid (basically like Salval or Goodwill), a Goodwill, and two consignment shops (Making Sense, and Hello, Gorgeous).

Here's the loot:
Found at Hello, Gorgeous for $9! (Tag said $18, and it was a tag that was half price that day. Score!) Simple, vintage, cotton dress.
I'm not really a "dress" girl, but this thing fits to a T, and I think will be a nice variation within my wardrobe.
So the one article of clothing I've been on the hunt for is a pair of well-fitting khakis/brown pants. And, as a side note, I happen to LOVE/ADORE/OBSESS OVER Gap brand clothing.
Perfect condition, GAP Stretch khakis. Perfect fit. Perfect cuffed hem and tab-front waist. Perfect price at Making Sense: $9.60. Even at the GAP outlet, it is highly unlikely (read: never happens!) to find such nice pants under $15, let alone under $10! So, YAY!
Not so flattering in picture form, but I promise, this blouse looks great on! It's silk (brand: August Silk) with cap sleeves and a fun pattern. I needed to add to my "dress shirt" repertoire, and I think this little number does the trick nicely.
Originally, this shirt retails for $58. I know this because the tags were ALL still on it. The $19.99 tag is from Boscovs, where this shirt evidently went on sale. I took it home for a mere $5. Yes, FIVE dollars. That, my frugal friends, is over 90% off of the original retail price. *smile*
I love red. I have, for whatever reason, practically NO red stuff in my closet. I had to remedy this fact immediately. I wanted a red shirt, specifically, and one that was basic, comfy, and flattering. What luck when I stumbled across this perfect match to my criteria.
Express brand. Found at Making Sense for $4.80. So, naturally, buying it made a LOT of sense to me. ;)

Also, non-clothing related, I found CDs at Goodwill and many pretty storage tins at Hello, Gorgeous. Those will make an appearance in another post, I'm sure. :)

Happy thrifting!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Accessorize on a dime!

Ahh accessories- purses, high heels, scarves, jewelry.... those little extra things that we feel we have to have as women that sometimes can put a strain on the budget. Hubby dear doesn't always understand why we simply must must have a purse to match each outfit, or 20 pairs of shoes. Let's face it, unlike men, we can't get away with only owning a pair of church shoes, casual shoes, and sneakers like they seem to be able to do. Joyously, not only are the clothes very worth browsing through in thrift stores, but there are usually several racks of purses and at least one jewelry counter to go through that abound with little treasures for the diligent scavenger. In our opinion, there is no reason to have any "discussions" over spending money on earrings and such when a girl can find most anything right at her local thrift store. Check out a few of our lucky finds:
These shoes were picked up at a local consignment shop in PA. They're Fioni (Payless brand), perfect condition, and $7.00. They were bought to match a dress also purchased at the same consignment shop. And a matching purse was also found there, but I have since sent it on to SalVal, so I don't have a picture. Just goes to show, you can find a whole fancy outfit in one Thrift Store.
This purse is Steve Madden, found at a local consignment shop  when I discovered at the last minute that I needed a gold handbag to match a dress I was wearing to a friend's wedding. The strap is removable, and the purse looks brand new. Sadly, I don't remember exactly what I paid for it, but I do know it wasn't more than $5.00. Can't beat that!

Got these cute little shoes at Salvation Army for $2.99. They're Fioni (Payless brand). They have since been used, but they were in perfect condition, they looked as if they had never even been worn.
As seen before, the infamous Guess watch, only $5.97 at GoodWill. Wild Rose big stud earrings: $1.00 at Salvation Army. Beaded indie bracelets: $1.25 at Salvation Army.
This is a medium sized mint condition Chanel makeup bag. It was just 43 cents at Salvation Army. Yes, I realize these usually come free with the purchase of makeup, but that makeup is expensive and I didn't have to buy it to get the bag :) These are so handy for traveling too, because they're usually pretty waterproof.
Yes, this is a Tommy Hilfiger Iconic handbag. There are no marks or stains on it at all except a pen explosion ink stain on one area of an inside corner. The ink is dry, didn't leak through to the outside, and no one ever cares about the inside of a purse anyways. This sweet little find was at Salvation Army for $3.00.

Found this Guess brand watch at GoodWill for only $6.99. It is working, and just has a few minor scratches on the one side of the metal band, but it's really mod looking, lightweight and awesome! I bet I can get it buffed, but even if I don't, the pics don't do it justice, it's very chic.

Hollister genuine leather belt, GoodWill for only $1.49.
                                         Accessorize all you want ladies, and have fun doing it!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A little wardrobe evidence for the skeptics ;)

My (Sarah Jane) sister and one of my brothers are very skeptical about me only getting my clothes at thrift stores. My sister even went so far as to say that she thinks thrift stores are dirty and that she usually never finds anything that's good quality, but only goes there for weird random vintagey (is that a word?) stuff. My brother didn't go so far as to say they were dirty, but he said that he could never find anything he really needed, just cool but not necessarily essential stuff. Well my dear siblings, this post is for you, and for anyone else out there who thinks thrift stores only have old worn-out junk. I am going to just list a bunch of pictures and descriptions of clothes that I have found in my local thrifty haunts solely in the last 2 months that are really nice quality and very useful for everyday wear. The most ironic thing about this whole experiment is that my wardrobe has actually drastically improved since starting it. Isn't that hilarious? So, here are some of the nifty things which now hang in my closet. The best part is, the very most I paid for any single piece, ladies and gentlemen, was only $4.00.

I got both of these at Salvation Army, they were super cute, in perfect condition and match really well. The shirt is Express Design and was $2.50, and the buttons are red crystal. The skirt is Basil and Maude and was $1.75. As soon as I find one of those plastic mannequins I will buy it to show my finds off better!

I am really proud of this little piece. I found it at GoodWill for $3.49. It was so cute with the stripes down the sides and so soft and comfortable! It's 100% knit cotton and I fell in love. It had a bunch of stains on the front- looked like strawberry ice cream or something, but with a little soak in OxyClean and a quick wash it is now flawless, as you can see!

This shirt is Old Navy and had a really cute back, and since I do feel like this about my sweet husband, I bought it :) It was $3.49 at GoodWill.

I was looking for a cute black skirt and boy did I find a sweet deal! This is Gap and wool and I only paid $2.49 for it at GoodWill. It's in perfect condition, there might be some fuzz on it in the picture though, and the color is darker in real life.
 This blue wool sweater is Abercrombie and Fitch brand and is wonderfully warm and cozy. I paid $4.00 for it at GoodWill. The dark chocolate skirt is Isaac Mizrahi for Target, and it was $1.50 at Salvation Army. It's made from kinda thick fabric, and I think with tights and Ugg boots it's a stylish winter combo, personally.

This is a Forever 21 Asian Kimono-style wide-armed wrap-around shirt. It was $1.99 at Community Aid.

This skirt is Ash and Sara, and was $2.00 at Mission Mart. I loved the detailed beading and overall flowiness.

These Ann Taylor Loft pants are soooo comfortable, but they are deceptively tailored to be worn with either dressy or casual tops and shoes. My hubby even said they were sexy! They are on my top 5 list of favorite clothes. Got them at Salvation Army for $1.99.
Okay, so let's tally up the total: $25.20 (not including tax) for 3 shirts, 2 sweaters, 3 skirts and 1 pair of pants. Even if you shop sale at Old Navy right after Christmas you're not going to get such a huge amount of clothing for so little a price. Is anyone convinced yet? Oh and by the way, none of this stuff was even ripped or stained or looked very worn at all but the Gap sweater, which was easy to remedy. I have loads more stuff to post, but I just wanted to show off a few of my findings. I have to admit, doing this thrift store diet is really really fun!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Odds & Ends

Although the main focus of this blog is obviously maintaining a deceptively cheap yet super chic wardrobe, we felt we may as well show you some of the cool other stuff that can be had from shopping second hand. Myriads of dishes, pillows, blankets, shoes, books, dvds, toys, matresses, dressers, coffee makers, etc etc... await you! Basically anything is a possibility, which is what, in my mind, makes thrift store [hunting] shopping absolutely exhilerating! Sifting through a pile of hodgepodge pillows and randomly finding an great one that perfectly matches one's living room decor gives us a thrill! Here is just a little smattering of some of the neat stuff we found that we might have ended up buying anyway from a retail store for much more.

Tea/spice tins: always handy for holding loose tea, flour, sugar, cinnamon sticks, coffee, cardamom or even hair supplies. Most of these were no more than $1. I think a couple of them were even only 49 cents at the Salvation Army.

Pillows, votive candle holders and little porcelain goodies: The pillow was $3.50 from GoodWill, the flower candle votives $1.99 and metal candle holder 49 cents from Salvation Army. The little porcelain box was 99 cents and it holds bobby pins great :)
CD's: You can find anything from Rihanna to Beethoven, and all for a little bit of pocket change. These were $1.99 from GoodWill.