Saturday, October 9, 2010

5 Tips on How to Wear Vintage Clothing Without Going back in Time


50s  Green Knife Pleated Dress 
CjsRedCloset eBay Auction  
 Not everyone is into vintage clothing as I am.  I totally understand, to each her own.  But I do want to dispel a stereotype. In times past, we vintage clothing wearers have been filed away into the eclectic, hippy or kooky sections of style.  Some think that all vintage clothing wearers want to look like throwbacks. In many cases that may be true, however, many women around the world see vintage clothing pieces as valuable assets to fresh, current wardrobes.

For you women who hesitate to jump into the world of vintage, I have 5 tips on how to wear vintage clothing without feeling like you stepped out of a time capsule.

1. Understand what styles and shapes work best for you. This is number one in assembling any wardrobe, not just vintage. Investigate and experiment with different cuts of  clothing to see what works for your body type.  Take a honest but kind friend with you shopping and try on, try on, try on! Don't forget - look in that three way mirror and check yourself out from every angle. It may sound exhausting at first, and if you are anything like me you will hate the process, but when you understand what works for you, it simplifies your shopping in the long run.

2. Don't wear the same era from head to toe. This is a surefire way to age you and make you look like you're on your way to a costume party.

50's Green Knife Pleated Dress
 Macy's Sweater - $15
Vintage School Book Belt - (My pop-pop)
Macy's Faux Bakelite Necklace- $8
3. Choose the right accessories.  Use shoes, jewelry, scarves and belts to add polish, pop, and creativity to your outfit.  This is a great way to take a basic or classic look and transform it into something that uniquely represents you. 

4. Purchase classic timeless pieces. The little black dress, the fitted cardigan, black trousers are all basics that you can find from the 40s to today.  As added bonus is the fact that many truly vintage items (designed and manufactured prior to the 80s) have a higher level of craftsmanship with superior materials. 

5. Keep your hair and makeup current and fresh.  Don't buy into every trend and fad, but do update your look every few years.  This keeps you looking your best and current, especially if you are wearing vintage.


As an example of how to wear vintage, I have highlighted one of my favorite vintage dresses from my shop.  In the upper picture, I am sporting it Grace Kelly style with classic slingbacks and pearls. I personally love this look, but in real life I would probably wear my red patent leather square toe pumps and Indian beaded Bangles.

To the left, you can see that I paired the same dress with my chunky "tweed" sweater and bakelite necklace. I polished the look off with my very vintage belt which in actuality is an old school book belt that belonged to my grandfather as a boy.  It is approximately 85 years old.  This is a perfect example of  how a classic can be funky with a few additions.





Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Ebay for Beginners: Top 10 Tips

I do a large percentage of my personal shopping at eBay.  I love eBay - because although I love clothing and beautiful things, I hate shopping! (Thrift and secondhand stores excluded!). Ebay offers millions of options to help you build a high quality, unique wardrobe with pieces from your favorite designers and brands.

Once you register and become familiar with the eBay terrain, it becomes easy to navigate. Be aware as you shop. eBay does have its share of scammers and shady members. However, the majority of my transactions have been great.  If you follow these simple guidelines to mitigate the risks, eBay can be one of your best bargain resources!

1. Don't go into your first experience blind. Know what you are looking for.  There are literally millions of items.  If you start eBaying unprepared, one of two things may happen.  You may feel overwhelmed and quit. Or you may become an instant addict, randomly purchasing all kinds of craziness.  Know what you are shopping for and use the search feature for assistance.  You can customize searches based on size, location, price and color.

2. Start small:  This is coupled with not going in blind.  Choose an inexpensive item for your first purchase.  Don't immediately start searching for Jimmy Choos and Louie bags.  Start small to get your feet wet and when you feel more comfortable you can move on to more serious shopping.

3. Check ALL sellers history and feedback:  This is critical. You want your purchases to be from reputable and long standing sellers.  When you pick an item to view, you can find the seller history and feedback in the far right column of the page.  It shows how many purchasers have left feedback and gives the feedback score. If you would like more details, click on the feedback score and it will link you to actual customer comments.   Research the seller - it only takes a couple of minutes.

4. Review the item carefully.  The item should have a detailed description with several pictures.  The details to look for are; condition of the item, including disclosure of any known flaws, age, measurements and whether the item is new or used. If you have any questions or want additional pictures - contact the seller before making a bid.  

5. Look for a Return Policy.  Many sellers that sell second-hand clothes do not offer refunds, but some do.  For your first experience you may want a seller that offers a return policy.  Some offer exchanges or store credit.  Know the policy carefully and understand that you may be responsible for return shipping and in some instances re-stocking fees.

6. Used is Used.  If you want clothing that looks and feels brand spanking new - do not buy second-hand or vintage.   MINT condition is in the eye of the beholder.  There are many sellers that offer new clothes only. 

7.  KNOW YOUR MEASUREMENTS: I cannot stress this enough. Sizing varies from garment to garment, designer to designer and year to year.  Do not rely on posted sizes unless you are very familiar with the designer or brand.  One of the reasons many clothing sellers do not offer refunds is that customers are not careful when it comes to determining fit. 

8.Count the cost: Know the shipping and handling costs. These are always posted in the listings.  Do not get sucked into a very low price and find out later that the shipping costs were padded.  Clothing can be heavy - so don't forget shipping costs when determining your top bid.

9. Bid wisely.  There are many bidding techniques and strategies that I won't go into here, but I will stress: know exactly how much you are willing to pay.  You can start bidding by placing your highest offer and just wait to see if you win (this is my tactic) or you can incrementally place your bid if you like the fun of the auction.  When placing your highest bid, I suggest making it a weird dollar amount like 42.75.  Sometimes it gives you a little edge with another bidder who may choose to bid 42.00.

10. Be a knowledgeable consumer:  I buy many of my high-end designer items from eBay, but only after I have done my research on the item and asked the right questions of the seller.  Knowledge is power when purchasing high-end or big ticket items. Buy ONLY from established, well respected sellers.   If you feel as though you have been frauded, beyond leaving negative feedback, you can also file a claim with paypal and open a case with eBay. 

Don't give up if your first experience is less than stellar, eBay is too wonderful a resource to give up without a serious try.


Stay Tuned!  I will be posting a list of my favorite eBay sellers.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Shoes That Made my Heart Skip a Beat...no Really.

You may think I am exaggerating, but I am not.  I was having one of those days when the kids were very loud but clingy, asking for everything under the sun and having a very difficult time listening to anything I had to say. So as soon as my husband's foot hit the front door, I was gone in a whirlwind.  Minutes later, I found myself in downtown Silver Spring, MD in front of DSW.  I took a deep breath, I knew that I had no business in my state of mind going anywhere near shoes. 

As is my custom, I went straight to the clearance racks.  I didn't know what I was looking for, but I wanted something sexy and different.  I was about to leave, but decided to take a look at the last rack that had only a few boxes. Suddenly, I heard angels singing, the aisle of shoppers parted, and a glorious beam of sunlight was illuminating a lone white box.  If there was a shoe crafted just for me, here it was, in the flesh. Calvin Klein, patent leather and suede, peep-toe MaryJanes.  Originally $138.00 - I paid $50 plus tax.  I sigh in delight everytime I recall that moment.

I wore them Easter with my NEW dress.  Those of you who have followed me, know that I am a thriftstore hound.  85% of my wardrobe is secondhand and I never shop at Department Stores.   But here it is - a rarity to behold - a dress bought at Macy's. Ironically, this dress was also orginally $138.00 and I paid $36.00 after sales and coupon.   Cream jersey dress with abstract floral print and cap sleeves. 

Although I was not wearing any vintage.  I achieved the retro look I love so much. Next time I wear this outfit, I will be sure to take pictures!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Is a 500 dollar outfit a bargain...

Okay, I realize it might just be me, because I am notoriously cheap when it comes to clothes, but some of these bargain hunting segments on TV are a laugh! A few days ago I was watching the TODAY show and they had a segment on regarding "frugal" clothes shopping and how to "shop the discount stores". You know that's my thing, so I was all ears (and eyes).

(check it out at http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/26184891/vp/36097951#36097951)

I do not want to sound like a discount shopping party pooper - again maybe it is just me - but is one outfit for a little under $500.00 a bargain?  I get it - the original outfit was several hundred dollars more, so it is a savings - but to call it a bargain?!?!  I don't think so.  I've said it before - I'll say it again, a bargain is when you purchase something for significantly less than its true value or worth.   

Ladies - please check out the video and take a look at the outfits.  Please...Pahleeze, let me know if you think they are real bargains.  In my mind, being frugal, (which is a different animal from getting a "sale" or "discount") is a look for under $100.00.  Ridiculous?  I don't think so - check out me in my fav going out with the kids outfit!

Shout out to my 6 year old  who took this picture! 

Striped Blazer $4.99, Beatles Tee - $7.99.  Faux Bakelite Jewelry - %8.99 , Old Navy Jeans %10.00,  zebra flats $0.00 Total $31.97  (Also,  I would like to add, with the exception of my blazer - all were NEW!)

So its not Sarah Jessica Parker, but for a day running around with the kids - not so bad!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Get a Uniform! How to Bring Ease Back Into Dressing!

I was reading "Fashion Confessions of a Mommy" at http://fashiondivamommy.blogspot.com/, from a fellow mom blogger.  In her latest post she touched on planning your wardrobe, and it made me think of all the days I spent looking through my wardrobe trying to pull something together.  I remember all the times I was late to events, not even feeling that great about how I looked.  One day while watching one of those "You really can't dress" shows, I had an epiphany.  CJ - you need a Uniform!

So I got to getting.  First I pulled out my two favorite pairs of jeans.  Jeans that actually fit and looked good on me.  Mid-rise skinny jeans and jeans that fall straight from the thigh to a bootcut.  Dark-wash.  Always Dark wash, nothing screams mom jeans like acid wash, or lightwash 80s Billy Ray Cyrus style jeans.  So I started the search for similar styles to start my wardrobe.  Thank God I stumbled into Old Navy quite early in my process, because I HATE trying on jeans.

Right now I'm into "The Flirt" jeans from Old Navy.  They fit my shape well, and if you catch a great sell, they may only be 10 bucks. 

Then I hit Target for their scoop neck long sleeve tees.  I bought 6 of them in a variety of colors on sale for 7 bucks.  The Jean and Tees are the basis of my uniform, plus two button down shirts.  Here is where I get wild and crazy!  I buy jackets, all different types, I just make sure they fit me well.  Fit is everything women!  I have velvet jackets, denim motorcyle jackets, retro 50s and vintage jackets, and menswear inspired.  I shop second hand, so I pay on average $4.99 per jacket.  My new jackets never cost more than 15 bucks.  So I am talking about a cheap wardrobe. 

The key to not looking like a carbon copy of yourself is in the accessories.  Today, I actually went Chanel style with lots of silver 70s necklaces and a 50s style swing jacket.  It was fun and comfortable.  Tomorrow I might wear my brown velvet Guess jacket, Beatles long sleeve tee and a gold pashima!  Easy Peasy.

So if you are like me (disorganized), get a uniform!  Pick your favorite clothes that fit you the best, duplicate the fit and style - then go crazy with hats, scarves, jewelry and anything else that makes you - You.  They key is to love it all!  Even if your outfit is not perfect, you will still feel pretty good about yourself. 

Here I am in my Old Navy Flirt Jeans ($10), Target Tee ($7), Old Lady Silver Necklaces ($2), Denim Motorcycle Jacket ($12.99). I'm no Lady GA GA or Rihanna, and my jacket lapel is a little cock-eyed - but I looked pretty good for a day out with my girls.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Real Women Sizes are Coming!!

Ok - check out http://www.cjsredcloset.com/ soon, because in a couple of days, I will finally have some sizes for REAL Women!  Listen, true vintage L and XL sizes are a little harder to find. One the sizing standards are WAAAY WAY different and second, back in the day women were strapped up and harnessed in their dresses to the hilt.  So keep checking back, because I am getting in some really great things!  Here are a couple to start...Check out the Genuine Marabou on the Marilyn Monroe inspired wrap dress.

Monday, March 15, 2010

My worst fashion disaster...what's yours!

It was the '70s, I was wearing THE trendy denim wrap skirt and my hand-me down earth shoes (remember those???). They were an orangey-brown and I had the nerve to be wearing pantyhose.

Back in the day there wasn't a whole lot going on in the pantyhose department for women of color, so I was wearing "tan".  Support hose would have looked more fashionable!
I thought I was lookin' good with my wrap skirt and plaid top with a monkey on the pocket.  I was all grown up in my pantyhose and brother's earth shoes.  My confidence was soaring.  I was struttin' along in the mall and felt all eyes on me.  "Solid." I thought to myself and picked up the pace with a switch in my hips.  When I hit the donut stand, I caught the eyes of a man who turned away from me a little too quickly.  He was red-faced and I couldn't tell if he was laughing or embarrased because he was checkin' out such a pretty young thing.  Right On! If Paris Hilton were around she would have said I was HOT!
Seconds later I felt a curious breeze on my legs. I looked down and was mortified to see that my wrap skirt had completely fallen off and was dragging on the floor behind me. Somehow the belt part was twisted in my pantyhose. I thought I would melt into the floor.  When I was getting dressed earlier, I had neglected to extend my fashion sense to include my underpants which were HUGE, bright white granny panties. What made it worst was that my big bubbly, above the navel briefs were stuck up under my panty-hose.  I was paralyzed with horror. I don't know how long I stood there before I hustled to scoop up my dress and re-wrap it.  I never wore that skirt again, in fact I have never worn a wrap skirt since! And it has been decades! 

Tell me one of your fashion disaster!


Earth Shoes - Check out Lisa's Nostalgic Cafe - Its a great site: http://lisawebworld2.tripod.com/70s.html
 
 
Also you can purchase the denim wrap skirt and others like it from http://www.vintagetrends.com/

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

New Items at CjsRedCloset.com

Here are a couple of my new items at cjsredcloset.com

This Dress and Coat Suit is fantastic.  I have been searching for one of these for sometime.  I can't fit it  - so here it is waiting for someone to give it a happy home.  Very Old Hollywood -   Love it!  Take a look.



Here is a really cute wiggle dress -  Soft green with deep knife pleats.  So visit me at cjsredcloset.com

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

How to Build a Great but REALLY Cheap Wardrobe - Part II

In my last blog, I gave you the shopping rules that can help prevent utter wastes of money. And although this installment is a little late - Here is How to Build a Great but Really Cheap Wardrobe - Part II.

Let me first give you The Golden Rule of Shopping: DO NOT PAY FULL PRICE FOR ANYTHING! Your shopping goal should always be to get what you want for as cheaply as you can. You may have to cultivate a little patience and garner some shopping skill, but it can be done. Having said that let's get to it.


1. Shop the clearance rack first: Whether you are in Target, Nordstrom’s, or the Salvation Army, shop the sale rack or clearance first. Period. Walk past all the new stuff and head right to the back of the store. Your shopping Mantra should become "Get to the clearance...get to the clearance..."

2. Combine as many discounts and offers as possible: I bought this two piece dress and coat set from Macy's for $44.00 that was originally about $149.00. The dress (not shown) is a simple black sheath. The jacket is a well made Asian inspired brocade. First, it was already marked down, second they were having an early bird special, and third, I had a coupon. The perfect storm. Check your newspapers and sign-up online for coupons, then shop accordingly. Everything goes on sale; you just have to be patient.

3. Shop the Discount Stores: You can find the same department store styles and designers at discount chains like Ross, Marshalls, Filene's Basement and TJMaxx. These stores host the hot and trendy along with the basic and classic. The great thing is they offer them at all price points. However, even at the discount store, shop the clearance racks first. Where else can you find an Ann Taylor dress for $9.99?

4. Shop the "teen-agery" spots: OK, you may cringe if you are over 35. If you are like me, you walk by those windows with mannequins dressed in ripped up tights and platform shoes and say to yourself, "Hun??" But seriously, these shops have tons of hidden gems and are usually very inexpensive. Let me dispel a myth about quality, just because you buy something at a department store do not think you are getting better quality. Many times you are simply paying a higher price tag.  No matter where you shop, get the best quality you can.

My favorite is Forever 21 where they have a huge variety of styles, sizes and great prices. They also have fabulous clearance racks and most of the store is on sale. Last summer I bought this cotton floral cocktail dress for $19.99 to wear at a wedding reception. Not for everyone I know, but I had fun wearing it. The black dress I bought for $4.99 (including belt) at Rave sometime before and was actually better made than some of my more expensive dresses. I was almost 40 pounds heavier - but I still loved the way I looked. The message is you can shop these stores and still look like a grown woman, unless of course, you don't want to. 
5. Shop the Auctions and Online Sites: The best thing to ever happen to my shopping life was eBay. The best because I simply type into eBay's search engine what I want and watch the hundred of options come up. Until I became addicted. Buying too much at the wrong time is no deal! eBay takes skill, which I will cover in an upcoming blog. But once you understand the rules and best practices for a buyer, you can really get fabulous deals on expensive designer items. Two quick tips: Buy only from sellers with great feedback, detailed listings and photos.

My best find was an authentic $1500 Louis Vuitton Bag second-hand for $200. (which is the most money I have spent on clothes/accessories EVER!!!!) Remember - its all relative. Big ticket purchases are not for novices, but after you get the system down - you can find your dream items for a fraction of the cost. eBay is not the only on-line avenue for deals there is blufly.com, amazon.com and overstock.com. Even Goodwill has an auction site. If there is a specific designer or item of clothing you want, go to the auction sites first and do a search. Hundreds of options may pop up! Last online auction tip: Beware of high shipping costs. Your deal can be blown in an instant if you pay $30. 00 in shipping costs for a $10.00 item!

6. Frequent Thrift Stores and Consignment Shops: I must admit that at least 80% of my clothing is second hand. The first rule of second hand shopping is still - go to the clearance rack first! You may think the Salvation Army would not have a discount section, but they do. Many large thrift stores have customer appreciation and/or discount days. I only shop Mondays and Thursdays at my fav thrift store because I get 25% off!! Can you believe I actually have a VIP card? Thrift stores are the PERFECT place to stock up on your favorite designer and labels. Sometimes you can also score items normally may be out of your price range. Tip: Try to find secondhand shops in upscale neighborhoods, some of the donations are unbelievable. Remember, most thrift stores support great causes.

Consignment shops are great for people who do not like the thrift store environment. They are usually well organized, clean and have a knowledgeable sales staff. Consignment shops always have a sales rack that is usually stocked with designer and high-end labels. Be warned however, some are notoriously overpriced for non-designer items. I once saw a Target purse for over 20 bucks. Come on?!?!?  Really?  Other great second hand options are church thrift stores, school flea markets and estate sales.

Stores you wouldn't be caught dead in: Okay, all those stores you pass by in the strip malls, next to the beauty parlor or favorite Chinese place may have hidden bargains. These small independent shops always have sells going on and surprisingly some beautiful inexpensive clothing. These are also great places to find accessories and cheap costume jewelry.

In summary: Never pay full price for anything ever again! Shop those sale and clearance racks! Laugh in the face of 20% off and step away with something great on the cheap. It absolutely can be done. You can build a cheap beautiful quality wardrobe for little money. 

Next Blog - Do your clothes tell people who you are?  See ya then.

cj



Monday, March 1, 2010

How to Build a Great but REALLY Cheap Wardrobe - Part I

Recently I read a magazine article titled something like, "Dressing for under 100 Dollars!" It took me a few mintues to realize the bargain was that each garment and accessory in the outfit was under $100.00. Added up, the spotlighted outfit cost more than my first car. Some bargain! 

So let me give you some REAL advice on how to build a really cheap wardrobe that is great and will last you longer than a season of "Gossip Girl."  

This will be a Two-parter.  First I wanted to present some "rules"  that will save you from wasting a whole lot of money on a whole lot of nothing.  Check back Wednesday for Part II which will be actual shopping tips.


THE RULES
1.  To your own size be true:  Let's cut to the chase.  Buy clothes that you can wear TODAY!  Not for when you lose those last 10 pounds, or the first 50 for that matter.  The biggest waste of money is to buy clothes that you can't wear.  Sounds crazy right? Well, it is! 

2. Buy what fits:  This may sound redundant, but its not. Fit is not about size or weight.  Determining the right "fit" of your clothes makes shopping easier and can save you gazillions of dollars in the long run.  Unerstanding the cut and fit that best suits you is key in making sure your body looks it best and that you are comfortable.  If you feel like Harry Houdini in a straight-jacket - then you probably won't wear it.  If wearing a long nubby sweater makes you look like a Lilliputin - you probably won't wear.  Fit is everything.

3. Bust those myths: The average american women is between a size 10 and 14.  The marketing industry has convinced us that we can't be happy or look good if we have a little more "meat on our bones" than the airbrushed size 0 cosmo girl.  Whatever!  Look at Queen Latifah and the plus size model Emme.  They have some "junk in their trunk" and still look healthy, happy and beautiful. You can express yourself and look and feel wonderful at any size.
Sidenote: Throw away those foolish oversized clothes you wear because you don't like your body... they are ugly. You are in fact creating the image you fear so much. 

4. Buy what works: There is a big difference between allowing "fashion" to inspire you and imitating some crazy fashion trend.  Buy what looks and works for you. Not everyone looks good in harem pants...so don't waste money buying buying a pair.  (no one looks good in Harem Pants..it looks like a pouch for a big poop)

5. Create a Uniform: This sounds a little backwards for someone who stresses self-expression - but having a uniform, a set of basics that you can wear daily is great for your budget.    My uniform is simple.  Dark-washed jeans, long sleeve tees and a variety of  jackets and accessories.  It makes shopping easier and I still have a creative and original wardrobe.  (that's not me, that's Halle - but you get the idea.).

6. Discover who you are:  It is my philosophy that clothes should represent externally who you are internally. I mean it doesn't have to be that deep...its not rocket science as they say. Your clothes should be a reflection of who you are.  They should inspire you and make you feel good about yourself.  What they should not be is a costume hiding who you really are.  If your clothes do not "direct" people to the real you, and all they see is a costume or an image, your clothes aren't working for you.  Develop that inner vision of yourself and get going!

If you try some of these simple rules - it may take the anxiety of shopping and help save your money.  Tomorrow we will get into the actual shopping tip - the first being - NEVER PAY FULL PRICE!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

CjsRedCloset.com is OPEN!!!!!!

In my previous blog, I mentioned that I started my own online vintage and second hand clothing store. Well, I am pleased to announce that - CjsRedCloset.com is officially open!!! CjsRedCloset was first conceived when I decided to remove every piece of clothing from my closet which did not reflect me.  I returned to what I knew - old clothes and thrift stores!  My wardrobe transformation was just the external expression of what was happening internally. People took notice and I began supplying my friends and family with some great stuff. 

CjsRedCloset is small right now, but stay tuned, I have loads more to offer for any budget.

Here is a sampling of what CjsRedCloset.com has to offer.
This a great Chanel-esque suit. The color is bright, fun and the suit is in excellent condition. Throw on loads of pearls and go Coco Chanel all the way. Or you can rock the jacket with some dark-wash straight leg jeans - over the knee boots and graphic tee. Check it out up close!

The following is one of my favorite dresses from one of my favorite designers - St. John. The quality of knit is outstanding and has been imitated for generations. This green gem is a rare dress from her earliest 60s label. It is made from a soft nubby knit, has open-weave bell sleeves and is in excellent condition.

CjsRedCloset.com has several St. John sweaters and dresses and I am adding more all the time!


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Top 5 Reasons to Wear Vintage and Secondhand

1. Save the Earth: It has been said that Americans dispose of clothing that still has at least 80% of its life left. Wearing gently-used clothing is an easy and cheap way to re-cycle. It is a simple and super fun way to reduce waste. You don't have to limit yourself to clothing - you can buy most things at every price point secondhand.

2. You CAN Afford the Best: Check out one of my favorite outfits. I get great compliments and feedback when I wear it! And most importantly it's fun, comfortable and makes me feel great. This entire ensemble (including shoes) cost me $38.00! I scored this navy blue pinstripe Tahari Pantsuit for $19.00! NEW! A similiar Tahari Suit retails for about $300.00. You can look the way you want on the cheap, it just takes some time and a little skill.

3. Be a Fashion Maverick: How many of you have walked down a busy street and seen 3 or 4 women wearing your coat, your pashima, or even worse - your entire outfit! When you wear vintage you simply don't look like everyone else. In this fashion age designers refer back to every single fashion era. In 2010 anything goes - so why not forge your own fashion path. One outstanding vintage piece can set you apart from the masses.

4. Build a Quality Wardrobe: Shopping vintage and secondhand are GREAT ways to build a quality wardrobe that will withstand trends and fads. Even if the "vintage" look is not for you, buying pre-owned high-end duds can get your wardrobe off to a great start. Simply fill in the gaps with new items and accessories.

5. Shopping that Keeps on Giving: Most thrift stores across the nation are established to raise money for specific charities. When you shop at these stores, all of the proceeds go right back into the business and towards the charity. These thrift stores employ tens of thousands of people nationwide, provide education and rehabilitation services, and support food banks and shelters right in your own community. In this economy shopping secondhand can be a win-win situation. You get a great deal and help others in the process.

Try shopping Vintage and Secondhand! You May Love It! Check out cjsredcloset.com. My affordable online vintage and secondhand shop. Let me do the shopping for you!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

My Vintage Coat Made Me Blog

I have been trying to blog for an entire year now. I didn't publish a blog in 2009, because I was so busy trying to make my posts rival War and Peace. I would spend hours writing, re-writing and finally erasing because the tone or pace was just not right. It was as if I convinced myself there was a Pulitzer for blogging.

Several months after I started writing my secret blogs, I opened an online vintage/secondhand clothing store. After about 6 months I realized that the only people who had visited my store were my mom and the people from my church, so I went about solving my marketing issue. (Let me just backtrack a little - the writer in me got a little caught up in the momentum. My mom has never visited my website...moving on...)

So naturally I sought help and They, the millions of Internet marketing experts kept commanding me to blog. So here I am, combining my writing with my love of style and self-expression. This blog journey, isn't so much about how to wear vintage as it is sharing how I woke up one day and realized I was living someone else' life in someone else's clothes, sitting on someone else's furniture. I was barely represented in a world I created. It took a trip to the hospital, lying on a gurney in a critical situation, for my life to became as clear as glass. I bet you are thinking that I had some near death experience that led me to a zen-like awareness and now my life is peaceful and simple. Uhhhh, no.

The revelation I received was this. I am going to do what I want! Period. I cut my long hair, started getting rid of every single piece of clothing that didn't say, "CJ", and, most importantly, discovered eBay. My first purchase during this transformation was a beautiful green silk 50's coat with a slight swing, three large tortoise shell buttons, and honey colored mink collar. Makes me smile just thinking of it. It's very reminiscent of Doris Day or Audrey Hepburn. For you youngsters - think Mad Men. I put that coat on, tilted my beret just so on my new 'do and checked myself out in the mirror. It felt just like coming home after being gone for a very long time.

Clothes themselves aren't really that important. The labels they carry and the dollar value placed upon them is as far away from important as you can get, really who cares? Clothes get torn, and stained. They can become too tight, too loose and ill fitting whether they are from Valentino or Costco. And the favorites simply wear out. I wear my green coat so much that its perfect satin lining tore when I was wrestling with my son's carseat. I still love it. I don't feel like I'm wearing somebody else's stuff. I'm not trying to impress anyone or get a date. I just want to be me - inside and out. Clothes by themselves may not be important - but why you wear what you wear is important.

I'm not talking about curing cancer important. I am talking about being who you love, and allowing everything in your life to reflect that person. When everything else sucks, being able to walk past the mirror and smile at yourself is a pretty good thing. It's empowering. So, although lumberjack plaid is the latest must-have, I throw on my green coat and skinny jeans, tilt my beret and just feel good.