Archive | September, 2010

Fashion Lessons in New York City; Gearing up for a Thrift Trip

29 Sep

As we go about our days, we all have a voice in our heads talking to us constantly, telling us what to say, telling us what looks fab, and telling us where we need to lose a little weight.  Mine, lately, is all in a nervous flutter about the long weekend in New York City coming right up.  My mom, my aunt, and I (that might be all the information you need to see my point) are heading down Friday night to meet my cousin, Fashionista, for a Sat Sun shop and walk about the city.  I don’t know if agog is a word, but if it is it should mean overwhelmed to the point of facial ridiculousness, namely mouth open, eyes wide, ears shut off. I feel like I am going to be all agog and embarrass myself for thinking I am some sort of fashion guru, and for thinking it’s going to be Thrift Shopping Heaven.  I mean, what’s the dress code in New York City?  And what if I  simply can’t afford anything?  What would I have to report on? Window shopping?!  Maybe a little pre-game with Fashionista would help quiet the voice…

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Thrift shopping in York, Maine; Bro’s Break Into Thrifting

29 Sep

Bro is a tough thrift shopping case for a couple of reasons. First of which is he doesn’t really like shopping unless beer is involved.  And I am all for the beer, but he has work to do and I have the 3 hour drive home.  He wants to make the most of my visit, however, and that includes getting my fashion advice, so we shop sans beer.  The next reason is that he does not have a typical body size and shape.  I feel for people like this–those that can’t settle on something even if the fit isn’t quite perfect. Bro is tall and skinny.  He has a 32 waist (it’s more like a 30, but he likes his belt and his shirts tucked in during the winter) and a 34 length. His shirt size is generally a large, but sometimes a large is too big in the belly area and most times, too short in the arm area.  Last reason, he wants something specific. He wants a shirt with red in it, but the most important requirement–pearl buttons. He’s always like them, he says, and now they are in fashion and this is the first time, mark it, that he has liked something that is actually in fashion.  I’m excited about this project.

My bro lives in York, Maine and, ladies, he is a handsome professional. He installs GPS systems on heavy- duty construction equipment.  His job takes him from Northern Maine to New York weekly and sometimes a trip here and there to build air strips on deserted islands in the Carribean.  His work dress is fortunately the same as his casual dress–jeans, t-shirt, and a button down,  sneakers or boots. He is skeptical about thrifting, dissuaded by the smell, the sifting through racks of clothes, and the memory of the New Portland Thrift store that we used to go to when we were little. He’s up for it though, enticed by the possibility of getting some clothes and not spending much money.

We start at the York Community Thrift Store.  They do have a men’s department, but unfortunately it’s not substantial and we are inout.  I hesitate, wanting to poke around a little more, but I remember this trip is for him, and I happily follow in the wake of his bee line.

Down route one a couple of miles (all the thrift stores in York are on route one which makes a thrift trip to York easy and enjoyable), we stop at The Find, a consignment boutique.  Now I’m not a complete idiot.  I don’t expect to find any men’s clothing here, but I wanted to chat with the counter girl about other thrift stores with men’s departments…This store LOOKED AWESOME, a creamy feel, accessories everywhere. If I had had more time, I would have spent an hour here and the girl was very helpful, seeing Bro and smiling a little sneaky smile when I inquired about the possibility of finding anything for a boy for cheap in all of York.  With a list, we leave The Find which is even harder to walk out of.  I feel better though, seeing that Bro is still playing along, amazingly chipper.

Leeward Landing Charitable Thrift Store is more like the adventure we’ve been looking for.  We quickly find a Polo shirt for Bro (a flannel pattern with red, no pearl buttons) and I find a Banana Republic sweater for LB.  The Polo shirt has the triangle, a key component of any button-down that I was unaware of. Bro says that the triangle means the shirt is fitted around the waist and of higher quality.  I admire and love that Bro doesn’t think twice about trying on this shirt right then and there, can’t be bothered to find a dressing room. This places lacks pants for boys, but it is clearly a treasure chest.  I try to zip through the girl’s department while Bro is distracted by the old books, but he’s behind me in another minute, trying not to but looking like “let’s go.”  We get to the counter and the chatty women there are bubbling about thrift shopping.  The lady buying had recently lost 40 pounds and had been forced to discover thrift shops so she can afford her new weight.  She won’t ever go back to a department store now. The cashier lady affectionately talks about her grown-up son to whom she still sends clothes.  “It cost more to send the box than it did to buy the clothes!”  She goes on to say that her son makes tons of money (parents love to gloat about this, I’ve noticed.  Here I apologize to M and D for having nothing to say about me), but loves the idea of getting brand name clothes for nothing from his mother. Lalala, she makes Bro chuckle, I smile, we all chat while she’s ringing us up, and I think, would this happen in a regular retail store?

We move on to The Fabulous Find, Upscale Resale, and Fair Tide Thrift Store, and they all lack boy’s departments.  Booooo.  If I ever have a thrift store, MEN, you will not be left out of the fun.

Bro was still happy though, with his one shirt and shopping with his sister.  He is liking the idea of thrift shopping and I promise to take him again.  I know a trip to Goodwill or Material Objects in Portland would bring more success.  It should be noted that we went to American Eagle and found a pearl button shirt.  It was $30.  He didn’t buy it!  Too expensive and it didn’t fit quite right. Yay!

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Coughing Fit

14 Sep

The coughing fit was the kind that I knew was happening well before I opened the door. The woman’s face was already red, eyes watering. Not exactly a welcoming sight in a store where I might like to buy something. I averted my eyes from the cougher and did my usual rounds. The cougher wrapped up her fit though and soon enough, she was gabbing it up with the nice lady busy behind the counter.

Trying to focus on shopping, I pushed my way through the shirt and sweater rack, the pants rack, and the men’s department. I found a Hot Chili’s shirt, my size, for a buck. A rack of scarfs caught my eye and in no time I had four picked out, 25 cents each. They are the silky, vibrant kind and they make great neckerchiefs or special gift wrapping. The ladies? conversation kept drawing me back in. Eves dropper, I was.

“Haven?t eaten in a week,” Cougher admits.

“A week? What you living on? Coffee and cigarettes?”

“Pretty much, just don’t have any appetite.”

“Well, you’ve got to eat somethin?. You don’t crave anything at all, not even a Devil Dog?” At this point in their conversation, I chuckle. My grandfather, who was loyal to Little Debbie, would think this was the best idea since the invention of the Devil Dog.

“A Devil Dog sounds like it might be alright…” Cougher acquiesces.

“Well, yes, (insert old Maine accent here which sounds more like a two syllable yeus) you need something to live on.”

“Coffee and cigarettes have been fine so far. But I might try a Devil Dog.”

They ramble on a bit and then Cougher says she has to go. She wasn’t shopping, just stopping by to chat. I can picture her black stomach drooling for the light chocolate fluffy nutritiousness of a Devil Dog as she moves slowly toward the door, her craving motivating her sudden action. She is loads over weight which I didn’t take the time to scrutinize on the way in. I doubt her no-appetite story now that I have seen evidence against it. Devil Dogs!

There is another girl, my age, and she seems to have a game plan, like she’s been here before and she knows what she’s looking for. She’s cute and funky on the outside. What is her story?

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Sometimes It's the People That Make a Place

9 Sep

Girl’s day with LT.

Silence is not so golden when shopping. Music, chatting, noise of some sort (minus kids screeching) is like a soundtrack to the whole experience. Walking into the Bearly Used Boutique (no website) in Waterville, Maine, was like walking in to Steel Magnolias.  The place itself is on the main drag, 104 Kennedy Memorial Drive, and it’s just an old house turned consignment shop, nothing special.  But as soon as I opened the door, the voices of about ten women immediately pushed my happy button.  LT and I wandered in and started poking around. Lots of clothes!  So we shopped, and listened to the sweet nothings of the girlfriends keeping shop (so there were only 5 of them).  The proprietor of the shop was just soaking up all the work around her, chirping in when she could, but then there was a register girl, a steam cleaner girl (how refreshing to actually SEE someone steam cleaning the clothes they put on their racks!), and two organizer girls taking things out of bags and sorting them into departments.

Lots of jeans!  Though I didn’t buy any, this was the place to go for jeans, even the place to find jeans to cut into shorts that are in.  We tried on many pairs and LT came out with some flattering skinny jeans to wear with her Frye boots. I bought a Billabong sweatshirt that was black on the outside and a yellow with an old school stereo design on the inside. Score!  And all to the tune of laughter and conversation of the boutique beauties.

I give this place an A-, if I’m going to be a teacher about it.  Above average selection (though squeezed to tightly onto the racks, hate that), quality, entertainment, and radiation of happiness.  I will definitely return to the Bearly Used Boutique, not only for the awesome selection, but to experience again these women who made the place.

Note to parents:  This place also has tons of kids clothes, furniture, toys, etc. Get there!

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