Friday, December 25, 2015

Vintage Photo Friday: The Christmas of 1961

In this special edition of Vintage Photo Friday, I'd like to present a few recent finds from the Goodwill Outlet. It's rare that I find enough photographs to continue the beloved Vintage Photo Friday segment here on Let's Go Thrifting. So when I found some rather timely snapshots from Christmastime in 1961, I could hardly contain my excitement. 

Kathleen here is such a doll. And speaking of dolls...

It looks like Santa brought one for her on Christmas morning.

Here's hoping Santa brought you everything you asked for. A happy and healthy holiday season's wishes to everyone! 

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Sunday, December 20, 2015

Teeny, Tiny Secondhand Treasures: Our $5 Christmas Tree

Small in stature, but quite festive!

I'm not going to lie. This year, I've found it really difficult to get into the Christmas spirit. I'm not being a Scrooge, or at least I'm not trying to be one. You can just chalk it up to poor timing I guess. As the the temperatures in the Philadelphia area are fluctuating between 40-70 degree temperatures, my body is responding in a chaotic fashion. I'm just beginning to feel better following a nasty bout of Bronchitis. But I'm still contending with the muscle spasms and nerve pain from the Fibromyalgia, all the while averaging 3-4 hours of sleep a night. In short, my mind might want to fa-la-la-la-la right up to the 25th of December. But my body is saying bah humbug.

But I'm trying to keep spirits bright. All of the gifts have been purchased---and most of them have been wrapped. I even decided on getting a tree, despite the tight budget from lost time at work when I was sick. During one of my infamous Target trips---an ordeal which my boyfriend, James, can attest is an aimless cart filling of everything from jars of olives and cleaning products, to socks and craft supplies---I found just what I needed. A perfectly sized tree for two people, with no kids, and just a little money to spend. 

At first glance the tree was far too skinny, and rather limp looking. But that was until I realized the branches were bendable. Perfect! And just look at the rustic burlap-wrapped base. 

Who doesn't love garland?

Finding the perfect ornaments was crucial. I got lucky in finding a roll of slender gold colored garland at Five Below, which was the perfect size to wrap around our little Charlie Brown tree. 

And at first I tried using the smallest of the standard-sized ornaments that I could find. But it just wasn't right. So imagine my surprise and delight when I found an unopened box of vintage gift box ornaments at the thrift! Not only are they in perfect proportion to our tree, but the gold ribbon on the gift wrap matches the gold garland I already had. Score!

Vintage gift ornaments = adorable. 

Tree: $3, Target.
Garland: $1, Five Below
Vintage Gift Ornaments: $1, Goodwill 

So what if I spent more on the poinsettia for the kitchen wall cutout than the tree? I'm trying to be festive damn it!

I can't wait until Christmas Eve, when James and I will leave our gifts for each other under the tree. And by "under the tree," I mean we will literally stack the gifts on the dining room table and put the tree on top. Technically, that's under the tree, right?

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Friday, December 11, 2015

How To Stuff Those Stockings With Secondhand Finds

Thrifting for gifts? It can be done!

It'a hard to believe that Christmas day is but a few short weeks away. The malls are packed. Big-box retailers are at maximum capacity. Even supermarket traffic is getting quite congested. And it's no surprise. Holiday shopping is big business. 

It was once believed that there were two types of Christmas shoppers:
  1. The Early Shoppers: Those who buy way ahead of time, or slowly but surely build their gift pile until the big day.
  2. The Frantic Last-Minute Shoppers: Those who take every last cent and every last ounce of energy to cramped malls in hopes of magically finding everything they need just before they need it.
But I'm willing to throw one more type of holiday shopper on the list.  And that type is the Thrift Gifter, a frugal and creative shopper who sees gift-giving potential in secondhand finds. 

It can certainly be a hot topic among the thrift shopping community, but I dare argue that Thrift-Gifting is not only acceptable, but is something to be encouraged.

And this unique secondhand opportunity is something to especially consider for those friends and family members who, like you, long for quality vintage wares,  are hip to being environmentally conscious, or are just appreciative of a gift made more special by being hand-picked in a stroke of secondhand luck instead of mass produced. 

Don't look a thrifted gift horse in the mouth.

To thrift-gift a secondhand find is to truly know someone---that person's taste in movies, music, personal style, home decor, interests and passions. It says, "Hey, I saw this... I immediately thought of  you." 

Naturally, before you get started you may have some hesitations, some questions. And that's okay. After all, you've been taught how---and what to buy---your whole life. But just consider the possibilities. And to get you started, I've developed a few how-to's for a beginning thrift-gifter. 

A Handy Guide To Finding The Perfect Thrift Gift 

  • If you're hitting the thrift store solely because you cannot afford to give a brand new may run into some obstacles. Namely, desperation. Sometimes you find something truly special. Sometimes you don't. That's the nature of the thrift. If financial straits have you panicked prior to even going to Goodwill, you may want to postpone gift-exchanges until a time better suited to your needs. Have a post-Christmas gift exchange gathering. You'll have some piece of mind and your wallet will thank you.
  • If you're thrifting for gift-giving inspiration and ideas, have fun. Look around, but don't be pressured into buying something just because it's there. 
  • Don't forget that candies and homemade baked goods are a hit. If all else fails, grab a  lovely holiday tin and use that to gift your culinary creations. Or maybe a holiday mug filled with candy, wrapped in cellophane and ribbon. This might be the one instance where you'll want to think inside the box---as in, look how pretty this tin/bin/basket/box is...what can I fill it with?
  • Go early and go often. You'll up your chances of finding that special something. 
  • Be sure to check and re-check the quality of any item you may be considering, even more carefully than an item you would buy for yourself. Look for chips/cracks/imperfections in pottery and ceramics. Check all seams and zippers on garments. Give bags and purses the sniff check. (There's nothing worse that a lovely leather satchel...that reeks of decade's old cigarettes). 
  • Trust your gut. If you see something and immediately think that so-and-so would loooooove it, put in your cart for thorough inspection. 
  • And if you're as avid a thrift shopper as I am, you know my mantra. A gift card to my  favorite thrift store(s) is better than cash, because it's the gift that literally could be anything. It's like an invitation to a treasure hunt. And I'll be digging for that buried treasure. 
And if you're looking for specific ideas on things you may find at the thrift about ugly Christmas sweaters, so-bad-it's-good framed artwork, a vase (that you can fill with fresh flowers), unique costume jewelry, a casserole dish/platter to bring a home-cooked addition to the holiday feast, and vintage-vintage-vintage. High quality vintage's nostalgic! (Well, maybe not anything...but you get where I'm going with this). 

So... have I convinced you? Are you sold on the idea of Thrift-Gifting? I'd love to know. 

Would you gift an item that you purchased at the thrift store?

Yes, absolutely.
Yes, but only if the item passed as brand new and they never knew it was bought secondhand.
Maybe. It depends on the person.
Only if it was a rare, unique item not likely to be found elsewhere.
No. Nope. Never.
Please Specify:
Poll Maker

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Let's Go Thrifting Has Been Nominated For a Liebster Award!

I am thrilled to announce that Let's Go Thrifting has been nominated for a Liebster Award from the lovely Sally over at the Passport & Plates blog. Many thanks, Sally! 

And what is the Liebster Award, you ask? The Liebster Award is a nomination-based online only recognition of new or up-and-coming bloggers for their achievements within the blogging community. When you accept this award, you proudly display the Liebster Award logo and nominate 11 blogs of your choosing you receive the award. This is cyclical way of community-building, whereby bloggers can loan their traffic to other bloggers, and readers can discover some fresh blogs to follow. 

I was asked 11 questions over at Passports and Plates.  And here are my answers:

  1. What inspired you to start blogging?   I have contributed to several blogs as a freelance writer, but longed to start one of my own. And a blog about a favorite pastime activity seemed only natural. 
  2. If you could live in any one country of the world, where would it be and why? Though I would love to be a world traveler, if I could only pick one country other than my own to live, it would be Japan without question. I was fortunate enough to spend six weeks in Tokyo studying abroad. It was an amazing experience of traditional Japanese culture mixed with advanced technologies/architecture/media. 
  3. What is your favorite movie? Why?  I don't think I could name any one movie as an all-time favorite. But right now my favorite movie is High Fidelity. I just re-wateched it today and could not stop laughing. I think it captured the tone of the book perfectly, and despite being a comedy...really captures the uncertainty of longtime relationships and new prospects...of music as communication....and Jack Black. I mean come on... his cover of "Let's Get It On." Perfection.
  4. What books/music are you currently reading/listening to? Right now I'm reading 'The Devil In The White City: Murder, Magic, And Madness At The Fair That Changed America' by Erik Larson.  And music... I just found Booker T & The M.G.s on vinyl. It's amazing. 
  5. What's your favorite quote? "Though the sex to which I belong is considered weak, you will nevertheless find me a rock that bends to no wind." ~ Queen Elizabeth I
  6. What is the best advice someone has ever given to you? To be myself without apology. 
  7. What is your biggest goal/dream? To see Let's Go Thrifting become a brand that allows me to work completely for myself as a professional blogger/thrift shopper/writer without need for a supplemental income. And I'm working tirelessly toward that goal.
  8. What impact would you like to have on others?  If my words on donating to thrift stores has kept even one bag of usable items from the landfill, I have done my part. But ultimately I would love to encourage and inspire others to be their best selves.
  9. What book or film has had the biggest impact on your life?  I have always known that I wanted to be a writer. But Stephen King's 'On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft' really solidified that.
  10. What is your dream job? #7 pretty much answers this question. This is my dream job. 
  11. Last meal on earth--what would it be?  I'm going to cheat on this one and say a trip to Shady Maple Smorgasbord in East Earl, PA with family and friends. 

And here are my 11 Liebster Award nominees! 

Congratulations, bloggers. If you would like to participate in this shared community award, keep the cycle going by answering the 11 questions below on your blog, by nominating 11 bloggers of your choice for Liebster recognition, and by asking 11 of your own questions. And lastly, don't forget to link back to the blogger that nominated you. 
Hey, that's me! 

  1. What has been your biggest reward or achievement since beginning your blog?
  2. What is your hidden talent?
  3. What is the strangest thing you've ever encountered at a thrift store, yard sale, or flea market?
  4. If you could choose an alternate career path, what would that be?
  5. Who is your greatest role model?
  6. If you could go on a five-minute shopping spree at any store, which store would you pick?
  7. What is on your winter survival list?
  8. If you could wake up tomorrow an expert in any one skill/language/trade, what would that be and why?
  9. What is one piece of indispensable wisdom you would give to a beginning blogger?
  10. If you could go back in time and do one thing differently, what would that be?
  11. What future plans do you have for your blog?

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Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Five Things Every Thrift Shopper Should Be Thankful For

It's that time of year when sale signs and bargains beckon eager shoppers from the Thanksgiving table and doorbuster deals threaten to deter us from our moral compass in a frenzied stampede to the checkout lane. Being a champion of frugality, I encourage everyone I know to buy smart. But when prices have people pushing and shoving, throwing insults and even's time to really consider what these "good deals" are really costing us. 

I've never been a fan of Black Friday...for several reasons. I loathe hostile crowds. I have little desire for mass market consumerism. And most importantly. I despise the fact that Black Friday is lumped in with Thanksgiving in the most blatantly conflicting way possible. Be thankful for what you have... but when you're barely done digesting your meal, run to the nearest mall. And that of course is assuming you haven't forgone the holiday banquet all-together, in favor of catching the earliest bargains. 

Maybe being a devoted thrift shopper has colored my opinion of Black Friday in such a way that I can no longer see it for the steals and deals. I get deals. I get a lot of deals. And I don't need a day that piggybacks off my Thanksgiving holiday to tell me how to spend my money. 

But I will say this. Thrifting has made me acutely aware of my dollars...and my sense. And for that, I am grateful.  And to honor the spirit of Thanksgiving, I really feel that we thrift shoppers should be thankful for the following: 
  • The ability to make any day a 'Black Friday.'   Maybe you're not into the possibility of thrift-gifting for the holidays. Maybe you love the idea. But either way, you know that the savings you effortlessly accumulate through a year of thrift shopping couldn't compare to a single day of mayhem at the mall. 
  • The thrill of the hunt.  I've talked to other thrift shoppers, and they too agree. Once you go thrifting regularly, standard retail loses a lot of its appeal. Where's the fun in buying the same mass marketed stuff that everyone else has when you can find something unique? 
  • A clear conscience. Every year it seems, there's notable concern of which retailers are exploiting their domestic workforce or which manufacturers are using sweat shops to assemble their products. While you may not know the information behind every brand you will find secondhand, you can be safe in the knowledge that your thrift store purchases are making a difference in the community and keeping usable goods out of the landfill.  
  • A keen eye for what we have and what we no longer need. I often times wonder how many secondhand cycles some of my beloved thrifted finds have made since they were donated by their original owner. Because I know I've donated previously thrifted items back to the thrift once I no longer have a use for them. It's the truth that the best thrift shoppers make the best thrift donors. We keep the secondhand cycle going strong! 
  • A bit of serendipity. Fate, an intervention of the Thrift Gods, a stroke of secondhand luck...whatever you choose to call it---you know it when you see it. When you find that certain something that you've been searching for...that feeling that it was waiting there to be found by YOU and only you. That feeling, well that's just priceless. 

In closing, I would like to wish all of the you the happiest of Thanksgiving holidays. And I thank you for reading Let's Go Thrifting. 

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Monday, November 16, 2015

Secondhand Style: How To Look And Feel Pretty Tough

Put on a brave face, baby. 

For me style has a bit to do with clothes. It has a bit to do with accessories. But style has a lot to do with attitude. It's not about the clothes wearing you. You wear them. You own them. I mean you, own them. Self-confidence being something that I'm lacking, I realized something the other day.

I contend with a fair amount of setbacks. Being the only female supervisor at my job which demands a lot of physical activity, I have to maintain a presence and ability to be "one of the boys." Driving forklifts, breaking down pallets, confronting shoplifters, solving problems, being in charge. Time and time again I am told this is a man's job. And I'm not going to lie. It's tough work. It's work made more difficult by the chronic pain of a debilitating disease. 

But I remind myself. I have Fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia doesn't have me, at least not all of me. And if I'm going to be woman in a man's world, I'm going to be a pretty tough bitch.

And I may as well look the part. So I took to the thrift store. Freshly inspired by an influx of army-inspired fall fashion I've seen in the likes of InStyle or Marie Claire magazines, I kept my eyes open to something secondhand that could make me feel more empowered.

And yet another interesting facet of style---a sense of personal empowerment. And why not? Fashion is a choice to be made and a statement to be heard. And secondhand fashion is an even more powerful statement. Thrift shopping for clothes says: 'I'll wear what I want, when I find it, on a budget that fits.' It's a commitment. And one that I don't mind, not one little bit. 

Owning it. 

Because when a few thrifting trips turns into an overall look I love, that's some spending power  I'll flex without question. And in breaking it down, the spending went something like this:

Cropped blue military-inspired cardigan, Impact Fashion Outlet $4.99
Black and gray broad striped tee, Goodwill. $3.50
Marbled jeans, Lane Bryant Outlet.  $19.99
Taupe American Eagle combat boots: Impact Fashion Outlet, $12

I love this outfit for it's grungy, yet structured feel. Paired with loose waves and a strong red lip, it's my go-to get out my way look. It's fearless and feminine. It's pretty tough.

And if you want to be pretty tough, it's quite simple: 

  • Be confident that you're strong enough to push yourself through anything
  • Celebrate your body with the clothes, accessories, and attitude that fits your style.
  • Thrift your way to financial independence.
  • Pair combat boots and cropped anything. It just works.
  • Don't take any crap. 

What makes you pretty tough?


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Sunday, November 8, 2015

Fare Thee Well, October: Looking Back On My Fall Vacation

The human chessboard at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire

Every year I set aside much needed vacation time from my job during the week of Halloween. It is, after all, my favorite time of the year. Like I need a special day on the calendar to celebrate candy and horror movies! But it's far more than that. It's the change of the seasons where the summer air turns crisp and cool, and the fall palette of colors paints everything in hues of red, orange, and gold. 

You perhaps already read about my first day of vacation spent exploring the Shofuso Japanese House and Garden in Fairmount Park. That was a lovely afternoon. The very next day, my newly-engaged sister and her fiancé, my boyfriend and I, my best friend and her family all went to the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire. 

The royal joust! 

I hadn't been to the Ren Faire in years, and had almost forgotten how much fun it could be exploring the sights and sounds of the 1600s. With so much to see and do, we made an entire day of watching a human chess match, the royal hypnotist, Celtic singers and dancers, and of course the jousting. 

And to celebrate our triumphant return to the Renaissance, this year we decided to dress up.

A Victorian-goth lady and her loyal knight.

And though I thrifted 90% of my costume, I have to admit that my favorite part of the ensemble was that tiny Victorian clip-on hat. I mean, how cute is that?! And while we're not exactly in the same time period, my love for Victorian mourning inspired the costume. And James?  Well he just wanted to be a knight, which fit the Faire nicely. Maybe I'm a time-traveling Victorian witch? Ah oh well!

Here is my head-to-toe look.

Wig: Already owned 
Shoes: Already owned
Jewelry: Already owned
Sheer Black Blouse: $3.50, Goodwill
Black Dress: $6.00, Impact Fashion Outlet
Vintage Parasol: $5, Bryn Athyn Thrift Shop
Fingerless Lace Gloves: $10, Spirit Halloween
Victorian Hat: $10, Spirit Halloween

Me and Sir Goofyface. 

The grand finale of the night at the Ultimate Joust. 

I'm already mentally making plans for our return trip next year. The costumes, the crafts, the food and vendors---it was wonderful. If you find yourself in the area, all vintage enthusiasts, self-proclaimed nerds and Renaissance aficionados should make the trip to the PA Renaissance Faire, which is in season from August-October. And while I might have a slight bias due to my love of all things October, I do recommend going in the fall. There is an added magic in the air, and the fall scenery could't be more beautiful. And... of course, costumes of all kinds are welcome during Halloween weekend. 

A tractor ride to the apple orchard.

And speaking of Halloween, this year I thought it would be fun for James and I to go apple-picking at Styer Orchard. Being a New Jerseyan, he had never been to the beautiful family farm. I make it a point to go every year during my fall vacation. 

A perfect setting for Samhain. 

And I'm sure you can see why. In addition to scoring 4 pounds of golden delicious and staymen-winesap apples, a few miniature pumpkins, and Indian corn all for under $13...the scenery is breathtaking. 

It seemed fitting that I started my vacation with the serene surroundings of the Shofuso House and ended them here---a lovely full circle week. Of course it wouldn't be a real vacation without a few trips to the thrift store, which I found even more fashion to feature in future Secondhand Style posts. And in a sad sort of running joke---it wouldn't be a vacation without a medical setback or two. James spent much of the week sick with a sinus infection from Hell, and I was taken to urgent care only to be told that the sudden  intense pain I had is possibly nerve damage in my right arm. Typical! But we didn't let all that get us too bogged down. 

My new-to-me ultra-mod mug and saucer, $4 from 2nd Avenue Thrift.

And at the end of the night, after giving out buckets and buckets of Halloween candy, we came home where I had myself a big cup of french vanilla coffee while blogging my little heart out.

It had been a big week---full of traditional Japanese culture, the ultimate vintage experience of the Renaissance Faire, a trot through nature, and of course some serious thrift shopping. I suppose that's why this post was such long time coming---that and I've been working nonstop on additional photos and content, all while contending with new pain medication that's making me sorta loopy. But nonetheless I'm glad I had my week off to celebrate my favorite time of the year, and I'm glad that I got to celebrate it with James. 

Oh! And speaking of celebrating, I'd like to thank all of you that participated in the Vintage & Craft Giveaway to the celebrate the 5th blogiversary of Let's Go Thrifting. It truly has been a wonderful five years, and I'm so thankful for the readership and all of the kind words. The winner of the Vintage & Craft giveaway was...Jennifer C! Congratulations, Jennifer.  And thank you all for making Let's Go Thrifting the secondhand community that it has become. 

I hope that all of you had a wonderful October, and a magical Halloween. 
I'd love to hear all about what made your month of October special.

How are you celebrating the fall? 

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Thursday, November 5, 2015

Secondhand Style: How To Dress For Less At The Thrift Store

And I will shout my style secret from the mountaintop. 

I remember a time, way back in my early days of thrifting, when I would collect a compliment with hesitation. When being asked where I got a certain shirt or skirt, and I answered "I got it at the thrift store." The conversation would screech to a halt right then and there---with the inquiring party unsure how to continue the conversation knowing that I (gasp) got it at Goodwill. 

Fast forward some fifteen years later and the conversation has changed entirely. Now people want to know which thrift stores I frequent, what the inventory is like, how often I go...and...

How, oh how, do I find such fabulous things at the thrift store? 

And since the focus of this particular blog post is secondhand style, I've decided to share a photo spread and a few thrifty tips on how to make the thrift store your go-to place for fashion.

I shall call this look 'The Sassy Librarian.'

Don't be afraid of color and texture.

I think this outfit works for a few reasons. The powder blue shirt and fuchsia shirt compliment each other. The charcoal gray blazer is a neutral, and the skinny salmon colored belt just ties it all together. Now I obviously am in love with the color combo of this entirely thrifted outfit. But there's even more to love once you see the details. 

It's a cropped blazer with ruched sleeves, which makes it workplace appropriate but with a few fun little touches. The ruched sleeve plays up the tuxedo style ruffles of the vintage top. Don't ya think? 

But here's the catch. 
I wasn't lucky enough to thrift these three pieces in one single trip to the thrift store. If only. 

But by keeping mindful of what I have in my closet from previous thrifting expeditions, I can mentally piece together an outfit that works. 

And don't forget to accessorize!

Blazer: Impact Thrift Stores, $4
Top: Salvation Army, $2.99
Pencil Skirt:Impact Thrift Stores, $4.99
Belt: Torrid, purchased with gift card

This ruffled floral print blouse was $4.50 from Impact Thrift.

Try it on. Seriously, just try it on. 

Okay, ladies. Let's recite a mantra together. Come on. Say it with me: Size is just a number. I cannot stress this enough when it comes to thrift shopping for clothes. The measurements that determine size are subjective to the country of origin, the manufacturer, the type of garment, even the time it was made. And being a plus size woman myself, I know that it's a frustrating concept. But it's the truth. Looking at my almost entirely secondhand wardrobe, the sizes vary from a large to a 3X.  And who knows what cute things I would've dismissed as too small /too big/too frumpy/too form-fitting if I had't tried them on. 

Take this floral print ruffle top, for example. On the hanger it looked a little lifeless, a little old. Add to the fact that somebody had ripped the tag off of it, so I had no idea what size it was...or at least what size it claimed to be. But I thought hmm... well let me just put it in the pile to try on. And you know what? I love it. I wear it with a wide belt, to cinch it in for a more youthful vibe. Also, I'm really digging ruffles lately. 

Keeping it casual with a $3.50 printed short-sleeve sweatshirt from Goodwill.

Experiment with trends, but be true to you.
Using  fashion magazines for a dose of thriftspiration, I keep a journal of clippings nearby whenever I go thrifting. Trendy and thrifty---that's my goal. But fashion is pliable. It can and should be molded by your own perception of what you believe to be beautiful, comfortable, creative, and cool. For me...well. I'm all too aware of my body type, of what I'm comfortable wearing. 

And a full being true to me, I have to say that setting up these photo shoots for this post was difficult for me to do. I struggle both physically and mentally with my body. And since being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, that struggle has become increasingly difficult. Maintaining my 40 pound weight loss is tough with a chronic pain condition. But I'm not ready to call it quits yet. 

A lovely fringe kimono. Just $5!
And it should also be said that I'm easing myself into including full body shots for future fashion posts here on Let's Go Thrifting. I know my weight, while something that I've struggled with my entire life, does not dictate my worth. I'm starting to embrace more of a personal style to celebrate both my physical achievements towards bettering my health and the mental shift towards a more positive attitude. 
Also, it helps to go thrifting for clothes when everything I had was too big for me to wear.

But no matter what, I'm going to try to remember that size won't put a stranglehold on my style. And neither will Fibromyalgia. And neither will exorbitant prices. Because I'm a thrifter, damn it. 

And if you're a fashion-forward thrift shopper like me, share your trendy finds in the link-up below.

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