When you compliment a Southern woman on her outfit, she will most likely thank you and then proceed to tell you what she paid for it. Ready for some trendy Summer outfits but want to keep most of your cash in your purse? This week’s column will help you to beat the heat without breaking the bank.
FGG is out of town again this week, and Jackson, our youngest, is enjoying a month in Florida.
Bella and I have indulged in nightly binge-watching of girly-girl shows now that the boys are gone. One of our guilty pleasures is Sex in the City.
Carrie Bradshaw, the main character of this well-known Emmy award and Golden Globe award-winning show, is a fashion icon. And, guess what? She shops at thrift stores! In one episode, Carrie says, “The next day, I was looking for a $7 vintage dress to go with my $300 shoes.” I busted out laughing. I am not the only one who espouses this method of wardrobe management. There is an art to mixing high-end fashion accessories with budget-friendly clothes. It happens to be one of my (many) passions, so much so that this topic is taking over this week’s column! It’s all in the mix, and I’ll be talking about how to style yourself using Pinterest and then incorporating thrifted or discounted clothing with nicer pieces to replicate a trendy look.
I’ve been obsessed with fashion and putting together outfits since I first played with Barbies at my friend Michelle Konevich’s house when I was four years old. Michelle was a year older than me. She already had all the Barbies – Sun Lovin’ Malibu Barbie, Barbie with Growin’ Pretty Hair, Hawaiian Barbie, and all the clothes, shoes, and purses for the Barbies. I still remember spending hours that day dressing the Barbies and dreaming up skits for her and Skipper to act out or getting Barbie styled for a big night on the town with Ken. Bella just recently observed, upon walking into my full walk-in closet, “Mom, you used to play with Barbies, but now, you ARE Barbie.” I laughed out loud.
Which Barbie am I: Middle Age Barbie? She knows that, after all these many years, there’s still nothing I enjoy more than playing dress-up!
FGG loves to spoil me at designer boutiques, and I am very grateful that he indulges my fashion addiction, but when I am left to my own devices, and he is out of town, my vehicle can usually be found in front of The Salvation Army or Marshalls. As a blogger, my photo gets taken – a lot. I need to have a steady stream of different outfits ready for different weather conditions, holidays, occasions, and themes. This is one reason why I have so many clothes. So, I’ll let you in on my fun.
Before we get to shopping, let’s talk about style. Style is a nebulous quality that many women think they either have or they don’t, but the reality is: style can be learned! Having a sense of style is essential before you start thrift store shopping all over or before you raid Marshalls. To cultivate a sense of style, read fashion magazines. Fashion magazines can be a good helper in upgrading your style. Magazines like In Style, Vogue, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, Town & Country, Allure, and Essence are great resources. They can be purchased at most grocery stores or drug stores, and, lucky for us, the Ripley public library keeps a good assortment on hand. Perusing fashion magazines will educate you on beautiful trendy clothes and well-dressed celebrities.
Part of the style “game” I enjoy playing is to consult Pinterest first for fashion trends and color combinations. I get onto pinterest.com, and then I search for terms such as “2021 trendy Summer outfits,” “Summer cute outfits,” “Cute Sundresses”–you get the idea. Insert whatever search terms you prefer. Then, see what comes up and “pin” the ones you like. I have an entire Pinterest board online dedicated to fashion looks I like. Once I see a stylish look that I want to replicate, I set to work on putting an outfit together that resembles the Pinterest image, but I try to do it for as little money as possible. I make a list of what I need to complete that look, and I stick to it as I shop.
As previously mentioned, I am blessed to have a nice collection of designer clothing (and an entire column dedicated to one of my favorite designers, Lilly Pulitzer, may be in the future). Still, I have a lot of fun shopping for bargains–and you can find high-end designer stuff for cheap if you get lucky! Bargain hunting a sport for me. And now, it’s also a sport for my personal assistant, Hope.
When we are having a stressful day, we drop what we are working on, go get a loaded tea, head for the Salvation Army (which we have affectionately dubbed “The Sal”) in Ripley, and shop the fifty-cent t-shirt rack! Y’all, it’s therapy – more about The Sal in a bit.
It’s time to reveal my favorite sources for clothing bargains. They are thrift stores, Facebook Marketplace/Facebook Groups, Dirt Cheap, and Marshalls/T.J. Maxx.
Before I break down my methods for getting the goods, let’s talk about designer accessories and why I hunt for them when I am out shopping. I love name-brand purses and accessories and will pay for quality (but not if I don’t have to). I always say: I prefer to have $2,500 in my purse rather than spending $2,500 on my purse.
I suggest high-end consignment stores (that is where I purchased my Birkin bag, in New York City), T.J. Maxx and Marshalls (more about these stores later in this week’s column), or even eBay, outlet stores, and Facebook Marketplace. Be careful, though – many counterfeit designer brands are sold on Marketplace, so you must know how to spot a fake to avoid heartbreak. There are designer Facebook groups where you can post a picture of a bag and the identifying info, and group members will give you a thumbs-up or thumbs-down regarding its authenticity.
In addition to stylish shoes and bags, jewelry pulls an entire outfit together. My favorite sources for trendy jewelry are T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, and, here locally: Gift of Gab, Southern Culture, Stella Boutique, Silly Sisters, and also, this amazing teacher who sells Friday nights on the Ripley Town Square at the night market, Janisha West Smith! You can find her business on Facebook, Chic Virtuous Woman. Her earrings are only $5 and are totally on-trend! I bought two pairs last Friday night on the square, and I am not sorry!
So, my fashion formula is:
Find a style you like and replicate it for less by bargain hunting. Give yourself a few hours, grab a friend, be in the mindset to hunt a little, and let’s do this.
Here are the places you need to go for bargains:
When I shop at thrift stores, I can get high-end name brands and designer items for about the same price. High quality will last much longer! I have sung the praises of Goodwill in Corinth and The Sal in Ripley in previous columns. Lately, Hope and I have been hitting The Sal hard and #winning! You will be hard-pressed to find cheaper deals on clothing than at The Sal.
They have a 50 cent t-shirt rack, sales on random items each week (this week, it was all tank tops for $1!), and their regular prices cannot be beat. Prices are according to the color of plastic tag attached to the item.
Blue tag clothing will set you back a whopping $1.89, Orange tag clothing is $1.49, and Green tag clothing is $.99. Other items are priced as marked. I got a set of The Cat’s Pajamas Capri pajamas there for $3.00. I thought, “Hmmm…clever brand name. Never heard of it, but it appeared to be good quality.” My fashion “sixth sense” kicked in that perhaps this was high quality as I stroked the Pima cotton. I used my smartphone to look up the unfamiliar brand. Sure enough, my designer sixth sense was correct. The same style of pajamas retail for $110 online! I have an encyclopedic knowledge of brand names from years of fashion addiction and have found some really nice designer clothing at The Sal. I have become Hope’s “Designer Yoda,” teaching her all the name brands. You can see us consulting Google on our cell phones to verify that an unfamiliar brand is good quality. Hope and I shop together at The Sal and leave with a full cart most days. She now knows what to get me, and I know what she likes, too. Not only is thrifting with friends fun, but you can also work together to cover the store faster, especially if you know what the other is looking for and what size they wear. It also helps hold you accountable to the list that you made ahead of time. They’ll also let you know what looks good (or doesn’t look good) or isn’t a good deal. Also, a buddy can hold you accountable and help you stick to your list if you start “squirreling” and contemplate buying things you don’t really need, just because they are a good deal. I am passionate about reducing litter, and I enjoy thrifting because secondhand goods allow me to have a lower environmental impact. Did you know that the fashion industry ranks third after oil and agriculture for the most damage done to the environment? With that said, I’m not going to take anything home unless I need it.
Facebook Marketplace is great to find designer deals at a discount and so much more. It’s basically like going to a yard sale without leaving your couch.
How to Find the Best Deals on Facebook Marketplace
In a past column, I discussed selling secondhand goods for profit on Facebook. Today, let’s talk about the buy-side. Go to filters on Marketplace and select “Local Pickup” if you do not want to pay for shipping. I usually set a radius of 60 miles to get more variety of listings.
If you don’t mind paying for shipping, you can search for all items available for shipment.
If you travel, make sure to check the listings for cities that you travel to; you may be able to pick up a deal on your way back home. When I travel with FGG, I do a quick search for those areas before we leave if I am looking for a specific item.
When I am doing a clothing search, I will type in my size and the designer brand I am looking for. I always ensure the clothes, shoes, or purse come from a smoke-free, pet-free home.
I carefully review photos to ensure there is no damage to the items, and I ask the seller if there are any, just in case. Then, when I find something I like, for example, a Lilly Pulitzer dress, I Google the dress to see what it sells for/has sold for. At that point, if I think the seller’s price is fair, I complete the transaction using my PayPal account if it is being shipped (PayPal offers buyer protection if the item is not as described), or I arrange for pickup and cash payment upon receipt. Easy-peasy!
Be sure to be polite and fair with sellers; you’ll be rated on your transactions! This brings up another point: Research the seller – look at their ratings before deciding to complete a transaction with them. Are they reliable? If so, go for it!
Dirt Cheap: Blue Mountain
If you, for some reason, still do not know this, Dirt Cheap is a chain of stores, sort of like Big Lots. You never know what they might have from week to week. They get lots of Target items, but you can also occasionally get lucky and find some nice designer items. Hope had no idea “Dirty” Cheap, as our friend Jody Gray calls it, was a “thing.” Now, I am telling you that it’s time to go there if you haven’t been. I made Hope a believer! I found Liz Claiborne shorts there and Atlheta leggings that normally retail for $89! You never know what you will find. You can also get super cheap, brand-new accessories from Claire’s Boutique from time to time. You can download the “Dirt Cheap Deal Finder” app on your mobile phone and scan the bar code on any item to show the discounted price. Most clothes are only $5, but occasionally, they will get marked down even more. Last weekend, “Dirty” Cheap had a clothing sale. I got blue and white floral Liz Claiborne shorts and a navy Target tank top for a whopping total of six bucks, and it’s one of my favorite Summer outfits!
T.J. Maxx in Tupelo and Marshalls in Corinth attract bargain shoppers, and for a good reason. Shoppers will find that almost all merchandise in both T.J. Maxx and Marshalls is discounted between 20 to 60 percent off the original retail prices. My number one tip is: if you like it, buy it! There is no back stock; everything is on the sales floor. So, if you snooze, you lose! Shoppers looking to find the best prices at T.J. Maxx and Marshalls should look for the yellow price tags. Items with yellow price tags are deeply discounted and as low as the price is going to go. I got THREE Lilly Pulitzer outfits on clearance at Marshalls for only $16-$18/each! Weekly markdowns are generally distributed to the stores on Tuesdays through Fridays. I have had the best luck in terms of selection on sale merchandise when I shop on Wednesday mornings. End-of-season merchandise is cleared out of the stores in January and July (and this column is being brought to you just in time for the July clearance-you’re welcome!). Pricing is aggressive, and the merchandise sells quickly. This is a good time to make extra visits to the stores because the prices are adjusted down more frequently than other times of the year.
If you’ve been following the column, you know I have recently lost the COVID-15. What to do with all those clothes that are now too big for me? I’ll donate them to The Sal in Ripley, of course. After all, most of my bigger-sized clothes came from there! It’s the Circle of Life.
Now that you know how not to be a financial fashion victim and frugally fill your closet for Summer, it’s time to make some adjustments to your current wardrobe. Get your “shopping friend” to consult you on what you have hanging in your closet. Put all the seasonal items in storage under the bed. Put on a fashion show for your friend. If it is dated, in poor condition, or not flattering, “it’s got to go” to make room for all your new treasures. Generally, I do not bring in more clothes until I purge ones that no longer suit me. Hope and I did the fashion show and the donating this week. One tip I have is to turn the hangers all the other way around, then set a reminder in your phone for a year from now to check your hangers.
If you have anything still hanging in your closet a year from now with the hanger still turned around the other way, you should donate it! Have fun bargain hunting!