Friday, March 29, 2013

She Thrifts, She Scores: 3-21-2013

I had such a successful thrifting excursion last month, I thought I'd have a go at it again.  I went to the two spots that I got great finds last month:  A Goodwill and a Salvation Army further up the road.  (If you live in Miami and would like the locations, post a comment, and I will give you the address.)  I did not find a bounty, but I managed to get lucky with one really good find -- an authentic Louis Vuitton handbag.  It is a now discontinued model -- the Viva Cite GM monogram shoulder bag.

Louis Vuitton Monogram Canvas Viva Cite GM Shoulder Bag manufactured in 2004 

My goal for my outing that day was to find a loose white button-down shirt and/or to find a boho, long-sleeved dress.  I didn't find either of those, but I'll take my lucky find any day.  I found nothing interesting at my first stop, the Goodwill.  This lucky find was from the Salvation Army close to Coral Gables, FL (a ritzy neighborhood.)  This was the same Salvation Army I found a Christian Dior blazer on my previous outing.

I was browsing the handbag section and it just so happened that an employee was emptying a cart of handbags to put out for sale.  I immediately spotted the Louis-looking handbag he was about to hang.  As soon as he hung it, I took it to check it out.  It looked pretty authentic on quick inspection.  The label inside was real-looking, the lining of great quality, the brassware solid, and the monogram canvas of authentic quality.  (I know this because I unknowingly bought a bootleg Speedy 25 from eBay a couple of years back that I scrutinized against my sister's authentic Speedy 30.  Although I am far from a Louis Vuitton expert, I think I can discern a good copy from the real one, just because I own a very good copy.)  I continued to browse but found nothing else.

At the checkout, the cashier told me she thought it was a fake but that it was a very good fake.  She continued to tell me that they make good fakes from my country of the Philippines.  I corrected her and told her the good fakes are made in Korea, but that it was indeed sold in my country.  She charged me $24.99 which is a far cry from the $765 a similar one is selling on Bag Borrow or Steal or the original price of  $1,280 when this model was still in the market.  I don't think I've ever paid more than $15 for anything from a thriftstore, but I thought it was still a great deal.  Plus, the proceeds go towards a good cause.  To be honest, I think the lady was trying to talk me out of buying this bag because she wanted it for herself.  LOL.

I drove home very satisfied and spent the next five hours cleaning and researching this bag to authenticate it.  The bag itself has obviously been worn many times and has the golden brown patina.  The inside keyring still has the lighter leather color.  I learned how to decode the date stamp.  This video was very helpful to me:

Since I already own a copy of a Louis Vuitton, I know what to look out for to spot a fake:

1.  The hardware
2.  The leather trimmings
3.  The canvas itself
4.  The lining
5.  The date stamp

I am not going to talk about the specifics of distinguishing a fake from an original Louis Vuitton because I am not an expert at it.  Like I mentioned, it took me a good five hours researching the topic and scrutinizing my find.  I will however mention that just because it has a date stamp DOES NOT MEAN it is an original.  My fake Speedy 25 has a date stamp, and it is still a fake.  It's a good copy (I would even say indistinguishable to the untrained eye,) but it's still a fake.

Five hours later, I came to the conclusion that my find was original and authentic.  YAY, score for me !!!  Here are some pics to show off one of my best buys/finds at a thrift store:

I hope my find inspires you to do some treasure hunting yourself at your local thrift store and to support some good causes out there =D

Saturday, March 2, 2013

My Favorite Florals for Spring 2013 is Liberty of London's Collaboration With J.CREW

Liberty of London collaborates with an American company once again, this time with J.Crew.  In 2010, Liberty of London had the fabulous collaboration with Target.  Now, with J.Crew, Liberty brings happy floral prints to America once again for Spring.  The higher price-points will bring with it higher quality, so it will be worth the price.  J.Crew prices run in the mid-range, so it is still affordable, but there are certainly some pricey pieces.

Liberty prints in J.Crew's very wearable silhouettes will be a well worth-it investment for your wardrobe.  Pieces in button-down shirts, jeans, skirts, swim suits, shoes, and accessories will have you Spring-ready in no time.  Visit the collection here:  Liberty for J.Crew 

My Picks:

Liberty-collar merino sweater in stripe, Now On Sale $89.99

Liberty toothpick jean in Tresco floral, $168.

Everly Liberty Art Fabrics pumps, $275.

Liberty tie in Floral Eve, $75.

Friday, March 1, 2013

WHAT !!! Georgina Chapman of Marchesa Does a Line for JCP ?

Hold on.  Wait a minute.  WHAT ?!!!  I'm about to faint.  I just read from WhoWhatWear that JCP has a new line that is available today, Friday, March 1st, from red-carpet favorite Marchesa designer Georgina Chapman, called PEARL.  I just died and went to heaven!

Looking at the collection Online, it looks to be a junior line filled with party dresses and looks.  Too bad, I have no where to go.  Also, looking at the size availability, it goes from 2 to 12 and some up to size 14.  Too bad, I won't fit in these, but good for you thinner girls.  It is a delightful collection of 38 pieces full of frills and lace and all that is girlie.  Exactly what you would expect from Marchesa.  I don't know how this deal came about, but JCP needs all the help they can get to reinvigorate the brand and their stores -- their sales have been down.  This PEARL line by Georgina Chapman of Marchesa might help.  With prom season in the air, I hope these hot dresses and outfits sell out.  Prices range from $50 to $250, a far cry from the thousands of dollars a usual Marchesa gown costs.  There are going to be many lucky girls that are now going to get to own a dress by Georgina Chapman.

According to WhoWhatWear, the line will be updated every month, adding new looks and peices.  WOW!!!

Here is a look behind the story of PEARL:

Here are my picks from the collection:

Pearl by Georgina of Marchesa Organza Rosette Dress, $110

Pearl by Georgina of Marchesa Strapless Embellished Dress, $110.

Pearl by Georgina of Marchesa Long Organza Dress, $250.

Pearl by Georgina of Marchesa Lace Jacket or Shorts, $50. - $70.

Pearl by Georgina of Marchesa Lace Overlay Floral Dress, $110.

Tips for Thrift Store Shopping

Nowadays, there are so many outlets for vintage and used clothing.  Aside from your local charity shop, there are consignment stores, vintage shops, garage sales, estate sales, flea markets, eBay, Etsy, and other Web sources.  I prefer the local charity shop.  You can't beat the deal, and the proceeds go to a good cause.  It's a "win, win."
Let's first cover some basics.  You're probably asking "What counts as vintage?"  According to Wikipedia, clothing items before 1920 counts as antique.  Clothing items between 1920 and 20 years prior the current date count as vintage.  So as of the writing of this post, anything between 1920 and 1993 count as vintage.  Wow, I feel so old knowing that 90's items are vintage already!  Anything after 1993 is just used clothing, which is O.K. -- they can still be treasure After all, one person's garbage is another person's treasure, right???   

The Tips:  
1.)  Know your fabrics.  Be familiar with how fabrics look and feel.  Go for natural fibers like cotton, wool, and silk.  They last longer, look better, and are less likely hold funny smells like polyester does.  When you know your fabrics, good quality items will visually pop up easier.  When you become an expert with fabrics, you won't spend so much time perusing the aisles,  and you will be able to quickly go through a section/store.  Good fabrics will POP at you.

2.)  Know what you are looking for.  It's always a lot less painful when you know what you are looking for.  What does you closet need?  Are you trying to match something?

3.)  Know what is on trend for the season.  If you are thrifting, you are probably looking for cheap fixes for trendy looks, so do your homework.  This is part of knowing what you are looking for.

4.)  Go one or two months before a season starts.  Early bird catches the worm!  Although charity shops get a constant supply, it helps to be shopping for items other people that shop there are NOT looking for -- less competition. 

5.)  Look for barely worn items.  There are items that didn't get worn often, or never got worn, and/or were very well taken care ofstrive to find items of this caliber. (Unless you are purposely looking for distressed items.  Then go for it.)
6.Be patient.  Finding treasures need patienceThrifting needs to be done on a leisurely day.  Otherwise, you might get stressed out.

7.)  Try the items on.  If you are shopping for yourself, make sure you try the item/s on.  Yes, it's cheap, but you don't want to throw your money away either.  These items are "All Final Sale."  Make sure it fits you well or only need minor alterations that you can do yourself.  You don't want to pay for alterations more that the item is worth, unless you find designer treasure.

8.)  Avoid items with a funny/bad smell, stains, or holes.  I know, this is a "duh," but I thought I should mention you want to look "on trend" and not homeless. 

9.)  Make a day out of thrifting.  Invite a friend/friends to go with you.  Go to more than one charity shop.  Have fun with it! 

10.)  Buy an item, get rid of an item from your closet.  I don't always practice this one, but I really need to.  As with any shopping excursion, it's a good idea that for every item you add to your closet, an item goes out.  Donate it.  Give it to a friend (I usually give it to my Mom.)  Have a garage sale.  Whatever, or your closet might end up looking like a thrift store.

11.)  Don't overlook the little bins.  I have found some great jewelry there.  My Mom once bought a 14K gold ring with a stone over 10 carats (most likely a green tourmaline) from a flea market for a dollar.  ONE DOLLAR !!!  She has since given me that ring, and it is one of my treasured jewelry pieces.

12.)  Clean the item before wearing.  Most charity shops dry clean the clothing items before putting them on the floor, but I like to be on the safe side.  Wash or clean accordingly.  Read the label, if it's still visible or if there is oneWipe down jewelry with warm water and soap.  Same with shoes (if you are brave enough to buy used shoes.)

For me, every thrifting trip is like a treasure hunt.  I always have a lot of fun with it.  I don't always find things that I want, but I never find it a waste of time.  I hope you have much success with your treasure hunt.