Haphazard Observations of the Everyday

And a little fiction by Miguela Holt y Roybal

Miguela Holt y Roybal

Miguela Holt y Roybal
Location
New Mexico, USA
Birthday
March 10
Title
Monarch of All She Surveys
Company
Good
Bio
Miguela Holt y Roybal is my maiden name en Espanol. I am a retired schoolteacher and aspiring author looking for crumbs of beauty among the ruins. My novel has been a work in progress for longer than I care to admit. It is a postmodern pastiche of magical realism and about a young woman from New Mexico who goes to work in Washington, DC during the 1980s. She has been a longtime witness to the secret rituals of the Penitente culture in her home state and learns about herself and redemption as she sallies forth on her quest for novelty and adventure. I claim fair useage of images found on the internet that illustrate some of my posts. All contents copyrighted by the author unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved.

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FEBRUARY 27, 2012 2:20PM

A Designing Woman's Late Winter Fashions from a Thrift Store

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Fashion Emergency!

Since my retirement, I have had to change my mode of daily dress significantly. When I was a high school teacher, I liked to dress up for my students and my standard outfit was a longish straight skirt in a solid neutral and a frilly blouse with cardigan, accessorized with vintage costume jewelry--the prim and proper little English teacher at the events of the school year:  First Day of School, National Honor Society Induction, various banquets, dances, prom, and graduation.  With a tight clothing allowance, my wardrobe was a little lopsided; I focused on career wear.  Seperates and suits, nothing fancy, bought from department stores that I would mix and match myself.  When home from school, I was so tired that I just put on my pajamas.  There were very few casual outfits in my wardrobe except for shorts and sundresses for summer. Until my recent thrift store splurge, I had but two pairs of jeans.

Now my days are all about caring for my husband Robert who has been paraplegic for the past thirty years following a motorcycle accident and a recent amputee. Maintaining a clean and sterile sick room is one of my major routines and that means plenty of chlorox and ruined clothing. Frankly, I have been kind of schlepping about town the past year, paying little attention to my appearance, even cutting my own hair, and now something has got to be done about all this running around looking so slovenly.  I want to make it clear that I do clean up well and look nice for important functions. 

                          Willliamson Lectureship 2011

Spring is a busy season for me because all winter long, I am down in the dumps and suddenly I feel alive again.  There are a number of events planned this season that I would like to dress up for and they are again mostly school related--this time spring semester activities at Eastern New Mexico University:  Jazz concerts held at the newly remodeled music building and other fine arts events.  My birthday is the tenth of March and so St. Patrick's Day is an important holiday to me; I'll need to be wearin' some green.  The Jack Williamson Lectureship, a series of talks held for the past thirty-five years and attended by sci-fi writers from all over the world honoring Portales' famous Grand Master, is at the end of the month.  I need to look pulled together to take Bob to see various doctors and since I am lifting his wheelchair in and out of a small car trunk, mobility and comfort are paramount as well as a cute look.

I want outfits to throw on and look good, but I have a limited budget. What to do?

 A Wanna-be Fashion Designer                          

Observing me some days at Wal-mart or at the little cafe by the university where I meet my friends for a weekly lunch, one would see a slightly harried lady who is little overweight, hair windblown, her blouse stained with chlorox.  You would never guess how much I love clothing and fashion. 

I think that clothes DO make the man (or woman).  As an English teacher, I taught my students not to judge a book by its cover, but really, you can tell a lot about a person by his dress and not just socio-eco.  One senses whether a person is careful, stylish, or arty.  Those things matter to me and a well dressed person seems, well, confident.  My favorite transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson put it this way, "The feeling of being perfectly well-dressed gives a feeling that religion is powerless to bestow."  I first ecountered that quote in an exclusive haberdashery and dress shop in Santa Fe called The Country Store.  It was framed on the wall to the dressing rooms. Because I was raised by an avowed atheist, this caught my attention in a major way when I was about fourteen years old.

It's been a struggle like any kind of search for meaning.  When we were young girls, my sisters and I didn't have much clothing or anything remotely resembling wardrobes.  Still I admired the dresses I would see in magazines like American Girl and Seventeen and I longed for plaid Christmas coats with velvet collars and tennis whites.  Occasionally there was a trip to Lerner's or The Hecht Company because I was the eldest of four sisters and the poor little things wore my outgrown cast-offs but mostly clothes just appeared in boxes from somewhere and often contained articles for little boys.  My mother had no sense of gender when it came to clothing selection.  I was the little girl in the navy blue snowsuit with the fire engine on it whose hair was home cut in a very short "pixie" style and it didn't help that my nickname was "Miki" and I had to wear corrective shoes--brown laced oxfords.  I was certain that I looked like a boy.

I remember there was this pretty girl named Marian at my school.  She had long red hair that was braided or curled sometimes and always beribboned.  Her mother made the post precious dresses for her, lots of them--even a darling smock to wear for art lessons.  I envied her mightily for her doting mother as well as the dresses because I looked bedraggled in my dad's old paint spattered white oxford shirt with the rolled cuffs but at least I was a pretty good artist.

To be a dress designer was my greatest wish and one summer I created a paper doll named "Alice" after a character I fell in love with in an old movie, "You Can't Take it with You."  All summer I designed dresses and shoes for Alice gleening ideas from the fashions I saw in old films and movie magazines. 

That fall, I read a cute book by Eleanor Estes called The Hundred Dresses with delightful sketches by Louis Slobodkin about a girl who drew a hundred dresses.  I was so inspired that I designed 100 dresses for my first book report on the back of the old computer paper my dad brought home for me to draw on and Miss Schiff gave me an "A" on the report even though it was mostly drawings.  She carefully picked out the ones she liked the best in a very sweet teacher-student exchange with this shabby little unkempt girl that I will never forget.

Thrift Shop Chic

lotsa 141

I first learned to buy vintage clothing at thrift shops in the early 1980s when I was working in Washington, D. C. and had to supplement my college wardrobe for work on Capitol Hill.  My practice designing dresses came in handy because the homemade skirts and bargain blouses soon gave way to beautifully crafted "originals" that I found for a song in places like Georgetown and Arlington.  Back then the practice of shopping second hand was not widely done by the fine ladies who work on The Hill and so I had no problem whatsoever finding a personal style quite different from my female co-workers who would sometimes laugh at me.  I didn't care; I got noticed.  In a good way. 

Winter photo shoot 024

Winter photo shoot 023

The dresses and gown pictured above were all found at thrift stores and what to notice about them, besides the incredible craftsmanship and details, is how impossibly small they are.  Those girls during the Depression and through the 1960s certainly cast slender silhouettes!  My daughters, who are impossibly small, wear them sometimes.

The beautiful jewelry in this post are all gifts from my husband Bob who spoiled me rotten when we were courting and I have drawers of fabulous turquoise and silver native as well as vintage jewelry to prove it.  My jewels are better than Tiffany's because my beloved picked them all out for me and he has very good taste.  Aren't those orange-y gemstone earbobs fabulous? You can always tell what kind of a person a man thinks you are by the earrings he gives you. Together with the old scarves and belts I have found, this Queen of Sheba can accessorize anything and throw an arm party with the best.

fashion shoot 003

That Italian navy blue straw purse is immaculately clean, beautifully lined, and has bakelite details so it will look great with the kind of bluesy look I am going for.  I pulled some scarves out of that nifty hat box that I thought I could work in somehow.  My neck's been troubling me.  Did you know Stetson made gloves?  I only know because the label was still on these comfortable leathers I bought at a garage sale for twenty-five cents last summer.  Dark shades for sunglasses are always right.

My Recent Thrift Store Haul

As I said earlier, I needed some clothes to spruce up my spring look. For shame!  That is not even a true statement. The last thing I need is more clothing.  Next to me is my closet with ten full feet of skirts and blouses and jackets jammed together.  I can easily find things to wear.  I just wanted something new (to me) and different.  Accustomed to buying a few articles each season, these things die hard in a woman.

A couple of weeks ago, I was running errands downtown and entered Consigning Women, a church run thrift store. It is an establishment that I am familiar with because I collect rare dishes and art pottery.  Most days, I hurry past the room with the old clothes that smell like a thousand people to get to the back room where the housewares are stored.

"All the clothes are priced half-off what is on the label," the lady at the counter told me and I paused. 

Knowing that even if I found the beautiful vintage clothes I so admire, they would never fit me.  I needed a different searching strategy and you would not believe what section I went to first.  The Mens'!  There is plenty of winter left this year and so I was looking for a cozy big sweater.  As it turns out I hated wearing boys clothes when I was a girl but I love wearing menswear now.  If you don't have a boyfriend, just buy a comfy men's sweater.  It is almost as good as a guy, but I digress.

I found no such sweater but instead a cool trench coat for seven dollars and a Levis denim shirt with metal buttons.  It was two dollars.  Back to the women's section, I tried to keep in mind my daughter Hillary who lives in NYC and dresses very much as the sophisticated artist that she is.  She teases me sometimes about my bright colors when she is dressed in all black.  Next to her I look like Frida Kahlo.  Neutrals, I told myself and found two pairs of jeans that fit as well as a dark denim Talbot's embroidered top.  I tried to resist, but some pink and green things came home with me.

 lotsa 126

 This Liz Claiborne jacket got plenty of wear from its previous owner who obviously loved it.  Remember those thousand stinky people I smelled at the shop, well, this was a major culprit and so it was sent to the dry cleaners right away.  The jacket cost five dollars and ten dollars to clean it!  Still a good buy, I think.

lotsa 128

This blackwatch plaid shirt-dress needs to be taken in slightly for better fit but that is okay because I know how to sew.  The label says Stonebridge.  When I showed this dress to my sixteen year old daughter, she asked me, "Are you really going to wear that?"  I was surprised when she told me she thought it looked like the homemade floral dresses that the Amish women in our community wear.

lotsa 142

Together with the nubbly Liz blazer freshly back from the cleaners, I think the blackwatch dress looks nice.  I have a lot of pearls and chains I can add to give the ensemble more of a Chanel look than Amish.  I can also wear it layered with a white turtleneck sweater and with the trenchcoat for a casual rumpled Columbo vibe.

thrift store haul 007

 I am crazy about this scarab pin from the 1960s probably.  It is plastic and has some dangling earrings to match, but I think they would be too fussy to wear with this easy-going look.  Instead, I will wear the multi-stone scarab link bracelet--one of my favorites!

                                                 lotsa 160

 The most expensive item I bought was this faux fur beaver jacket shown below that is lined with satin and is very luxurious.  It was twenty-five dollars.  I wore it to a production of The Marriage of Bette and Boo over this aqua super-embellished dress I already owned by Spencer Alexis. 

 fashion shoot 001

 Everyday Clothes to Knock Around In

                                 fashion shoot 005

The jacket paired with the coral camp shirt by the same designer, Liz Claiborne, makes another appearance and can be worn with jeans and other various sweaters.

thrift store haul 003

Puddy Tatt wouldn't get off of the jeans for a picture.  One of the things people may worry about when buying at thrift stores is the size thing I mentioned before.  Frankly, a lot of the bigger sizes were really ugly and unfashionable often with shoulderpads that look like they belong on a linebacker.  Good thrift store strategy is to go often to find the better items.  These jeans are Rider and Lee--size 16.  One pair is straight leg and the other wide leg.  Neither are mom jeans but there were plenty of them there at the store.  Look carefully and take them to the dressing room unless you are like me.  I won't even try on clothes in a fancy department store where I know I can return the purchase.  Not so at thrift stores but I figured if the jeans I found didn't fit, for two dollars a pair, I could throw them away.  That is cheaper than a latte at Starbucks.

thrift store haul 011

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Here are a couple of cute tops to wear with jeans.  I probably wouldn't don this spectacular vintage Zuni necklace (1950s) with the gray sweatshirt I placed it upon to show up in the photo, but I don't know.  Maybe. 

tops 2 001  

Since it is one of my long time favorites I will still wear the denim tiered skirt with the chlorox stains shown here with some other tops and the sleep masks I am making for Bob and me.

Shoes and A Very Special Purse

I do not recommend buying shoes second hand, ever; and so the footwear selections I am wearing this season are already in my closet.

I understand completely ladies who love shoes.  You would not believe how delighted I am to see my favorites all shiny bright in this post because those in my closet are in various stages of wear.  This morning I counted about thirty pair, but these are the footwear that I have bought over and over again for probably fifty years for their style and comfort.  Perfect for my spring wardrobe.

Unfortunately, I have bad feet and cannot indulge in the incredible confections that I see in the fashion magazines and on my friends' feet.  In addition to my bad feet, teachers stand up all the time and so comfort has always been my first concern and does not come cheap.  I must wear a good shoe with solid support.  I have never been able to wear heels.  Alas.

To understand my shoe style this season, I would wear any one of these pairs with pants or a dress depending.

 

 bass weejuns

red moc

justin lace ups

 rockp507534_76838_jb

The lady at the thrift store kept urging me to look at the purses and I did but found what I expected.  Mediocre or fakes that were kind of beat up--what I already have but not the fakes.  Coach bags have never been in my budget and so I used to buy a purse for fall and spring each year.  Kenneth Cole, Tommy Hilfiger--makers like that.  For this spring I looked through the box of my still useables and found two that are unusual--the blue Italian bag I shared with you already and this one: 

thrift store haul 009

Believe it or not I got this leather purse from a family member for a graduation present from high school forty years ago. It has seen me through many, many adventures and shows it--I mean from crazy acid trips during my art school days at the university to important receptions with international dignitaries in Washington! I swear it was still the best of about ten in my box of bags that I have kept and it has been out of circulation for over twenty-five years.  It looked matted, dull, and flat when I drew it doubtfully from the box two weeks ago.  However, when I cleaned the old withered thing with neetsfoot oil and began using it once more, the leather purse kind of bloomed into beauty again.  I had the cobbler whose shop was at Burro Alley in Santa Fe replace the braided straps in the early 1980s and when the cross section of an antler button used for the fastener was lost, I replaced it with this turquoise piece. 

The rumor is that the purse was made by Cesar Chavez and when it was presented to me, it was that pinky beige color that untreated leather has. That luscious patina is all mine.  Inside were the pen marks of the maker. I have no idea if Mr. Chavez really made it or not. The person who gave it to me had all the right connections to claim it to be so. It doesn't matter to me one whit.  This is the purse of a lifetime, a friend.

My Inspiration for this Spring Thrift Store Wardrobe

Like any good designer or teacher, my spring collection has a theme--or rather an inspiration.  To say the actress I had in mind is the epitome of style would not disputed by anyone and the film character she played was a girl from Texas.  Can you guess who she is?  There are lots of hints throughout this post and any real fashionista will know right away.

Thanks for taking the time to share my love of fashion and I hope you will consider the thrift stores in your neighborhood as viable places to shop for good clothes at great prices--and you are recycling!  I paid fifty dollars for all the clothes here and remember that the fur jacket was twenty-five dollars.  If I paid two dollars for a blouse, what do I care if it gets a little chlorox on it?

Ciao and happy hunting.

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Comments

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Miguela, it looks like you've had a lot of good luck finding interesting and attractive clothes at various thrift shops! The fashionable people haven't been leaving anything interesting at the local one near me last time I checked a couple of years ago, but I've had good luck with music CDs and some kitchen items like a new Cuisinart fondue set.
I've been buying clothes from thrift shops since 1970. When I worked in theater, we were always on the look out for costuming. The very best score I ever made was black Edwardian suit from London. It was tailor made and fit me like a glove. I wore it everyday when I worked as the bar manager at the Red Lion in Houston. All the regular customers were very wealthy Texans and they all complimented me on my choice of uniform especially the women. When I told them that I bought it for $60 at a thrift store, their eyes went wide and on the sly the women asked for the name and address of the shop.

OMoM
This was such a delight to read!
I felt much in common in the way of dressing as a "prim and proper English teacher", (although I did wear heels). I also love native jewelry and art. Now I'm going to read all over again and study the photos.
R♥
I really liked the photos of the small vintage dresses. They look like dreamsicles.
I had a store for over 25 years and designed clothes. Two rooms of clothing were my choices and I love vintage.

After the house fire another mindset took over and now I have about 15 inches of clothes. I spend my days in jeans and hoodies. When I go (maybe twice a year) I have a floor length pleated skirt I work.

BUT, I still like looking and loved window shopping through your blog.:)
HUGGGGGGGGGGGG
Loved it! I've been a thrift store shopper since high school, an obsession that provides me a designer wardrobe on a non-profit salary. As you point out, part of it is finding your own style. Part of it is, at least for me, the thrill of discovery. Recently, I discovered thrift shopping in Europe, which is a whole new level. Last fall, I got a vintage French dress AND Italian designer pumps for under 25 euros. (I from you on the shoe rules, I guess.) Have a great spring and give Puddy Tatt some love from me!
You have such a sense of style!
You and my sister S. should get together & storm the thrift stores.
Her wardrobe as a social worker extraordianaire
and hippie dippie is , well, absolutely amazing
even to a fashiondumb younger brother
who prefers the dark blues and blacks.


we got a good thrift store in town.
except no dressing rooms, and hardly any mirrors.
sister S. is distressed. i tell her, well,
seems people were pissing
in the dressing rooms,
and also all kinds of
shenanigans.
of a sexual nature ,s ome ..


Still..no mirrors?

i get jeans there, and also male shirts, blueish...black too!
I never see things like that in the stores near me. Jealousing.
You had me when I read about your paper doll. I had boxes of paper dolls and the clothes I designed for them. I agree the thrift store is a perfect place to find perfectly lightly worn clothes to enhance a wardrobe. rated
Garage sales are my malls--with an occasional detour into a T.J. Maxx.
I cannot believe the great assortment you assembled at thrift stores!
You're in good company. Barbara Streisand used to shop at thrift stores. Living in New York, she had lots of designer duds to choose from. This delightful post took care of my urge to go shopping today.
You have such a good eye!

I love your aqua dress and would consider doing something illegal for the Zuni necklace. :)
I seldom drive by a second hand store in downtown Kaiserslautern, but I've never been. Instead, I wait until I'm home in Marietta and visiting my Aunt Annie in Tenn.. Its so exciting to go into one of these. I'm a rather large woman, but I find many items for my daughter, but she usually doesn't like them. Oh, well.

You're fancy dresses and that beaver skin fake. Oh, my, my, my! Such class. I love those earrings your husband gave you.

You've got some style. I'm rather attractive and try for hot primary colors to highlight my "penetrating" blues and blonde hair, but really the only thing I have in common with you is a love a good pair of shoes- no heels- absolutely no heels. Worn to trot about as a PreK- 8 grade ECE teacher. Younguns mean movement- lots of it!

Enjoyed immensely! Rated.
This was nice, Miguela. I would recommend you show it to the thrift store, but you said it stunk. You look good and never slovenly btw.
LOVE your sense of style. You are really on to something here, Miguela. Your artistic vision is so unique, and your writing so heartfelt and vivid. You could extend your creativity into other realms that would put a vintage/cool spin on things, and earn you some extra cash: teaching graphic journaling; boutique/museum staging; photo art; vintage greeting cards; etc., etc. ... Rated with awe.
Well done, Miguela. I agree with your friend, James, "slovenly" is not a word I would ever use to describe you.
You have a great eye combined with your passion for clothes. I admire your style. Mine has become Chicos and jeans and some classic jewelry I wear everyday so I don't had to choose. I'm more a foodie than a fashionista, but as you point out it takes all kinds.
Wow, I can't believe I read a whole piece about women's clothing and enjoyed it. This was an excellent post. You made it seem like a journey rather than a shopping spree. EP is Right!!
Fellow thrift store shopper here! I don't think I've purchased anything new for myself in five years -- and I too love fashion (even though my everyday uniform for work and home is yoga pants/white t-shirt/New Balance trainers. Some nights I just slip off my sports bra and shoes and go straight to bed.

I read all the fashion rags and websites so I can spot trends and recognize obscure brands that my young adult daughter might like, and it's the best thing ever when I present her with some item I got for next to nothing and she's wide-eyed with delight.
I absolutely loved this post! Your taste in clothing and styling is similar to mine. The Zuni necklace is just beautiful and those boots! You are a girl after my own heart.

Lezlie
I adore vintage and wish I owned some, its just beautiful. Love the white dress with the pearls on the red hanger, simple, elegant and gorgeous. There is a lightness and ease about the clothing.

I have shopped thrift stores for years and have found some excellent buys. My step mom finds Coach purses at garage sales for pennies on the dollar, I keep waiting for her to send me one, but alas, not so far!
I'd like to thank each and every reader for the wonderful comments and will respond to them in the morning. I don't know how so many of you write such brilliance on a daily basis. This post wore me out today but to be fair to myself it involved a lot of laundering and staging. 'Til tomorrow, Amigos, buenos noches.
Liz Taylor in "Giant"? She was so beautiful then!
I loved your article and I love thrifting, so this was a special, delicious treat - thanks!
You know you are poor when even the thrift stores are too expensive. So I really appreciated your shopping spree. I remember putting pennies in my penny loafers. Love those moccasins. You make me so happy when you do these mega posts. You really pour yourself into them all and I love every detail. Thank you Thank you! EP!
Oopsie!

I stumbled in here by accident, sorry. I closed my eyes quickly though, so I didn't see anything. You women just go right head with what you're doing and I'll just slip out again and go for a beer......

;-)
.
Oh! I rapturously bought $65 of stuff from Goodwill yesterday - including 6 cotton sweaters, 2 blouses, and a long, straight skirt. I DO buy shoes at thrift stores - my current favorite pair being a pair of red bowling shoes. I will buy almost any red shoe that fits me. Yesterday, i found a pair of wooden Japanese clogs! Excellent! I have been wearing dark colors underneath because of the lost battle of the bulge, but I need bright sweaters to wear over them. I love your selections and your style. Did you ever go to the warehouse thrift store on Minnesota Avenue in the 80's? That place was vintage heaven!
This is a great read on the fun and sensibilities of shopping Thrift.
I too have shopped at thrift stores for ages, and as I've moved all over the country I've seen how they vary widely depending on the area of the country...or county!
Atlanta had the best stores back in the 80s when only we funky arty types shopped there, but now even the Jr. League shops thrift so the good stuff (for me, natural fibers, designer labels, or very vintage) is more lean. Here in Oregon, no one dresses up at all, so that is reflected in the shops. Snooze! Then I checked their book area! No one dresses here, but no one watches TV here either -- they read! I have had so much fun finding scores of excellent books : )
...but I still can't wait for the next visit to the city so I can get back to some good clothing finds....
Thanks for this, Miguela!
Designator--Thanks for your comments and yes I have had a lot of luck looking for treasures but its also perseverance, as you know. People are not very fashionable where I live. They are of the university set or country folk. That Cuisinart fondue set sounds very sweet and I hope you enjoy it.

OMom--I bet you looked dashing in that Edwardian suit. There are plenty of la-di-da ladies here joining me at the garage and estate sales. It's the thing to do.

Fusun--You are very much the prim and proper teacher with a little sass from those heels. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoy looking at some of the antiques in my stagings.
Wonderful finds, Miguela. Your style is a kind of Southwest meets Annie Hall, which I think is way cool. The scarab and the purse with the addition of the turquoise piece is stunning.
Chucky207--Thank you and you look really cute in them.

LindaS--I thought of you when I wrote this. After all your fashion designing expertise, I find it hard to believe that you have fifteen inches of clothes but with fires and other challenges in your life, it is practical to let go. I bet you rock those fifteen inches, Chica! You are adorable.

Jennifer--I would love to thrift in Europe. What a dream! I have bad feet and so that is why I eschew the used shoes. I would probably wear a pair that looked practically new if I really liked them but most I have seen have formed into the shapes of other people's feet. That won't work for me. I will pet Puddy Tatt for you. He is usually here bugging me while I am typing. He will be along presently.
Scarab pin on black watch plaid--gutsy fashion move!
Victoria--Thanks, sis. You, too. It runs in the family. Well, some of it.

JamesE--I bet you look sexy and intellectual in your black and blues.

Tinkerbelle--You have to go all the time. Most days I come home with nothing. Good luck!
Desnee--I wonder if little girls still play with paper dolls. Maybe they print them off the internet. Who knows? I wish I had phrased by last paragraph the way you did. Thanks for stopping by.

jlsathre--Let's go shopping together!

MaryS--Can you imagine those Capitol Hill girls faces when I walked into the Senator Domenici's office wearing that tangerine lace? The guys loved it.
SarahC--Your comment was so cute. I am glad if I saved you a little money today.

V. Corso--You have excellent taste. What more can I say except hands off my necklace. Thanks for commenting.

MangoSherbert--Flats are where it's at. :D There is something for everyone at the thrift shops if one keeps looking. Thanks for adding to the discussion.
Jim--Thanks for your compliment. I guess I could have left out the stinky stuff but you know me, I will call it as I see it.

Deborah--What a beautiful compliment you left me in your comment. I always wanted to work in a museum but never even got a foot in the door. My daughter, Hillary, is an artist for the American Museum of Natural History in NYC. I am so proud of her and she can be the museumista for me. Thank you.

Dr. Oldknow--Thanks for saying I am not a slob and I didn't know you read my blog because you are always so busy. I appreciate it.
Lea--I have seen those pictures of you when you were a young woman and you were VERY stylish as I am sure you still are. How can you stay so trim being a foodie? I am waiting for a good crop of asparagus from my garden to try your orange sauce. Thanks for taking the time to read this long piece.

Scanner--Ha ha! I was going to write in the title or tags about ladies only but I am glad I didn't. The first two commenters were men! I am so glad that you got the idea that it has been almost a spiritual journey and while it is only fashion, even Emerson agrees with me. Thanks so much.

Bellwether--It's fun to shop for our girls, isn't it? I bet an elegant lady like you dresses up every now and then. Thanks for your comments.
Lezlie--If we have similar taste, then I compliment you on your style and elan. You so right about those lace up boots. They are luscious and comfortable, too.
Sea Lion Lady--Elizabeth Taylor? Are you referring to the picture of my avatar when I was sixteen? I guess I look a little like her even now only the fifty-year old version. Fluffy and shiny with gems. Thanks for your comment.

Ah, Zanelle--Of course, YOU noticed those great moccasins! :D. I will be scrimping on food for a month to make up for this splurge, believe me.

Skypixie0--You should have stayed for me to model for you! Cheers.
Sorry I didn't get here sooner. Thrift shops are the new chic. Lots of great ideas. I didn't know about your husband. Your dedication and love is inspirational. r
I'm a huge thrift store shopper! I have found the most amazing clothes over the years. Nearly all my best finds have been vintage dresses. I've always said I was born in the wrong era--today's clothes don't fit as well as the mid-century clothes.
As I am of a rubinesque build, I find thrift stores have very few attractive selections for me. I will not, however, pay full price and scour the deeply discounted racks. I've been told my style is 'eclectic'..... I refuse to buy trendy as I don't get my wear out of them.
I am completely smitten with this charming piece. I admit, I am not a fan of thrift shops, (For one thing, vintage shops in DC are now very expensive) but your choices and your style are just wonderful!! What a cool post! ~r
I loved paper dolls, too! And my Mom was dragging me to yard sales and flea markets when I was a little girl, so I learned to love the thrill of the hunt. You have a great eye and your writing is great, too! Thanks for the adventure! R
"Like any good designer or teacher, my spring collection has a theme--or rather an inspiration. To say the actress I had in mind is the epitome of style would not disputed by anyone and the film character she played was a girl from Texas. Can you guess who she is? There are lots of hints throughout this post and any real fashionista will know right away."

This is what made me think of Liz in "Giant". What a movie! James Dean so in love with her .... and her married to Rock Hudson. Now ... your avatar .... that's Liz in "Elephant Walk". She was at her most beautiful then ..... one woman's opinion. Love your posts!
I loved this post too! Your thriftiness and style sense reminds me of the movie "Accidental Tourist" where Miriam finally made it to Paris and went to all the thrift stores there!

You and I have had backward lives. I loved fashion and wanted to be a fashion designer, but my brother got leukemia and I couldn't take off for the big city when I graduate. But I loved books and compensated by reading.

Now I am teaching fashion marketing just as you are retiring from teaching English.
Con Chapman--Thanks for calling my kind of random pairings "gutsy." The scarab on blackwatch plaid is as weird as a Zuni Necklace on a sweatshirt. I really liked your comment. :D

Andee--Thanks for your sweet and thoughtful comment. Now I feel chic instead of cheap.

Cedar Burnett--You are so right about mid century clothing fit. Modern clothes don't have darts and are not cut on the bias. Those kinds of constuction really make a huge difference. Thanks for stopping by to browse.
Chrissie--Like you, I have had trouble finding larger sizes that are fashionable in the thrift stores. I lucked out this time. Thanks for reading and commenting :D.

JoanH--I am so pleased that you enjoyed the post so much and thank you for letting me know.
Jane B--Paper dolls and the thrill of the hunt. I have a feeling we are going to get along great. So nice to meet you and I will be looking out for your posts. Thanks!

SeaLionLady--I feel kind of foolish because I forgot about that last section that I wrote about my inspiration. I can see why you would guess Liz Taylor, but I had in mind Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's. I am more like Liz than Audrey. Definitely Holly Golumpy and not Holly Golightly. Thanks so much for reading and for your comments. I will be on the lookout for what you are up to.
:D

Dalriadane--Thank you for comparing me to Miriam of The Accidental Tourist. I loved that book and movie. Your career in fashion is enviable. It is just a hobby with me. Being an English teacher trained me to be a better writer and I know it's my real passion. Thanks so much for reading and the compliments.
WrenDancer--You are cute with the red shoes. I would probably buy a pair of used shoes if they looked almost new. With my bad feet, I have to watch it. Happy hunting!

JustThinking--I have had trouble with comments lately and the reason this is out of sequence is they got lost again! Grrr. I just wanted to thank you for mentioning the Junior League. I feel more la-di-da instead of cheap and I like that. I am crazy about books, too, and hope you find many of your favorites. Thanks for commenting. I appreciate it as ever.
Miguela, nothing of your choices say cheap! Hey, if the Jr. League is shopping thrift....
You might appreciate that I just found a camel cashmere/wool full length coat today! I was inspired by your post to go re-check the clothing at our local Goodwill. Just in time for the snow tonight.
I feel very chic wearing this gorgeous warm coat...
...now may I borrow your fabulous Spencer Alexis dress? : )
Love this, and my gosh, how you put it all together, photos and all! I sometimes look at e-bay for designer clothes lots...because they give me ideas. We have a store named Savers in town, and I like it better than the traditional thrift stores around here, because it has a much larger selection, and everything's sorted well by size and color and type. It looks like a third party commercial, but a percentage goes back to Easter Seals. I've always had a kind of unusual style, people comment on it sometimes, like you describe for your school wear. I've got to wear pants and "hard shoes" today to tour some new construction...I'm struggling to find something that works! I posted this link on a thread yesterday...but I wanted to make sure you saw this for further inspiration: http://advancedstyle.blogspot.com/
Is the actress you're thinking of Sissy Spacek?
What a fun post with great photos! I love that you have your own personal style. Thrift store shopping is like treasure hunting, you don't know what you'll find. Within a few minutes in a dept. store everything begins to look the same to me. I like the ones that have half off every day on a different color tag or item. Good jeans are spendy, scoring a couple of pairs of Levis at 2-3 dollars a pair gives me a happy thrill.

I'm lusting after the blue straw purse, and the heavy leather envelope bag makes me miss mine from the 70's. It's always so fun to see how other people put together their own unique style.
Just Thinking--I am so glad that you found such a smashing coat at the thrift store. It sounds like one that would fit nicely into my wardrobe. I'll be keeping my eyes open.
Helvetica--Thanks for reading and adding to the post. I am glad that you have such a great thrift store near you. It sounds like a place I would like to explore. I checked the link and died laughing. Those ladies looked cute and nary a red hat or a purple dress among them. In about five-ten years, I will look like that unless I stick with the neutrals as my daughter suggests.
L'Heure Bleue--I must say you have excellent taste in handbags. It is indeed fun to see how other people put together a personal style. You are really a pretty lady and I wonder about yours.
I've been doing vintage for nearly two decades...I still wear the two all cashmere white, designer coats I got for $8 apiece. I adore the thrill of the chase.
The clothes make the person and these clothes are so nice. Thanks for the most marvelous nostalgic post yet.
Loved your article!!!! And congrats on making the cover.
Great job on your thrift store haul. I can totally relate to the importance of clothes and being well-dressed. (In one wild moment before my son was born I bought a $250 short, fitted jacket at Agnes B with my $30K office job wages--black, it goes without saying.)
Wow Miguela! I loved this! Great pics and beautiful story. I have been going to a lot of thrift store lately- and sometime it really is like going through a time capsule.
Buffy--I wonder why I have never found anything made from cashmere. Maybe I don't know how to recognize it. Hope you find some more great stuff at the thrifts. Thanks for stopping by.

Algis--Thanks so much. I had a lot of fun staging the photos and tried to find the right angle like you do.

Kasey--Thanks, dear. See you soon for a cup of tea? Soon! Or it will be Lipton.
Haley--I am so pleased that you enjoyed the post. Hope you find something amazing at the thrifts that you can share with us. Thanks so much for stopping by :D.
This was fascinating. I envy you the scarab brooch, the faux beaver jacket and the leather purse. And your sense of style.
Ann Nichols--Thanks for stopping by to read this post. Not only are you a woman of extraordinary talent, you have very refined taste, too.
I am an English teacher and almost every day I wear a dress. My best GW find was a black rabbit fur coat for $25. Love it to death. May go thrifting this weekend.
As another former Santa Feans, I have to say your pix brought up lots of memories. When I drove for Capital City Cab, I had a number of passengers that likely spent twice what you did and looked only have as good.
And while it wasn't the main topic: Jack Williamson was from Portales? I was that close in Clovis training with Allsup's and didn't realize it? As the locals would put it, A La Ve!
-R-
I love clothes shopping - especially when a person is looking for a way to express him or herself through a unique style. I go the eclectic route, too, and have some vintage pieces but also many modern ones. Most of my clothes are inspired by the 1890's for silhouette, and other eras depending on how I feel.

I'm glad you've found new clothes to make you happy -that really is such a great feeling!
I LOVE shopping at thrift stores, particularly Salvation Army. I go there with arms full and leave the same way. :)

The jeans alone are worth the trip. (I wear a lot of jeans)

This is a really great blog. And inspiring. I should do something like this myself, as I have furnished this house via ebay, thrift stores, salvation army and mad sales. What it looks like and what it costs are two different things.

It's so nice to know another woman like me, who is always on the lookout for a new treasure. And these ARE found treasures.
Thanks for sharing your personal choice with us. Women who had no choice for pregnancy clothes with good fabric or style were so grateful to you when you gave them a chance to look wonderful again. I will visit Shopafrolic today! We hope to hear from you when we look at what makes spring a wonderful time for frehening up one’s wardrobe soon. You are a great role model for our mission of reinvention, over and over again. Looking for cheapest auto insurance in Florida?

Thanks Miguela for giving my two “fur” vests a fresh opportunity to be worn! It never occured to me to layer them over my coats…I was beginning to think they were not good investments because the reality of the window of wear was so slim. Can’t WAIT to try this!