May 3, 2011

Foraging for Luxury

This dress is one of my favorite shapes: round on top. Please pardon my face, I'm very congested right now. 

I'm mostly interested wearing it in a casual minimal-hippie style, which is my vibe for spring. More on that later. (It all started with these Birkenstocks.) But it can be dressed up with a chic pair of 9 West block heels and I'm ready for a fancy night out to dinner and a lot of walking, because with this wide of a foot bed, I don't have to worry about pinched toes at all.

From creepy to classy!

The neckline is high in the front but drapes down slightly across the back to reveal upper shoulder blade. And yes, the one where I'm coughing was the best shot. I'm currently in that phase of sickness where mouth breathing is the only option.


Unintentional Versatility?
^^ There is a hidden zipper along the side hem for putting on and taking off.
However, a zipper is always an opportunity. In this case it means I also have a voluminous tee.


As I was telling you, this item is a nice one. I'm pretty into owning it. I found it secondhand and seeing the label made my heart skip a beat. But I would have bought it regardless of tag based on the cut, feel of the fabric, and overall quality. I have a process when rummaging for nice things, which I thought I might share.

Thrift, consignment, and resale shops can be overwhelming, like a task. You need to go in with a plan. I love this dress for the cut, but you can't see that on a rack stuffed with secondhand garments. And a butterscotch sleeve on a thin hanger might not catch your eye, but this fabric feels incredible.

Tip 1 = Shop with your hands not your eyes. Fondle your way down the rack touching everything, pausing when you feel luxury or high quality fabrics. Get to know the difference. This will instantly cut down on how long it takes you to get through a round of thrifting and increase the odds you don't skip nice things.

After you have paused over a nice-feeling item, pull it out and even without a label you can know how well it's made by the stitching.

Here is the neck opening. This flap that lines the inside is nicely finished and the overlock part is tucked under, out of sight.

Tip 2 = Turn (or imagine) the garment inside out. Nice things look as finished on the inside as they do on the outside.

The sleeves look like they've been hemmed an inch (I kinda think they originally came this way), but a piece had come undone and was hanging down. I've never done an invisible hem before, but I liked the shorter sleeve length better than letting it out. So I copied what remained of the hem, and as a non-sewer I'm pretty proud of myself.

When I got inside the sleeve I was impressed by the finishing. The seam on the right side of the picture is the one that runs under the armpit and down the side of the dress. The stitching is completely finished on the inside with no overlock stitch showing.

I learned these things buying secondhand clothing at my old job, where I was trained by my husband, who also sometimes used to blog here. (Illicit workplace romance!) We had to read this book, Secondhand Chic, as a work assignment. The book looks cheesy at first glance but it's filled with good information. These lessons stayed with me and I still think of them whenever I go thrifting.

Is this helpful or shit everyone else already knows? I'm sorry, I've been a teacher this year and it may be affecting my brain.


Ginta said...

Ha, and I thought it's a strange habit of mine to shop with my hands! Turns out I'm doing everything right! :)))

And what can I say - that dress is beautiful, great and, and etc. Wear it well! ;)

DREAMY said...

what a find! would love to see the back of it.
...i'm always the creepy-looking girl stroking all the clothes!