Irish Eyes are Smiling: Clovers and a Claddagh Ring





Photos of clover: around the pink flamingo in the yard, in the Santa Monica Mountains, and in the house.

The Irish Claddagh ring is a recent thrift store find. I love the design to represent love, loyalty, and friendship. Tradition holds that it should be given as a gift, but I didn’t want to pass up the bargain—only $6 and sterling silver—so I brought it home and told Mr. MVP he could give it to me (and he happily obliged). It is shown here on a vintage handkerchief embroidered with shamrocks, given to me by my mom.

The rosary beads—another thrift store find—are wood with shamrocks all around the beads. I’m a collector of rosaries and often find them rusty and broken; repairs are easily made with a pair of small pliers, and I like to use some of the beads to make upcycled earrings, bracelets, and necklaces.

Green Teacup


On a quest to find vintage china to use when we’re feeling fancy, we found two almost complete sets at a thrift store with complementary gold and silver accents. That meant an abundance of tea cups we won’t need. This one is filled with small rocks on bottom (so roots won’t rot), soil, and cuttings from succulents growing in the yard.

Style Souvenir: Cowboy Boots from Nashville

During a trip to Nashville several years ago, I found these Justin roper boots in teal at a thrift store full of stylish treasures. They were on back wall with shelves filled with pre-owned boots in various colors, styles, and sizes and I walked right up to this pair, drawn to the spectacular color. Talk about luck: They were my size. (They were my size!) I bring them out for special occasions and wore them out this weekend for a birthday party at a western bar. They’re good for dancing, too.

Skateboard Bag Holder

I love a bar that has a hook for a lady to hang her handbag. At the Venice Beach Ale House, they have recycled skateboard wheels. Here’s my vintage Coach hobo (a recent thrift store find).

Recycled Fashion: Always a Bridesmaid Dress

I’ve been in two wedding parties; Cori chose a navy crepe sheath for the bridesmaids, while Kristen chose a silky lavender halter dress. I was lucky to like both dresses; we’ve all seen horribly poofy and pastel bridesmaid dresses in movies (and it’s likely you’ve seen one or two monsters in real life, too). As a regular thrift shopper, I’ve also seen discarded dresses on the racks—if these dresses were living and breathing, I’d say they hang hopelessly. Which is why I liked reading today about a new site that recycles old bridesmaid dresses, Now, if you’ve got a bridesmaid dress taking up space at the back of your closet, you can ship it to Newlymaid, where they’ll use the material to make upcycled creations or donate the dress to Clothes4Souls. Then you receive a discount on one of the site’s little black cocktail dresses made from recycled fabric. Voila: More closet space and less for the landfill… . Oh, and I cannot wait to see “Bridesmaids.”

Easter Florals

I grew up on the East Coast and Easter helped to signify the long-awaited arrival of Spring. Except for the few years I remember a snowfall or cold snap, Easter meant that crocuses were popping up and we were able to play outside in short sleeves again. Also, I was able to dust off the sandals to wear with my Easter outfit. I delighted in picking out a new Easter outfit each year, usually a dress or matching skirt and top combination in colors that matched the Easter eggs we colored. This year, I shopped my closet and wore a green and purple silk floral blouse I picked up at a thrift store months ago but had yet to wear (not new, but new to me).

My Big Green Resolution

closet_photoAt the start of 2010, I made a resolution that felt big for me. It started with my desire to make a stronger commitment to green living—making more choices that were better for the environment. But I am a collector. I have a lot of stuff. And I really like my stuff. I have a closet filled with clothing and accessories I love (yes, love) and my house is full of treasured possessions. Still, I felt the need to simplify. I felt overwhelmed by the drive to acquire. Stuff! More stuff! So I decided to give up shopping for new stuff for the year.

I would refrain from buying new things I wanted. For things I needed, such as food and toilet paper and soap, I would stick to my resolve of buying the eco-friendly choices. New jeans, a new handbag, or new silverware? No. For any non-necessities, I would buy only pre-owned items—after carefully considering whether the purchase was necessary. I would shop at thrift stores, consignment and vintage shops, yard sales, on eBay and Etsy. I would be spending money on items already produced and in circulation (and withdrawing my consumer support for new products), which would help to reduce my carbon footprint.

I expected this to be a challenge and ended up being surprised with how easy it was. (And fun—thrift shopping is like treasure-hunting.) I thought I would write about my temptations and possible slips, but exceptions I made were few and far between (new underwear, practical running shoes…) and felt permissible. Then there was the upside: saving money. When the year ended, I decided to keep going and it’s become my new normal. Just like that. And while I’m shy about suggesting how others should live their lives, I like to share my example and offer it as a challenge to anyone who might like to try. For today or a week or a month or a year….

Adventures in Thrifting: Strange Animals

Encountered on a thrift shopping mission for my Etsy shop: animal tops that puzzled me. First I spotted a sweater that looks like maybe a cobra is jumping over a tiger (or are they both jumping over a rope?)… or maybe they’re getting it on? Then, the T-shirt with a giraffe and dinosaur sharing a red and white striped scarf. Hmmmmm.

Juror Style: To Serve, To Party

One of the things I miss about living in New York is riding the subway and walking on the sidewalks with strangers. People-watching is a pastime that never gets old for me. It’s simply not as easy to have that everyday exposure to the masses in LA, but walking on the Venice boardwalk and shopping in thrift stores provides a similar opportunity for observation of so many different types of people in one place. Add to that: jury duty.

I spent the first hour in the juror waiting room yesterday looking around, pretending to read my book while discretely spying on the strangers around me—checking out what they brought with them, what they were doing to pass the time, and what they were wearing. I liked how the woman who gave us instructions wore a body-hugging leopard dress that matched her tough demeanor. When she was giving us instructions and a juror picked up a cell phone call, Ms. Leopard announced that she was going to pause until there was no interference in the room and then she glared at the juror, waiting for her to finish. Oh yeah, she had attitude.

Most people were dressed business casual, which is what Ms. Leopard told us was expected of jurors selected to serve on cases. I saw one man and one woman dressed in buttoned-up suits (she worked on her laptop all morning, he napped). A woman with a cute bob wore plaid Converse Chuck Taylors with her skinny jeans and pullover sweater, and a woman sitting a seat away from me had pointy black high-heeled boots and big Carmela Soprano hair I was tempted to reach out and touch. Then there was the guy I recognized as a soap actor who wore denim on denim (button-down shirt and jeans) and almost as much hair product as Mrs. Soprano.

All day, I was on the lookout to see if there were any covetable articles of clothing or accessories, but I only spotted a cute pair of black ballet flats with bows and a Marc Jacobs bag I’d consider for myself. And maybe a tuxedo T-shirt; my favorite look was from the guy on the security line in jeans, sneakers, and a black and white tuxedo-print tee. I could tell from his age that he wasn’t around for the shirt’s trendy heyday in the ’80s. But if he’d been in the same room with me, I might have asked him if he remembered the hilarious line from the John C. Reilly character in “Talladega Nights” about Jesus in the tuxedo T-shirt (clip here). Now I’m keen on the shirt and will keep an eye out for one when I’m on my next thrift store mission in search of shirts to upcycle.

This With That: Scarf on Bag

I never tire of my Goyard bag, but I frequently employ the scarf-tied-to-the-handle trick for some added flair. Though I never try to match a scarf to a bag, I like how the pattern on this thrift store scarf has a similar hand-drawn affect.

Leopard Love

My friend WendyB has written frequently about her love of leopard. Take a look at the Patrick Kelly leopard dress on her. She positively roars in that leopard, but I’m more of a fraidy cat (yep, puns intended). I have a fondness for leopard print, but I’ve always been shy about it and stick to a few choice accessories. Best ones: the London Sole ballet flats I wear with jeans (skinny or wide-legged look best) and a black top or sweater; and a long skinny scarf I wear in my hair on good or bad hair days. (See the scarf modeled above on Buttons, my childhood teddy bear.) I’ve been less inclined to wear leopard clothing, but found a blouse during one of my recent thrifting missions for my Etsy shop. It’s got a leopard print with roses and seemed like a good find on the rack, but I wasn’t sure of the shirt’s age or origin and I won’t sell list anything in the vintage section of my shop unless I’m sure of its history. Then I tried it on and it became mine. Another recent thrift store find was a jersey T-shirt in a leopard print, but I discovered a hole in it after bringing it home so I’m using the fabric to make accessories, including hair bands and jersey necklaces like the one pictured. Next up: upcycled shirts with leopard fabric details I’m adding to the neckline. On a roll…. Wendy also posted that fellow blogger Sheila has declared this to be leopard week. Today, I’m representing with my flats.

Closet-Cleaning: Love It or Lose It

I read about a survey in which the average English woman was said to own more than 20 pieces of clothing she never wears. You know, the neglected items that hang at the back of the closet or get pushed to the bottom of the dresser drawer. I’m betting the same would hold true for American women. I get it. I’ve purchased items that have never gone into heavy rotation—and some I’ve never worn at all. Sometimes I find myself wanting to love an item and trying to talk myself into loving it. It might be by a designer I usually love, it might have been a total steal, it might be perfect except for the way it hangs on my hips. It just doesn’t look right? It’s gone. It just doesn’t feel right? Gone. I have adopted a strict closet admittance policy: I have to love it. It has to fit right and feel right and look right. Love it or lose it, plain and simple.

I am a big thrift shopper and encounter huge bargains regularly and this has made me discriminating—even if it’s a Marc Jacobs top with a five dollar price tag, I won’t get it if it’s the wrong size or in a color I don’t like to wear. (Exception to the rule: if it looks like something I could remake or alter it by employing some simple DIY tricks with a needle and thread, then I might get it…). Because I often find items I DO love while thrifting, I truly believe that what is trash to one woman really can be a treasure to another. I live for treasures. And for the items I have that don’t pass my love-it-or-lose-it test, there’s eBay. I went through the closet last week for another sweep and put the items online for treasure-hunters. A Levi’s jacket with nothing wrong with it? I have another denim jacket I adore and this one simply sat in the closet for a year. But someone else already scooped it up. I’ve got similar stories for the Theory pants, Trina Turk jacket, Barneys New York blouses and more….

Easter Fashion Find: Floral Jacket

Getting a new outfit for Easter was always a thrill for me when I was a kid. My mom would take me shopping and I always chose something feminine and bright. I recall a floral skirt with pleats and a pink top. Then there was a pair of bubble gum pink pants with a ruffled white cotton top. If I were born during a different time, there would have been bonnets and gloves. I loved (still love) the candy (jelly beans, chocolate, marshmallow Peeps—yum), but the new outfit was the real prize. Easter signified the beginning of spring for me and with it came high hopes for warm and sunny days, and summer vacation right around the bend. Even now I mark it as the time to make lighter and brighter wardrobe choices. This year, I gave up shopping for Lent (it was a test of will), but I traded in some unwanted clothes at my local vintage/consignment shop last week and spotted this vintage jacket on the rack. I didn’t have to think twice; it was so bright and Monet-like (and a perfect fit).

No-Shop Retail Activism

I’ve gone a month without shopping and have found it to be easier than expected. My college roommate gave up chocolate every Lent, then would pig out on it on Easter and the days that followed, so I assumed I’d be ready for on all-out shopping spree at the end of my time. Oh, there have been serious temptations, but I’m not desperate to run out and buy anything. Instead, I’m ready to revise my no-shop rule. I’m going to continue to shy away from new and don’t-need purchases. (Oooh, I want that! Hold on, do I really need it?) I’ll recycle my closet and get rid of something before acquiring something else, trading in unwanted pieces at my local vintage and consignment shops or on eBay. For straight shopping, I’ll support Etsy and other indie sellers (homemade rules!), and I’ll make eco-friendly and good-cause purchases, like this tote from Housing Works, a nonprofit in NY I’m proud to have worked with. And just because: I’ll dig into a big box of chocolates on Sunday to mark the end of Lent.