Good-bye nun shoes! RIP!

Hello all!

Well, you spoke and I listened.

On my last post, I had a feeling that my black shoes had probably missed the mark in the style department, and the feedback from everyone came back loud and clear – these black Alfani shoes are too chunky and dated.

My first clue came when my dear friend Laurie called me “Sister Brenda”. So I Googled “What do nun shoes look like?” and found this on “black tie oxfords with chunky 1.5 inch heel.”

Yep, I was wearing nun shoes.

And just to be sure, I posted my question to the  You Look Fab forum, and they reiterated what I had suspected:  “The shoes are a bit dated because of the square toe shape and chunky heel.” and “Time to ditch the shoes!”

Can I just say how much I love the You Look Fab forum? It is the best place to go if you want an immediate, honest answer about an outfit (or anything to do with fashion and style). They have also made it very easy to upload pictures right from your computer, so you don’t have to use Flickr or Photobucket anymore.

The ladies in the YLF forum are kind, supportive and encouraging. Through them I have learned many things about my body type (I have a waist and I need to show it!), proper pants length (this was a hard one for me to learn) and pleated pants are definitely way out of style (thank God!).

It’s like having a group of 100+ fashion mavens at your fingertips.

Well, back to my shoes. The ladies from the YLF forum gave me a couple of suggestions (here and here) of inexpensive shoes that might be good replacements.  I loved these styles, and figured I’d have to bite the bullet and shop retail for them. I never thought I’d find cute shoes like these in my size in a secondhand store…..

But I was wrong! Look at these adorable A2 (Aerosoles) I found at Restyle consignment store for only….wait for it……$10.99! They are in great condition, have a cute little zipper on the side, and almost look military-ish.  I love them! 

The best part is  I found these exact same shoes on ebay for $89.99!

So thank you all for steering me in the right style direction!

And on my next post, I’m going to elaborate on the shoe selection at Restyle, as I start my ” Complete Des Moines-area Secondhand Store Directory”.  Stay tuned~!

Hello again!

Hey folks! I am back in business, and I have a lot of exciting things coming up – especially if you’re in the Des Moines-area and looking for the 4-1-1 on where to shop for secondhand clothes…..stay tuned for more of that.

Here’s a hint – check out the upper right hand corner of this page.  I don’t have any content yet, but I plan  to fill it with reviews, updates, upcoming sales, etc. with Des Moines-area secondhand stores. But right now, it’s just a work in progress.

So back to the daily grind. I’m sure the question on everyone’s mind is, “Where the heck have you been?”.  Or is it “What are you wearing today?”

I don’t really have an answer to the first one, so I’ll just move on to the second one:

Boy, you can tell I’ve been away for awhile – I didn’t even mimic the pose!

But at least I still am using the Inspiration Calendar. As you can see, this outfit was actually inspired from November 2010’s Inspiration Calendar. (If you’re new to this blog, you HAVE to check out the Inspiration Calendar (IC) – designed for people like me who stand in front of a closet full of clothes and can’t think of a thing to wear. The IC is a a collection of trends, color combos or pictures of outfits from magazines, bloggers and other media sources designed to help you decide what to wear on a daily basis. It has literally changed the way I dress, because it encourages me to wear combinations I otherwise wouldn’t try. Click here to check it out.)

For example, today’s outfit is something 100% inspired by the IC.  A dress with a leather jacket. Who would have thunk it?

Dress: Kathy Ireland (Goodwill): $5.89

Jacket: Jou Jou skins (Goodwill) $5.99

Shoes: Alfani (I’ve had these shoes for so long I don’t know where I got them, nor how much they cost).

Total Cost (without shoes):  $11.88

I’m not sure this outfit was a home run or not. Let’s break ‘er down…

The dress: I bought this dress to wear exactly how I wore it today –  with black tights and a black jacket. My little fashion partner-in-crime- 11-year-but-almost-12-year-old Sophie pointed out that the photo in the calendar was actually an animal print, but I thought this dress was close enough.

The jacket: Once again, it was pointed out to me that the jacket in the photo was brown (when did kids get so literal?), but I had my heart set on wearing this motorcycle jacket.  I do have a brown one that I absolutely love (click here to see), and because I loved the brown one so much, I put “black motorcycle jacket” on my wish list, and ta-da! I found one. I love it when that happens.

First – which looks better – having the jacket buttoned or unbuttoned? Let’s do a poll:

Back to the black jacket – don’t I look kind of rough and edgy wearing it? Like a biker-babe? Well, that’s how I felt, and I walked around all day with this “Don’t mess with me or I’ll take you out”  ‘tude.

OK, not really. But I did feel kind of tough and snarky.

The other thing I like is that it’s not real leather, so no animals were harmed in the wearing of this outfit.  Yes, this biker-babe has a soft spot for animals.

OK, now it’s time to discuss the shoes, and I need some honest feedback.

I’m hoping for the retro-school-girl look, but for some reason an insult from one of the Real Housewives of New York keeps going through my mind.  Did anyone see when LuAnn said that Alexis was wearing “ugly Frankenstein shoes”. I never saw the shoes they were referring to, but for some reason, when I look at these Alfani shoes, I’m thinking “ugly Frankenstein shoes”.

What do you think? UFS?

Be honest – I can take it…

Well, that’s all for now, folks. It’s great to be back!

Identity Crisis!

Hello all! On my last post, titled “Shopping Crisis”, I described that wonderful (and slightly foreign) feeling I got when I snagged a great bargain at a retail store: I only paid $16.46 for a red Dana Buchman cardigan sweater.  I felt very satisfied, and a little bit smart.

I was starting to think that I could get used to being a great bargain shopper, instead of a frugal secondhand shopper. I mean, I still had the thrill of the hunt (knowing I was purchasing something for over 70% off was definitely thrilling). And not having to dig through hundreds of items crammed together was quite pleasant.  And they even let me keep the hanger!  I almost felt pampered.

Yes, I was thinking I could get used to shopping like normal folks do…

Until the other day, when I wore this outfit:

Price Breakdown:

Jean Jacket – Gap (Goodwill): $5.99

Tunic:  Heart Soul (Goodwill): $2.29

Skirt: Christopher and Banks (Goodwill): $3.39

Shoes: Franco Sarto (Goodwill): $3.69

Total Cost: $15.36 (+tax)

$15.36 for an entire outfit!

I’m so confused! Which is it – the thrill of buying one piece new, or the thrill of wearing an entire outfit for the same price? Who am I? Secondhand Shopaholic or Smart Bargain Shopper? And are the two mutually exclusive? I’ve lost my identity!

OK, I’ll tone down the drama.

But wearing that outfit definitely reinforced that my Thrift Pride is back!  Yes, I loved, loved, loved the Dana Buchman cardigan, and felt very smart for getting it at such a good price, but that feeling was dwarfed by how I felt wearing this outfit.  I think because I actually love every piece of it:

The jean jacket:  Love it!  Thanks to the Inspiration Calendar, I have learned the trick of incorporating denim into an outfit to add a burst of color and texture.  Click here to see the first time I tried it (and I’m actually wearing that same outfit today). For me, brown and denim is the new black.

The tunic: This piece is definitely on my Top 10 list of my Favorite Secondhand Purchases (that series coming soon after my Top 10 things I love/hate about my new house).  Finding this tunic for only $2.29 completely exacerbates my love for shopping at Thrift stores.  Click here to read more on this argument, where I show off four outfits at less than $15 each.  The satisfaction I feel from finding such a treasure at such a good price is immeasurable.

And the skirt is my go-to brown skirt.  I wear the heck out of it.  If you calculate value as cost vs. times worn, then it’s priceless.

The shoes are pretty awesome, too. The only thing I don’t like about this outfit is that I paid $35 for the necklace I’m wearing. That makes me sick. I bought it at one of the jewelry shows a friend invited me to, and I felt obligated to buy something, so I bought the cheapest piece I could. In comparison to the other pieces of jewelry, $35 was relatively cheap. I comparison to my outfit, $35 is ludicrous. Like I said, it almost makes me feel sick.

But back to my identity dilemma, here’s the verdict:   Purchasing the Dana Buchman sweater at 70% off  for only $16.46 is like eating a low-fat Weight Watchers piece of chocolate cake.  Satisfying and smart.

Wearing an entire outfit for the same price is like eating the whole cake for the same amount of calories. Indulgent without the guilt.

And in case you’re not convinced, here’s the icing to that cake:  another outfit that I wore to a bridal shower this weekend (note the price of the necklace):

Price Breakdown:
Dress – Merona  (Goodwill): $5.89

Cropped Cami – Worthington (Goodwill): $3.69

Leggings – Target: $5.00

Shoes – Anne Klein  (HCI Thrift Store): $4.95

Necklace –  Restyle consignment store ($3.99) Ha!

Total Cost: $23.52

Mmmmmmm.  Delicious.

Shopping crisis (and it’s not what you think!)

Hello everyone! Thank you all so much on the great feedback I’ve received on my Top 10 things I love/hate about my new house.  Everyone seems to be enjoying coming along on my journey of new home ownership, so I will continue to write about that.

On today’s post, however, I’m going to get back to my roots and remain true to my blog’s purpose: writing about all the crazy secondhand shopping experiences I have on a daily basis. You know the ones where I end up with 15 short winter skirts or 20 brown boots, and I’m all proud of myself because they only cost me a total of $10?

I mean, my blog is titled “Secrets of a Secondhand Shopaholic”, so I want to assure you that although I’ve been writing about the good, the bad and the ugly of new homeownership, I am still going to continue to share with you all my crazy, out-of-control shopping experiences.

So here I go…..

My last crazy, out-of-control secondhand shopping experience was……………


oh good lord!

Unfortunately, there has been some weird shift in the universe and I haven’t had any crazy shopping experiences for months!  Is this a sign that there’s some truth to the whole May 21/rapture thing?  Has someone checked the temperature in H-E-double toothpick?  Because something is going terribly wrong (or right?) when this secondhand shopaholic can’t remember the last time she spent $30 on six ill-fitted but designer-brand jackets….

And it gets worse.   Because my last shopping experience really was crazy, but crazy for a whole different reason.

I only bought one item.

And it was from Kohl’s!!

Here it is – a Dana Buchman red flyaway cardigan (click here to see it at Kohl’s online):

Here’s what happened:

About 3 weeks ago, I was out shopping at Kohl’s with my boyfriend for his 11-year old daughter.  I was actually feeling quite proud of myself for not venturing off into the women’s department – I kept calm and in control, remaining in the girls’ department, focused on the task at hand. I was quite proud of myself, because I was, after all, in the lion’s den, and I was resisting the temptation to shop for myself.  But I knew at any second that could change – all it would take is for me to see one thing I like, and the flood gates would be opened, and my inner shopaholic would be released.

So I purposely put imaginary blinders on and kept my head in the appropriate game, and stayed in the girls’ department.

Since when did little girls’ clothes get so cute?

OK, stop it.  Focus!

Which I was able to do. However, as we were rounding the corner towards the check out counter, we did pass by the women’s department, and I saw the Dana Buchman flyaway cardigan out of the corner of my eye.  And I fell in love.

It was $60, on sale for $39.  I liked it so much, I actually considered purchasing it then and there.  I mean, I used to drop $200 – $300 a month on clothes, and since I hadn’t been shopping for awhile, what’s a measily forty bucks?

My inner tightwad frugal mind took over though, and I resisted.

After we checked out, however, my boyfriend received $20 Kohl’s bucks from his purchase, which he gave to me. So now the cardigan would only be twenty bucks…..that’s doable……

So to diminish my urge to purchase right then and there, I imagined myself  going to Goodwill to look for five sweaters to equal the twenty bucks that would only get me one sweater at Kohl’s.  I thought about whether or not I would like any of those sweaters as much as I love this DB cardigan. I thought about how long it would take to dig through all those sweaters that were crammed so tightly on the rack that it actually hurt my wrists to try to move the hangers over. I thought about how long it would take to find anything even remotely as cute as this sweater, IF I were to find anything at all.  I thought about that funky thrift store smell….

By that time, boyfriend and daughter were out the door, and I left, sans sweater.

But it remained on my mind for a week.

So the following Saturday, I went back to Kohl’s with my $20 Kohl’s bucks, just to see if the sweater still made me swoon.  It did.

I half-hoped they wouldn’t have my size, so my decision would be made for me.  They did.

I half-hoped it wouldn’t fit right. It did.

Now I really hoped it was still on sale. It was.

So I grabbed the sweater and went to check out.

Here’s wear the crazy weird-part kicks in.  I was standing there, in line to purchase my one sweater, and it was such a foreign, uncomfortable feeling to be standing in line without an armfull of clothes. There I was, holding just one sweater on a hanger.  I felt………well, I felt naked.

I used to look at people who stood in line with just one item like they had five heads.  Who stands in line for just one item?  Who leaves Kohl’s with just one item?  What a freak!

That’s it – I felt like a freak.

But when the register rang up $16.46 and I realized it was even more on sale than I thought, a wave of satisfaction swept over me.

Sure, I still felt like a freak, but now I felt like a really smart freak.

I could get used to this.

Inspiration Calendar – Gray and Brown Combo

Hello everyone! Are you ready for a little Inspiration Calendar outfit?

If you’re new to this blog, the  Inspiration Calendar (IC) is a daily guide to help you decide what to wear every morning – each day offers an outfit suggestion that combines colors, patterns, clothing articles, accessories,  etc.  It’s the perfect answer to “What am I going to wear today??”

And it’s also helped me to explore color combos I wouldn’t think of on my own.  Take this outfit:  Gray and Brown combo.  Simply brilliant.

So here’s my outfit, and for those of you who know me well, I apologize for not mimicking the pose – this was taken back when I was still in the “new house zone” so I wasn’t 100% focused on my fashion.

This was actually my first back-to-the-real-world outfit since my move, and I’m actually quite proud of it.  And not all of it is secondhand.

Gray Shrug: HIP (Happening in the Present) – TJ Maxx ($11.99) – bought new!
White blouse:    Cabi $1.00 at Bargain Basket Dollar Days sale.
Skirt:  Canvasbacks – Fashion Junction Consignment store ($15.99)
Boots:  [relativity] – Younkers ($34.99) – bought new!
Belt:  Egon Furstenberg – Goodwill ($1.59)

Total Cost:  $65.56

This was a great outfit – I literally love every item!  And like most of my clothes, every one has a story to it…

First the shrug.   To me, shrugs are the new boyfriend cardigan.  In fact, I have so much to say on this that I’m going to save it for another post.  So yes there’s a story, but you’re going to have to wait for another day to hear it.

As for the shirt, it’s a wonderful nylon/spandex blend, with a zippered front and strong cotton collar and cuffs.  I’ve always said “You can never be too rich, too thin, or have too many white shirts”, but this shirt has proven me wrong.  It’s really the quintessential white shirt.  Click here to read about the first time I wore it.

The skirt has become a strong staple in my wardrobe, and also illicits a fond memory of when I bought it.  Anyone remember Get Shorty?  “Get Shorty” was a series of posts that I wrote to document my craziness when I was obsessed with finding short winter skirts.  Click here to read about finding this skirt and all the mayhem that preceded and ensued.

So maybe it doesn’t illicit a “fond” memory.  It illicits more of a “good grief was I crazy and I’m so glad I’m not like that anymore!” feeling.

Now for the boots, which I absolutely love.  I bought these at Younkers (owned by the same people who own Bergner’s, Boston Store, Carson Pirie Scott, Elder-Beerman, Herberger’s, Parisian)

Here’s the story behind these babies:

Younkers was having a one-day sale, and if you brought in an old pair of boots, you received a 20% off coupon in which to buy new boots.   I’ve always shied away from these great sales, because I’m sort of a secondhand snob.  I feel I find better deals at my secondhand shops.  Click here to read my thoughts about the Younkers Goodwill sale.

But I was in a crazy mood, so I decided to give it a try, and brought in 2 old pairs of boots, exchanged them for the coupons, and was ready to find my great bargain.

Except it didn’t quite happen like that.  You see, me and about 50,000 other women had the same idea, so the place was packed.  I’m a pretty tolerant person, but even I got a bit claustrophobic.

And on top of the huge, elbow-shoving, boot-grabbing crowd of anxious and not-always-friendly women, the store seemed a bit understaffed to handle the herd, so finding a sales person to get you your style and size was quite difficult.  Being a secondhand/bargain shopper, I wasn’t used to that additional step of having a sales person be my go-between for getting what I wanted. I began to remember why I didn’t like to shop in higher-end stores – it’s kind of a pain in the a–!

Being “kind of a pain-in-the-ass” quickly elevated to downright pissed-offedness when I finally found a pair that I liked, in my size, but I couldn’t use the 20% coupon on it.  In fact, the more I looked around, the more I realized that most of the great styles weren’t eligible for the coupon.

What a crock!  My foray into shopping like the rest of the world was a complete and utter disappointment.  I was so mad I went back and traded my 2 coupons for the boots I brought in.  Yes, in the midst of the circus of women all screaming and shouting and grabbing and squeezing in line, I marched up to the counter and made the sales person to in the back and dig for my bag of used boots that I had brought in and gave them back their stinkin’ coupon.

I was so mad at myself for wasting about an hour in that pandemonium that I couldn’t see straight….except when out of the corner of my eye I saw these:

And they were on the kind of rack that had the different sizes stacked below in boxes (so no sales person needed) and much to my delight, I found my size!  And they were 1/2 off!  So I snagged them and marched over to another department to buy them, and I’ve loved them ever since.

But man, that was alot of effort.

One more thing about the outfit – that night my boyfriend and I went out to dinner, so I quickly changed into a pair of gray skinny jeans:

The jeans are also Cabi, and I found them for $3.89 at Goodwill.

Once again, I really liked this outfit!! Gray and brown – who would have thunk it?

Welcome back!

You have some ‘splaining to do, little missies (and misters).  Where have you been?  It seems like you’ve just dropped off the face of the earth!

Oh, wait.  I’m the one who’s been missing! I’m the one who has some explaining to do, I guess…What happened to me?  Where’d I go?

Well, I have a new project:

Yep, that’s me, a new (town)home-owner.  First-time home owner.  And it wasn’t quite move-in ready – it needed a HUGE makeover.

So my new home became my new project and obsession.  For those of you who followed along The Great Clean Out, this was the motivation.  Closet space became a finite commodity.

Because another factor weighed in on my access to closet space – the townhome came with 1 1/2 boarders (i.e. my boyfriend and his delightful 11-year old daughter Sophie).

The good news is, everything fits. Well, almost, but I’ll write about that in upcoming posts….

But putting aside writing in my blog to focus on my house was a necessity.  You see, I am not a multi-tasker.   I can’t have two projects at one time.  I’m the type of person that has to completely focus on one thing.

I think it’s because I’ve never had kids, so I’ve never been forced to multi-task.  I’ve never balanced a kid on my hip, while cooking and talking on the phone at the same time (and running both the dishwasher AND the washing machine. ) With a TV on in the background.

Nope, not me.    When I watch TV, I’m watching TV.  If someone tries to talk to me, or the phone rings, I mute the TV.  When I cook, I cook.  Except that I don’t cook, so that’s not a good example.

When I’m talking on the phone at work, I have to shut my office door and look away from my computer.  I cannot hold a conversation and read something at the same time.  At all.

Billboards really stress me out.  How can someone read and drive at the same time??

This fact about myself comes with assets and liabilities.  At work, obviously, it is not something I announce to the world.  I’ve learned to manage myself to become quite the multi-tasker (I’m highly organized and I’ve perfected the concept of the To-Do list).

But in personal relationships, this is an excellent quality to have.  When I talk to someone, I am completely present and involved. I’m not going over a shopping list or balancing my check book in my head.  I’m a good listener.  I value this about myself.

So, hopefully that explains why I wasn’t able to keep my blog going while trying to set up a new house.  Time spent writing was time away from obsessing about all the things that need to be done to the house.  Lots of obsessing, mixed with a little bit of executing.

And as for shopping? Well, obviously I had to spend my money and time on house things.  Lowe’s became my new Goodwill.  Decisions on what to wear became decisions on what color of paint to buy.  I literally wore jeans everyday, because I had a new project, and it didn’t involve looking as good as I could for the day.

So although my priorities have shifted a bit (OK, a LOT), it feels good to be back to share my struggles, thoughts and ideas with you.  I’m glad you stuck around, and I hope you’ll continue this journey with me.  It might be less secondhand shopping stories and more “Being a home owner is not all it’s cracked up to be” or “Boyfriend for sale” stories, and of course,  there will still be a lot of craziness mixed in. I just can’t help it.

Here’s a look at my cute town home:

Old inspiration

Today I’m going to reveal an outfit that was “inspired” by the Inspiration Calendar. Twice.

(If you’re new to this blog, the Inspiration Calendar is a daily guide to help you decide what to wear every morning – each day offers an outfit suggestion that combines colors, patterns, clothing articles, accessories,  etc.  Click here to view it. )

Yes, I “reuse” the Inspiration Calendar (IC) when I’m not particularly inspired by that day’s outfit.  The outfit I’m about to show is from March 25, 2010.  I wore it last year on March 25, 2010, and I’m wearing it today on April 7, 2011.

That’s the beauty of the IC – Kimberly, who created this wonderful resource,  has been doing it so faithfully for so long, that you literally have hundreds of different outfits to choose from.  So if you look at the one that is chosen for  today, and you’re not completely “inspired” you can look at another day, another week or month, or year and find the outfit that you feel like wearing that day.

And in my defense, “reusing” an old outfit should not come as a real shock to anyone – I am a secondhand shopaholic, remember?

But it does make for an interesting comparison of how I’ve changed in a year.  Or haven’t changed…..

Here it goes:




Well, what do you think?

I asked around to friends and family to see what they thought.

First, the hair:  My mom loves my hair shorter – she feels you can see my outfits better. 11-year-old Sophie likes my hair longer.   “It’s too short and curly in the 2011 picture,” she said.

As for my boyfriend, he said he likes longer hair better.  But he immediately saw my reaction and realized this was the wrong answer, so he quickly said, “But honey, you are so much better looking now.  You get more beautiful with age.”   Good save, honey.

That’s what I love about dating a used-car salesman.  He is very good at reading non-verbal cues, and can quickly rescind anything he has said to reword it in a way to say exactly what I want to hear,  and being a salesperson, it comes very naturally to him.  He comes from the “happy wife, happy life” school of thought, and is willing to say whatever it takes to make me happy.  That’s why he’s a keeper.

Now, about the outfit – Sophie likes the pink sweater outfit from 2010, but she’s an 11-year-old girl, so pink is her default color.  She really has no choice.

My boyfriend likes whichever outfit I tell him to like.  Again, “hwhl”.

Me?  I like 2011’s outfit.  It just seems a little more put together. Last year, I did end up wearing it with a wider belt, which made the 2010 outfit look a lot better.  Click here to see how I ended up wearing it.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on my outfit?  Have I gotten more or less stylish with age, or do both work just fine?

Oh, and as for the pose?  It was unanimous:  I am still a dork.

Even my boyfriend held his ground on that one.