Monday, October 8, 2018

Modest Thrift Store Finds

If you are transitioning to a more modest wardrobe, cost may be a factor in your decision to make do with what you have or purchase some new clothes. Many women whose eyes are opened to the discrepancy between their interior life and the way they dress look askance at their closets and wish they could toss everything out and start fresh. You don't have to unless you want to (and can afford to). You can take transitional steps to move to a more modest yet fashionable way of dressing. Or, you can intersperse modest thrift store finds with your current wardrobe.

Modest Thrift Store Finds

This Saturday I treated myself to a clothes-shopping excursion. My budget is tight. I'd taken an inventory before I left the house of what I needed and what I did not need for winter so that I wouldn't be tempted to buy something I already have. (I've come home with identical shirts. Yes, I have.)

Saturdays in my rural part of Virginia are garage and yard sale days. I stopped at a few and found some lovely modest skirts but they were not in my size. The local Goodwill store didn't let me down and turned out to have a treasure-trove of interesting fashions I could repurpose.

After trying on several items, I ended up buying a hot pink scarf in my favorite shade of bright fuschia; a black and white peasant skirt with a fleur de lis pattern; and an animal print skirt in unusual shades of mushroom, brown, black and a hint of mint green that make it intriguing and challenging to pair with other colors.

Once I came home, I compared both items to my wardrobe. I have black t-shirts and sweaters that will pair well throughout at least three seasons with the print skirt. I have a dressy top and a sweater that will pair fine with the animal print skirt. Mission accomplished - and for under $10!

You can't beat that.

Modest Thrift Store Shopping - Tips

If you enjoy thrift store shopping and you are also changing to a modest, mostly skirts and dresses wardrobe, a few tips gleaned from my experience plus that of my friends might help.

  • Try to shop at thrift stores in towns near wealthy areas. I've found that such stores often stock beautifully made, little-worn items. I once found an authentic Chanel dress at a thrift store on Long Island with a wine stain on the lap. If I could get that stain out....! Thrift shops near wealthy areas are a gift to those who love fine clothes but are on a tight budget.
  • Make a list and know what you need. While you want to shop thrift stores with an open mind (see my other tips, below), you also don't want to come home with your 19th black sweater when you really need skirts or accessories. Knowing what you have to work with before you go shopping is a big help.
  • Keep an open mind. By that I mean don't go to a thrift store expecting to find a brown skirt, black jacket, and green shirt. It's not like shopping at a department store where you can find everything in your size. You have to browse and enjoy the hunt to find value in thrift store shopping.
  • Talk to the clerks and find out when they get new stock into the store. Then shop right after they restock the shelves.
  • Browse through the racks marked with your size but don't be afraid to look for items slightly larger or smaller. Thrift store sizing varies wildly with whatever designer dreamed up the clothes. One of the skirts I purchased this weekend is a 14/16; another I tried on with an identical tag, from the exact same maker, was too tight. You cannot tell unless you try on the items and gauge the size from the rack.
  • Avoid sweaters, which tend to be frayed and pilled at thrift stores. Shoes are also iffy; some are very worn. Skirts and dresses, coats and blazers or jackets are ideal finds. Accessories are also fun thrift store finds. 
  • Buy what you like without regard to season. Thrift stores tend to have a mix of seasonal items. The black and white print skirt I purchase is lightweight but can be easily adapted for fall and spring. 
For women seeking a modest, skirt and dress-based wardrobe, another woman's trash is your treasure.  Find your local thrift stores, shop for those skirts and dresses, and your money will go to a good cause, you'll keep money out of the sweatshops that don't support your Christian values, and you'll find a few fun items to add to your wardrobe. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

In Praise of Wearing Dresses and Skirts All the Time

I love dresses and skirts, but especially skirts. These versatile garments are so comfortable, so easy to dress up or down that it's a wonder more women don't return to elegance and embrace the 'dressing in skirts all the time' sisterhood!

A few reasons why a midi or maxi skirt is better than pants:

  1. Fit: Skirts are made to fit a woman's mature body. Pants are generally cut straighter, narrower, so that unless you're a very fit and trim woman or a young woman, pants that fit well are more difficult to find. Ever since I was a teenager, I've had to try on a zillion pairs of pants before I found one that fit. My hips are ample and my waist is narrow; I have long legs. Finding pants that fit can be a nightmare! Not so with skirts. Skirts generally skim the hips, making them very flattering to women with "pear" or "hourglass" shapes. If you fit the waist on an A-line skirt, the rest of the skirt generally fits well without needing alterations. Skirts that fit are much easier to find for my body type than pants, slacks or jeans.
  2. Comfort: Skirts are more comfortable especially in hot weather than jeans, pants, or shorts. They don't bind, pinch or stick to you when you sweat. The cool air on your legs feels great yet your legs are covered from the sun as well as for modesty. 
  3. Range of motion: Women who never wear skirts or who wear them infrequently often mock the idea that you can do anything in a skirt.  Hiking, walking, playing sports, running, gardening, cleaning are all more comfortable in a skirt. Pair your skirt with pantalettes (also called bloomers, culotte slips, or split skirt slips) and you'll stop that painful chafing on the legs from thigh rub.
  4. Economical: Skirts cost about the same as pants but need to be laundered less. I've found that jeans and trousers look soiled with 1-2 wears. Skirts can go for multiple wears and, unless you've spilled something on them, you can keep wearing them with less laundering. This leads to less wear and tear on the fabric and clothes that look nicer, longer.
  5. Versatility: Is there nothing you can't dress up or down better than a denim skirt? Denim skirts look wonderful paired with a casual sweater and boots or sneakers. Pair them with heels and a blouse and you've got a dressier look. Any skirt can be dressed up or down depending on the shoes and accessories. I've worn the same denim skirt to work, to church, to dinner our and just to go grocery works for all these occasions just by swapping a dressier blouse and velvet ballet flats in for sneakers and a t shirt. 
  6. Forgives a few pounds: All of us put on a bit of weight once in a while .My jeans scream at me when I gain an ounce. They are so uncomfortable! Not so my skirts - they fit with a bit of a gain or a loss without much trouble. Ah, forgiveness. It's a virtue among people as well as in garments.
  7. Travels well: My skirt-only wardrobe packed so little so well that I could use one small rolling bag for my last big four-day travel adventure. I attended a wedding, hiked through a state park, and enjoyed a few days visiting with friends before taking the train home. Skirts pack smaller and easier than jeans and pants and require fewer changes of shoes. I wore my sneakers on the train so I could move easily (yes, I pair sneakers and skirts. I know some fashionable people hate that. If I can wear boots or flats, I do, but sometimes, as when I'm walking through New York City pulling a suitcase behind me and trying to catch a train, the sneakers win.) Another big plus of wearing maxi and mid skirts while traveling: they are culturally appropriate anywhere in the world. Going to a country where dress standards edge more towards modesty? Black skirt works there very well. Dinner out in Paris or New York? Black skirt is fine. Long walk through a botanical garden? Yes, the black skirt worked fine.

All in all, I wouldn't trade my skirts-only wardrobe for the world. What other clothes fit and flatter so well?

With my sister enjoying a gorgeous fall day at the New Jersey Botanical Garden. That black skirt looked fine in the garden, on the train, and out to McDonald's for lunch the next day. Versatile and comfortable!