Lest my last post on thrifting mislead anyone, let me say: the thrifting gods are not perpetually smiling on me. There are weeks and sometimes months when I find nothing interesting, or at least nothing worth its own post. If I thrifted only for the results (and had expectations of hitting it out of the ballpark every time) … well, I’d give it up pretty quickly. As it happens, I enjoy the hunt as much as the spoils, which is why I’m not easily deterred by a lacklustre haul. Or a ten.

To give you a sense of what a more realistic thrifting experience might be, I thought I’d share some of the hits and misses of a few recent outings. First up, a brief overview of some of the misses – which certainly outnumbered the hits.

Martin + Osa dress
Martin + Osa dress

This was a cute silk dress, but not quite my style, and not something my wardrobe is crying out for. It could be a charming summer dress for someone else. At times like these, I wish I could play closet matchmaker. Alas.

Velvet by Graham Spencer dress
Velvet by Graham Spencer dress

I was tempted by this Velvet brand sweater dress, but it was the wrong size and, if I’m being perfectly honest, not really my style. Same story as above.

Just Cavalli tee
Just Cavalli tee

Here’s proof that I don’t just buy for the (designer) label. This Just Cavalli tee was just meh – a little bit dated, a little bit tired (aka used).

Fendi (?) bag
Fendi (?) bag
close up
close up

I have no idea if this (vintage?) Fendi bag was legit, but the poor thing was in terrible shape and reeked of cigarette smoke. It was still priced at $20, four times higher than the brand new, pristine Longchamp bag I found back at the beginning of August in the same store.

Meadow Rue tunic
Meadow Rue tunic

This Meadow Rue tunic broke my heart. One of my fave thrifting hobbies (sub-hobbies?) is finding Anthropologie pieces. I love the girly aesthetic but I can’t with the retail prices. Anyway, I totally would have bought this piece – it’s silk, lovely print, great colours for my wardrobe – but there was colour transfer all over the fabric, and I didn’t feel like taking a risk, even for $8.

no bueno
no bueno

Hopefully some braver soul will enjoy it. Sigh.

David Bitton leggings
David Bitton leggings

You guys, I really wanted these leggings. I know: a 35-year mother of two may not have any business wearing these, but I would have loved to rock them (mostly unironically) on weekends. Sadly, they were several sizes too small.

Now, for the hits:

art via thrift
art via thrift

I’m still buying up cheap “art”, both for my own projects and, in this case, for my mom. The matching bird prints on the bottom left ($3.50 each) were a gift for her. The print on the top left I bought solely for the lovely gold frame ($12.50), and plan to replace it with the portrait next to it ($6). I love the romanticism of Winterhalter portraits like this one. The Learning Japanese package ($10, brand new in box – can you say unwanted Christmas present?) was something my husband insisted I buy for him.

I also bought a black Tahari dress ($8) which, as is common for black dresses, photographs poorly on a hanger. I’m sure you’ll be seeing it on the blog very soon. It has a cute ruffle detail around the neckline, and an interesting adjustable waist tie. And by “interesting” I mean a bit perplexing. Will explain more later.

Nanette Lepore dress
Nanette Lepore dress

Last but not least, this beautiful Nanette Lepore dress was a true find. It was $20, which is on the pricey side, but it originally retailed for about $500, and the workmanship is superb. I rarely have reason to say that about mass produced clothes these days, but the embroidery and beading here are excellent. And it fits perfectly (although it’s a size 10, and I usually wear a 4, so the discrepancy is significant). The only downside of buying it was the dry cleaning drama that ensued (I’m exaggerating slightly), but I’ll save that tale of woe for another post.

Hit me up with your recent thrift finds in the comments!

18 Comments on Thrift Tales: Not Every Trip’s a Winner

  1. I love love love these posts. I never find anything when I thrift shop in Toronto! Then again maybe I am not trying hard enough. These make me want to try harder 😉

    • It really IS hit and miss. Thrifting is becoming more and more popular, so there is a lot more competition for the good stuff. You have to go a fair bit, or just get very lucky. Seriously, even this post isn’t fully representative – there are trips when I find literally nothing of interest, good or bad.

  2. Love that Nanette Lepore dress! So feminine, yet elegant. Plus, you rock it. I have never found anything that I would consider wearing from a thrift store. Your posts make me want to move to Canada just for the thrifting!

    • Hahaha! Well, I like to think there are lots of others reasons to move up here (even with our dollar being so weak right now) … but I’m biased 😉

  3. I so wish AE would try again with Martin + Osa, maybe even just as a line in their current stores like LOFT does with Lou and Grey. And I love whatever you want to call the print of that first dress (drippy floral?)!

  4. I CANNOT BELIEVE this post is called “not every trip’s a winner” and then you end it with that Nanette Lepore dress. That dress is for real.

  5. Oh my gosh, Martin + Osa is a brand I haven’t thought of for a long time! I remember when their stores first opened in my local malls. I quite liked their aesthetic, but then the brand shut down and I was a bit sad. If they opened now, I think they brand would stand a better chance of being successful. Or at least, I remember them having a sort of Madewell-ish vibe, and Madewell seems to do very well now… Long story short, I miss Martin + Osa.

    The thrifted art you got is pretty! I’ve occasionally tried to look through thrift stores for wall art, back when I was a bit more into trying to decorate, and I never saw anything I wanted!

    • I have only heard of the brand through other (US) blogs. I don’t think we ever had that store here. That’s why I love thrifting – you get to find things you never would at the mall.

      I love mismatched frames and prints, so thrift store home goods sections are dangerous for me 😉

  6. Love the Winterhalter – I particularly like his portraits of the Empress Elisabeth of Austria. They are so romantic with the flowing hair and the beautiful dresses. I never thought of thrifting for some….I may have to have a go!

    • It’s the first time I’ve come across one, but there are tons of beautiful prints (in nice frames, too) in thrift stores. Definitely worth a look.

  7. I stopped overnight in Hudson, NY, on a cycling trip this summer, and visited the community thrift store, which had an eye-catching window display featuring yellow clothing and accessories. I didn’t go for the yellow, but discovered in the racks a black silk shell with ivory embroidered flowers on one shoulder–Ann Taylor, very pretty, for $6. A size 6 may or may not fit, especially with no stretch in the fabric, so I needed to try it on, but could not get the side zipper to open. When the staff couldn’t open it either, they offered it to me for free! Well, thank you very much, even if I need to pay for a new zipper, that would be wonderful. In fact, my boyfriend fiddled with it for half an hour while watching television and got it running smoothly. It fits perfectly and looks great on me. What a thrift store win!
    Pam