Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Xmas!

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all you lovely bloggers! Time to eat, drink, be jolly, grateful and enjoy family and friends - may the festivities begin! x

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A little extravagance....

The Upper East Side's Council Thrift Shop is one of my favourites in NYC. The volunteers are such sweethearts, always with a smile and willing to chat for ages about whatever you've bought or tried on. The shop has a great down-to-earth community vibe. It is a little dishevelled but makes up for this in spades with staff friendlieness - and great stock.

They sell clothes - for men and women - and often have designer garb. They also have shoes, books, accessories, housewares and furniture. This place is great for nabbing yourself a bargain, the prices tend to be fair and there is always a sale going on.

I went there this October and they had just put all their Fall/Winter stock out. It was mostly designer wear and it was all 50% off. There was some excellent stuff, from Armani, to Valentino and Michael Kors et al. I spied a jacket that was absolutely gorgeous and brand new from Mackage, a brand I'd never heard of. It was $180 (GULP) but with the discount it was $90. Yikes - pricey - and unusually expensive for the Council Thrift store! However, it was soooo funky that after much umming and ahhhing and in-store modelling - I bought it. To console myself I later checked their website and saw that their jackets go for $500 and up. That made me feel less of a sap.

So, I love the jacket but it is my most expensive thrift shop buy ever. Extravagance? Perhaps. However, this is where I throw the allmighty thrift moral punch - all proceeds go to support the National Council of Jewish Women of New York who focus on progressive stances on issues such as child welfare, women's rights and reproductive freedom. Yeah!! This jacket is worth every single cent!!

The Council Thrift Shop is on 84th between 2nd and 3rd avenues. It is open Mon-Wed,11am-5:45pm; Thu, 11am-7:45pm; Fri-Sat, 11am-4:45pm. Closed Sundays.

For the love of thrift rating (from 1 to 10):
Selection: 8
Presentation: 8
Niceness of staff: 10
Bargain factor (ie pricing): 9
Thrift turnover: 8

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Second hand man

Because guys love thrift too.

From Ireland - loving the enormous scarf and thrifted jacket

From Germany (all thrifted) - maybe this big scarf thing is a trend....

From the US, shoes and shirt from the Salvation army (maybe he wants to jump off the ledge beacause he didn't thrift his jeans...)

From Brooklyn, New York - thrifted vest - let's hear it for the home boy! Yeah!

Are you a guy that thrifts? Are you a girl that thrifts with or for her guy?

My man wears thrift - on occasion - but I'm the one with the addiction....

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thrifted Thanksgiving 2009

The boyfriend and I followed the tradition of hosting Thanksgiving for our New York friends. A mixture of foreigners and holiday orphans gathered at ours for a day of eating, drinking and being merry.

On Thanksgiving eve, I realised that we didn't have enough wine glasses for everyone, so I went on an emergency thrifting expedition. First stop - Housing Works Soho. I bought one wine glass and err......a pair of ultra cute shoes. OK, so they weren't on my shopping list, but how could I resist them? Second stop - Goodwill on east 23rd street - brilliant for housewares. As if by magic, there they were, 4 beautifully tall and elegant wine glasses, 1.99 each. Bingo! As we had the exact number of glasses for our guests, we asked our guests to put a little sticker on their glass so they could keep track of it throughout the evening - a great idea.

Thanksgiving day was wonderful. We actually saw the parade, after all, we do live one and a half blocks away from Central Park West. For the first time, we managed to get our lazy selves out of bed and onto the street to see the giant balloons - well worth it! The Thanksgiving meal was divine (my man cooked all of it) and - of course - the table was set with my thrifted china finds. The amount of food we ate was legendary but - most importantly - we were grateful for being among friends and loved ones. Happy Thanksgiving! Here's to family and friends!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Azulejo inspiration

I was rather pleased with myself last weekend at the Upper West Side Housing Works thrift store. I spotted a beautiful blue handpainted pitcher that had a vaguely familar look. I turned it upside down, and there it was: "Made in Portugal". I promptly paid $6 and proudly brought it
I'm Portuguese you see, and we are pretty much obssessed with blue and white ceramics. We have a long history of making pottery and the Portuguese have the most beautiful handpainted tiles. Yes, tiles. You will find them decorating walls everywhere, churches, rail stations, houses, monuments, etc. They often depict historical scenes and are a major part of Portuguese architecture and history. They are called Azulejos (I love this word). The name is derived from the arabic (from back in the day when Portugal was occupied by the Moors), and the word azul - also means the colour blue. They tend to be blue and white but you may also find yellow and some other colours.

My favourite azulejos are the ones on the church (Igreja do Carmo) in my home tome of Porto. Absolutely beautiful.

And of course the tiles of Porto's railway station Sao Bento, also a beauty.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Green Lady

On my thrift wish list is a print of the wonderfully kitsch "Chinese lady' by Vladimir Tretchikoff . I love its gaudy colours and it reminds me of the bright pop art that painters like Andy Warhol immortalized. It is lovely in a vintage nostalgic kind of way and above all - it is fun and doesn't take itself too seriously.

The 'Green lady' was painted in 1952 (when Tretchikoff was 39) and became the world's biggest-selling print. In effect, Tretchikoff was the world's first mass-market artist. The 'Green lady', described as the "Mona Lisa of kitsch", hung on the walls of half a million suburban homes around the world. I remember seeing her in restaurants and homes of friends' parents decorating otherwise dark and drab places. She was everywhere.

She is actually a real person. She was called Lenka and was Tretchikoff's lover, they met in a NYC restauraunt in the late 40s. Apparently Lenka had a fascination for all things paranormal.

Although Treatchikoff wasn't taken seriously by the big art collectors after he went for a mass market approach, his print sales made him the most highly paid artist in the world after Picasso.

My wishful thinking is that someone somewhere in NYC will decide that they canot live with the Green Lady anymore and will give her to a good home....I will find her in a thrift store, dust her off and hang her on my living room wall. She'll look perfect.

For more vintage goodness, see Vintage Thingies Thursdays

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Autumn/fall 2009

Winter coat - Glasgow, Scotland, Marie Curie Cancer Care thrift shop
Skirt - Goodwill, East Village, NYC
Shoes - Salvation army, Williamsburg, NYC
Autumn leaves - Central Park

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Polka dotty

Rainy days ask for a splash of colour to cheer us all up. Here are some polka dots from those trendy people at lookbook:
  • From Berlin, a vintage dress and a handbag from a London fleamarket.

  • Thrifted polka dot skirt
  • From New York City, thrifted dress and belt. Love the peeptoes.

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Brooklyn beacon

Beacon's closet in hipster centric Williamsburg is a must go destination for any New York thrift shopper. Although this isn't your classic thrift store - the funds don't go to support a noble cause - Beacon's closet is definitely thrifty, with plenty of bargains to be found.

The shop is located in an old warehouse space and is ginormous. It is arranged by colours - see the pretty photos - and has a great selection of clothes, vintage and modern. The shoes are fabulous and there is a good dress selection if you're looking for something with a little va va voom.

Men need not feel neglected at Beacon's, there is a good men's selection and there are some comfy chairs at the entrance where they can read a newspaper as they wait for their girlfriends. Alternatively, you can park your manfriend at the record store a couple of blocks away. Happiness all round!

Do you want to indulge in some new shoes but cannot face eating cheese and toast until payday? No worries, swap your old threads for cash or Beacon's closet store credit. Keep in mind that the cash you get for your clothes depends on:

- How fashionable/desirable are they? Would anyone want to wear them?
- Are they in good nick?
- Are they designer? However, see first point. Nobody wants your nylon purple mesh Versace trousers.

Last time I was at Beacon's, I bought a huge, girly dusk pink silk scarf - for $11. I love this place!

For the love of thrift rating (from 1 to 10):

Selection: 9

Presentation: 9

Niceness of staff: 7

Bargain factor (ie pricing): 8

Thrift turnover: 9

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Something old, something borrowed, something blue

Moving into a completely empty apartment with nothing but a couple of suitcases filled with clothes, was, I admit it, a little daunting. However, in a city filled with thrift shops, and in the country that gave you Craigslist, I quickly realised that the process of making a home was going to be a lot of fun.

In NYC, there is no reason to go to Ikea or other similar mass-produced, yawn-inducing stores. I want a home with personality. A home where things have a story about who they belonged to, the house they lived in, or how they were hunted down and found. And I'd rather not have to assemble my furniture – lego for grown ups is simply not my thing.

Each day, after we'd moved in, L and I obsessively scoured the Manhattan furniture section of Craigslist. This is one of our early finds and one of my first ‘home’ projects. The dresser had the exact shape I was looking for and in its shabby, off-white state was going for only $30. I dragged a grumbling L miles down south to the financial district.

We followed our map through an anonymous part of town but then found ourselves in a funky apartment where the owner sat us down, poured us tea, and wanted to know our life history. Hmm, we were buying a dresser, not considering an adoption. Nevertheless, we chatted for ages and she kindly sold the dresser to us and volunteered her reluctant boyfriend to deliver it to our door. Success!
From the very beginning I knew I wanted a brightly coloured dresser in my living room. And so I transformed the dresser from its orginal sad white into this gorgeous blue beast, and finished it with these sleek burgundy drawer pulls from Anthropologie.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Thrift for Traviata, Vintage for Verdi

Amongst Manhattan's array of thrift stores, few have the quirk and charm of the City Opera Thrift Shop. This Bergdorf Goodman of secondhand stores lures you in with it's gorgeous window displays - courtesy of the students of the nearby School of Visual Arts - and offers up an assortment of upscale designer wear.

The collection of dresses, women's shoes and men's suits make it an excellent place to shop for a special occasion. The styles on offer cater nicely for all ages; I can imagine bringing my mum here (and her squealing in delight at the velvet jackets and silk dresses). There are plenty of clothes for us younger types too, when I was there last a young woman was trying on a cute fitted leather jacket. If you want a Dior jacket this is the thrift store to visit - but if you're looking to stretch your last 20 dollars as far as you can you might want to steer clear.

It's not just having art students dress the windows and the designer threads that makes this place so New York, it's where the thrift dollars go - here is a clothes tag:

Hmmmm, my shoe indulgences have contributed towards Madame Butterfly; Candide; Don Giovanni; Tosca....

The New York City Opera supports groundbreaking opera and has 25% of tickets priced at $25 and less - now that is thrifty.

For the love of thrift rating (from 1 to 10):
Selection: 9
Presentation: 9
Niceness of staff: 8
Bargain factor (ie pricing): 7 (if you're looking for designer wear)
Thrift turnover: 8

The New York City Opera thrift store is on East 23rd Street. As well as women's and men's clothes and shoes, they have furniture, books and often opera records and posters.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Summer, are you leaving already?

As I cling onto summer for dear life, here is a look from earlier this year, boots thrifted in Chelsea flea market, belt thrifted at housing works and an urban outfitters dress with a retro feel to it. Summer, please stay!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Coney island baby

In NYC you can feel a little nip in the air signalling that summer is ending, EEEeeeek! There are loads of things to see and do and there are summer clothes I haven't even worn yet. In an attempt to do the things we've been procrastinating for ages, the boyfriend and I set off on an impromptu "Do everything weekend". First and foremost on the list - Coney Island.

Wow. I get that funny NYC feeling that I've been here before having seen it in the movies and on TV so many times. It is a sight to behold. Trashy, over the top, fun and community oriented, all in one. The beach is full of families and the water seems crowded with grannies, aunties, fat men in Tshirts, muscular men in tattoos and snotty children. We stroll around taking in all the sights. I'm wearing a red dress I bought at a fleamarket in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

From the beach we head over to Wonder Wheel, the large ferris wheel. Feeling brave we get onto the cyclone - frankly just to be able to say that we have done it. 90 secs on the ricketiest roller coaster and we go through the feelings of elation, fear and dread. And then it's over and our legs are shaky and we cannot stop giggling. Then of course we have a Nathan hot dog and then the freak show - with ALIVE acts from Serpentina (lady with large snake), a sword swallower and fire swallower, a bendy woman on an electric chair and other assorted oddities.

I'm afraid there was no thrifting done in Coney Island - although imagine the crazy goodies you would find there!

The next day, we head to Governor's island and rent bicycles. The views of Manhattan are amazing - this is a must do summer trip. It is 5 minutes away from the city and it feels you are miles away.
I'm all thrifted in a red silk dress I got at the greenflea, handbag and bangle (from junk man at the greenflea) and shoes from a thrift store on the Upper East Side (the Spence Chaplin thrift store).
And guess what?? There are no thrift stores on Governor's island. That should come as no surprise because this enigmatic piece of prime NYC real estate is uninhabited and exclusively for public purposes.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The best NYC flea market... without a doubt the Hell's Kitchen Flea Market (HKFM). I have had lots of luck from this market: two pretty girly dresses each for $5; many silk scarves and OOoooh the furniture. The market is great for conversation pieces - the ones guaranteed to get you a "Where did you buy THAT??" or depending on how adventurous you are, a "What is THAT??"

The sellers are friendly and there are bargains to be found. My boyfriend bought a cashmere camel coat here last winter (the market is on all year but as it is outdoors it is a little weather dependent) which was $40 and in mint condition. Errrrr we may have been blinded by the bargain because the coat does make him look like Tony Soprano....!

On Saturdays and Sundays in the HKFM you can find hipsters, antique geeks, models, vintage lovers and fans of all things bizarre, rummaging elbow to elbow for:
- vintage and thrift clothing (his and hers). One great stall is the Store with no walls.
- kitschy home decorations
- silk scarves and bling
- heels and boots
- funky vintage furniture
- records
- bodyless doll heads/disco balls/collectibles/weird and wonderful things you wouldn't find anywhere else
Point in case - Can you believe that on sale was a metal stretcher??? And also one of those huge candle holders you find in churches - see behind the stretcher. You have to love this place!

Plan your trip to the HKFM around getting some brunch at HK around the corner (39th street and 9th). The Bloody Mary's are good and you can people spot - throw in the flea market, and how best to spend a weekend morning in New York?

For the love of thrift rating (from 1 to 10):

Market location: 7 (not the nicest part of town - to put it kindly)

Presentation: 9

Bargain factor (ie pricing): 8

Stall variety: 10

Approx number of stalls: about 40