Tag Archives: style on the cheap

Free clothes from the clothing swap

Last March I posted about free clothes I got at a women’s clothingĀ swap. The local yoga studio hosted it and it was welcome to anyone (not just customers/practitioners) and I had an excellent, fruitful time. I really like the idea of women gathering for a swap; the comradery is fun and it’s more personal than simply dropping your unwanted clothes off somewhere (which I still do frequently). At the time the owner said she planned to do it again in September but when September came and went I thought maybe the idea had fallen by the wayside. I’d started putting (nicer) things for another swap aside immediately after the last one and had a full bag.Ā  Happily, the owner advertised on a community Facebook group that another swap was scheduled for this past Friday evening. Since I had plenty of notice, I went through my clothes again and filled another bag to share. I have come to think of my wardrobe as something I bothĀ curateĀ andĀ cull.

This swap wasn’t as well-attended as the one in Spring and there weren’t quite so many clothes but I still did very nicely for myself. Here’s my group shot, including a pair of red gloves.



Here’s a pair of New York & Company low-rise, slim jeans (a brand I’d never buy at full-price), Athleta pants (I’d never heard of the brand but that’s the fun of second-hand clothes be it at a swap, a thrift store or a rummage sale; you see things you might never otherwise), and a pair of linen pants with interesting pocket details at the top and sides.



Here’s a trio of cover-ups. The gorgeous blue/green one is Hard Tail, yet another brand I have never heard (googling shows it to be a fairly expensive US company), the pink/salmon sweater is Banana Republic, and the I’m-not-really-sure-what-color-that-is (tan? charcoal? a shade of green?) sweater is Wind River, another unfamiliar brand.



This little dress is made by Om Zappy, which may have been a funky littleĀ store in Seattle – all I found online was Yelp reviews and a website that is no longer. I think I could wear it with tights or over leggings or jeans. I don’t typically wear collared blouses but this New York & Company 7th Avenue blouse looked good on me so I figured I’d try it – that’s the beauty ofĀ free.



Lastly, here’s athletic wear.Ā  It’s easy to fall into a trap of wearing dark clothes in winter but I try to make sure I bring in bursts of color. The first is snug on me so I’ll wear it as a top. The middle one is thick and cozy. And I can always use black tank-tops.




My clothing haul from the synagogue rummage sale!

The local synagogue holds an annual two-day rummage sale every November that’s open to all. With a fun, upbeat atmosphere, it’s a big hit around here and I, like lots of locals, look forward to it. They have lots of household items, shoes, and many tables piled with clothes as well as additional clothes on racks. This year I was focused almost exclusively on shoes and clothes.

The key, I’ve found, to doing well at this type of sale is to go rested, fed, hydrated, and with an open mind. You have to be willing to methodically root through the various piles to find what might suit you; for example all the jeans – and there were many – are piled together without regard to size. It’s a bit of work and not everybody enjoys it, but I do, especially when it pays off. (I see a lot of women half-heartedly look at a few things on the tops of the piles and give up. Not me. I mean business.)

The first day has set, albeit low, prices and the second day is half-off household stuff & shoes and a single price ($8 this year) to fill a bag of clothes. The bag is a grocery store sized paper bag (I was a tad disgruntled the years they offered only a small grocery store plastic bag so I was happy to see the return of the brown paper bag on day two of the sale.) I was very pleased with my first day finds: a pair of Levis 712 slim jeans, a print 3/4 sleeve top, and a(nother) Downton Abbey type of winter hat (I’ve acquired two others secondhand prior to this). The jeans and top were each $4 and the hat $3. I didn’t buy them to be a “set” per se (and found them in three different locations) but looking at the photo, they DO look like a nice outfit together!



I wasn’t sure that I’d go back the second day but spontaneously decided to return for “bag day.” Having already found three nice items, I didn’t feel pressed to find more and took the attitude that if I wasn’t having fun, I’d leave. As it turned out, I enjoyed myself, stayed two hours and found a bunch of good stuff. They have a small restroom where you can try on clothes; I always take advantage of this and I was really happy to find a working heater installed this year! (Gets chilly in there.) I paid $8 total for all that follows.

These two t-shirts were great; flattering fit and colors. The brand is Caston which I’ve never heard before.

I saw this shirt on the first day and LOVED the print (I’d like some tie-dye in my life) but I didn’t want to spend $4 on it. I was surprised it was still there the second day.IMG_20181115_093554_kindlephoto-4636398.jpg

I found a pretty Chicos t-shirt but was a bit loose on me. Figuring that I’d be paying under a dollar for it – and it was closer to .50 when all was said and done – I went ahead and got it. The irony here is that the shirt was a size 0. Before you decide I must be impossibly small, let me note that whenever I’ve seen Chicos clothes in second-hand stores, etcetera, they look HUGE to me; clearly the brand uses “vanity sizing.” So anyway, once I had it home, I decided to hand-stitch a seam straight down the back, taking in about 2″ total. Then the shirt fit me nicely.

I think of shirts like these as “play clothes”, nothing fancy but useful and cute. I never heard of the Simply Southern brand and I’m not Southern but have to admit it’s a pretty catchy name. They must have thought so too because the brand name is written on the sleeve and printed in BIG lettering on the back (see the photo). I also included a closeup of the illustration on the bottom of the Faded Glory shirt because it’s a bit odd: children in row boats. These children reappear on the sleeves and the tiny pockets as well. I can’t decide if they’re wearing life jackets. Where are their parents? Are they fishing? They have no rods. I’m worried about them.

These two sweaters are Croft & Barrow (blue) and Ann Taylor (green). Typically, sweaters in my uh, price range, are cheaply made and scratchy, so I don’t buy sweaters. These are soft and very nice. The blue is big – about a size or more big – but I decided that’s okay; it’ll work with leggings and a hat to balance it out.

I like what I’ve seen of New York & Company clothes, which these next two sweaters are. Both are soft and feminine. The red is a true red – like fire engine – but I couldn’t quite capture the exact shade with my tablet. The black one has a little built-in tie at the neck so I included a close-up.

I’d seen this swan shirt on day one of the sale and passed it by. I don’t have any clothes with animals on them and wouldn’t normally consider it. But oh my! This was sort of a cross between a sweat shirt and a sweater and felt great. It looked good too so what the hell? The swan is stitched into the fabric not an applique. (My only association with swans is a story by the Southern writer Bailey White that revealed how mean swans can be. Her story is vivid and I never forgot it.)IMG_20181115_095728_kindlephoto-3583144

Here we have my first pair of hot pink jeans! Normally I wouldn’t get something like this because not a whole lot goes with hot pink jeans, but at this price – under a buck – I went for it. The blue blob is a hat so I included me modeling it so you could see that.


This last top was so beautiful and dressy. It has an inner camisole. Since it didn’t look like much laid out on the table, I modeled it too.

Hope you enjoyed the bargain fashion tour. I enjoyed writing it!

Early Spring Outfit (bargain-style)


I put this together to go to a social event on a sunny, breezy, cool Spring day. I think the mix of black with strong, bright colors exemplifies the changing season. If I got too warm I could remove the jacket; the dress has half sleeves. I rolled up the jacket sleeves so the amount of skin I bared at my wrists matched the amount of leg I showed between the capris and boots.

I got the fabulous orange purse (one even men notice/compliment which is rare in my experience), the unstructured jacket, and the Frye boots that just needed spiffying up, for only a dollar apiece from thrift stores. I don’t buy leather goods as a rule but my thinking with second-hand leather is the cow is already dead and the profits are going to a thrift store, nonprofit, etcetera. My high ticket item, the $10 Mi Manchi dress, came several years ago from, appropriately, a Ross Dress Store, and I found the leggings for $4 on Amazon.

I wore an orange ring, red dangly earrings, a silver watch and silver bracelet.