Sunday, November 4, 2012

Frugal Finds

When I was a child, I abhorred thrift shops.  The odor made me want to toss cookies and there was such a stigma to shopping there, at least in the middle class California neighborhood I grew up in.  There was no cachet to second hand clothes, no vintage shops, it was all about new.  I even loathed hand me down clothes from friends of the family.  My poor mom would sometimes try to tempt me with high quality items from the children of friends of hers, she could rarely get me to wear them.  Hand-me-down was more common then, clothes were not quite at the throw away state they have now achieved.  Other than film and photo, how are people to know what we wore in the last couple decades as there will be few extant pieces left?  I shudder to think what they will look like in 50-150 years.  So even though I just shared my childhood prejudices, I have to say that I loved to dress up in my aunt's old clothes and gaze at outfits from the past that belonged to grannies, great aunties and such.  I wish I had some of those bouffant 50's petticoats and beaded sweater sets that I trashed playing in during my childhood in the 60's. 

Flash forward to now, it is a completely different picture.  I adore thrift store shopping.  Don't get me wrong, I still don't like the smell, but better thrift shops don't have such a musty-moldy scent.  Lo and behold, it is now cool to buy in thrift shops.  Second hand buys come with labels like "retro" and "vintage" and we ooh and ahh over people's clever buys. 

We have several local places, my favorite the the St Vincent de Paul.  I have found the most amazing stuff there.  I go on a regular basis to poke around.  Now each year in the fall they have their collectible sale weekend, each year I miss it because of work or out of town, and each year I swear I will go next year.  Based on the goodies I find in the store after that weekend, it must be great!  Well this year was no exception, I had to work and forgot it was time, however, the Monday following I was off work and drove to my mechanic's shop which is right after the store.  I saw the notice and thought, "darn, I missed it again."  Well, I had a little time so I went in and Score! 

I found three items I love in the china section.  One was a teapot in Price's "Cottage Ware."  For $9.  I think I paid more than that for the one I bought when I lived in England some 30 years ago.  That one has a broken lid, courtesy of many moves in my early years.  I had tried to repair it, very inexpertly I might add.  Well now I have an intact replacement.  I might just swap this one's lid with my original and then think of something else to do with the extra.  The next was a super cute English China milk jug for $9.  Have I mentioned that I have a positive weakness for china?  I especially love:  Tea pots, Tea cups, and Pitchers.  So to complete my happiness I found a tea cup for my collection.  A delicate white with silver trim, featuring white roses with a blush of pink, from Edelstein in Bavaria, Germany.  Here is a picture so you can enjoy them with me.

Then I found a mink fur capelet in excellent condition.  I believe style wise it probably dates from the early 60's, certainly no earlier than the late 50's.  I don't remember seeing women wear these in the late 60's or 70's.  Of course, by then it was very un "PC" to wear furs.  I remember coming out of the San Francisco Opera house around 1969-1970 with my mom and there was a lady in a sable fur coat.  An animal right activist was screaming at her and one of the things the activist screamed was, "how do you think the animal feels who's coat your wearing?"  To which Sable Coat Lady replied, "Why Darling, they don't feel a thing, they are absolutely dead."  She put a slight drawl into the word darling.  Sable Lady had a point, it was a pretty silly thing for activist lady to say.  I absolutely decline to go into the ethics of wearing furs, suffice it to say, once we have made a garment out of an animal, we best use it well and so I buy and recycle furs.  Often I will recut and salvage damaged pieces but this one will remain intact.  The fur is still silky soft and there is no damage anywhere.  The tag inside reads "The Harris Company" which I read on line was a well known maker of coats from Minnesota.  There is no sign of wear or stain, the fur is not hardened or suffering in any way.  It must have been stored properly.  I have got to make some padded hangers for this and the mint condition mink stole I bought last year, and muslin bags.  I don't need to worry about storage as my walk-in closet in my bedroom for some reason is always cool, even on 100+ degree days.  The capelet is design to fit over the shoulders with a little cut out on each side in from for your arms.  The shawl collar comes down to bottom edge in front creating little pockets that you can put your hands in to stay warm and keep it on your shoulders.  A simple, clever, lovely design. 

I need a couple dresses worthy of these furs.  I have been collecting the vintage patterns the big 5 have been re-issuing lately.  What style do you think with this fur?

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