A Current Affair

A few weekends ago, it was monsooning out (seriously the most gushing wind/rain i’ve experienced in years), and I was in search of something to do. I was lucky to discover a vintage pop up sale going on in Brooklyn via Instagram, called A Current Affair. The show occurs sporadically in LA and NYC a few times a year, and it looks like they are expanding to a few other cities (one coming up in the Bay Area in June). Basically they got a bunch of different vintage vendors, some with physical retail stores and others who are more trunk show type dealers, all in one place and you buy a $10 ticket to peruse.

I have had a long love of vintage and second hand clothes– from back when I used to dress up in my grandmothers closets as a little girl–so this was pretty much Nirvana for me. Over the years I have loved collecting a piece here or there to incorporate with mainstream outfits. My favorite place in the world to hunt is the Paris Flea but I’ve found amazing things all over the world, in cities big and small. I’ve bought Tod’s loafers from a Goodwill in San Fran’s Mission District, found a 1940’s rabbit fur capelet from a thrift store in Lewisburg, WV ($50!??!! RJB this may be the best find of my life), an original 70’s Gucci crossbody in my tiny hometown, a custom beaded evening gown that everyone mistakes for Marchesa, and tons of no name bracelets, scarves, clutches and faux gemstone earrings along the way. The thrill of the hunt is like a drug for me, never knowing exactly what you will find (#addict). And I love that each piece has a story, a life before me, and it’s something no one else will ever show up at dinner in. Here are a few snaps from the afternoon–

amazing jeweled mules i still regret not snapping up

the coolest fringed shift from the 1960’s

sherpa-like knits in all sorts of colors

those sleeves!!!!??? so right now it almost looks like caroline constas or johanna ortiz

I spent about 3 hours in the sale; in addition to the clothes, there were so many great street style #chicpeas to soak in. I ended up with two silk peasant tops (one is “supposedly” a hundred years old), a beaded navajo belt (perfect for spicing up denim cutoffs this summer) and the coolest art deco clutch with removable handles (its called a Moon Bag, the closest ones I can find online are here and here). Since many of my friends often ask me about my vintage finds, but seem intimidated by the process, I thought I’d give a few tips learned over the years and a list of my favorite spots to treasure hunt.

 

Tips for Thrifting 

look at things in isolation: sometimes walking into a vintage store can be really overwhelming, with lots of prints and colors distracting the eye, sometimes stuff is arranged in heaps, bins and piles, and there’s a lot of “out there” styles you wouldn’t be caught dead in. try to look at items on an individual, isolated basis- “would i wear this one specific blazer with my current jeans and t-shirt” or “how would this dress look hanging in my closet once I’m back at home?” is an easier decision process than “what in the world should i buy???!!!”

don’t buy things you won’t wear: there is a lot of cool stuff i love to look at in these stores, but i know that realistically would never have the guts to wear on the street (see black and white dress above). think of these parts of the store as an art museum of sorts– fun to soak in but not to take home. be true to your own style and what you would/wouldn’t wear, or you’ll just regret spending money on the stuff later on.

don’t be scared to haggle: bargaining is the name of the game. even in fancy vintage stores, if i don’t feel the price is right, you can ask them if they’re willing to take less (sometimes yes, sometimes no) or leave your phone number to call you if they lower the price later on. for really expensive pieces, i sometimes do a quick ebay search to get the general feel for what an item should cost, but at the end of the day usually you can’t find a true like-for-like item so you have to go with your gut. also, sometimes it’s ok to pay up (not all vintage has to be a bargain) if you find something really unusual, designer or hard to find.

but if you love it, don’t debate: the flip side of this is that if you find something you love, especially if you’re out of town or at some sort of flea market/pop up, you should buy it. i have a mental list of regrets for items i found, loved and told myself i didn’t need at the time. my boyfriend can attest to this since i still talk wistfully about a vintage hermes belt i skipped over for $150 in Milan last summer. this is a hit or miss game and once it’s gone, its gone forever. so just buy it!!

before you buy it, inspect inspect inspect: sounds obvious, but ive overpaid for things that are stained, torn or just don’t fit right. give it the once over, and then a twice over. or better yet, get your friend to give it a second pair of eyes.

minor tweaks are doable, big changes cost a lot: removing a belt, cutting off the hem, and changing the buttons are usually all tweaks you can make yourself. shortening the straps, bringing in the waist, or otherwise altering the shape of garments usually isn’t possible from your average tailor, and if it is, will cost big bucks. i’ve never found major alterations on vintage to work out how i wanted.

Now do you have the vintage shopping bug? a few, but not all of my favorite vintage haunts in NYC:

Housing Works- a charity store that requires lots of digging but I have found some great stuff

Starstruck Vintage Clothing– right around the corner from my abode, lots of retro denim for turning into shorts, cowboy boots and vintage rock t’s

What Goes Around Comes Around– the premiere designer vintage in the world, very pricey but incredible. this store has really taken off recently through its partnerships with Gilt and Bloomies.

Diamonds & Coal– technically a consignment store, not vintage specifically

Pippin Vintage Jewelry– lots of rhinestones! luckily my friend LKH lives upstairs to this store, so i pop in a lot to peruse

Cure Thrift Shop– great slip dresses, bangles and beaded vintage purses

A very happy (but tired) post-thrifting girl ready for Saturday night in her new top

the london beat

Cheers loves– hope you all had a great weekend. i’m back in action after a quick trip across the pond last week for work. it was my first time in the UK and I absolutely loved it. i’m sure this statement will offend any brits reading, but to me, London is kind of like New York and Paris had a baby: a hybrid city with the fast-paced energy of New York + the history and beauty of continental Europe. i stayed at the adorable stafford hotel, right on St James Park, and during my free time got to hit a few of the high points– including big ben, buckingham palace and the churchill war rooms, plus dinner at the ever exclusive 5 hertford eating club (thanks boss!). here’s a few highlights but see more pictures from my trip here.

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spring blooms in green park
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making friends with big ben

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a well deserved aperol spritz after miles of walking

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sir james outram statue at whitehall gardens

as always, i was on the hunt for the latest and greatest sartorial inspiration (does it make me a freak that trend spotting is literally my favorite travel past time?), and london ladies did not disappoint. while most of my time was spent in the west end (the UES equivalent) among a sea of trench coats, cardigans and dignifiedly dressed professionals, i got some extra London flavor walking around Notting Hill and vintage shopping on Portobello road. my favorite finds included some chunky turquoise indian jewelry, a very rocker esque leather jacket, a colorful embroidered clutch, and scooping up a b.a.n.a.n.a.s stop-the-printing-presses worthy 70s cocktail dress for a friends upcoming nuptials. i squeezed a lot in for just 48 hours! the highlights of my fashion field work are below.

what’s hot now in london town: 

  • red loafers. while i was amazed (and adored) the wide variety of flats, loafers and lace up oxfords i saw trekking around, all a true testament to brits no-nonsense attitude, my favorites were a pair of bright red gucci loafers i saw with slim black work pants. they were punchy plus practical and made an otherwise boring work outfit look effortlessly cool.

Screen Shot 2016-05-22 at 2.09.39 PMget the look with a horsebit pair from saks or the always classic tods

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  • embroidered denim. while le catch always seems to beat me to the punch, i saw quite a few city go-ers donning the latest embellished pairs, which i think will be big this spring and even more popular come fall. there’s something slightly 90s about these (did anyone else have some from Lucky brand in middle school?), but are a welcome change to my constant rotation of distressed skinny jeans. while i doubt this will be a long lasting trend, try an inexpensive pair from topshop or gap (currently 40% off).

embroidered jeans

  • neck scarves. while entirely useless from a warmth perspective, i saw a handful of bold chic peas rocking square scarves tied cheekily around their necks, bags and wrists (reminds me of the bandanas featured in the spring ’16 Coach collection). worn with everything from sweatshirts to dresses and silk blouses, they made a strong statement and had me wanting to tie one on, literally.

neck scarf

scarf options– 1 dvf  2 jcrew 3 gucci

  • mini bags. crossbodies have been the bags du jour for the last 2-3 years, but in london, it seems the trend towards shrinking continues and the smaller the bag the better. the most popular styles i saw were the ruched miu miu, the celine phantom made teeny, the fendi minis, and a few boxy styles like this zac posen.

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  • blue blazers. as any fashionista knows, a good outfit is all about balance. UK girls haven’t given up on staple items like a navy blazer or a cardigan to balance out trendy items. i love the look of this classic prep school item mixed with jeans or a midi skirt, especially when it has a slightly nautical feel to the cut.

blue blazer

a+ options include a two-button brooks brothers or more alternative rag & bone

Screen Shot 2016-05-22 at 3.06.57 PMi have lots more to cover from my trip, but won’t overload you all in one day. hope you have a great start to the week and will be back with more soon. Xx

x marks the spot

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part work (black leather) + part play (2 tones of denim) = the perfect summer work bag for running to a mid-town meeting, then running to catch the jitney.

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check out a few other summer friday friendly bags below.

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 tods wave bag

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matt & nat 

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tory burch cass

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patchington 

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gucci arabesque

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rebecca minkoff

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banana republic

sleek slides

the steamy nyc heat has been making me want to be as unfussy as possible. Introducing the slide – i.e. a shoe that requires no buckling, tying or otherwise unnecessary bending over to put on. The last time I had a pair of slip ons, I begged for a pair of Adidas pool shoes with the spikey bottoms, circa 2nd or 3rd grade. (Those were The. Bees. Knees. at swim team…did anyone else have those?). Now I’m ready to introduce them back into my adult life, with a more elevated black leather pair.

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a few other options:
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cheetah

embossed

metallic

Try a pair over the long weekend (yay!) and wear them with…

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1) striped shirt dress

2) m.gemi leather slides

3) drawstring backpack

4) pearl cluster ring