My Favorite Places for Thrift Shopping & Clothing Deals in NYC

All month long, I’ve been featuring some of my favorite places in New York City (Brooklyn especially). Be sure to click through the archives for more round-up posts. 

I’ve always loved fashion, but with a mother who is an expert on sale-shopping, I’ve also always felt compelled to look for good deals when it comes to stylish clothes. Luckily, in New York City, there are lots of opportunities to shop thrift stores and outlets. I’m going to let you in on a few of my favorites. Don’t let them go to waste!

Buffalo Exchange – The chain of thrift shops is always reliable, but I particularly like the location on Boerum Place, in Cobble Hill, because it’s got a great high/low mix (above is a photo of the Marc Jacobs sunglasses I scored there last time). Things I’ve spotted/bought include items from Catherine Malandrino, Calvin Klein, Marc by Marc Jacobs, and Tracy Reese.

Chelsea Market – You’ll find sporadic sample sales at this awesome food hall, so stop by often to see what’s happening. Recent sales featured men’s and women’s outerwear, casual button-downs, and Pinkyotto.

Cure Thrift Shop – On 12th Street in the East Village near Union Square, this great bi-level store has a wide array of things for both men and women. My recent scores include: a Vince sweater and a Pink by Thomas Pink button-downs for women.

Gabay’s Outlet – Located on 1st Ave in the East Village, this is my ultimate NYC secret. One of the few independent outlets left, Gabay’s gets in goodies from Barney’s, Bergdorff’s, and more.  You’ll find Jimmy Choo shoes, men’s button-downs from John Varvatos, and lots of cashmere sweaters. Bring cash and you may be able to finagle a bit of a price break too.

Housing Works – My favorite location is the one on 17th Street in Manhattan, where you’ll find a wide array of clothes, as well as home goods. Keep an eye on things that haven’t yet been marked for sale, and show up early in the day to snag them.

Do you have any favorite thrifty places to shop for clothes? Leave a comment!

A Fantastic Thrifting Day

Yesterday, my friend Michelle and I checked out the Antiques Garage and then headed downtown. In my ten years of living in NYC, it was my first time going to this indoor flea market (I know, terrible!), and it was just as fantastic as I’d always imagined. We spotted vintage Oscar de la Renta, interesting baubles, and nudie pics from WWII. Although neither of us ended up getting anything, the experience definitely whetted my appetite for future visits.

In the meantime, as we headed downtown, I remembered a thrift store I’ve been meaning to visit. For two years, I lived down the street from this shop, but never stepped in. I’m glad we did this time. We stopped by Cure Thrift Shop, which was having a sale on housewares, but in addition, many clothing items were on sale. I don’t thrift for labels, but if you’re looking for brand name things, I spotted Catherine Malandrino, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Calvin Klein, and more. I ended up with a Pink by Thomas Pink button-down for about $9 and a Vince sweater for $5 (both on extra discount), as well as a cute summer top for $16.

I’d definitely recommend this place for fashion mavens on a budget.

I know. I know. It’s been awhile.

Sorry, readers, for not updating much this summer.

Between freelance work (check out my client Jodi’s new website), conferences like BlogHer, work, and life in general, I’ve been a bit bogged down.

I promise I’ll be posting a list of some of the cool things I discovered at BlogHer in the next few days though.

In the meantime, please go to Circle of Moms and vote for my friend Natalie Zee Drieu’s blog, Coquette Maman. With her great fashion sense, interesting point of view, and of course her adorable daughter (and dog!), she’s totally the kind of mom I want to be.

Fast Fridays: Get Your Favorite Clothing Tailored & How to Find a Good Tailor

Catherine Malandrino skirtIn the last year, my body has changed quite a bit. I don’t like to say that I’ve “lost weight”, because it’s not really true. Through weight training, I actually haven’t lost much weight at all (maybe a pound or two), but I have slimmed down a size or two. This is definitely a good thing, I think: I feel fitter; I eat better; I’m stronger. But it does create a little bit of a dilemma when it comes to my clothing collection. I love clothes, and there are some pieces in my collection that don’t simply have sentimental value, but are in fact, beautiful works of art, in and of themselves. To me, it’s important that you get your clothing tailored if they no longer fit correctly, because ill-fitting clothing makes you look messy and less physically fit.

Once you’v accepted that the only way to keep your favorite duds is to have them tailored to your new body, the next thing is to find a tailor. How does one do it?

Ten years before my grandmother passed away, I would have simply asked her to adjust them for me. As a professional seamstress, she had an incredible way with clothing, making things fit like magic, with a kind of art that made it difficult to tell if she had done anything at all. Without her, I have to rely on the magic of tailors who have skills like hers. In New York, there is no shortage of tailors, but it can be difficult to find one whose work you can trust.

Back in college, I relied on New York Magazine’s recommended list of tailors, but if you’re nowhere near one of these guys, here are some tips for finding a good tailor: ask your local boutiques or suit stores (they will often have relationships with tailors in the area–if they don’t have their own–who they can recommend); at the tailor’s, explain what it is you want done and then wait for questions (a good tailor will want to make sure to ask you specifics like what height heels you wear with your pants or whether you want a cuff); if you’re not sure what you want, make sure to ask for advice at the tailor’s (a good tailor will have opinions based on the cut of the garment and your body; he or she will have some specific advice); be sure that you have to put on the clothing item for the tailor to look at and mark while it’s on your body (if they don’t make you put it on…it’s a bad sign).

Any additional advice? Share your thoughts. 

What I’m Currently Working On: Silk/Linen Sleeveless Top

TopAwhile ago, I picked up some silk/linen blend (perfect for summer) for a stylish sleeveless top from my friend, Kristina McGowan‘s beautiful book. I’ve been planning on working on this project for months, but have only finally gotten my plan together for it this year.

With her simple, and intuitive design aesthetic, I know that it’s going to be a quick top to make, and I’m looking forward to wearing it for years to come.

If you’re looking for an addition to your crafting library, and you love wearable wardrobe pieces, I would highly recommend this book.

Bust Craftacular 2012: My Finds

This past Saturday, the Bust Craftacular took place in Soho. I headed down with Michelle to check it out and pick up some hand-crafted goodies. I picked up some “Magic Unicorn” salt (a paprika, lemon, sea salt blend) from Beautiful Briny Sea, along with a gorgeous little necklace from We See Stars.

I also saved cards from Super Great Greetings (seriously sassy greeting cards for the snarky urbanite), Jazz Brownies (boutique-y brownies presented like high-end chocolate truffles), and Zoa Chimerum (other-worldly, yet organic-looking jewelry) for future reference.

This is one of my favorite things about NYC: the abundance of markets for small crafts operations to show off their stuff. Be sure to keep on listings in Time Out or on Craft‘s website for events throughout the year.

Terrific on Tuesdays: Chinese Knots

In case you haven’t already noticed, this week is all about last-minute up-to-the-wire ideas for holiday gifting. Today’s ToT features a craft that can help you add that finishing touch to your gift and/or wrapping. When I was a kid, my mom had beautiful books of different kinds of arts and crafts, and I remember being so incredibly impressed with the intricacies of Chinese knots, which could look like geometric flowers, butterflies, and even Chinese characters. At Chinese camp (yes, I did that!), we learned how to make barrettes and necklaces using the most basic of these.

As an adult, I’ve found that it can be a nice way to finish off a cord for pendant. Many times, you purchase a pendant and it doesn’t come with a cord, but if you purchase some silk cording at your local fabric or jewelry store and use some double connection knots (the kind that allow the cord to slide back and forth for adjustability), you will have a nice gift immediately.

Shown is a cord for a pendant I bought at a craft fair, made of a piece of vintage lace, preserved in glass; the cord is tied with those connection knots. As you can see, it makes for a quick way to make your gift wearable right away, instead of making it a project for your recipient to find a cord on which to put it.

You can also use knots to create beautiful decorative ways to decorate your packages that can be turned into decorations or necklaces. Try a cloverleaf knot or a good luck knot. Tutorials abound online, with nice illustrations that have arrows indicating the weaving patterns, so Google away and get crafting!

Upcoming Event: Butter by Nadia Sale

New Yorkers, I want to share with you an upcoming sample sale that I’m excited about:

What: Butter by Nadia Sample Sale
When: July 30, 10 am – 6 pm; July 31, 11 am – 5 pm
Where: 405 Van Brunt Street (at corner of Van Dyke Street), Brooklyn
Why: Great deals on adorable, jersey clothing that’s comfortable and great for all sorts of different occasions. I highly recommend the Nina, Dara, and some of the pantsuits.
How: Cash only (Credit card minimum $250)

My Mom the Style Icon: The Golden Sandals

My mother has always been one of my biggest style influences. She’s the person who told me that pencil skirts suit me best. She’s been through bell-bottoms and baggy sweaters. She somehow has a knack of knowing which style trends are sticking around and which ones are just a flash in the pan. Basically, she’s a bit of a style guru, and she’s one of my favorite people to go shopping with.

Since it’s summer, my mom’s been wearing sandals a lot lately. The other day, when we were walking around Soho, she wore a particularly stylish pair of gold sandals. You might look at these sandals (right) and think to yourself that they were purchased recently–in fact, the sandals below are a pair I spotted in Kate Spade‘s Soho shop on our shopping excursion–but in fact, dear reader, my mother purchased them about 20 years ago from a Gucci sale.

What I love about this particular fact is that it goes to show you that styles really do cycle back, and what was old will serve as inspiration to new generations (perhaps because the new generations are influences by our mothers as style icons?). It also goes to show you that my mother’s belief that quality accessories will last you a lifetime is in fact true. My mother has belts, shoes, and purses that she’s collected through careful sale shopping (ah, to return to the days when outlets and sample sales truly provided a great opportunity to get in on some quality duds…) throughout the last few decades, and every once in awhile, she reminds me that someday those items will be mine and my future daughter’s. I like to think that we’ll put them to good use for another 20 years each.

Update: Because of the website reformat, I’ve lost some of the photos on the site including the ones that used to be above. 

Terrific on Tuesdays: Where NYC Fashionistas Go for Hats

Those who know me, know that I love a good accessory. I adore shoes, love a great purse, and truly relish a great piece of jewelry. In the blazing sun that’s currently upon our fair city though, my go-to accessory is a big sun hat.

That’s why this week’s pick is Artikal Millinery. For those of you who love accessories of the headgear persuasion, Artikal is a wonderful millinery studio based in Brooklyn that makes wonderful men’s and women’s hats. Sure, there are lots of sidewalk stands selling inexpensive hat options, but for the truly one-of-a-kind, worth-investing-in piece, you’ll want a well-made hat of high quality stock. This past winter, I bought a lovely hand-blocked felt hat for my mother that featured stylish pleating and a cloche silhouette. This summer, I’ve stopped at their Brooklyn Flea stand more than once as I peruse options among their straw hats. I’m sure I’ll pick one out soon.

If you’re in the NYC area, you can find Artikal at the Brooklyn Flea, as well as various major handmade fairs throughout the year. You can also find them online.

Happy hat hunting!

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