A note on photos (or lack thereof): my stupid iphone camera isn’t working, so I wasn’t able to take any pictures to accompany this post! You’re going to have to use your beautiful imaginations!
Yesterday, I found myself with an unexpected hour to kill. Normally, I’d dart into a coffee shop and do some work/writing/online time wasting, but my computer was having woes connecting to the internet and (blah blah blah, no one cares)…well, I didn’t. So if I couldn’t zone out in front of my computer, all that was left to do was spend money.
And for those of you who say I could have “gone for a walk” or “taken a nap” or any other sensible suggestion that doesn’t involve shopping…well, keep it to yourself. WE DON’T WANT YOUR SENSIBLE SUGGESTIONS HERE!
So I rolled up to Bombshell Vintage, my favorite vintage store in all the land. And today I am going to give you the play-by-play on my shopping trip. Are you ready? Good. Oh, and if shopping doesn’t interest you, that’s fine. Go read War and Peace or something.
Before we begin, I’m gonna take a moment to familiarize you with the RULES I follow when shopping. Don’t worry, these aren’t stupid, downer rules. They’re fun rules! Like safe words!
Rule 1: Know your budget. And then know your actual budget.
When I go shopping, particular when I go vintaging/thrifting, I have two figures in my head. The first is my budget. The second is my actual budget. The budget is what I’d like to play. The actual budget is what I can pay, and it’s to be used on those very special shopping trips where I find a lot of hidden treasures and want to sweep them all up. The actual budget is “how much can I spend before I’m financially irresponsible?”
Rule 2: Know what you could pair a piece with (that you already own) and a place where you can wear it.
There is nothing in my closet that I don’t wear. I don’t have dresses that sit, neglected, for years and years because they are never “appropriate.” Part of this is because I tend to wear whatever the sweet fuck I want without worrying about “appropriate,” but I also take steps to make sure I’m only filling my closet with things I’ll actually wear. So each time I try on an article, I must be able to think immediately of somewhere I could wear it and what I could wear it with.
Rule 3: One trip to the dressing room.
This is a time-saver. If it didn’t catch my eye on the first scan, I can probably live without it. Know that I will totally break this rule for the right thing.
Rule 4: In vintage shopping, there are no rules.
Armed with my rules and my budget ($50, with an actual budget of $100), I went in.
I knew immediately it was gonna be a good day. In under 10 minutes, I had my arms full of dresses and was heading to the dressing room. And it just got better.
I have a policy (NOT a rule, this is TOTALLY DIFFERENT) when it comes to looking at the prices of stuff I pull of the racks. Basically, I don’t. Look. At least not right away. I try things on blind and put them into three categories: Yes, No, and Under Consideration. The “Under Considerations” are pieces that need a second look, or are Yes contenders if I have cash to spare, or maybe need an extra minute to decide what I could wear them with or whatever. Once the dresses are sorted, I look at the price tags of my “Yes” and “Under Consideration” pieces and start making decisions.
Dress 1: Textured Elegance
Did I mention that I sometimes name the clothes I try on? It helps keep them straight in my mind. Dress 1 I called “Textured Elegance” because it’s textured and elegant. I’m very creative. It’s a 1960s cocktail-length black dress with fantastic quarter-length sleeves with a slight bell. It’s black with greenish-gold thread embellishment, and it’s textured. I put it on and immediately knew it was a keeper. It paired gorgeously with the patterned fishnets and blue metallic shoes I was already wearing. My hair was loose and wild, which added an unexpected quality to the look. Not only was I buying this dress, I was walking out of the store in it. I looked at my sad aubergine Nordstrom Rack dress that I wore in, now in a pile of the floor. Three years ago, it was a beloved staple of my “business” wardrobe. But all the good things must come to an end, and Aubergine Purple must step aside for the next generation of awesome clothes.
Dress Two: Textured Adorable
Another textured 1960s dress, but this one had adorable bows at the mid-thigh level. Fit like a dream. Closed my eyes and saw myself in this dress with colored tights and ankle booties with a badass updo, maybe at a dinner date or show. But…is it too much like the other dress? Need to think.
Category: Under Consideration
Dress Three: Laid Back Linen
A forties-style dress, but I’m thinking it’s actually from the 80s. A pale pink color with a blue and purple pattern. Light and comfortable, would work with flats and light, simple jewelry for the day-to-day. I LIKE this dress.
Dress Four: Eggplant
Gorgeous purple gown with lots of “flow” factor and puffy sleeves. All seems in order–the color is a dream–but…wait. It’s a little snug around the hips and ass. I know, suddenly, that I’ll never be able to sit down in this dress. Which means…
Dress Five: Sexy Dorothy
Mid-calf length blue gingham. Thick strappy sleeves and a lace detail at the neck with barely-noticeable (and perfect!) rhinestones. Paired with red shoes for funsies, or pink espadrilles for realsies. Maybe a Katniss braid. Dress SCREAMS to be work at a summer BBQ.
Dress Six: 70s Goddess
This dress is perfection. Black base with a crazy golden orange print, maybe a Pucci influence. It’s 70s and glam and fabulous–also deliciously sheer, which means its begging for a sexy black lace slip to go underneath. Strappy sandals. Huge gold jewelry. Where would I wear it? Where WOULDN’T I wear it? Fuck, I will pay ALL the money for this dress.
Category: Fuck yes.
Dresses Seven and Eight: Who cares, they were no’s.
So. I clearly had more YES dresses than I had money for. I said a sad goodbye to Textured Adorable and Sexy Dorothy.
Down to three. Time to look at some prices.
Textured Elegance is priced at $44, which is an effing miracle. I feel like I’m committing robbery. 70s Goddess is $42–but as we established, it’s cheap at any price. Laid Back Linen is a whopping $94–turns out it’s not forties-style, it’s actual 40s. A great dress, but out of my price range. So. I’m left with two great dresses for under my actual budget of $100. I’m ready to go. I leave the dressing room (leaving everything neatly hung, of course, because I’m not a terrible person) and head for the register.
BAM. Then it happens.
In the slips/lingerie section, I see it. A brightly colored, striped knee-length crinoline. It screams “carnival chic” and I want to weep from joy. I love anything that says “busted circus.” I’m drawn to this adorable crinoline like an old-timey fortune teller to a mark, and before I know what’s happening I’ve busted right over rule #3 and I’m back in the room. It looks a little small, but I try it on anyway and…
…it’s a dream.
Even though I’m standing in the dressing room wearing nothing but my stockings, shoes, bra and this divine slip (we’ll call it Circus Crinoline), that’s not what I see when I look in the mirror. I see myself dressed in this slip with fishnets and black ankle booties, paired with a black peekaboo tank blouse with a black shrug or jacket. Dangly earrings. Elaborate updo, maybe with a silly hair piece. It’s perfect. I carefully take the crinoline off and look at the price.
It’s more than I want to spend on a skirt–especially a skirt that’s technically underwear. It’ll take me over actual budget, because there’s no way in Hades I’m returning Textured Elegance or 70s Goddess. Should I do the right thing and follow my budget, or the wrong thing and follow Circus Crinoline and my dreams of looking like a tightrope-walker-circa-1910-who-scandalously-shows-her-calves?
But it’s a question that is no question. The Gods of Vintage Shopping are fickle, and you might make 5 bummer trips for every extraordinary trip. Grab the abundance while you can. Gather ye rosebuds while ye may! BUY THE DAMN FUCKING SKIRT!
So with purpose and direction I walked up to the counter. $126 seems a small price to pay to the Vintage Clothes Gods, and I offer myself (and my wallet) up willingly. It stings now, but how the sting will ease when I’m out in the world in my new/old clothes feeling all the joy such articles can bestow.
“I’ll take these three.”