Tag Archives: how-to

Thrifting Tips

17 Sep

These Thrifting Tips originally appeared last week on my column Vegan Vogue I write for I Eat Grass. If you haven’t stopped by I Eat Grass yet, be sure to do so!

{image credit: www.gingerandthegeek.com}

One of my absolute favorite ways to shop is thrifting. There are so many benefits to finding clothing and accessories second hand. It’s a great way to find really unique items that no one else has, a way to save money, and most importantly makes a global impact being you are purchasing second hand. It’s by far one of the most eco-friendly ways to shop.

When I was in high school, my favorite thrift store had a “bag sale” once a month. The way it would work is you’d bring a paper grocery bag, and as much as you could shove into it was only five dollars. While this was awesome and amazingly cheap, my mother wanted to kill me because my closet was packed to the gills. Plus I’d wind up mostly completely impractical items. A 1970’s mint green polyester mother of the bride dress gown sticks out in my mind as being my worst offender. Sure, I thought it was cool but where the hell was I going to wear it? I think I wore it for Halloween.

As a result of these realizations, through the years I’ve created a few rules I now follow when I thrift. If you are a novice thrifter who gets intimidated by the lack of curation in a thrift store, these tips should definitely help your next thrifting experience.

{image credit: www.sammydvintage.com}

Always Thrift With a Plan

I never, ever step foot into a thrift store without a basic idea of items I’m looking for. In general, after I clean out my closet (you can find my tutorial on how to do so here) I’ll create a shopping list of items I either need to replace, or would like to add to my wardrobe based on trends currently in season.

Believe it or not, it’s totally viable to shop current trends second-hand. A great example right now is the fall 2012 color of the season, oxblood (basically, a deep maroon). If you wanted to participate in this trend, you just add “anything oxblood” as a bullet point on your shopping list.

Never, ever step into a thrift store without this list. You’ll just wind up with a lot of cool yet impractical items you’ll never wear. You don’t need a 1970’s polyester gown.

Start Pulling

Once you’ve arrived at the thrift store armed with your list, attack the racks and start pulling items that meet the requirements of what you listed. Need a new blazer? Pull a few options. A pair of red pants? Look and pull those. You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to find what’s on your list, because you are specifically looking for them. It makes the unorganized racks of a thrift store much more manageable. I’ll never forget last August when I stepped into a Goodwill with red skinny jeans being on the top of my list. Upon five minutes of searching the racks, I miraculously found a perfect, brand new pair that fit me like a glove. They were only $6.

Even if the item is a size or two larger than you usually wear, I suggest pulling it at this stage. You can always get it altered and it still would only cost a fraction of what it would new, but be custom fit.

While having the list is important, it’s not 100% necessary to follow it to the letter. If you spot something you love, still pull it. This especially goes for things that suit your “trademark” looks, or “completer” pieces we often forget to shop for, like vests, cardigan sweaters or blazers. For me, if I spot anything leopard I always grab it. Anyone who follows my blog knows I have way more leopard in my closet than I know what to do with. Thrifting after all should be fun and the thrill of the hunt is part of the experience!

One important tip is to only pull the number of items you can bring into the dressing room at a time. It always sucks having to leave half of what you pulled on another rack only to come out and find another thrifter snagged them while you were trying stuff on (because they were no longer buried in the racks among mom jeans and easy to find). I’ll usually do multiple pulls and dressing room shifts until I feel I’ve exhausted the thrift store’s inventory for what I’m looking for.

{image credit: www.sheilaephemera.blogspot.com}

Try On Your Finds

Now it’s time to try on your garments. While doing this, inspect the item for damage, as well as give it a good smell. Always keep the following in mind:

  • Does it fit perfectly? And if not is it something a tailor can easily alter for you? This is why I suggested even pulling a size or so larger. If a pair of jeans for example costs you $5 at a thrift store and will cost you $20 to get altered, you’ll have a pair of jeans that fit you like a glove and look like you spent 4 times what you actually did on them.
  • Does the color look good on you. If not, pass. This goes for all shopping, not just thrifting, and should be followed regardless of trend.
  • Does it smell overwhelmingly musty? If so, pass. No amount of washings and dry cleaning will get rid of that.
  • Is it damaged? And if so are you willing to get it mended, and would it justify the cost to do so?
  • Will it work with at least two other items you already own? Again, this goes for standard shopping as well as thrifting.

{image credit: www.thesaged.com}

Following this plan will not only make your next thrifting experience more productive, but more enjoyable. If you are a thrifting virgin, also keep the following in mind.

  • When selecting a thrift store to target, consider the neighborhood the store is located. If your goal is to find quality mainstream items, target stores in affluent neighborhoods. For example, my favorite place to thrift in New York City is the Upper East Side. If you are looking for vintage or unique finds, the more rural you go the better.
  • Be prepared to have to dig in a thrift store. Garments usually are not organized. You may get lucky and find a store that’s organized by either garment type or color, but most are not. This is why you go in with the list, it makes it easier to manage.
  • If you can, bring a friend. It’s always better to have a second opinion while trying on your pulls. It also helps to have someone who can stay with your finds while you try stuff on to avoid other shoppers poaching. Plus it’s always more fun to shop with friends!

Are you a thrifter? Please share your tips in the comments!

Vegan Vogue is a lifestyle and style column focusing on all things in vogue and vegan. More tips from Corrie Feld can be found at her website Brooklyn Bliss. Follow her on Twitter @CorrieFeld


How to Clean Out Your Closet

20 Aug

Closet Cleanout Aug 2011

I usually try to clean out my closet around February and August of each year. Living in a small NYC apartment, I wish I had more room for clothes and accessories than I do but I make do. If anything, it really makes me analyze what items I really love, and purge out anything I’m meh about.

Here’s how I usually go about doing it.

Assess Your Inventory

First i do a general assessment of what I have. This involves taking everything OUT of the closet. This may seem a bit overkill, but trust me it works. It’s a great way to find items you forgot you have! While doing this quick assessment, it’s a great opportunity to filter out some items quickly based on the following.

  • Do you like it? If you don’t absolutely adore it, get rid of it. Otherwise it’s just taking up valuable real estate in your closet. Put it in a “to be donated” bag.
  • Is it damaged, and if so is can it be repaired? Rips and tears are easy for a seamstress to fix. For wear and tear on shoes and handbags, your local cobbler can usually handle those. Put those in an “alterations” bag. Anything with serious damage that you do not want to invest in bringing back to life, trash.
  • Have you worn it recently? If you haven’t worn it within the last year, chances are you never will. Granted it’s not damaged, put it in the “to be donated” bag. If it is, toss that sucker in the trash.

After your assessment, you should have your wardrobe inventory divided up into four categories, Potentials to Keep, Alterations, To Donate, and To Trash.

Try On Your Inventory

It’s now time to try on everything in your potential keeper pile. Look in a full length mirror, and enlist the help of a very honest friend, family member or significant other. Honesty is key! Lots of times what we think looks awesome on us actually doesn’t, so you’ll need this honest feedback to further whittle down your selection. If A piece is maybe a little large or needs a few tweaks to fit perfect, add it to the alterations pile. If it looks horrible on you beyond repair, to the donation pile it should go.

Once you’ve tried on everything in the keeper pile, then it’s time to move onto the alterations pile (the ones you haven’t tried on yet) and repeat the process. That way you can determine any addition alterations that need to be made in addition to the standard repairs. This is also a great time to get creative. Have a blazer with a hole in the elbow? Instead of patching it, how about removing the arms altogether and turning it into a vest. Have a maxi dress that shrunk in the wash? Have it hemmed into a knee-length dress. The possibilities are endless.

Office shot

Create Your Shopping List

This is the fun part! Now that you’ve fully assessed what you have, now it’s time to see what you need to either replace or add to your wardrobe to bring it up to date for the season. I always give priority to my basic and classic pieces, prior to listing trendy items. For example, my trench coat is now several years old and starting to show some wear, so I added it to my donation pile and have added a new trench to my shopping list. Making a list also helps you really analyze your budget so you can realistically prioritize what’s important so you don’t go on a buck wild shopping spree.

Another great way to extend your budget is to turn your unwanted items into shopping cash. To learn more on how to do that, check out my Transitioning to a Cruelty Free Wardrobe post.

Do you clean out your wardrobe regularly? Please share your tips!

Ridiculously Easy Notebook Cover DIY

13 Aug

Notebook Cover DIY

This is seriously the easiest DIY project ever. It’s almost cheating.

Ridiculously Easy Notebook Cover DIY

I’ve been a big fan of Rollabind notebooks for years. As I’ve may have mentioned on this blog, I’m horrendously OCD, especially with paperwork. As a result I can’t stand having old notes in a notebook. The Rollabind works great for me being you can easily pull pages out and reorganize them. It’s like if a spiral and ring binder notebook had a baby.

Only problem was my Rollabind I use for work was fugly. Vegan friendly, but very very fugly.

Ridiculously Easy Notebook Cover DIY

I came across these duck tape sheets at Staples and thought, “Wow! Those are cool!
I love zebra. What could I use these for?” and quickly remembered my ugly notebook. I picked them up for $2 each and had the project done in less than 5 minutes.

Ridiculously Easy Notebook Cover DIY

The first thing you do is measure the size of the cover. I did mine up to the stitching on the seams being my notebook has a padded cover.

Ridiculously Easy Notebook Cover DIY

Next, you draw on the back of each sheet of duct tape the dimensions. Then you cut it out.

Ridiculously Easy Notebook Cover DIY

Then you peel the backing off the sticker, apply it to the cover…

Ridiculously Easy Notebook Cover DIY

And voila! No more fugly notebook!

Repeat the process with the second sheet and back cover of the notebook and you’re done.

Ridiculously Easy Notebook Cover DIY

Nice part about this DIY is if you get sick of the pattern, you can just peel it off with no damage to the book.

How To / Pack for a Trip

12 Jul

Packing Tutorial

I packed for my entire 4 day trip to Boston in this small overnight bag.

Having traveled so much on business, I’ve created a pretty fool-proof method for packing, and this is how I do it.

First, make a quick chart of all the days you’ll be away. I usually divide mine up so I have a box for day time, and evening. From there, fill it out with the activity you plan on doing during that time on that day. Reason I divide it up day/evening is because usually if you’re going out in the evening, it requires you to be a bit more dressed up than what you’d wear during the day, though this may not apply to you. Here was my general itinerary for my vacation to Boston.

  Wed Thurs Fri Sat
Day Travel to Boston Freedom Trail- Explore City Museum of Fine Art Fenway Tour
Evening Dinner/Drinks Dinner/Drinks Dinner/Drinks Travel to NY
Bonus Outfit: Pool

After you figure out what you’ll be doing, then start to fill out another similar grid, making outfits from items you have. The goal is to be creative, and use the items multiple ways just changing things up via accessories. Here’s what I came up with for my trip.

Wed Thurs Fri Sat
Day White Blouse,
Denim Shorts,
Neon Sandals,
Army Jacket,
Red, White and Blue Bandana,
White Fedora,
B&W Colorblock Tote
Black Maxi Dress,
Neon Sandals,
Army Jacket,
White Fedora,
B&W Colorblock Tote,
Tribal Maxi,
Skinny Belt,
Neon Sandals,
Army Jacket,
White Fedora,
B&W Colorblock Tote
Tee or Tank,
Neon Sandals,
Army Jacket,
White Fedora,
B&W Colorblock Tote,
Evening White Blouse,
Neon Blazer- if it’s chilly,
Black Zara Heels,
Black Maxi Dress,
Neon Blazer- if it’s chilly,
Zara Heels,
Leopard Blouse,
Neon Blazer- if it’s chilly,
Zara Heels,
Same as day.
Pool Outfit: Black Bikini, Leopard Blouse (as cover-up), Neon Sandals



A few quick tips:

  • Wear bulkier items, like jeans, boots, scarves, jackets, hats etc so they don’t take up room in your suitcase.
  • Bring only footwear suited to what you’ll be doing, and make it work with everything you’re wearing. I’ll usually do one pair of hybrid casual/dressy heels (wedges are great for this), one pair of flats (like sandals, loafers or chucks), and my workout sneakers for when I hit up the hotel gym. If I’m going to a wedding or a more formal event, I’ll pack appropriate heels for that but only if necessary. Same goes for business trips, if I’m on a business trip I’ll go for pumps and not wedges.
  • When given a choice, I always pack the dressier version on items I may have multiples of at home. For example, I’ll choose my black jeans over blue. That way they work for casual daytime activities, but are also dressy enough I can wear them someplace fancy in the evening if need be.
  • Include handbags and accessories in your outfit ideas. This makes it easier to create different outfits using the same items you already know you’re bringing.
  • Keep your main clothing items, like tees, pants, shorts etc. neutral (black, gray, white, beige, etc) and add color with jackets, scarves and accessories. That way everything matches. Try to keep a consistent color theme with what you pack. In my Boston trip example, my colors are black and white as my basics, and I accent it with gray, neon yellow, leopard, B&W stripes, hot pink and metallics.
  • Don’t be afraid to wear the same thing multiple times. It’s super easy nowadays to wash and air dry certain items in the bathroom sink. Jersey is great for this. Plus things like jeans can be worn multiple times before washing anyway.

After your grid is filled out, then it’s easy to just list all the items you used to put your outfits together. Looking at all these items, I can think of another 4-5 outfits easy I can make out of these, so I at least have other options should I not want to wear exactly what I charted out above.


Packing Tutorial
Packing Tutorial
Packing Tutorial
Packing Tutorial
  • White Blouse- worn on the trip there
  • Denim Shorts- worn on the trip there
  • Neon Sandals- worn on the trip there
  • Red, White and Blue Bandana- worn on the trip there
  • White Fedora
  • Jeans
  • Black Zara Heels
  • Black Maxi Dress
  • Tribal Maxi Dress
  • Skinny Belt
  • Striped Tank
  • Black/White Tanks
  • Army Jacket
  • Neon Blazer
  • Black Bathing Suit
  • Leopard Blouse
  • Socks
  • Bras & Underwear (7 pair)
  • PJ’s


Packing Tutorial
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Curl Cream/Gel
  • Razor
  • Shaving Lotion
  • Shower Cap
  • Hair Towel
  • Face Wash
  • Medications
  • Hair Clips
  • Bobby Pins
  • Headbands
  • Blow dryer and attachments
  • Straightening Iron
  • Comb
  • Deodorant
  • Makeup Bag
Another great time saver that I do for toiletries is a keep a quart size (TSA Approved) toiletry bag packed at all times.  That way if I need to hit the road quick, I don’t have to worry if I forgot my shampoo.  It includes travel sizes of all my usual products, sample sizes of medication creams, an extra razor and shower cap.  When I return home from a trip, I refill everything so it’s ready to go next trip.

Carry On

  • iPhone and Charger
  • Headphones
  • iPad and Charger
  • Camera and Charger
  • Wallet
  • ID
  • Sunglasses
  • Tissues
  • Snacks
  • Water Bottle

All in all, using the process above I was able to easily figure out 7 outfits plus alternate options using only 17 items (most of which are smaller accessories that take up no suitcase room and many of which I’m wearing on the travel to and from my destination). The only other items you really need to add from there are PJ’s, toiletries, under-things and workout gear.

Here’s a few more tips to make packing a breeze:

  • Keep a standard list of everything I you need as far as toiletries, basic clothing needs (under-things, PJ’s, workout clothes), necessary electronics (iPhone/charger) and documentation (wallet, ID, keys, etc).  I keep mine in Evernote so each time I need to pack, all those items are already on the list for me. Then all I have to do is figure out my clothing for whatever activities I’m doing and I’m good to go. The less I have to think about, the better. I even include on this list a section for pet needs if the pets are coming with me, because it’s easier to delete that if it doesn’t pertain to my trip, instead of last-minute needing to remember what I should bring for them.
  • When finally packing your bag, always remember to roll your clothes, never fold them!  Rolling clothes helps prevent wrinkles, plus you can fit way more stuff in your bag than with standard folding.
  • Also, always remember to leave a little extra room in your bag.   You know, just in case you go shopping.

This system took me years to perfect, and it works super well for me. Stay tuned for additional posts of my Boston trip so you can see how I put these items together for the outfits I wore on the trip.  You can also see a few photos I posted of them to Instagram, my handle is @BrooklynBliss.

Since I’m always looking to be even more efficient at everything I do (bad habit), I’d love to hear your tips! Please comment and share them.

How do you pack?