How to get a good Middy haircut or baby or any you wish

This image is a little crooked but we can’t complain, just thank the wonderful gal who uploaded this gem of a book. Thank you wherever you are.  Okay so as you may know I attend cosmetology school. I’m also mildly obsessed with vintage hairstyles, fashion, and makeup.  I’m hoping that with the combination of my interests I could help someone out in obtaining the perfect haircut for recreating vintage looks. These tips could actually be used by anyone who wants a little help in communicating with a stylist. Lack of communication is the biggest hurdle in not getting the cut a client desires. The breakdown can be either in expression or listening. Second biggest problem I’ve seen is clients wanting a hairstyle not a cut. I don’t know how many times I see a client bring a photo of a hairstyle they’d like in and they have the same haircut as the picture is either styled different, or the cut is just shown on a woman with a different hair texture or fullness.  We have a book for clients to choose from, they choose a photo, we’ll try to show them a photo of the same haircut(book shows several women with the same cut) on a woman with similar hair too them. More often than not they’ll say yes but I like this cut better of something similar.  This problem is NOT exclusive to the clients. A classmate of mine wanted to go short. When we had a guest stylist he needed a model, she jumped at the chance. He only cut her hair. The next day she mentioned to me she was leaving early to get her hair done by her own stylist, showed me a picture of Halle Berry. She had the exact same cut! Halle has a natural curl, and she doesn’t. I said to her “You already have that cut, you just need to curl that way”. I also hear classmate who trained and know how to cut, have a hard time understanding what a client is asking for. The multiple name for cuts and angles etc can very easily mean one thing to a stylist and another to a client.

Okay so what can you do? Obviously a photo is a great help. If the photo is showing a cut highly styled, ask the stylist how to style the hair.  Any good stylist can give you any haircut regardless of period.  There are only four haircuts(without going into barbering for men). All haircuts whether it was the middy in 1940, or the Dorothy Hammil in the 1970’s, or todays “lob” are one of these four cuts or a combination of them.  Words and phrases that are direct and technical( you know them already, blunt cut, layered, angled, longer, shorter, etc) are much more helpful to your stylist than adjectives( feathery, lighter, swingy) that can be interpreted differently. Do you want a lot of slightly layered hair or a lot in the front less in the back? Where do you want your first layer to start? Where would you like to length to end? Bangs or no Bangs? If bangs coming to where? Do you want the ends or perimeter angled any way?  How deep of an angle? These are questions that if not asked you should give the answer to.

Okay so you want the Middy haircut. A picture of  glamour queen gorgeous set waves cascading behind her while never hurting may not be that helpful to the stylist. The hair was set to look smooth and wavy so layers while there aren’t clearly evident.  The middy is whats known today as a uniform layer cut, the top cut planar or square like a classic men’s cut not blended as we do now,  with a bit of an exaggerated U shape in back. Any hair pulled out would measure the same or very close to the same length. Classic Middy is 4 inches. So almost every head of hair is cut four inches. Also the top is cut planar or “square like a mans” (when explaining to stylist) Take a ruler and decide if you want to go this short. Then the perimiter is blended into a U. The Middy Plus is same haircut 4 1/2 inches, and on to what’s called the femme fatale which is 6 inches all over.  So for any of these haircuts of longer or shorter versions, you’d tell your stylist I want a uniform layer haircut blank inches all over, and blend the back into a U-shape.  Say you want Middy plus in front femme fatale in back. Tell them you want 4 1/2 inch layers in front 6 inch layers in back. Femme fatale in front, not so many layers in back? 6 inch layers in front, long layers in back, again u shaped perimeter. Of course if you want bangs, show them where you’d like them to end, and about how much hair you want to be bang.  These haircuts were not thinned so ask the stylist to use shears not a razor and unless you want otherwise, not to use thinning shears.  Also layer haircuts back then were cut horizontally. Today layer cuts are cut both vertically and horizontally. If you’d like your cut as authentic as possible ask your stylist if he/she could cut your layers horizontally. Explain your vintage look wishes as most stylists today believe vertical layers best.

Summary, using clear and concise language will help you get the haircut you want.


I think this post is a bit word heavy.  Here’s the cliff notes to get a Middy.

Ask for a uniform(technically not a uniform because with the square top and u shape but this is the start point) layer cut ___ inches long cut planar on top or square like a mans cut. Ask to have the perimeter blended into a U shape with a bit longer length in the nape area so that the longest length would be 1/2 (yours may be more) longer than the rest.

Ask your stylist if he or she will cut horizontal layers. Explaining your reasoning will help.

Published in: on October 8, 2010 at 2:22 pm  Comments (4)  
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Vintage Clothes. ooh that smell

I had to jazz up a bit of a boring topic, didn’t I?Anyone who buys vintage clothes or comes in contact with old fabrics of any kind, knows they can be a little or more than a little musty. The smell is often difficult to remove with regular washing methods. Allowing the item to sit in sunlight for days is a great help as we all know. I’ve found that using a homemade detergent seems to work better at sweetening than store bought.  There are many recipes on the net for making your own detergent most a combination of pure soap, borax and washing soda, to make liquid water is added. This makes a pure, fragrance fee, laundry soap that’s safe, effective and economical.  I make and use it for fine washables. But I have a family and I’ve found that absolutely nothing cleans better than Tide.  Being the thrifty gal I am, I always have coupons and stock up on sales.  I tried the basic homemade detergent/ sunlight on vintage finds and I found it lacking in removing all the odor. So I played around with things and I came up with a formula that works great. It’s especially effective if soaked overnight  providing you’re pretty sure the garment can handle it.Also it doesn’t require the investment  borax if you don’t normally buy it.

Recipe as follows

1/2  bar laundry soap(Zote, Fels-Naptha, Octagone) OR  1/3 cup liquid castile soap. I use Zote because it’s sold locally for .79 and it smells of citronella which I associate with clean(that’s just me).

1 cup BAKING soda

1 cup Washing Soda (arm and hammer in the laundry isle)

1 cup Vinegar

A few drops essential oil(lavender, tea tree, orange, lemon any you think of as clean)

Grate the soap if using bar, as fine as you can. Mix in the sodas. Then add the vinegar  a little at a time. Last the oil.  You will think this is going to be a paste but with a bit of mixing out the lumps, will become a powder. This will keep in a covered container for a few months at least. I’ve always used it up before.

I boil a big ass stockpot of water then pour into paint bucket. I add in a bit of this(honestly I don’t measure, I just shake it in, probably equals about a tablespoon). I swish it around with a rubber glove on. I will swish it around  again occasionally. Soak overnight.

Rinse well, wring gently and lay in the sun.

Note the remaining 1/2 bar that’s still solid is a great stain pre treat. It’s also used for dish washing.

To further remove smells, use a store bought or homemade linen spray and iron thoroughly. The heat from the iron sort of sears the spray into the fabric.

Use Mrs Stuarts Bluing to brighten light colors instead of bleach.

Published in: on October 7, 2010 at 11:31 am  Leave a Comment  
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This is not a post about make up

So my fingers were crossed while typing that title, forgive me. Last week I did a post about wearing less makeup. I’m certainly not trying to critique anyone and of course it’s just my opinion. It had  to do with my personal view of what’s beautiful, which differs greatly than the beauty machine tells me. A perfectly made up face and hair are pretty and inspiring and I like to look yes but they’re not beautiful to me. Marilyn Monroe’s beauty fascinates me but more so in her slightly less than perfect photos. Hair messy, less makeup and posed. Even in the later ones with the heavy lidded bloodshot eyes, and such. I am touched by her. She was physically beautiful yes but part of  the fascination is seeing imperfection and relating to it. We are not perfect, our little imperfections inside and out are what makes us uniquely beautiful. I know I may sound really sappy and cliched right now but whatever.  So I have an entirely different opinion of beauty than the rarely attainable version shoved down my throat presented to me daily. There’s much to love about makeup and adornment is part of our nature. There’s also much to well not love. Besides the predatory advertising preying on our insecurities ,there’s  how it can become not only a crutch but a hinderance. It did for me anyway. When I was younger and wore a full perfect face everyday I felt like their were two me’s. The made up “on” me and the “real” me. Certain people were only allowed to see the “on”me. So while it was easy to seduce( not neccesarily sexually, just gain peoples interest) people in full peacock,smelling good, mode, it doesn’t make for successful relationships. I didn’t understand what I was doing wrong or even what I was doing until I entered a relationship with a man who forced me to let  go. He’d break into the bathroom and tell me I was pretty bare faced, he’d force me to go out in sweats with dirty slapped in a ponytail hair and talk with people. I will always love him for that and  million other things even though our relationship ended. I know I am not the only woman whose gone through something similar.I watched my neighbors and good friend’s daughter who is like a child of my own to me go through it. Thank goodness it’s over.

Oh yeah, this is/is not a post about makeup. Whenever I do a post with the word makeup I get morethantwo tons of views.  That intrigued me.I want to see what this title does. Is make up a simple common denominator for women? The human ritual of self adornment and whatnot.   Made me think.  Then I read it was No Makeup Week.  Was that why I was thinking about make up so much? The universe vibes? I headed over to  read. I did miss participating, but there was so many great thoughts, it didn’t matter.  I don’t remember who wrote it or the exact wording but a smart gal questioned when makeup is no longer a choice.Please head over to Rabbit Writes and read about it if you haven’t already , maybe you’ll want to participate next year. I know I will.


Published in: on October 6, 2010 at 1:44 pm  Comments (3)  

Blondie or Red Bull?

Okay so today was my first sweater and boot day of the season. Of course I wore my new(end of last season) boots from warehouse deals.  The start of cold weather for me is so comforting. The ritual of taking out the sweaters and boots, longer nights at home with my family, the smells, baking and comfort foods.  My daughter said to me yesterday, “ooh, it’s cold out, Mom’s gonna be making Blondies”. I love Blondies and make them all the time. In fact I make them so much, my family actually complained for lack of variety. It’s funny because besides ice cream, I don’t have much of a sweet tooth at all.  These however are the exception. I could eat these everyday and never get tired of them.

I’ve decided to do an occasional recipe post. Some will be vintage classics , most will be  family recipes for today’s lifestyle. I’d love it if I had the time and money to devote to preparing tons of new and different dishes for my family. It takes more than a little to run a great efficient kitchen. It takes a lot, keeping scraps for broth, planning meals so any ingredients bought and leftovers  are used and not wasted etc.  I do as best I can with our schedule and budget.  So I thought an occasional family recipe that’s either really good, really easy or beyond the everyday family fare would be nice. This one falls under really good and will help slip you safely past that “fat time of day”


4 sticks of BUTTER real whole butter at room temperature

1 1/2 cups white sugar

1 1/2 cups firm packed dark brown sugar

4 eggs

2 tablespoons vanilla extract

4 1/2 cups of flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 375

Optional add ins: nuts of all kinds, white chocolate chips, coconut, marshmallows, peanut butter chips.

Dry mix flour, salt, and soda.

In a separate bowl mix the butter and sugars with an electric mixer. Once they’re creamed add in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each.  Add the vanilla to the bowl when you add the last egg.

Add the dry mixture to the bowl a bit at a time( only if you want to avoid the homicide of your mixer and a possible fire, trust me).

I bake in a 9 x 13 pan. They take about 45 minutes to an hour before the knife is clean when inserted in the center. I’m sure cooking in a thin layer would decrease the cooking time quite a bit if you’d like.

If you see the edges starting to brown too much, cover with aluminum foil. In only had to do this once, not sure what was different that day.


Published in: on October 5, 2010 at 11:34 am  Leave a Comment  
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Great retro shoes and more! Affordable too!

All you younger vintage loving gals . I am going to give you a shopping tip for a company you’ve been exposed too, but I can bet never shopped. You’ve more than likely gotten a catalog from them. But you’ve never shopped there. They carry items you wear everyday, classic perfumes and modern as well.  they carry makeup from stila, bobbi brown, elizabeth arden, estee lauder, prescriptives I even saw a lone mac lipstick.Cheap, too.  But I still would be willing to bet you’ve never ordered from them or been on their website.

Yeah right, you say. Come on lets here it, so I can prove you wrong, you’re thinking.


Okay you haven’t shopped there. You might be saying I’ve never even heard of the, I don’t get their catalog. You know that catalog you may have seen that you probably dismiss as being for old people? The pull on elastic waist pants, velcro comfort shoe,  diabetic socks one, as seen on tv one. . That’s the one.  So yes their main market is AARP card carrying folks. But what that means is they  carry styles to appeal to this market. Mary Janes, T-straps, skimmers, etc in a lower heel. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want every shoe I have to be 4 or five inches. I never wear them.   They carry classic white keds and the classic espadrille. Extended sizes to boot.Cheap too.

They carry lots of classic, modest undergarments. I even got  high waist panties to go with my high waist trousers. Still waiting on that perfect skirt to come my way.

They carry classic scents like L’air du temps, shalimar, and royal secret as well as many top designer scents form today in addition to the makeup I mentioned.  Check the clearance outlet for choices starting at only $1.

They also have the standard house dresses, dusters , and the  comfort clothing you’d expect.  But have an open mind and take a look around. You may just end up placing an order.I did. I got some grey flannel cologne for my husband( that scent makes me weak at the knees), a lipstick set by prescriptives, the shoes above in dark gray $24.99!, my daughter a little pair of suede booties,  and the high waist panties. I spent around $50 with shipping! You can’t beat that with a stick!

Published in: on October 4, 2010 at 2:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

My new favorite blog

Sometimes we find old pictures of our moms posing suggestively with strange men

Excerpt from the post to this picture. And yes that is Mickey Hartigay husband of Jayne Mansfield father to Mariska. This blog is reader submitted photos of their moms style. The majority of them don’t have a celeb like this one, but they rock just the same. I even added this site to my blog roll.

I love it!!!!!!!

Published in: on October 1, 2010 at 3:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

Authentic 1920’s Hair and Makeup how to or flapper hair and makeup if you must

I know the first flick doesn’t really showcase period hair and makeup exceptionally well I simply love it.


I dressing as a flapper this Halloween. Cliched and overdone I know but I have an amazing 20’s dress that’s perfection for the look.  My life is such that I rarely get occasion to wear it, so I’m taking it whereI can get it. My bosses are kind of Halloween freaks, its a big deal at my company, there’s even cash prizes to be won.And the opportunity to wear thigh high silk stockings and a garter to work?I’m in. Quick note, in order to keep from looking like a tramp shoes need to be a solid looking. T-strap preferred, heel no higher than 2 or 3 inches.

Though I’m fairly well studied in period styles, I decided to check the net for some how to’s and such. Believe me when I tell you there’s not a lot of useful info out there. Most guides are not authentic(false lashes,hello-they were not available) , in addition to not being authentic, so many were waay overdone. Three shades of blue eyeshadow, I don’t think so. Or the women just ended up looking a bit too costumey and clownish. No thank you.

Quick and easy is hair.  Of course with my hair length I’m doing fingerwaves. You could also buy the cheap generic “flapper” costume wig. Not all women, not all flappers even, wore finger waves or had bobbed hair for that matter. The first image above give awesome authentic hair ideas outside of the old headband with feather. Several look fairly easy to make. Image numbers 7 and 12 show easy options for long hair.  Be sure to use shine product. 1920’s hair was rarely natural.  It was super shiny, often plastered to the head with product think Josephine Baker, if you want to be wowed,watch the entire video. It is phenomenal.  Spit curls always welcome.

On to the makeup…..


Greasepaint type foundation and powder were all that were available. I don’t want to be that authentic. What’s needed is an opaque creamy base. Flawless and pale is the look. Dust with loose powder to set.


Rouge was red toned. Shades of berry, rose, or coral are all appropriate. Creme is more authentic, but use what you have or use lipstick as so many women did. Resist your urge to blend up and out. Color should be applied to the apples only, sometimes applied in an obvious circle and left alone. It’s kind of cute.


Super thin even to the point of shaved off, penciled on brows was a popular look.  But not everyone wore them.Louise Brooks wore a much more natural brow. If you want the thin brow look you could buy silicone makeup to hide your brows. Or easy and cheaper.. Apply a coat of childrens glue stick over your natural brows. Let dry. Cover with concealer and powder. Draw a very thin line sloping downwards. You could also use a bought stencil. Elf cosmetics sells a set for $1.


Eyeshadow.  Frequently used was just the kohl eyeliner smudged over entire lid with petroleum jelly. Grays and browns were used mostly, although green and turquoise were available as well.  What’s most important is using ONE color only. You can apply to lid only or blend all the up to brows either look is authentic.


This is super easy. Eyes are rimmed both top and bottom. This can be as thin or thick as you like, both are authentic.Also used was shadow as liner, or smudging the kohl, like a smoky eye today. No winged corners though.


Falsies were not used. Mascara was available only in wax based cake form. This is one area, I say go the modern way. Apply your favorite mascara to both  top and bottom lashes.


Please refrain from the urge to do a cartoonish strong bow, no corners look. It’s rarely attractive and I see few pictures of anyone wearing it in a serious manner. It worked for Clara Bow and a few others, that about it.  Just as authentic and certainly more attractive is a highly defined cupid bow and a thinner elongated shape. Matte color only.Red preferred.  Not that red is the only authentic color but come on, pounce whenever you can on the chance to do a fierce redvamp lip.

Beauty Mark

Optional but how fun is it to wear. Picture a triangle with one corner being the tip of your nose the other the corner of your lip. The third corner is where your beauty mark should go. I’m totally kidding, I read that somewhere, Draw one wherever you like.

Update: if you look at photos of film stars and such of women in the 1920’s they really aren’t wearing as much makeup as they’re depicted now.

The Great Sufate Debate

Okay so it’s not that great of a debate, but hey it rhymed.  Lately it seems you can’t go anywhere(anywhere with shampoo ads or beauty info) without hearing the phrase “sulfate-free”. There is also a movement of folks who not only avoid shampoo with sulfates, they avoid shampoo altogether.  These folks ( majority have curly hair in varying degrees, ) believe that the culprit of their hair woes-typically dry scalp and hair, frizz, breakage, etc was the fact that they cleansed their hair and scalp with shampoo.  Instead of conditioner, hair is cleansed with hair conditioner or a sulfate free shampoo. Hard to remove silicones are avoided.

What is a a sulfate? With regards to cosmetics and this discussion, it’s a surfactant detergent. Before detergents became widely available to the public, people washed their hair with soap. Soap cleans well but the ph level is mildly alkaline, hair’s(technically not a liquid) ph is mildly acidic.  Most folk used collected rain water(acidic) to wash, this sort of balanced it out,, they also boiled the soap with water, herbs, anything to lower the ph. These were early shampoos. In the 1930’s modern shampoo with synthetic detergents was introduced.  Considering the fact that more and more people were now using treated public water, I’m sure it was revolutionary(as revolutionary as a cosmetic can be).

With business being what it is, most makers of shampoo used the cheapest detergents they could(sulfates). Levels varied among brands. Ph levels as well.   Upon hearing many mothers  still used soap to wash their child’s hair because shampoo stings the eyes, they came out with baby shampoo, which use  milder detergents than sulfates.  The beauty industry used the same formulation and marketed these products to women who colored or permed their hair as “non-stripping”.

So fast forward to today. We live a catch word crazed society.  A weight loss diet comes out claiming results if you cut out carbs, suddenly the mainstay of the worlds diet forever is bad for you.  Rumours fly around about this causes cancer, you should use this lotion it has “all natural” ingredients.

Okay so back to shampoo. more women than ever color their hair, use products that build up, heat style etc. In short we overwash and chemically and physically damage our hair.  Hair color that is labeled “permanent” fades. What can we do to keep our hair healthy, keep our color from fading?  Stop overwashing, overstyling,overprocessing our hair. That can’t be it, there’s no money to be made, and we need to look the models in the magazines.  It’s got to be the shampoo we’re using,  that’s it. The detergents in our shampoo are ruining our color and the health of our hair.

There have been NO studies to prove, hair color fades any less with sulfate free shampoos. Think of hair like a long pine cone type strand coated with shellac. Picture all the “brown’ color is inside.Say you want red pinecone instead of a brown.  You want a red pinecone, you need a chemical strong enough to break open the shellac, to “paint” the cone( yes you could just paint over the shellac, ride with me for a minute). So you now have a red pinecone. Trouble is when over time the rain and the elements(styling, products  etc) the red leeches out. Now with the pine cone, you’d just add another coat of shellac. You can’t do that with hair. The shellac is gone.  That color is going to come out eventually no matter what you do.

For the no poo gals who say but my hair has never looked better since I stopped shampooing. Or since I greatly cut down on shampooing”low-poo”. You’re probably right. But the problem wasn’t the shampoo, you washed too much. Secondly you’re taking conditioner and “cleansing” with it. This may be enough for you. It’s basically the same formula as cleansing  your face with cetaphil. This is enough for some people. If you’re happy with it, keep on. I bet watering your shampoo down a little so you’re forced to do more scrubbing and it rinses better and cutting way down on frequency would do the same thing. I also think the fact that you’re properly moisturizing, and cut out drying silicones, and heat styling has a lot to do with it.

I just think that for me and my daughters washing only when needed with an acid balanced shampoo is just fine for us. Tried co-washing(scrubbing with conditioner only) for us there was just too much product buildup and hair was left dull. Sulfate free shampoos seemed to leave hair rough,dull, and not as clean feeling.It’s all personal preference. There is skin under that hair, sweat and sebum glands, I apply products to my hair, my hair is subjected to the environment etc. It needs a thorough cleansing.  So are all these company’s now touting sulfate free shampoos, saying there other formulas with sulfate are somehow inferior, or bad for hair, or cause cancer? No, and neither are scientists.

If you don’t believe me check out my go to for the facts about cosmetics the beauty brains. As luck would have it when I went to get the link, the homepage article is about sulfates. They are scientists who state facts. They are not selling anything nor have hidden agendas.  Just the facts on chemicals. I an ingredient hound, not because I am looking for “all natural” or some other meaningless  reason. Cinnamon oil is natural and is an irritant if using too much. There are perfectly safe chemicals to use on your skin as well. I just like to know what I’m paying for, what is in a product that makes it work for me(or not) This saves money as you’re not buying the same product marketed five different way. Also I make soap and other cosmetics.

By the way check out the ad, still pretty solid advice.

Update: I just received an email from the folks over at the beauty brains with a 6 minute commercial about a book they’ve written. They book is designed to teach you the scoop about beauty products and save you money. Still a great site with great fact based beauty info.

Published in: on September 30, 2010 at 2:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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$5 dollars for Dollar General this weekend only

Link to a coupon for $5 off $25 at Dollar General good this weekend.  Dollar General does accept manufacturers coupons as well.  Rack up on cleaning supplies, paper goods, toiletries, and of course one of their best offerings, 12 packs of nubby, white, washclothes.At this price you can be assured of always having a clean rag to cleanse your face. It’s also quite satisfying to see the dirt on on the rag.  I love these.

Whoa, two posts in one day.  I’m a machine!!!!!!!

Published in: on September 29, 2010 at 2:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

Thrifting Tips 101

Thrift Stores. I buy about 80 % of my family’s clothing from thrift stores.  Take into account I am including undergarments and shoes(I always buy these new) that’s almost everything.  I’ve been shopping in thrift stores for years, growing up in New York there was a Salvation Army thrift store right across the street from my apartment. As a teenager I bought quite a lot there, but always went early in the morning, in partial disguise.  I figured out early on, I could buy fabulous unique clothes for a fraction of the retail price.  More often than not the quality was better than if I bought new. I almost never heard, “I have that shirt/skirt.!” By expanding your options(different eras, lines from stores you may not have access to, etc) your style is expanded. This is where my love of vintage style began.  The styles, the fit, the quality of fabric and workmanship was almost always superior to anything modern.  I’m a true New York bargain lover to start with, and with 25 years plus thrifting, I’ve become what all that know me call a “deal queen”. And while I’m aware ebay and etsy have tons of great vintage clothing, I don’t buy many vintage clothes online.  Fit and finance are two biggest problems I have.  Anything really great is out of my budget, if I can afford it, I can usually find something similar and not pay shipping, and be able actually feel it and try it on. I am 4’11” and have a wide chest area. I’ve had three children, and while I’m lucky I actually still have a waist, I have a little bit of a pooch.  I just prefer to try things on. Now that I’m thinking about it if  more online options had a return policy, I’d do a lot better. Note to sellers.

So here’s a few things I’ve learned. You may already know or practice some or all but hey if it helps one person. These would apply to yard sales, church sales etc. Anywhere that sells used clothing and goods.


1. Go often. This is number one. Inventory comes in and is put out daily.   Also if you are lucky enough to have several in your area, go to all of them.

2. Learn your shops.Learn the layout out of the store. This makes going often easier.You can zip around the store. Most of us don’t have as much time as we’d like to spend exploring. Knowing where and how your shop displays items will help. Some separate by size, some by  color, some have “better” racks etc.  Find out what specials they have on what days. My local shop has 50% off  all merchandise on Mondays, on Tuesdays all clothing with certain color tags indicating they’ve been there over a week are 99 cents, and so on.  This is not to say you should only shop on deal days. I know for a fact that a certain large chain of used goods shops “pulls” some of the better items off the floor, so that they won’t be sold for half the ticketed price.  Not all shops do this, but going on a day with no specials, will be less crowded, picked over, and have more inventory.  Remember number one, go often.

3. Be educated. Even though the majority of my family’s clothing purchases are second-hand, I’ve made it a point to learn as much about retail lines  as possible. Knowing names, and which lines are made for certain stores will help in making your purchases. Learn to spot quality fabric and workmanship.   You will learn which designers cuts you do best with, will stand up to wear etc. You will also learn not to pay too much for lower end lines that are inexpensive sold new. You will be able to tell if an item is actually from the 1940’s or is 1980’s does 1940’s.  Syms’s clothing stores had a commercial on while I was growing up. The owner said “An educated consumer is our best customer”.  The more you know, the better you’ll buy.

4. Don’t go shopping with anything in mind. Trust me if you look in your closet and think, “I need some pretty blouses for work” and then set out in search of them, you more than likely won’t find a thing.  But there might be perfect for you suit on the other side of the store,or a ton  of quality  of clothes in your daughters size just donated.  Along these same lines, the best finds are usually off season, just like retail.  In the middle of July, summer clothes are at a premium, you might just find a gorgeous cashmere cardigan, or a great pair of vintage wool trousers.Also be open. Some of my most flattering clothes are items that didn’t exactly reach out and grab me.

5. Buy ahead provided you have storage space. Your daughter may wear a size 2t now, but she will eventually be a size 5. That vintage wool princess coat will eventually fit her. If you wait until she’s a size 5 to find a coat, the inventory then may not have anything you like. You may have a perfectly fine pair of white keds now, but they will wear out. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a new pair sitting in the closet waiting it’s turn?

6. Be picky.Inspect clothes carefully, you don’t want to have to pay to mend clothes or worse get home and find a bleach stain or worse.  Just because it’s only a dollar, doesn’t mean it’s a good buy. Even if an item has no flaws, be selective. Does it fit perfect?If not, is it worth the price of either your time or professional alterations? Is it comfortable? Will you wear it often?  Do you really need another pair of black trousers? How often are you going to wear a sheer blouse? Does it work with what you already own? How will you put together great looks if your closet is stuffed.

7. If possible, get to know shop employees. They may be willing hold items for you or at least call you when a donation of your interest comes in. A girl at my shop, will hold all dresses, she thinks are vintage and my size for one day. In return, I bring her son goodies from my job that I get at cost. There may be something they saw in the back, hasn’t been put out yet, you might like.This is especially true of consignment shops. Yes the prices are a bit higher but you the inventory has been presorted of junk. Besides notifying you of merchandise, maybe you could workout a donation/discount deal.  I go to a shop, donate all my son’s quality outgrown clothing, I get a discount fthe owner deems fair.

8. Here’s what I’ve found shopping yard/tag sales.  The wealthier the neighborhood the more they expect you to pay for goods. Obviously this is not always true but I find it to be true most of the time.  The attitude is like I payed 60 dollar for that coat, your getting a deal if I sell it to you for $15.  Or that comforter came from Bloomingdales you should be happy to get it for $40.  What then happens a lot, nobody buys much, they just donate it and it ends up in the thrift store. 🙂  If you really have to have an item try a little haggling first. Remind them they wanted to get rid of all this stuff. Not have to haul it all away, and have another sale or donate it and get nothing but a tax receipt.

Now in the more modest neighborhoods, people are much more likely to let things go rock bottom. The only exception is brand new items.

In all instances be nice, and ask the sellers if you’re looking for something in particular. Especially at estate sales. They may have know idea you’d love all those old full slips they were going to donate. Or that fur trimmed coat from the 50’s.

9. Never be too quick to judge a shop or sale. You may see what looks like a bunch of junk but way back in the corner there’s a lone vintage wicker purse for 50 cents. Do a quick but thorough  walk through everywhere. One of my best buys was at a resale shop here in Atlanta that caters to teens. There are several around. I went in with my daugher, and found a brand new Chloe bag for $10! I can only imagine some wonderful grandmother bought this as a gift for her grandaughter who then decided it was too old lady for her. Score for me!

10. Tag team.  Have friends and family who know you pick up things for you and you do the same.  It may not be right for you, but it’s perfect for your sister. Buy it and she’ll do the same for you.

Hope these help and happy, bountiful thrifting wishes to all! With a little effort you’ll get the joy of  responding to compliments on your attire with a  “I got it for $2”.