Swap ’til you drop

I’m a few days late on this, but Thursday night I went to my second Swap meet and wanted to update you all on it! I wrote this story for Her Campus last semester about the Swap concept, which I am now totally obsessed with. Basically these two girls, who call themselves the Swapaholics, got together and decided to create clothing swap meets, where you show up, donate any old clothing you arent using or wearing anymore, and then get to shop around a huge room full of others donated items. For just the ticket price (somewhere between $10 and $15) and the clothes you donate, you simply walk out of the room with a bag full of new items for your closet!

As a total shopaholic who is also on a very tight college budget, this concept is perfect for me. I’ve got tons of stuff laying around that I never wear, and it was a perfect excuse to purge my wardrobe and acquire some new items without emptying my wallet.

A view of the swap room after the event

This swap was much much bigger than the Swap I attended last time. It was held at the Armory for the Arts out in Somerville, and was a 15 minute walk from the Davis T stop on the redline.

 

All my bags piled into the back of my zipcar!

I had 12 bags (yes 12, you read that right!) of clothing to donate, (but in all fairness most of it was my roommates that she was purging before she moved back home to California after graduating in December) so I rented a zipcar for a few hours and drove me and my friend Kate out to the ‘burbs.

We dropped off the bags, parked the car and then got inside and waited in line. As soon as the doors opened at 8, women of all body types, ages and races rushed into a massive room, set up with dozens of wardrobers and tables covered with everything from designer jeans to dresses to shoes & jewelry. This swap was much larger, so there were even tables with books, childrens clothing, DVDs and games.

Kate and I scoured the room and settled into a corner to collect ourselves and try on the items we’d snagged. After a few rounds of rejects and some more try-ons, I scored the following:

A violet Express button down, a red cashmere sweater, a black dress, purple Soffe shorts, a striped dress (this item I’m unsure about & may re-swap next month, but we’ll see), a black Rugby cardigan, a sparkle dress from Forever 21 & a Jane Green novel. Score!

And just because I’m feeling cheesy…

I ❤ to Swap!

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January 24, 2011. Uncategorized. 3 comments.

Zits fashion advice

And I’m officially back in Boston! Leaving 60 degree weather to land in a city where it’s 23 degrees & “feels like 13” is quite the change. As much as I already miss home (and especially my puppy!) I’m really excited to be back and start my senior semester.

Speaking of 23 degrees, I was overeager today and wore my new Ann Taylor loft skirt with boots and a pair of panty hose. Since I work in admissions in the afternoons, I need to wear business casual, and I like to wear skirts and dresses as opposed to pants. I was fine walking to campus and even during the day when I led a tour, but my walk home after the sun went down was pretty painful. I can honestly say that after 12 minutes of walking, I couldn’t feel my knees. I’m going to have to brainstorm a solution to this one, as I don’t think I’m willing to give up wearing dresses and tights just yet. Maybe wearing yoga pants and then changing into my skirt once I’m on campus? I could wear my uggs which would keep me a bit warmer, but my knees are still exposed.

Does anybody have any good alternatives or suggestions?

I’ve got to head to bed and prep for my second day of classes, but I’ll leave you with this, a great Zits cartoon my mom emailed me the other day.

January 11, 2011. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Goodwill treasures

I absolutely love vintage stores. I’m not one of those girls who squirms at the thought of someone else’s worn clothing. In fact, just the opposite. I love the idea that the clothing I’m sorting through was owned and loved and worn by somebody else. I love spending hours combing through the racks of all items ugly, fabulous and somewhere in between, hoping that something hidden will pop out and be my next favorite piece of clothing. Call me crazy, but I even love that musty, worn smell of vintage and consignment stores. My favorite vintage stores in LA were always Crossroads, Buffalo Exchange and Jet Rag, and I’d beg friends (most of whom only had about half the patience I had) to spends hours shopping with me on Saturday afternoons.

Needless to say, a trip to Goodwill is always on the agenda when I’m home in LA. In September, I discovered a brand new Goodwill just a few blocks from my house which is incredibly neat, very well organized and brimming with awesome finds. That trip led me to my favorite pair of Chinese Laundry heels, strappy sandals in silver & gold with a killer 4 inch heel that cost me just $10, and a cashmere J Crew cardigan (which I’m totally obsessed with) for just $6.

So yesterday, I went back. Two hours and 3 trips to the dressing room later, I’d found an H&M cardigan ($5), Ann Taylor blazer ($6), a pair of Steve Madden flats ($10), Nine West heels ($8) & a pair of Steve Madden sandals ($6). My total? A whopping $35.45. Score! Scroll through the slideshow to see pictures of all my finds!

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Vintage shopping is not for the weak. The same way my friends roll their eyes at me for spending hours combing through the racks at H&M or Forever 21, shopping at places like Goodwill takes stamina, time and patience. I’ve found that there are a few tricks for shopping vintage that really help:

  • Go on your own. Shopping with a girlfriend or group of friends can be great, but often times having the time to yourself can be really satisfying, and you can shop at your own pace without feeling rushed or pressured. Need advice on something? Send a picture message!
  • Don’t have a specific item in mind. You can’t show up at Goodwill and think “Okay, I need a long black cardigan, a pair of designer jeans and a killer pair of pumps.” It just doesn’t work like that. Go shopping with an open mind and you’re likely to come across something you didn’t even know you were looking for but is absolutely perfect anyways.
  • Try things on. Most stores will have fitting rooms, but regardless, I always wear a tank top and leggings or tights that are easily layer-able. That way, when you throw on pants or tops they aren’t necessarily rubbing on your bare skin. Often times, sizing will be off. Items may have shrunk, pieces marked small will have stretched. If you find a piece you absolutely love, try it on regardless of what the tag says. Keep in mind that if a pair of jeans that you love but don’t fit perfectly are only $5, they’re usually worth getting hemmed and/or taken in.
  • Check carefully for holes and stains. While the majority of things on the rack have been checked for too much damage, many people give things away because they’re over worn or ruined in some way. When trying things on, do a full check for any stains, holes or rips. You don’t want to get home and discover your new purchases aren’t actually wearable.
  • Most importantly: have patience!! This one is key. Like I mentioned above, I spent more than 2 hours at Goodwill yesterday. I find it’s easier to tackle the store in sections – first I hit the long sleeve tops, slowly making my way through all the colored racks. Next I went to the blazers and jackets, then dresses, then finally shoes & bags. I also hit the dressing room in shifts, so that I don’t have an overwhelming number of things to try on at the end. Plus, the majority of the things I try on I don’t get, so it empties my hands a few times throughout my time in the store. Let yourself pour over the racks – the best items are often hidden and worth digging for.

Happy vintaging!

January 6, 2011. Uncategorized. 1 comment.

Rachel’s back! (& a bag re-fashioning)

Hello fashionistas! I know, it’s been months. I’m terrible, and I apologize. But I am proud to announce that now that it’s 2011 I’ve got 5 new resolutions I’m determined to keep, and number one on that list is blogging more. So here I am, to do just that!

My first very exciting announcement is that I’m now writing regularly for Her Campus, an amazing online magazine dedicated exclusively to young women in college, and I absolutely love it. In addition to being a writer for the national site, I’m helping to run the Northeastern campus branch on campus. I try to write lots of fashion centered pieces, so I’ll be sure to keep you posted on all my stories!

My latest (and first story for the national site!) was about 10 easy style resolutions from the HC staff. Check it out!

In other news, I performed a little surgery on a recent purse purchase that I thought I’d share with all of you.

I’m home in LA for the week, and one of my go-to places when I’m home with my own car and endless time is to hit up the local Target. All my friends know I can spend hours upon hours in this store, from the accessories section to the home decor and womens clothing sections, I really am obsessed. Tons of my favorite items are from Target, and I’m always finding new gems. Anyways, on my recent trip I stumbled upon this Converse brand purse in the clearance section. (Sorry ladies – it’s currently sold out online!)

I’ve been looking for a new black bag, as the one I have and have used for years was slowly falling apart and finally ripped a few weeks ago.

I liked the style, the size was perfect, it had great pockets inside and out, and the price was right at just $20, marked down from $30. However, the one thing I wasn’t sure about was the slightly strange ball chain detailing on three of the straps:

I decided to buy it anyways – knowing that Target is great with returns I figured I could always bring it back if I decided I didn’t really love it. A day later I took the tag off and threw my stuff in it, making the executive decision to take it for a test run. I’d saved the tag just in case, but by then I was pretty convinced I’d keep it.

While in the car that same day (don’t worry, I wasn’t driving!) I realized that the ball chain detailing I wasn’t so fond of wasn’t very well attached to the bag. In fact, it was only sewn on in a few places, and I could easily cut the thread and pull the individual straps off. So that’s exactly what I did! All I needed was a little patience and a pair of sharp scissors and voilla – all fixed!

I am now happy to say I’m totally obsessed with this bag and can’t wait to start using it in Boston. It’s a perfect size for all my stuff and I love the brass hardware but it’s not overwhelmingly heavy or shiny the way some buckles and loops are on bags these days. Score!

January 2, 2011. Tags: , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.