Charity Shopping

Dear sisters,

What kind of shopping are doing these days? The last couple of years of motherhood and poverty (grad school) have caused a big change in my wardrobe, towards simpler outfits and a lot more denim.  And it turns out I kind of actually dislike mall shopping. But I am the queen of virtual fake shopping, a skill most expats know too well. I have expensive tastes on a minimal budget, and mostly ogle maker companies like Imogene and Willie, Huit Denim, Of a Kind, Voices of Industry, and Fog Linen.  But alas, I have not the budget.

The one kind of shopping I like best is thrifting, the only place where I can (sometimes) buy the quality I seek at the prices I can afford. Charity shops (as they are known here in Ireland, instead of thrift stores), were initially quite a shock. America’s thrift stores are super-sized, and often housed in former supermarkets or department store buildings. A charity shop in Ireland is usually the size of a small restaurant and doesn’t have massive stock. There are no colored tags that denotate an item’s half price status. Prices aren’t really what you would consider cheap by American standards, where my mother-in-law routinely purchases the kids’ clothes for 50 cents (or less). But Brad and I have found there are deals to be had here, when we go regularly. He hits up a St. Vincent’s de Paul in our nearby town once a week, and I hit up an NCBI charity shop and a charity ’boutique’ that benefits a local Catholic hospice centre over my lunch break at work once a week or so.

I’ve had a few good finds here, I asked Archer for help taking photos because Bradley was watching the World Cup. I asked him to be my photographer and he said, ‘what’s a photographer?’ Not too shabby for an amateur, methinks!

1. Lined corduroy coat: 4€ Retails for 70-80€

The gigantic pockets are usually stuffed with the kid's stuff, I am a squirrel
The gigantic pockets are usually stuffed with the kid’s stuff, I am a squirrel

My love for this coat is deep. It is warm and stylish and has a pretty silky fabric lining that Archer was too impatient to photograph. I wore it all winter.

2. Linen Dress (I think I should take it in? It does’t look too bad with a belt)

My mother-in-law made that belt when she was my age and it is my favorite ever ever.
My mother-in-law made that belt when she was my age and it is my favorite ever ever.

I’m wearing it with the best shoes in the universe, that I bought at the Salamanca Antique Mall in Western New York. They are so well made, I will never see the like again. Unfortunately, they are now held together by masking tape. I wish I knew how old they are/who made them.

Where are you at, fashion-wise?A recent fashion change for me was inspired by a post by Whoorl (that I can’t find now, so this is all paraphrasing) where she says that you should buy clothing made from woven fabrics that don’t stretch because they are long-lasting and better looking. I have pretty much stopped wearing cheap-o knit tops (like long sleeved t-shirts and acrylic-blend sweaters) and focused on purchasing long-sleeve button-down cotton blouses,  and anything made of linen or silk or wool. I do kind of need to purchase an iron though, that’s the downside of buying nice clothing.

I have great sister memories from our times shopping together with Mom. Us all crammed into one wheelchair accessible changing room, offering advice, laughing hysterically, taking breaks for Auntie Anne’s pretzels…..



P.S. I feel like i should explain the random gas canister by the back kitchen window. That is actually the butane for our stove. Because there is no real winter in Ireland, it works!!


5 thoughts on “Charity Shopping

  1. I’ve switched to thrift stores as well and Kevin and I are planning a trip this weekend to the Hornell Salvo. I am trying to work in better made items, though I will throw in a few cheaper items knowing they won’t last as long! I do love those shoes on you, you should take them to a cobbler and see what he can do! There is a little cobbler shop next to our church and he does great work. I miss our mass shopping expeditions. It was fun having Janna down for a shopping weekend. Our budget is so tight these days I like to shop for other people :-).

  2. I think that the secret to successful thrift shopping might be the regularity. Everyone I know who gets good stuff from it is going weekly like you said. I’ve rarely enjoyed it, but that might be the regularity thing (and the lower options in our economically depressed area). I’m so bad at shopping in general–it is so much more fun to make it a communal event. But I can see thrift shopping being super smart. You look great. Nice job on the photography, Archer! I think the dress looks fine. I think it would look good taken in a little, too. Your red coat is lovely, but I’m guessing you’re not shocked to hear me say that.

  3. Yeah, thrift stores are frustrating for me–I hardly ever find anything in my size. I don’t go often enough to make it worthwhile. I have done a lot of shopping recently at TJ Maxx and Marshall’s, and the outlets. I can find things in 2 petite at those places! I have to be really relentless about clothes that fit well . Often I will buy something thinking “it’s close enough to fitting” and then realize after wearing it a few times, it’s really not. I hear you about the cheap knit stuff–recently I have been frustrated by so many of my shirts getting little holes at the waistline, where the fabric rubs against my pants. I have been wanting to simplify my wardrobe too–less stuff, higher quality! It’s time to clean out my closet and dresser. But it’s dangerous to do while I’m pregnant–I have to remind myself that eventually I will fit back into regular clothes again, but who knows exactly when that will be…
    Looking at my closet and dresser recently, I’m realizing that everything I own is basically black, green and blue. Maybe I need to expand my color repertoire a bit… 🙂

  4. I love this post, Martha! I am quite a thrift-store enthusiast, though I can’t say that I am at all regular. I particularly liked your ramblings on quality clothes, as I am of the same mind frame though I still tend to get suckered into buying quite thin, cottony items that last a blink of an eye. And as always, your style is lovely and Archer did the most wonderful job photographing his beautiful mama. Sidenote: What is your house made of? Stucco?

    1. Jill! Our house, like almost all old houses in Ireland, is made of thick stone walls and then covered with something to protect the stone. Traditionally Irish farmhouses would be made of stone and then painted over regularly with whitewash or covered in lime plaster. Unfortunately, in modern days people thought it would be better to cover it with cement render (because it would last forever and you wouldn’t have to keep plastering it) and then something called pebble dash (basically stucco, you throw pebbles at the wet cement and keep what sticks) and then painted. As is often the case, the older way was better–stone houses need to breathe and cement render has led to a moisture issues in a lot of older homes (thankfully ours isn’t too bad, there is one room that smells a bit musty though). There is a great publication on Irish farmhouses that I read when we moved into ours, that is probably not of interest to you but I will share it anyway on the off-chance that someone wants to read it 🙂 🙂

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