I’m not really sure how to explain the shit going down at Goodwill’s Greenwich Village Boutique. I’m also not really sure why no one else in the NYC shopping blogosphere seems to have a problem with it.
Daily Candy named Goodwill GVB one of five Boutique Openings to Get Excited About. Racked‘s review seemed too wooed by the good deed factor of Goodwill to question the obvious.
For women, the store carries frilly and floral skirts, shorts in a variety of colors and lengths, and dresses for every occasion. Tank tops and bright, light weight tops are under $15 each, and coats and jackets range from $9.99 for a Mossimo rain jacket to $69.99 for an Ann Taylor Loft pea coat.
Maybe a Mossimo rain jacket costs more than $9.99 at Target. Maybe I don’t give a shit. Charging more than five bucks for an already-budget item of piss-poor quality is an insult to the art of thrift. Where the Ann Taylor Loft pea coat’s concerned, I mean, JESUS. A seventy dollar price tag at Goodwill? For an effing generic ATL pea coat? In MAY?!
Curated, my ASS.
Where charity thrift’s concerned, hell hath frozen over: Bundle up beotches, and brace yourselves for the cold hard reality of what it now costs to shop for a cause.
Mmkay, so these photos suck dong, but that’s because the security guard kept eyeballing me whilst I snapped (also, a security guard… what’s worth stealing, the fake Louis Vuitton bag in the window? Pfft.). Apologies, and onto the ludicrousness pictured.
Twenty8Twelve tops retail for hundreds of dollars. Ditto for Theory. It follows that paying $69.99 for one isn’t all that unreasonable… at Loehmann’s, or at a sample sale, or maybe even at a high-end consignment shop. I wouldn’t do it, but I understand it.
Paying that amount at Goodwill GVB is a different story – one in which I’m still digging through significant amounts of donated muck.
You heard me. DONATED. Goodwill wants $69.99 for each of these garments, but what’d they pay out of pocket? Zero. That’s a mark-up even Barneys can’t top.
I don’t have a problem with trading on charity – nationwide, Goodwill puts millions of people to work, and uses 84% of its profits to fund its numerous charitable initiatives. What I have a problem with is its complete disregard for the monetary expectations of those who keep it in business: We, the thrifters.
Goodwill GVB might be a smidge easier to shop than its larger Manhattan counterparts, but copious amounts of Target crap and Old Navy shizzz doth not a *curated* *vintage* *boutique* experience make.When I shop Goodwill, I expect to spend a bit more time and energy browsing than I would shopping retail. In return for my efforts, I expect to snag something amazing for a fraction of its retail cost – meaning five, ten, twelve bucks max. That uber cheap price is my reward for going gently worn, and for giving to charity via my secondhand purchase.
At Goodwill GVB, what do my efforts net me? Brand-name rip-offs, and a fucking forty dollar make-up stain.
The paramount concern here in Cheap JAP land is material practicality. In order to discuss Fashion Week trends at all, we must first address the seasonal elephant in the room.
Right now, I’m reveling in the crisp respite from the stifling city heat. I’m thinking about boots and tights and outerwear; I’m thinking it’s all kinds of awesome that my fave buy-sell-trades stock according to season; I’m thinking about the glory of finding a $350 Theory cashmere sweater for forty-five buckaroos.
I don’t have enough room in the fashion section of my brain to think about what I’ll be wearing next April – I live in the present, for fuck’s sake. How, then, can I reconcile next season’s looks with this season’s outfits?
By highlighting the select few that manage to transcend seasonal reality.
A word on trends: Like love in The 40 Year Old Virgin, they’re a mysterious fig. I tend to view trends as an urban fashion myth – if the same thing were In season after season, we’d be robbed of an excuse to buy more crap we don’t need, yes? Yes.
This doesn’t mean trends should be ignored altogether; it simply means they’re to be taken with a big fat grain of salt. Trends aren’t rules so much as potential nuggets of inspiration.
Here’s a breakdown of some NYFW Spring 2011 ready-to-wear trends versatile enough to inject creativity into your winter wardrobe choices.
Yes, it’s fine to wear white all year round, particularly if you’re an attention whore a la moi. Tone down the Spring factor with black opaque tights; badass it up with motorcycle boots or something of the platform ankle bootie ilk. In terms of shoulder coverage, a cropped pleather jacket would make for a stellar pairing. White now, woo woo.
2. Prairie Dawg
Do the long floral thang in fall via riding boots and a denim jacket. If you’re a full-on trend whore, swap out the latter for a shapeless, nineties-era flannel (shown with a similar Charlotte Ronson dress last week. No, I don’t get it).
3. Short Suits
I’m obvs psyched that shorts are now considered appropriate office apparel, but if you’re wary of the trend, try a dark-colored pair with tights in a similar shade. Also follow the proportions pictured – the long-cut blazer puts it all in balance. Wear with flats or pumps, depending on dress code leniency. Heeled knee-high boots + Shorts = Potential Slut Factor. I’m just saying.
Lingerie as outerwear is not to be taken seriously a la the above. I’m not suggesting you go full nipple or anything: Sheer nightie stuffs are to be treated as layering tools only. Throw one on over a shift dress and cinch the whole shebang with a belt. Cool beans.
5. Canadian Tuxedo
Those of us broke and/or idiotic enough to spend July in NYC are all too familiar with the cons of summering in the city. A ubiquitous aroma of sun-baked sewage. The inevitable appearance of sticky black grime on the bottom of one’s sandal-clad feet after a measly two block walk. Sporadic power outages. Con Ed’s continual ineptitude re: addressing/remedying said power outages (“Turn off your air conditioner” isn’t what I want to hear, assbags. It’s not like I’m abusing my customer privileges; I keep the temp at 75 – 78 degrees, as per your recommendation. If I’m paying astronomical monthly bills, I expect to be able to keep the air on. GET IT TOGETHER. But I digress).
All the above is par for the NYC summer course. What’s not? 103 degrees. That’s another way of saying it’s HOT AS BALLS. This year’s record-breaking heat and humidity obvs begs one crucial question: How the eff are we supposed to get dressed?
Walking the streets in a wet bathing suit might be an option, if we weren’t talking about a city with a highly concentrated male creep factor. I’m in no mood to fend off cat calls and leers from sweaty onlookers, particularly when I’m already pissed at the weather – I might do something rash, like preemptively pull the trigger on my pepper spray.
So, if we want to dress for ludicrous heat without looking like we’ve stepped out of an American Apparel ad, what do we wear? eHow’s How to Dress for a Heat Wave has some decent suggestions, one of which we’ve all heard before: Wear light colors.
Light-colored clothing reflects the sun, which keeps heat away from the body, while dark colors absorb the heat and make you feel even hotter.
Related anecdote: My parents just got back from a trip to Israel – a trip that included daily desert treks. Dad wore light colored shirts on said treks, which did nada to minimize body heat. Sick of schvitzing his face off, Dad did something bonkers: On the final trek, he took a cue from the locals, and wore black instead. He found that he wasn’t just comfortable; he barely broke a sweat.
RIDDLE ME THIS: Why does a heat-absorbing color (black) cool the body more effectively than a heat-reflective color (white)?
Answering the above required a bit of geekery, and by that I mean I browsed an array of Physics Forums to figure it out. You’re welcome. After sifting through much scientific mumbo jumbo, I happened upon a question similar to my own: Why do Bedouins wear black robes? (Bedouins are a predominantly desert-dwelling Arab group, FYI, and yes, I had to google that too.)
Black clothing absorbs sunlight and the heat radiating from your body, but if it is loose-fitting, and there is wind, the wind convects the heat away faster than it is absorbed. White clothing reflects sunlight, but also reflects internal heat back towards your body, so the net effect under identical conditions is less cooling than if you wore black. Desert-dwelling nomadic people such as the Tuaregs wear loose-fitting black clothing, and have been doing so for a very, very long time. If there were an advantage to wearing white clothes, you’d certainly expect they’d have figured that out by now.
A quirky conversational exchange accompanied and further explained the above answer.
If you are packing for a trip to the desert would it be better to pack light or dark clothes? The answer is not a simple as you might think, as Don and Yael discuss.
D: Hey, Yael, check out my new white linen suit. It’s going to keep me cool on my vacation to the Mojave desert.
Y: That is one snazzy suit, Don.
D: Oh, I’m stylin’. Plus, everyone knows that white reflects heat and black absorbs it. Yes, if you’re out in the sun, you’re better off wearing white.
Y: Not always, Don. After all, Bedouins, the nomadic people who spend their entire lives in the desert, wear black robes.
D: But that doesn’t make sense. Dark surfaces get warmer in the sun than light surfaces. You’d think the Bedouins would have figured that out by now.
Y: Don, Don, Don. Things are never that simple. You’re right that the air underneath black fabric warms up faster than the air underneath white fabric. At the same time, though, black fabric provides more shade than white fabric, and this decreases the amount of light that directly reaches the skin. Plus, a lot depends on the type of clothing you’re wearing. You see, warm air rises. And when it does, it’s replaced by cool air. And if you happen to be wearing a robe, all that movement of the warm air creates a breeze that sucks up cooler air from the bottom of the robe and pushes it out the top.
D: So wearing a black robe is like having a suit with a built in fan.
Y: Exactly. But again, the key is that the robe is loose-fitting. Otherwise, there isn’t enough room for the air to circulate.
Hilarious, adorable AND educational – if I’d had a text book like this, maybe I wouldn’t have gotten a C- in Physics. Bygones. Now, NYC doesn’t exactly have desert-esque winds, so I can’t honestly speak to whether or not loose-fitting black clothing trumps loose-fitting white clothing in this climate. But it seems as though white – what with its tendency to reflect heat back onto your body and all – is not the only answer. A loose-fitting black garment coupled with an occasional breeze might be a preferable alternative, methinks.
To test the aforementioned theory, I’m heading to Goodwill in search of a black linen maternity dress or derivation thereof. Function trumps Fashion in temps like these.
Smoking update: Eleven days, NO CIGGIES. The first three days were a bitch and a half, what with my body withdrawing from chemicals and all. On the fourth day, I started feeling like myself again. And on the sixth day, I did something I hadn’t done in two solid years: I went for a run. Two and a half miles later, I was fully sold on quitting for good.
To those of you who’ve written in cheerleading my efforts: I can’t thank you enough. To those of you who still smoke: I get it, and I won’t bullshit you on how hard it is to stop. I will tell you it’s worth it. Gear yourself up to quit, and email me for moral support.
Kumbaya, beotches. :P
A few weeks ago, I got a pedicure. It was the first I’d had in months. This is not to imply that I leave the house with unpainted toes (oh, THE HORROR… just kidding). The discovery of Sally Hansen’s Quick Care Clean-Up Nail Stick – a brilliant invention that caters to klutzes a la moi, enabling us to fudge a passable paint job when we’re too broke or too lazy to hit the salon – recently liberated me from pedi regularity. They’ve become a special-occasions-only thang, so when my cousin got married earlier this month, I sprung for professional nail care. I left the salon that day with more than pretty toes, hence the reason for this post. Listen to THIS.
I make it a point to buy sandals that don’t eff up my feet. This is a worthless exercise. I don’t know if the fashion footwear industry’s engaged in a conspiracy in which style and comfort can’t coexist or what, but every sandal I purchase inevitably wreaks havoc on my heels and toes. The resulting blisters and cuts prompted a gasp on behalf of my lovely Nepalese nail technician as I settled into the chair for my pedicure.
Pedi Lady: What did you DO?!
Cheap JAP: I bought new sandals, and my feet are mad at me.
Pedi Lady: Did you put anything on them?
Cheap JAP: I’ve been putting Neosporin on them for weeks. I wear Band-AIDs to keep them from getting worse. Nothing is working.
She shook her head, as though saddened by the sight of sandal-mauled feet, and seemed deep in thought as she worked around the cuts. After the soak portion of the event was over, she nudged me away from my magazine.
Pedi Lady: Can I try something for this? (motions toward cuts)
Cheap JAP: Sure. Whatever you think is best.
She nodded seriously, as though readying herself for an outburst to come. She then proceeded to squeeze straight-up lemon juice all over my feet.
Cheap JAP: WHAT WAS THAT?! It burns! It burns like acid!
Pedi Lady: I’m sorry, I’m sorry (blows on feet, which does approximately nothing to minimize the pain), I’m sorry… it was the only thing to do.
Cheap JAP: Does it work?
Pedi Lady: Oh, yes. It’s the best thing, lemons.
I woke up the next morning to new feet. Weeks of dogged Neosporin application hadn’t done jack to reverse the damage; one application of lemon juice later, I was en route to recovery.
The natural skin remedy bestowed on me by the Nepalese nail technician wasn’t a fluke. I’ve used it many times in the weeks since – best thing ever. The moment a scratch, blister or cut becomes visible is the moment it gets doused with good old fashioned citric acid. It hurts like a beotch, obvs. But the sting subsides as quickly as it comes on, and the perks extend beyond quickly healed skin. Lemon juice is more than an anti-infective; it effectively treats blackheads, clogged pores, and even minimizes the appearance of scars when applied regularly.
This summer, when sandals inevitably eff up your feet, do yourself a favor and skip the obligatory trip to CVS for Band-AIDs, blister-busting adhesives, skin-healing ointments, scar treatments, et. al. It’s all crap designed to distract you from going the non-product route. Hit the supermarket for lemons instead. No chemicals, no packaging, no fuss. Your feet (and your wallet) will thank you.
Sometimes, the juice really is worth the squeeze. :P
When I think of the Upper East’s crop of charity-related thrift stores, one term comes to mind: Identity Crisis.
In a vacuum, the average price point for worn-out wares of the J. Crew, GAP and Banana Republic ilk is about $7 per piece, max. Go north on the 4/5 line, exit at 86th street, and you’ll start seeing numbers like $15 and $20 attached to dusty, donated merch of similar brand origins. This isn’t just illogical – it’s borderline absurd.
If I work my ass off sifting through fugly 80s skirt suits and 90s era denim to find something decent, I expect to be rewarded for my efforts. I’m not the kind of sucker who pays marked-up prices for previously-worn goods.
Whether or not shop owners are to blame for the piss-poor pricing scheme is beyond me. All I know is that thrift in this hood isn’t worth shopping… unless it’s 50% off.
Store-wide sales up north happen about twice a year (pre-Fall and pre-Spring), and last for as many weeks as it takes to make room for the latest donations.
I first experienced the phenomenon at Arthritis Thrift. Last week, I saw it again mere blocks away. Let’s talk about Cancer Care Thrift.
Spotted (just like Gossip Girl, except they probs shop at Searle. Whatevs.):
Habitual Denim Blazer w/ Velvet Detail (new)
Original Price: $85.00 (beotch please)
Sale Price: $47.50 (much better)
Proenza Schouler Trousers (new)
Original Price: $45.00 (meh)
Sale Price: $22.50 (now we’re talkin’)
Elie Tahari Sweater
Original Price: $25.00 (pfft)
Sale Price: $12.50 (me likey)
Let it be known that the above represents the best of the best; Cancer Care Thrift is a bitch and a half to browse, and they have more donations than they know what to do with.
That being said, I still snagged two pairs of killer vintage Vertigo jeans for $17.50 a pop.
Upper East thrift: Go half-off, or go home.