So, flea markets kind of scare me. Mostly because they’re notoriously free of price tags.
I’m a chatty person by nature – the only time I ever really shut up is when I’m shopping. I don’t do banter, I don’t do bargaining; I dig, find, pay and move on. I’m in the zone. And asking myself Do I want this badly enough to hemorrhage my precious time and energy haggling over it’s price? is disruptive to said zone, so me no likey.
Once upon a time, flea markets might have been the exception to the everything-costs-more-in-NYC rule: Every time I hit a local flea, I’m forced to acknowledge this is no longer the case. Brooklyn Flea might be cool, but browsing a mishmash of vintage and handmade items in the $50 – $150 range isn’t my idea of a Saturday well spent. I’m equally non-plussed by the numbers at Hell’s Kitchen Flea and Chelsea’s Antiques Garage: Asking after prices tends to make me bitter, and I’m bitter enough as it is.
My general disdain for NYC fleas was called into question a few weeks ago, by a duo of lovely shoppers at my store. We were in the midst of trading tips on our fave thrifting spots when they started gushing about the market on 11th and A.
Shopper 1: It’s right around here, and they’ve got the sickest vintage dresses!
CJ: Okayfine, but what are they, like $25 a pop?
Shopper 2: Try $7.00. Ten bucks, tops.
CJ: No way.
Shopper 1: Yes way.
So I took their advice, and hit the 11th Street Flea Market (The Mary Help of Christians Church Flea Market, officially) on my next Sunday off.
My shoppers are the shiznat.There are two stellar vintage apparel booths at this particular flea: One’s in the back left corner of the lot, the other hugs most of the far right side. The good news? Every item at both booths has a visible price attached. The better news? Said price ranges from $3.00 to $10.00. Effing flea-tastic.
After browsing the larger booths and making off with some killer dresses, I was elated to the point of venturing into untagged territory.
At one of the interior booths, I spotted a pair of oversized orange aviators. Ridiculous, in the best sense of the term. I tried them on. I knew I had to have them. I braced myself internally, feigned nonchalance externally, and asked the seller for a price.
Well, they’re a little worn… and they’re so FUN on you… I don’t know… eight bucks?Doneskies.
This is a dress from Marc by Marc Jacobs‘ latest runway show.
The technical term for a dress like this is vintage-inspired. Horseshit. This is highbrow copycatting at its most uncreative.
I mean, if you’re going to highjack a design from a previous era, at least DO SOMETHING to it to make it your own. Why buy a pricey, vintage-inspired dress if we can snag an authentic vintage one for hundreds of dollars less?
I found this gem of a dress in the back bins at Green Village Junk Shop.
The clothes there cost $2.00 a pound. So this dress cost me approximately 15 cents.
This past Monday, i.e. Valentine’s Day, the window display at my thriftique was a shitshow of pink. I figured I’d temper the girly vibe/commiserate with uncoupled shoppers by donning an all-black ensemble. It wasn’t until a customer commented on my outfit that I realized the true source of its inspiration.
- You know that movie The Craft?
- Know it? I was OBSESSED with it for most of middle school!
- Me too, and your outfit kinda has that early-nineties witch vibe going on. Love the nod to goth!
If ever you find yourself chanting Earth-Air-Fire-Water in your head and feel the need to express your inner witch, a nod to goth can be achieved via the following:
A little black dress. Mine’s from H&M: I resisted scissoring it into a minidress for four solid years, leaving it knee-length for classy occasions, synagogue and/or funerals, but I’m happy I finally gave in. The lining started shredding as soon as I’d cut it, so I want with the raw thang and hemmed it with a loop stitch to keep the hem in tact.
Note: Loop stitch is not a technical term – it’s what happens when you poke a needle and thread through the inside of the garment close to the interior edge, then loop it around the exterior edge in lieu of poking it through the outside of the garment. If that makes any sense.
A black blazer (a vintage Goodwill Outlet Center find, in this case). In its original form, the four-button blazer had two visible copper buttons and two hidden heinous plastic buttons. It looked fine buttoned up; unbuttoned, it was a decidedly not-hot mess.
A blazer that cannot be worn both open and closed is a blazer undeserving of a place in my wardrobe – clearly, the situation had to be remedied. Luckily, the blazer had two matching copper buttons on its sleeves. I snipped them off, and trimmed the fabric shielding the heinous plastic buttons. Then I snipped those buttons from the garment, and sewed the copper ones onto the vacant button space. If it looks unfinished, GOOD. It’s SUPPOSED to. We have a raw, badass witchy theme going on here!
The shoes are a no-brainer, as black, lace-up, combat-inspired boots epitomize the nod-to-goth look. These are Miz Moos, and Mommy got them for me at Marshalls because she is awesome.
Chokers are a staple nineties accessory, so I threw a vintage Jewish star charm onto a long silver chain and wrapped it around my neck three times. I also added a killer vintage wrist cuff, and topped the whole thang off with ripped black tights.
“We are the weirdos, mister.” Bah!
We dress up for work at AuH2O, and by “dress up,” I mean we don clothes in a way that reinforces one of life’s greatest truths: Secondhand and style aren’t mutually exclusive terms. I work the thriftique 2-3 days a week: It takes me an average of 30 minutes to figure out what to wear each time. On certain mornings, the clock runs out before I’ve completed the exercise.
Do I open late? Fuck no – I’m a professional. I leave my apartment half-dressed and on time, and change my outfit upon arriving at the store. It’s usually as simple as selecting a top or dress and a few accessories from my personal stock, but a few mornings ago, simplicity and speed went out the window. In lieu of picking something wearable in its current form, I chose an ankle-length tie-waist dress.
I do not wear ankle-length dresses. Ever. But the print was sooo cute, and the jersey knit had the coziness of a broken-in t-shirt. I loved this dress and goddammit, I was going to figure out a way to wear it. So I did what I always do when I fall for something too long for my liking: I busted out my scissors, and hacked a few inches off the hem.
Allow me to paint you a picture of the scenario: I’m in the dressing room with the scissors. No customers are in the store yet, but I’m open for business and, heretofore, on a serious time crunch. I try the dress on and ballpark the hem. I take it off. I hack it. I put it back on and… BALLS. Way. Too. Short. This wasn’t a mini-dress, and it didn’t look like a tunic either. It looked like the mistake it was – a dress hemmed too short for wearability. SHIT.
Luckily, I had a gauzy, layered, ruffle and lace trimmed H&M miniskirt on hand, so I layered it under the mistake of a mini dress. It masqueraded as a slip effectively enough, but it was too thick to lie flat under the thin fabric – from the waist down, I was a big bunchy mess. I threw a blazer on over the combo to hide the bunch and survived the day.
I couldn’t leave the issue of the too-short dress unresolved – this thang was way too cute not to salvage. The ruffled trim of the H&M miniskirt was a perfect pairing. All I had to do was cut the hem from the garment, sew it together to preserve the layered material, then sew that piece of material onto the bottom of the dress hem.
This took nine hours.
Thankfully, I had Freaks & Geeks for company.
Pretty cute, yes? Oh, and both the dress and the skirt-turned-hem got snagged at Goodwill Outlet Center.
In other news, it’s Fashion Week. I could do a long-winded rant on the ridiculousness of the scene, but these days, it’s just not a worthy use of my time. Better to keep you entertained with subjects marginally relevant to your lives, methinks.
How’s this for a compromise: It’s Fashion Week, and I don’t give a flying fuck.
Big Fat Alert: The elusive, off-the-grid, gem-riddled Sephardic Bikur Holim Thrift Store (yes, I’m Jewish, no, I don’t know what the eff it means in Hebrew) is having a 50% Off Sale NOW through January 14th. For those unaware, SBH Thrift (phew, that’s easier) is located off the Kings Highway F train stop in Gravesend, Brooklyn; uncomfortably far from Manhattan; East Bumblefuck, if you will. (Thrifting and snobbery apparently not oxymoronic).
SBH usually stinks of Eau de Rip Off (also cat pee, for serious): $30.00 suits, $10.00 shoes – beotch PLEASE. Fortunately, the 50% off sale makes for infinitely more palatable price points.
The full spiel is on hold until tomorrow. In the meantime, a mini-preview in the form of a thrifted Louis Verdad Dress: