New tops interspersed throughout:
I lamented my dire need for tops in the last post. There is a reason for such a discernible gap in my wardrobe. I began a few years ago to slowly upgrade the quality of staple pieces in my closet. It started with coats and handbags, which had always been my two favorite categories to hunt for when thrifting. I amassed an impressive collection of quirky purses and beautiful, classic coats thanks to the wealth of opportunity that is the Mon Valley thrift/vintage/antique scene, where I grew up. I also compiled piles of dresses, tops, fun jewelry, various household ephemera and generally cool stuff. But at the time of my thrifting addiction, I was renting apartments in the city and moving with regularity. Every time I had to move all of that STUFF I grew increasingly resentful of it.
These were no longer my precious, sentimental treasures. They were musty, dust-collecting, low quality, ill-fitting mountains of itchy, poly-blend crap. So I edited like a madwoman. I donated bags and bags of it back to the Mon Valley charity stores I happily patronized years prior, paying forward my treasures to future thrifters. I held a yard sale and sold the nicest things that didn't fit me, because if I hadn't altered them after years of ownership, I certainly wasn't going to have the time to learn to do so after another hectic move. And I sold things that didn't sell at the local "Beacon's Closet" style store in the city.
I kept only the small number of items I actually used: the coats that fit like a dream; the dresses that didn't cause me to wince years later when I saw myself trying to pull them off; the bags that were actual leather, in good shape for their age; and the pieces of jewelry that weren't being knocked-off by throngs of "vintage inspired" labels and Forever 21 also-rans.
Finally, I embarked upon the long, sometimes-costly process of upgrading. As I said above, I started with coats and handbags which were easy to rationalize. Then denim and trousers when I could find deals. I moved on to dresses once I convinced myself to create the occasions to wear them, even if no one else was "dressed up." Shoes were always low on the list because of the extreme cost, but eventually I caved to that category, relatively speaking. I still wear plenty of Steve Madden and Nine West but I try to stay away from the cheap, painful thrill of Payless's all man made uppers. I began buying sweaters only in natural fabrics, like cotton, merino wool, silk, and cashmere. Once I made the transition it was hard to go back to any acrylic or poly-blend pieces.Tops and jewelry were really the only things I hadn't replaced with newer and nicer. I would buy new tops and jewelry periodically. But mostly from the outlets of places like J Crew or Banana Republic. I had a brief affair with Forever 21 but the cost per wear never decreases when a shirt falls apart during its first wash cycle.
I've found many great things at Gabriel Brothers which has long been a staple of my brick and mortar shopping. And I scour the sale section at Anthropologie, online and in person when possible.