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Where to go, what to buy, and how to outfit your wardrobe, your home, and your life without going broke.



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[First Person]

“Much of My Wardrobe Comes from Thrift Shops”
Interior Designer Katie Lethbridge of Yonkers

Photo by John Fortunato

I love getting a deal. I like sales in high-end retail stores like Neiman’s and Barney’s, but what I love even more is thrift shops. I love the recycling idea—taking clothes and furniture and objects and bringing new life to them. And the hunt is a big part of it for me.

Ninety percent of my living room and two-thirds of my wardrobe come from thrift shops—I nose them out wherever I go—and based on how I dress and the comments of people who visit our home, you would never know. I like the Salvation Army in New Rochelle and Mount Vernon for furniture and good home objects like lamps and white ironstone dishes. I got a great buy in New Rochelle on a big white vintage ironstone pitcher from the twenties that I paid less than ten dollars for. Somewhere else it would be a couple of hundred. Buying this way gives me a chance to change things around in my home or, if something breaks, I’m not that upset about it because I didn’t pay much for it.

One of my favorite purchases are the four beautiful chairs in my living room from the Salvation Army—two slipper ones from the twenties and two arm chairs that look like elegant French chairs from the early nineteen hundreds. I paid twenty-five dollars for each pair. They were in great condition and didn’t need to be re-built. I reupholstered them; my husband is a textile designer and I used his fabric so it was free.

About two-thirds of my wardrobe is from vintage shops. Sometime I can find things in mint condition that would cost hundreds or thousands of dollars that cost me twenty.

I’ve been able to get great clothes at On Consignment resale shop in Greenwich—black Hermès pumps for fifty dollars that sold for about five-hundred dollars new. And I have about one-hundred silk designer scarves that I’ve collected from resale shops over the years. I’ve bought Gucci scarves and, four years ago, a red Chanel jacket from the Salvation Army shop in New Rochelle. I paid twenty dollars. I don’t try on clothing in most thrifts, but if I get it home and find out it doesn’t fit after trying it on, I donate it back to the store. Aside from resale, locally I like TJ Maxx for clothing—they have great gloves and scarves in wonderful colors.

The most outrageous thing I ever did? On the way to a parents’ night at a private school in the Bronx—these were some very well-heeled parents, with limos, etc.—I saw a great wingback chair ready to be thrown out on the curb in front of a nearby house. After the event, I waited for all the parents to leave, and then shoved the chair into the back of my car. I reupholstered it, and eight years later I still love it.

Is there anything I’d only buy new? Underwear. I used to say that about shoes, too, but I have since crossed that line.

[First Person]

Photo by John Fortunato

“I Keep My Receipts”
Former retail salesperson Marsha Hyman of White Plains

My mother is my bargain-shopper idol. We always shopped together in Alexander’s and Klein’s. I’m always on the lookout for sales and look at a lot of ads and flyers. I saw a deep lavender leather handbag at Dooney & Bourke for two hundred thirty-five dollars. But because they were having a special promotion, I got it for fifty dollars less. And some stores, like Nordstrom, will refund you the difference if something you buy is reduced in price within the two weeks after you bought it, so I keep my receipts.

I also try and take advantage of any limited-time promotions that offer a gift for trying something on a trial basis; if you cancel, you still get to keep the gift. Like I have a Discover card and, if you try their shopper’s advantage program for thirty days, you get a twenty-five dollar Amex gift check just for looking. Or when I opened up a Barnes & Noble credit card, they sent me a twenty-five-dollar coupon good for anything in the store. I used it to buy the Entertainment Book of coupons, so I could save even more.

Some of my favorite local sources are TJ Maxx, Loehmann’s, and Marshalls for clothing and DSW for shoes. For skincare and beauty products, I shop the better stores, like Bloomie’s and Neiman Marcus, when they have gift-with-purchase promotions. I like Clinique so I try and wait until they offer a gift with purchase on it so I get extra products. And for home items I like HomeGoods and Bed, Bath & Beyond with the coupons.

Is there anything I’d pay full price for? Possibly a piece of furniture because furniture lasts longer than a piece of clothing.


 

 

 

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