2 Step vintage purse restoration

Ah, vintage Coach purses. These all-leather bags are my weakness! I absolutely adore everything about the timeless styles and neutral colours and have been collecting them for a few years now. They’re pretty easy to come by (Etsy has hundreds listed in all styles and sizes!) in terms of finding them, but it’s finding the right one that can challenging.

Buying vintage purses can be tricky because of the fact that they’re, well, vintage. A vintage Coach bag can run over $100 depending on style and condition, but it’s pretty easy to find sub-$50 vintage pieces (like this one) in slightly less-than-mint condition that can be restored for under $10 and in 2 easy steps! I scored my most recent vintage Coach bag last month for $35. It desperately needed some TLC, so I thought I’d share how I brought this piece back to life!

vintage Coach purse restoration main

I’ll start off by saying that I’m very picky with the type of vintage purses I buy. This reason isn’t related to style or colour of the bag, but rather the condition. I never purchase bags that require hardware or straps replacement (those can get really pricey really quickly) or ones with holes in them. I will never pass up on a bag with minor scratches and slightly dried out leather, though! These are easy fixes that can be done in 2 steps in under 15 minutes.

My most recent vintage Coach purse looked like this when I found it:

vintage Coach crossbody purse - before restoration
dried patches of leather with a few minor dirt marks and minor scratches
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Clothing budget recap: January 2017

With today being the last day of the month, here’s the moment of truth on the clothing budget recap! As mentioned in my goals for this year, I’ve given myself an allowance of $200 each month as a clothing budget. If the full amount is not spent, the remainder will not be carried over to the next month.

Budgeting Bloggers: January 2017 budget recap

Purchased new:
1. “Could’ve danced all night maxi dress” from Lulu’s – $49 (exact)
After years of great experiences buying maxi dresses from Lulu’s, I couldn’t pass this one up. It’s currently on mega sale (marked down to $49 from $98) and will be used as a backup dress for a special event. *wink wink*

2. Topshop destroyed boyfriend jeans – $55 (exact)
After outgrowing my favourite pair of destroyed boyfriend jeans 2 years ago, I never replaced them. I’ve been living in skinny jeans (or leggings) for the past couple years and figured it’s time to hop back on the boyfriend jeans train. Even though I ordered these online at the beginning of January, they still haven’t been received thanks to some mail delivery fails… Adding this to the list even though I have no idea if I’ll keep them or not. *fingers crossed* that they fit whenever they decide to arrive!

Thrifted:
1. Bisou Bisou v-neck zippered sweater – $6 (similar)
I purchased the black version of this sweater (could only find photos of the white version online) and have worn it almost once a week since! I really like the fit and cut. Bonus points for the fact that the yarn is 100% acrylic, so no need to dry clean– so easy to toss into the laundry pile with everything else!

2. Vintage Coach crossbody purse – $35 (similar)
Again, couldn’t find a photo of the black version of this purse online, but this is the exact style that I thrifted. It was in slightly rough condition with dried patches of leather and some worn edges, but nothing that was a deal breaker for the price. I’ll most likely share a tutorial on how to restore vintage leather bags in February, as this is something I’ve learned to love doing after thrifting my entire collection of vintage Coach purses.

3. Billabong beach cover-up top – $5 (similar)
It’s been really rainy and gloomy all year (haha it’s only January…) and I’m already thinking about a sunny vacation. Despite the fact that a sunny beach vacation has yet to be booked, I know it’ll happen this year, so I’m prepping my closet for it! I haven’t been on a “lazy, beached whale” type vacation in a while, so I couldn’t pass up on this top when I saw it. Bonus: it was 50% off!

Not pictured: 2 of the same Banana Republic shawl collar sweaters – $3.50 a piece

Total for January: $157

Not too shabby for the first month of the year! The biggest surprise purchases were the maxi dress and the vintage Coach crossbody purse. While neither were on my shopping list for this month, sometimes a good sale or happenstance find at the thrift store just happens to fit perfectly within the budget and is too good to pass up on.

Linking up with the budgeting bloggers for the first time this year and cannot wait to keep the recaps coming!

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Why I choose to thrift

I’m starting today’s post off with a few personal thoughts before diving deeper into the topic. After sharing that majority of my clothing purchases in 2016 were actually thrifted, it sparked some really great dialogues (thank you!!) asking how I got into thrifting and why I continue to buy secondhand.

To be frank, my response to “Why do you thrift?” is two-fold:
1. From a financial aspect, it can be more wallet friendly to buy secondhand. I say “can be” purposefully, because it is very possible to spend more on rare pieces than buying new at retail (e.g. vintage designer purses). For the most part, it’s wallet friendly.
2. There’s a huge negative environmental and economical impact to countries who export fast fashion labour that goes widely unspoken of. Many people who work in factories producing clothing sold to consumers as dirt cheap prices get paid dirt cheap wages. Often, many of these factories do not meet safety standards, do not provide healthy work environments, and don’t treat their labour force fairly. For these very reasons, I have a hard time continuing to support businesses who exploit human labour and am actively learning what it means to be a conscious consumer.

In an effort to spend (and save) more consciously, I’ve decided to own less pieces in my closet and get creative with thrifting the majority of the new-to-me pieces that get added as I rediscover gaps in my wardrobe staples. Instead of filling the landfills with more unwanted clothing, I’ve been shopping consignment, Goodwill, eBay, and Poshmark to hopefully reduce the amount of waste produced. Some of my favourite pieces – many of which you’ve seen on the blog – are thrifted treasures!

the demure muse // vintage Coach Legacy purse
thrifted vintage Coach Legacy purse from Falling for monochrome post, Sept 2016

Thrifting is something that’s been part of my life since I was a kid. Because I used to spend a couple weeks every Summer living with my grandparents, my grandma used to take me along to run her daily errands. Aside from learning how to pick the best produce at the grocery store and the Chinese names of my favourite dishes at dim sum, my grandma taught me how to be a smart thrifter. It was her passion for finding good deals and patience for waiting it out for the perfect piece that helped to shape the way I thrift today. I have so many fond memories of going to Goodwill stores with her, which is probably why I have such a positive association with the stores as an adult today.

As a blogger who has felt the pressures of trying to stay up to date with trends in the past, I have definitely fallen victim to supporting fast fashion. As I’ve grown older and have started to settle into my personal style that isn’t heavily influenced by the window displays of stores, I have gotten better about thrifting pieces based off of the styles more than off the labels.

I know that thrifting and buying secondhand isn’t for everyone. There have been many times that I’ve talked about thrift finds to people who gave me the stink eye about buying used items, but to each their own! I personally love the thrill of finding unique pieces and knowing that I’m helping to reduce the amount of waste in landfills.

If you’re ever curious about learning more about the “cost” of fast fashion, I highly recommend checking out the documentary The True Cost.

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Goodwill x House of Style event

Last month, Seattle Goodwill hosted an event paying tribute to the MTV hit show, House of Style, which aired in 1989 (wowzas, I feel old now). I grew up thrifting with my grandma at Goodwill, so this organization has been near and dear to my heart ever since I could walk! As a style blogger, I often feel like there’s pressure to keep up with the latest and greatest styles and trends, but thrifting and getting creative through DIY projects helps to keep me creative to stay on trend without breaking the bank.

Seattle Goodwill House of Style event
Seattle Goodwill House of Style event
Designer Jordan Christianson of Jonquil & Mr. Black (center), acted as our design mentor for the evening of DIYing, showing us three different pieces he was able to transform on less than a $25 budget. It was incredible to see how different a pair of floral printed jeans looked when cut into cutoffs and tactfully frayed for a flattering fit.

Seattle Goodwill's House of Style event
Megan Pribble of Diary of This Girl at Seattle Goodwill's House of Style event
Sitting next to Alyson, Megan of Diary of This Girl and Jenn of Hello Rigby meant getting to dig for inspiration around the store with some of the most creative ladies! I ended up selecting a leatherette sleeved top from Apt 9 as my “blank canvas” to start with:

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“You look like a librarian… or a granny”

So this is what I wore yesterday! I would’ve posted these photos earlier but I got home with a mad craving for instant noodles and ended up staying up until close to 2am with two of my best friends after a fun night of drinks. We actually didn’t go out with the intentions of drinking, as we had some major brainstorming to do. We figured we would go to the pub to grab food and chat.

We got to the pub and grabbed a table close to the bar. We ended up running into a few other friends (yay for living in the same city as the rest of your friends) who said they spotted us because of my super bright yellow sweater. A couple of them had never seen this sweater before and were shocked to see I was wearing something other than a black cardigan. One of them felt the need to tell me, “You look like a librarian… or a granny.” I don’t know if this is a good or a bad thing – I just smiled. haha

I’m ok with looking like a granny in the making. Truth be told, I love to knit and sew in my spare time, so I guess dressing like a granny is one step closer to embracing the fact that I will be one in the future.

outfit details: sweater – thrifted | button-up – Marshalls | belt – Target | jeans – Garage | wedges – Aldo

I don’t know if I ever mentioned that I bought this sweater based on the fact that there’s a huge anchor patch and anchor details on each of the buttons. At first, I hated the mustard yellow color, but I’ve since grown quite fond of it now. Plus, I couldn’t really say no to a cute nautical sweater with a $3 price tag.

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