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Designer on a Dime

Designer on a Dime

As you can see, the store is quite large, very well-organized, and very clean. This is basically the company’s way of flipping off other thrift stores.

So, on a Saturday night, while I was out shopping, I stumbled across a store that I had never heard of called 2nd Avenue. Upon walking in, I realized it was a second-hand store, but unlike many that I had been in before, this one was spacious, very well-organized, and missing one key part of your typical thrift store – the weird dusty smell.

In fact, the store had quite a pleasant smell (which, if you’ve ever been inside of a thrift store, is very odd, though not un-welcomed). Every single item on the shelves had been cleaned thoroughly and there wasn’t a speck of dust in sight. I decided to sift through the clothing racks, which had been separated by the style of shirt and size. I was surprised to find several designer names in the mix of clothing. When I looked for defects (loose stitching, stains, uneven pattern, etc), there were none in the vast majority of items I looked at.

I was surprised to find several designer names in the mix of clothing. When I looked for defects (loose stitching, stains, uneven pattern, etc), there were none in the vast majority of items I looked at.

pink shirt
A shirt like this, from New York & Company, will go for about $40 in store, but cost $4.90 at 2nd Avenue. That’s a savings of 87.75%

Of course, there were plenty of tops that were clearly in the reject pile (think Christmas sweaters, brands you’ve never heard of, and tops that have ruffles in all the wrong places), but I found many tops that were designed, made from high-quality fabric, and had that Va-va-voom that the savvy shopper is looking for.

And, if you’re anything like me, you often visit those designer boutiques to pine for the clothes that you can, in no imaginable way, afford. To find the names of my favorite designers was like being a child at an Easter egg hunt all over again. I could feel excitement rush through my veins as I saw the clothes I have always wanted at prices I can actually afford, and without having to take them home to scrub out stains before going out in public.

red shirt
I found this gem from a designer, The Limited, which will typically sell for $50, was $8.90. That’s a saving of 82%

In fact, second-hand stores are often fantastic places to find clothes just like these in excellent or even new condition. Many of the clothes on the hangers still had their original tags on them and most felt like they were worn very little if at all. Finds like these can make you feel like you’ve just won the lottery, though I know you are sitting at home wondering what the catch is. It’s simple – you need to be willing to spend some time sifting through a ton of clothing on the racks.

Though the store has gone to great efforts to organize it by general style and size, I found that most of the sizes were actually mixed together (presumably by other shoppers moving things around on the rack), and of course, they do not organize clothes by designer name, and the prices on the shirts do not necessarily correlate with the original price of the item. And of course, as it is a second-hand store, they do not have multiple pieces in different sizes.

This can be extremely frustrating, especially when you come across one of those must-have pieces that are in the wrong size. This happened to me no less than a dozen times while I was on my own shopping spree, so I suggest that you come with no expectations, keep an open mind, and a sharp eye.

banana republic
This was my favorite find, a pair of Banana Republic boot-cut jeans, which usually go for $100 easily, was just $7.90. That’s an amazing saving of 92%

The most frustrating part of my shopping experience was definitely hitting the jeans section. There were a mind-boggling number of pants on the racks, but if they had been organized by size before, they were definitely not when I reached the racks.

What I found to be easiest was to determine the general color scheme that you prefer in denim jeans. As I am an average-sized fashionista, I prefer darker jeans that will draw attention away from my hips and to my lighter or brighter top.

So, instead of going through each pair of pants to see if it was my size, I only looked at the darker jeans that looked to be around my size. That meant skipping over the jeans that were obviously way too small to fit me. By doing this, I was able to find some really excellent deals, more specifically, Banana Republic and Tommy Hilfiger jeans in excellent condition at a mind-blowing discount.

store worker
The staff was all quite friendly and eager to allow me to snap pictures while I documented my trip to the 2nd Avenue store.

When I finally wore myself out and had found a sufficient number of designer deals, I headed up to the cashier to see how I had done. As you other shoppers know, this is usually the part of the trip that you dread the most. You’ve found several pieces you absolutely love, but you know that you will probably have to ditch a couple if the price rings up higher than your budget allows for.

I had the same nervous anticipation, largely from past, as I had grabbed 6 tops and 3 pants – all big name designers, which can easily cost in the hundreds at any of my favorite designer stores. When the cashier rung up my items, she informed me that my awesome finds would cost me $26.08. Of course, I was convinced she had made a mistake, but sure enough, that really was the price of everything.

Of course, as I mentioned before, the biggest catch here is the time you will need to spend to find those great deals. And, as it is a second-hand store, you must also look over each item carefully to make sure there aren’t any stains or loose threads that may pose a problem later on. Of course, spending time to find pieces you like that are in excellent condition is made easier by the conditions of the store.

The entire area is brightly lit, so you don’t have the same problem as you do with stores like Abercrombie & Fitch, where shoppers frequently encounter the problem of thinking they’re buying one thing, and finding something completely different when they bring it home.

What’s great about stores like these is that you not only find great deals on clothing that is in excellent condition, but you’re actually saving the clothing from the landfill. That’s right – there are people who purchase designer clothing, wear it once, twice, or not at all, and throw it away.

Well, thanks to 2nd Avenue, these awesome threads do not go to waste in some landfill but are rather given a second chance to be used to their fullest lifespan by thrifty shoppers. So, give it a shot and head to any number of stores like 2nd Avenue to see what you can find! Share your own experiences in the comments below or any other tips you have for the budget-conscious fashionista!

Special thanks to the staff of the 2nd Avenue Store of Columbia, MD!

Fashion Commentary: Cannes Film Festival 2012

Fashion Commentary: Cannes Film Festival 2012

Big, glamorous events like award shows and ceremonies always have their hits and misses. With all the frenzy of getting ready, including the expensive spa treatments, pancake makeup, hair styling, detox, and such I don’t blame celebrities for relying on fashion advisors for their formal attire. But even the most established designer or fashion expert can be wrong.

I think part of the fun of following formal fashion events is to see how far celebrities will go to stand out. Will they try to impress with excess Tiffany bling or dress in some ridiculous feathered nightmare? Read on for some fresh, honest commentary on the stunners and fashion fallouts.

Eva Longoria

Eva Longoria

It’s not surprising to me that she keeps making the best-dressed list for this event. The transparent, beaded dress looked amazing and tasteful on her figure. The slim, curve-hugging fit, neat bodice, and ruffled bottom are a great throwback to old Hollywood 1940s’ glamour. Plus her hair is pulled back neatly so it doesn’t compete with the dress.

The only thing I would’ve changed is her lip color. The gloss she’s wearing has an opaque, metallic sheen that isn’t flattering on her skin tone and washes her out.  I think a rose-tint with a gold flecked gloss would’ve been perfect for bringing out her glow without overwhelming the smoky eye.

Freida Pinto

Frieda Pinto

Freida also made a lot of the best-dressed lists. I don’t really understand why, though. The shoes look kind of cheap and the skirt seems like it’s tucked into her underwear or something. The multicolored, sequined bodice just fuels the tackiness. The beehive hair doesn’t seem appropriate to the outfit either. She’s a lovely girl but I’m not a fan of this look on her.

Diane Kruger
Diana Kruger

Kruger stunned the crowds during the festival. I think the dress is a little too Grecian for my taste. I would’ve liked it better with a modern twist. I suspect that the reason she was such a show-stopper had more to do with her being gorgeous than her being wrapped in fancy bed sheets.

Rachel McAdams


This look is simple but refreshing! The rosebuds are a fresh touch to the fitted dress and the nude heels make her legs look so long.

Uma Thurman

Uma Thurman

I adore this dress! Another 1940s’ Hollywood chic cut. The turquoise earrings add a brilliant finishing touch. Uma’s skin looks really fresh; looking about 10 years younger in this photo. I also love her sweet-looking tendrils.

Sarah Jessica Parker

Sarah Parker

Ugh! How did this monstrosity make the best-dressed list?!  I think people orient her so much with her Sex In the City character that they refuse to acknowledge her fashion failures.  This looks like something an artsy, goth chick made on Etsy.  Her makeup and skin look perfect though.

Reem Kherici


Do I even need to say anything? The bow-tie heels, micro-mini dress, Oompa-Loompa tan, big hair, and blue eye shadow come together to create a one of a kind look makes my head feel like it’s going to explode. Where were the fashion police?

Angelina Jolie

Angelina Jolie

The flowing cut of the skirt is beautiful, and the fit is perfect, but did she have to pick brown? The drabness of this dress belongs on the mediocre-dressed list.

Image Credit:,

Finding Eco-Elegance in 2011’s New York Fashion Week

Finding Eco-Elegance in 2011’s New York Fashion Week

Eco-couture is stepping into the spotlight this fall. Fashionable sustainability has been in the works for years but only days ago did it finally come full circle. New York Fashion Week hit the Big Apple this month and with it came a revolution. Armed to the teeth with organic materials, designers showcased some of their latest and greatest eco-achievements to date. From chic ponchos to bold print gowns, the fashion produced was flawless and shamelessly raw.

Bodkin, Study NY, Popomomo, and Gary Harvey name only a few of the design studios, came forward to showcase remarkable wears of the eco-fashion realm during the fall/winter 2011 shows in New York City. Despite years of skepticism, it seems eco-fashion has finally stepped away from the forever phase of casual wear and into the heels of runway couture. Designers have created a way to successfully meld eco-materials into designs that support comfort, sustainability, and most importantly: style.

Popomomo, also known as a post-post modern movement, showcases a life in a style that is both classic chic and beyond industrial. Inspired by polar ice caps and quartz crystals, Pop Momo’s style grasps elements of nature and seamlessly interlocks them with mechanical elegance. Designer Lizz Wasserman created a palate of neutral charcoals and bold indigo that evoke impressions of geometric shapes, shapes that complement the angles of the female form. Popomomo’s collections peppered with knee length mini dresses and flowing cover-ups, shocked viewers with its innovative prowess and obvious wearability.

New York fashion weekBodkin’s downtown New York style stood strong next to Popomomo’s accessible design. While Bodkin opts for more organic swatches, their style appeals to those who seek wearable fashion trends while still appearing effortlessly chic.

Giving an updated twist to traditional knit patterns, lead designer Eviana Hartman’s 2011 Fall/Winter collection is full of high-quality organic pieces, reminiscent of homemade, one of a kind design.

The collection, bearing similarity to past Bodkin collections, shows the longevity and sustainability of the assemblage. Organic cotton-Sherpa jackets and fair-trade cotton-wool jumpers crown the collection and showcase the versatility of Bodkin’s traditional style.

Study NY’s collection took viewers from city chic to country crisp. Housing color palettes like mustard yellow floral and deep blue flannel helped balance rustic, tweed undertones to complete a look of casual sophistication. With hand-knit alpaca wool tube skirts and secondhand pipe necklaces, Study NY designer, Tara St. James showed runway goers that you don’t necessarily need expensive factory made accessories and materials to complete a look. Having no fear of DIY projects, St. James embraces the challenge and enhances Study NY’s line accordingly.

Likewise, Gary Harvey’s array of gallant green gowns blew away audiences as tall amazons strutted down the runway encased in designs structured from 100% repurposed goods. One dress, accented only by bold black print and composed of 20 organic cotton t-shirts, showcased a wearer’s trim mid section while boldly declaring the statement, “Clean up or die.” Another creation, complete with puffed sleeves, billowing train, and comprised of 26 nylon baseball jackets reminded audience members of more flawless Oriental design than long forgotten American treasures.

Although barely attaining the complete taste of the eclectic collections found during this year’s festivities, found elegance seems the ideal summary for these four designers’ Fall/Winter 2011 collections. New York Fashion Week has been taken for a ride by innovative design; and while traditional style once went unmatched, eco-fashion is truly becoming a stronger presence in the eyes of the consumer.

Though designers compete to create the boldest and chicest looks, wearability and ease were far from forgotten. Understanding that in order to win over the public, pieces need to possess both style and effortless ease and comfort, designers are fully listening and evolving to ensure everyone has a place within eco-couture.