Vintage booty

Ever since Hurricane Irene swept in last weekend, the days have become cooler and the leaves underfoot brown and crunchier. Fall is near. I feel excited for it, and sad at the same time. Excited, because every fall, I have always had something to look forward to- seeing my friends (even if it came with the onus of schoolwork), new clothes, new classes, new drama (lol). Teaching abroad last year was very similar to being in school; in fact, I was in school: I was just on the other side of the desk. But now I’m treading into unfamiliar territory, a realm outside of education because – let’s face it – though I enjoy teaching, it’s not my foremost passion. That would be a tie amongst writing, learning new languages, travel, and research (let’s be honest, I’m a nerd; I once turned in a Physics presentation from notes that I took – for fun – a few weeks prior while watching a PBS presentation on String Theory.) I think the sadness at the change of season comes from not yet discovering the way to perfectly unite all of those passions. I have a plan of what I’d like to do with a clear agenda; but only reality (and the job market) can inform what happens next.

Anyway, I’m rambling. This isn’t a post about my career. It’s a post with pictures of the funky vintage loot I’ve collected over the past few weeks. I was inspired to go treasure-hunting by Nina Garcia’s The One Hundred, which is a list in book form of wardrobe pieces that every woman should own. There’s a passing line in the book in which she mentions Bakelite bracelets. Bakelite is a plastic that was used during WWII to inexpensively make jewelry. Now, however, it’s a rare material and can only be found in thrift stores. After reading through the list of 100 items that I should own, I determined to scour my local consignment shops. And not for Bakelite bangles (because I looked up a picture of them online and was unimpressed) but for “timeless, one-of-a-kind” wardrobe pieces that she mentioned could be found for cheap- hats, bags, trench coats, etc. I don’t have designer clothing money, but I figured, if rare Bakelite bangles could be sold in thrift stores- why not unique, designer pieces? I’ve never really been one to hang about secondhand shops. I think it’s because when I was younger, my grandmother and mother enjoyed vintage shopping together- and I, of course, would be dragged along and usually ended up in a musty corner playing with outdated toys while they spent (what felt like) hours eying furniture for marks or excessive wear.

While thrift shopping this week, I didn’t find any clothes worth wearing (people who sell their clothing to these stores really have eccentric tastes…) However, I did score some lovely pieces! I got a beautiful beaded necklace with real stones:

At a flea market, I bought this pretty ring with a black stone set in it. It has a woven band. Unfortunately, the camera wouldn’t let me take a close-up on my windowsill, so I had to take one on my orange desk. But you can see the little beads adorning the stone:

This scarf wasn’t bought at a secondhand shop. I actually got it at a boutique. But isn’t it lovely?

You know, smaller shops are so easy to overlook! And whenever I walk by them, I tend to assume that they’re expensive since they’re privately owned and not a chain. I also feel awkward walking into smaller shops because I feel like there’s more pressure on me to buy something than in a store like, say, CVS or Walgreens. It’s a more personal experience because the owner is there, sometimes watching you evaluate his or her inventory. But it is a more rewarding experience when you buy from a smaller shop. You know who the money is going towards. It’s not simply sucked into the vacuum of a conglomerate, and folded into a bigwig’s seven-figure salary. Moving on…


I wanted something in my room that reminded me of the City of Light without being trite. And I found it in a teeny consignment shop. It’s a scene of Shakespeare & Company, an English book shop on the Left Bank, very near the Cathédrale Notre Dame.

Also, I decided to replace the unsightly orange desk that I picked out while in high school. Here’s the new desk:
It’s a fixer-upper. It was $100, but I successfully bargained it down to $75. (Always try to bargain wherever possible! If I didn’t try, I would have forked over 25 more dollars than was necessary!) I plan to sand the desk, distress it, and repaint it so that it resembles this desk. I’m not sure what color I’m painting it yet. Perhaps a blue-gray. I also plan to paint my white Ikea dresser. It’s just so…bland. I plan to do a before-and-after of the desk, so look out for that! It should come out within the next month or so; it’s going to take me a while since I’m not much of a handywoman and this will be one of the biggest DIY projects I’ll be undertaking by myself.

Last, but not least, I got a wooden desk organizer to store letters, bills, and other office paraphernalia. Should I paint it or just dust it and leave the wood exposed? What do you all think? I got this for 5 bucks!

Any DIY projects that you’d like to share?
Found anything interesting in your local vintage and secondhand shops lately?


About Jul

just a girl exploring the world


  1. Love the ring and the dresser ,some amazing finds, well done you, Jen xoxo

  2. Pingback: Urban chic furniture makeovers « goldleaf strokes

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