I don’t remember when or how I discovered Adrienne Shubin’s blog, The Rich Life (on a budget), but I’ve been a fan for a while now.
Adrienne lives in the beautiful Sonoma wine country of northern California with her fire chief husband, three great step-kids, and four pups. Besides blogging, she volunteers with the elderly and works at a well-known winery.
All of that adds up to a lovely blog.
Adrienne and I share an interest in thrift shopping, but while my focus is on items for the home, Adrienne is experienced and talented at scouting out secondhand fashion finds. So I asked my cyber-friend if she would consider doing a Q&A to share her tips and inspiriation, and she graciously agreed.
Here’s our conversation:
Julie: Where did you get your interest in fashion?
Adrienne: From two places:
First, from my mother. She has always liked to dress up and look stylish and current. I can’t remember at time when she didn’t. She loves to shop but would never, ever buy anything full-price. She shops sales, thrift shops and consignment boutiques but always looks like she paid full-price.
And second, from modeling. I began my brief modeling career at 12-years-old. Like my mother, I adored dressing up and looking fashionable, even in kindergarten.
Once I started modeling, I became even more passionate about fashion. That’s when I started raiding my mother’s closet and begging her to take me shopping.
Julie: I love your style. How would you describe it?
Adrienne: I like to call my style Sonoma Chic. It’s a mix of classic and casual, with a smattering of trendiness.
Layers are important where I live because the temperature can change as much as 40 degrees from morning to afternoon. Scarves, sweaters, T-shirts, jeans, tanks, khakis and light jackets are what I will spend the most money on. I rarely buy a dress unless it’s secondhand.
Julie: What wardrobe items are your staples?
Adrienne: Jeans and ankle-length khakis are my staples. I wear them almost everyday. And my Simone Pérèle bras, which are expensive but worth every penny!
Julie: What are your best money-saving tips for shopping for clothes?
Adrienne: If you’re shopping retail, have a list of things you want to add to your wardrobe. For instance, this season, I am looking to replace a worn out leopard belt and want to add a black crew neck sweater, preferably cashmere, to my closet. I keep an ongoing lookout for those two items when I shop online and in person.
When you feel like doing a bit of mindless impulse shopping to fulfill that shopping urge, do it only at a thrift shop. If your purchases end up being foolish, you haven’t spent that much AND the money goes to a good cause anyway. Nothing to feel badly about!
I order shoes from Zappos.com almost exclusively. The selection is wide and the shipping is free and fast. I wear my new shoes around the house for at least an hour to make sure they are comfortable. And I try them on with a few outfits to be certain that they work with my wardrobe. If they don’t, they go back.
Julie: Do you have any favorite secondhand stores?
Adrienne: My local Goodwill shop. It’s small, clean, organized with a friendly staff and a superior selection of clothing.
There are other thrift shops I have visited in my area that are okay, but I’ve never gotten so many great items anywhere like I have at that Goodwill location.
My favorite consignment shop is Paper Dolls because they are very selective, only taking the most stylish items in the best possible condition. I found this great high-low dress several months ago for $68.00. It’s by Shelli Segal for Laundry and had the tags still on! It likely retailed for around $200.00.
(If you happen to live in the Sonoma Valley, my favorite Goodwill is located on Fourth Street and Paper Dolls is in the Montecito Shopping Center, both in the town of Santa Rosa.)
Julie: Do you have any tips for shopping secondhand?
Adrienne: Yes! I have lots of them. My favorite tips are:
a) Investigate that garment! Look for pilling, fading, odor, stains, tears, and holes. Put it back if you see any of the above. I have tried to get stains out of secondhand clothing and almost always fail. My guess is that the owner tried to get it out too and finally gave up and donated it.
b) Shop all sizes. Things are often put in the wrong section or don’t have a size tag at all. I found this dress, which is probably an 8 or 10, in the “smalls” at my local Goodwill. It’s one of my all time favorite finds.
c) Shop all seasons. When it’s 100 degrees outside, the last thing you want to do is look for a winter coat. But when the temperature drops to freezing, you’ll have wished you had seen that fabulous vintage cashmere coat hanging on the rack.
Julie: I know you like to travel. What packing suggestions do you have?
Adrienne: Prepare to be underwhelmed by my response because I am not a very skilled packer. There are so many bloggers out there who really know how to pack efficiently; I am not one of them.
My biggest hurdle has been learning to pack only those things in my closet that I wear often. I often bring clothes I rarely wear at home, thinking I’ll wear them on vacation, and guess what? They never leave the suitcase!