Too Thrifty Chicks



What I Wore to Work: A Conversation Starter

2013 marks a really cool milestone in my professional journey: I’m teaching my first undergraduate class! I had my first class last week, and in addition to planning the syllabus and outlining the first day, I spent plenty of time thinking about what I would wear. As Ricks and I lounged on our couch the night before my first day, I mused about what kind of vibe I wanted to set. I fell asleep before I could figure it out. 🙂

The next morning, I woke up and decided I wasn’t going to go the dress pants/button down route. I figured I would take advantage of being in a relaxed academic space and wear something that was much more comfortable and representative of my everyday look.


The outfit turned out to be quite the conversation piece as we talked about what it means to have a “culture” and how it’s reflected. After students shared, I brought up my outfit and what it reflects in regards to things I hold dear. I absolutely heart the “I Love Beeing Black” tee, and one of the reasons is the outline of the African continent in the heart. Part of my identity–a choice I’ve made about my identity and it’s relation to the world–is how I locate myself. I am a woman who values being a member of the black disapora. I spoke about how locating myself in the disapora and not just America is significant to how I see the world, power relations, and social justice work.

What a great conversation starter! Students began discussing how they see themselves located in (seemingly) multiple cultures and what that means in terms of displaying (performing) who they are in different contexts. I explained that yes, I love quirky fashion and challenging ideas of what makes “good fashion.” In the classroom, I used both of those things to open up a conversation about the ways we think about ourselves, our surroundings, and what define us.

Places to go, people to see.

Places to go, people to see.

Who knows what I’ll wear next week? Who knows what class will be like next week? I’m sure I’ll wear something fun and equally sure the class will be great. What I set out to accomplish for the first class was 1) disrupt any preconceived ideas of what a professor “should look like,” 2) set the tone for a course in which I hope students will constantly evaluate stereotypes, assumptions, and long held beliefs and 3) have a dynamic conversation to get students thinking about important themes for the course. After a GREAT first class, I’d say mission accomplished.

Great first class....mission accomplished!

Great first class….mission accomplished!

I’m lucky to work in an environment where I can play around with professional dress norms. I hope this post encourages you to push the boundaries more and show as much personality/individuality in your work life as you do in your personal life.

The all stars  had to make an appearance. Oh the places we will go!

The all stars had to make an appearance. Oh the places we will go!

Do you wear fun outfits to work? Share them with us!

Until Next Time,




Food for Thought Friday: The Joy of Creating

“I discovered bit by bit not the pleasure of eating good meals (I am seldom drawn to solitary delights), but that of manipulating raw material, of organizing, combining, modifying, and inventing. I learned the tranquil joy of anticipated hospitality, when one prepares a meal to share with friends in the same way in which one composes a party tune or draws: with moving hands, careful fingers, the whole body inhabited with the rhythm of working” (The Practice of Everyday Life, vol. 2,  p. 153)

In my real life, I’m a PhD student studying anthropology. I spend most of my time reading about food justice, health disparities, and black social and political thought. When I’m not reading about these things, I’m reflecting on them, trying to figure out reasons why so many disparities exists; why so many people don’t have what they need.

During one of those reflections, my good friend and colleague Naya made a great observation: we’re getting further and further away from the production of food, which has done a great disservice to most people in this country, but particularly those who suffer most from health disparities. After the conversation, I thought about how we’ve moved away from the production of many other things as well, because we often want things quickly….and sometimes creating things with our hands isn’t a quick process.

Preping a DIY coming soon :)

Prepping a DIY project that took a couple days to complete.

Last year I realized that some days would come and go and I wouldn’t remember hardly anything that happened. I decided I didn’t want to live like that. I thought about things I wanted to experience and I envisioned how I wanted to feel on a daily basis. That helped me see that I needed to stop moving so fast and spend more time creating. When I deliberately slowed down my life, I began to pay more attention to what’s happening around me. My creativity expanded. Now, I get a great deal of joy from making things with my hands for myself and others. Even if it doesn’t turn out the way I planned, I try not to be too disappointed, because most times, the process was enjoyable despite the outcome. When it does come out right, I feel like I love it ten times more than anything I could have purchased “as is” in the store.

I spend a lot of time creating, because there is something beautiful about knowing the process that something went through to become what it is. Whether it be an outfit, a DIY project,  a meal you’ve prepared or a story you’ve written, the process of creating it makes you an active participant in your present day. And hopefully, taking the time to make things with your own hands will deepen your appreciation for others who do so as well.

Make something this weekend. Doesn’t matter if you make it for yourself or someone else. Just do it with your whole self present.



Too Thrifty Chicks Take on Philly!

So we took our Thanksgiving show on the road to the City of Brotherly Love and we had a blast.  Prior to heading out for a Black Friday of scurrying around the city trying to find thrift stores, we stopped at a most amazing créperie and espresso bar called Rue 52.

We loved everything about this place. Really. What’s not to love?

Not only are the coffee and tea selections at Rue 52 beautifully blended, the food is incredibly well done. Reese arrived ahead of me. She had the caramel swirl latte and the massive, savory broad street run crépe which usually comes filled to the brim with turkey, spinach, tomatoes and ranch.

Reese subbed out the ranch for chipotle spread and it was delicious! The reason I know it was so tasty is because I ended up eating Reese’s leftovers in addition to my own yummy breakfast panini of mixed fruit jam and cream cheese. I had a chai tea latte that I will swear until I’m dead is the best I’ve ever had. PERIOD.

A diamond in the rough

But enough about all that. What really grabbed our attention was the art, decor and well thought out design of this spot. It is an oasis in a block that has seen brighter days.

Someone put a lot of thought into every detail of this place from where customers sit, to the dishes and cutlery to the art — the beautiful, glorious, local art that is for sale! We loved everything about this place and look forward to many happy returns, particularly since it is practically across the street from my aunt’s house.

We found one other coffee spot in the midst of our Black Friday adventures purely by accident. One of our thrifting rules is that you must hydrate. We often find ourselves parched after hours (yes, hours!) of thrifting. Reese apparently followed that rule a little too well and we found ourselves in need of a restroom — bad!

Since I was driving, Reese was on the lookout for a place to hop out and go to the bathroom. Just before she thought she would pop, she spotted a cafe called Black N Brew. Since you have to make a purchase to use the loo, we both got lattes — chai for Reese and toffee for me — and split a vegan oatmeal cookie. All we can say is that if Rue 52 and Black N Brew are what the city is working with when it comes to java and tea, Philly has officially ruined generic coffeehouse caffeine for us.

Now on to the thrifting….

We had a full day of thrifting planned but only managed to make it to our first destination, the Goodwill on Bustleton Ave.,  because it was the only place that we could find with our lack of knowledge of the city. But no worries. We had a blast as you can see.

It’s not the biggest thrift store we’ve ever been in, but there is a lot going on at the Goodwill on Bustleton Ave. and a lot to love. We left more than a little bit of what we loved behind but we will be back.

I went for furniture and Christmas toys for some of the little people in my life. Reese found a treasure trove of new, never worn shoes and cute jackets. A thing  that we are fast learning about Goodwill is that they have preferred customer and customer appreciation programs. Some are store-to-store, others are regional. Whatever you do sign up and save!

Until next time…keep it thrifty.

— R&R

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Solo Thrift: DAV Thrift Store and Goodwill

I happened to be near Danville, Va. during Veterans Day weekend and I couldn’t resist finding a thrift store and checking it out. When my aunt and uncle said there was one on Main Street, my cousin and I said, “Game on.” We didn’t have as much time to the peruse the racks as I would have liked, but I managed to find a few things and spent $10. I definitely intend to make the trip back for a longer look.

The Disabled American Veterans Thrift Store is a pretty cool place to spend some time during a Veterans Day Weekend.

Keeping my military theme going, a couple of weeks later, I made the trip down to my adopted hometown of Hinesville, Ga. to handle some family affairs. If you don’t know anything about this part of Georgia, it’s near the east coast of the state and a part of its charm is that it is close to Fort Stewart, an Army installation, and about 45 minutes away from Savannah, Ga.

I paid my first ever visit to the Goodwill in Hinesville and boy am I glad I did. I was there to drop off some donations, but I couldn’t resist a peek inside the store. Pure and simple, this place rocks!

Goodwill Hinesville, Ga. a great shopping experience.

Thrift stores near military installations — think Army, Air Force, Marines and Navy — are the prefect place to find a military style jacket — a classic hot fashion item. I am enamored with the Marine Corps dress uniform and was all too happy to see the selection that I found at this Goodwill. In fact, I was surprised at the selection that I found for each of the services. I lucked up on a Marine Corps dress jacket and an Army dress uniform jacket that was actually made for a woman. Score!

Best place to get that military look for less is to checkout thrift stores near military installations. Troops tend to discard their service uniforms that they can’t fit or don’t need after they end their service.

I can’t sing the praises of this place enough. It’s not huge, but it is clean, incredibly well organized and when the cashier asked, “Would you like to join our preferred customer program? It’s good at all of our stores in the Coastal Empire.” She could have knocked me over with a feather. A preferred customer program that I can use in pretty much any of the cities in east Georgia? Please and thank you. Preferred customers get a point for every $1 they spend and customers that earn 250 points get 25 percent of their shopping experience! And if you are military or a military dependent you can get 10 percent off your purchase every day.

I can’t lie, I earned 35 points in my first trip. But what I got far exceeds what I spent — two vintage dresses and sandals for next summer. My thrifty heart and my wallet are forever in the service of the good folks of Goodwill.

My only complaint — and it is very minor — is that there are only two dressing rooms and a three item limit. Y’all know what I did. I simply tried on all my items right near the racks out where everyone was shopping. Yes, I got crazy side-eyes. No, I didn’t care. Reese would have been proud.

If you live near a military installation and like military inspired clothes, a thrift store near a military base is a way to go.

Until next time…keep it thrifty.

— R&R

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Too Thrifty in Paradise: What I Wore on Vacay

After rocking and reeling on a boat, dancing on sandy beaches, and watching beautiful sunrises each morning, I’m back on the mainland! Did you miss me?! I had a peaceful vacation and now I’m ready to tackle the 1001 things I need to do, including this blog post. 🙂


I suck at packing. Seriously, I think I’m very close to the worst. And of course, hanging out with M. Ricks at the Critical Exposure event the night before my departure did not help my cause. We were supposed  to leave when the 2-hour event ended, but in true R&R style, we met new friends and stayed for coffee. So when 1AM on Thursday morning came and the only progress I’d made was a pile of “maybes,” I wasn’t at all alarmed or surprised. From that pile I managed to put some things together just in time to hang with M. Ricks before leaving.

Here’s a glimpse of what I wore:


This “top” isn’t really a top at all. It’s a scarf! I love the print of this scarf and it is long enough to tie. So I said to myself, “self…let’s try something with this.” I wore it over my bandeau swimsuit top and paired it with a a handmade floral print skirt I bought at a thrift store for $4.00. $5.00 scarf + $4.00 skirt=$9.00 awesomeness.


Close up of the scarf-top. Isn’t the print fabulous?! The sunglasses are from the Bebe factory store ($10.00) and I have no idea where the earrings came from. It was humid this day, so I rocked a puff instead of a fro because I didn’t have time to twist.  
…and of course the best accessory of all is a smile. Happy Days.


I paired this $3.00 top with a pair of denim shorts from Forever 21 plus a pair of red button earrings that cost $1.00. I was itchin’ for a dark lip color, so I popped into the MAC store in Nassau and purchased “Dramatic Encounter” lipstick (fitting, huh?!) and “Currant” lipliner. I love contrast, so the dark lip + white top gives me so much life! While frolicking in the Bahamas I met new friends! Love these two and their styles!

Interested in learning how to turn a scarf into a top? Let us know! We’ll do a video tutorial.

Embrace your creativity. Break the rules. Love every minute of it.

Ciao for now!

-A. Reese


Natasha’s Revamped Night Stand

Natasha McClendon, Guest Contributor

As a struggling grad student, spending money on furniture is not the business. But creating a unique, vintage feel to the decor in my new apartment without breaking the bank is a must for me.

Now, I could have rolled down to Ikea, but I decided that heading to my favorite local thrift store, Value Village, would be a more cost efficient option.

Value Villages are among my favorite thrift store haunts, but the Hyattsville Value Village is my go-to for furniture.  On a visit a couple of weeks ago,  I lucked up and found this great hardwood nightstand with campaign drawer pulls and gold corners.  And the price was more than right at $6.99!

It was just the type of vintage piece I was looking for and I knew that a fresh coat of paint would give it new life and make it a perfect addition to my bedroom.

I popped into my local Home Depot for paint and bought a quart of the  Behr Premium paint + primer combo in teal  for about $15. I already had a paint brush, so I was ready to go to work.

I spent the Frankenstorm (a.k.a. Superstorm Sandy) giving the nightstand an easy and fresh makeover. I only applied one coat of paint plus a few touch ups. The process took about two hours from start to finish.

I am very happy with the outcome and even happier that the cost of the nightstand and supplies was less than $25!

Thrifting is a great way to look for timeless furniture pieces that can be  personalized with just a few easily obtainable supplies like paint. The key is focusing on quality and seeing the potential in a piece. Here are a few more tips to get you started on your own DIY furniture projects:

  • Don’t buy anything that you don’t have a plan for. Before you buy it, envision how you will use it and where it would go.
  • Don’t buy something if you don’t know how to repair it yourself (or don’t know someone who can repair it for you on the free or cheap). It will do you no good to spend your money, no matter how little money it is, if the item needs repairs that you don’t have the skills to make.
  • Have an idea of what type of piece you are looking for before you shop. If you’ve already got a vision in your head, it will stop you from buying things you are less likely to use.
  • When you’re shopping for furniture, be on the look out for solid wood pieces. Real wood lasts longer and is  usually the best quality.


When size doesn’t matter

There is so much about thrifting that we love, oh let us count the ways! One of the top reasons we love thrifting is because it allows us to break all the fashion rules and disavow social conventions such as clothes size.  Most wouldn’t dare risk buying something they knew wouldn’t fit, but with thrifting, risk is often reward.

Take this shirt for instance. I fell in love with it because of the color and the button detail on the left shoulder. I’m sure the price wasn’t bad either.  But clearly the shirt is not made to fit me.

Too big? No such animal!

But all it takes is a simple belt at the waist and now I have a quick, no-sew peplum-style top! Not only have I paired this top with skinny jeans, but it looks pretty awesome with my favorite black body-con pencil skirt too.

And just like magic, it fits! Pow!

Do you shop out of size at the thrift store? How do you make it work? Let us know and we might feature you on our blog. — M. Ricks