August 8, 2012 — 23 Comments

Last week, something very strange happened. It was as if the thrift-world decided to exact revenge for my recent relapse into chain store shopping, and zap me of all my thrift powers. I first noticed my bad fortune at a routine stop at the thrift store on the way home from work.

The conditions were perfect for thrifting: I wasn’t rushed, I was buzzed about the weekend, and I hadn’t yet hit that EOD wall when I’m so hungry I start daydreaming about dancing hotdogs from old movie theatre commercials. So, I breezed through the racks, taking the change room by storm, and turning it into a carnival tent of polyester and cotton…And I came home with nothing. I shrugged it off. The reality of a thrift-only wardrobe is you’re bound to leave empty handed once and a while. Not one to lick my wounds, the very next day I was right back at it. This time, I went to one of the larger thrift stores Hamilton because I wanted to give myself the best possible odds for success. I breezed, I stormed, and again, I came home with nothing. One strike out is expected. Two is strange.

You see, what I was really looking for at the thrift store was something to wear for a night out with Jentine. That girl sets the bar high when it comes to thrift shopping, so I wanted to bring my A-game. But that wasn’t meant to be. Fortunately, my double-dud turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I was forced to return to my closet, at which point seemed to house only paper bags and potato sacks. But as the day inched closer to the evening, I had to make something work. So, I did what I always do, and channeled my wannabe-mentor and overall-hero, Mr. Tim Gunn. (By the way, Internet, you haven’t created a montage of Tim Gunn saying “make it work” yet. What gives?)

Since I don’t know a lick about sewing, my tool box was very small. I pulled out a maxi dress that my mom thrifted at a Sally Anne sale last year, and cut that thing right up. I’ve always loved the print and colour of the dress, but I hated the cleavagey top, halter straps, and not-made-for-tall-girls length. So, I cut off the top, pulled out the straps for a belt, made a cheaply constructed waste band using Tacky Glue (high-tech), and behold! A maxi skirt of comfy proportions! The skirt is now much longer than the original dress, and it’s way more versatile in terms of what I can pair it with – tees, tube tops, tank tops, whatever. And, luckily enough, it worked well with my latest Salvation Army accessory – that $4 black n’ blue necklace.

Point is, I’m grateful that the thrift universe stripped me of my powers for a few short days. It forced me to look closer at my closet, instead of buying more clothing than I actually need. Sometimes things don’t happen the way you want them to, but you’ve just got to roll with it. Like when the swanky Hamilton restaurant we started at closed their kitchen, thus prompting us to roll our way into a dive bar that served only cheapest of fried foods. Sometimes improvising gets you a maxi skirt, and sometimes it gets you eight cheese sticks and some quesadillas. That right there is a combo of champions.

23 responses to Improvise


    Really cute look!
    And I love the necklace. πŸ™‚



    This look is great! The pattern on that maxi dress works so well as a skirt, I find patterns like that can get a bit overwhelming that close to the face, but this is perfect!

    Oh, and though the internet has failed to make my favourite reality TV show into a catch-phrase montage, don’t worry, they made a talking bobblehead instead. Seriously. I want one for my studio so badly!!




    Wow, I am impressed by your ingenuity with tacky glue! The skirt looks great and I love it with the yellow top.



    Absolutely adorbs! A++ πŸ™‚



    I love that you turned a not-so-awesome dress into a totally rad skirt. I love it with the yellow top. This is a great outfit! πŸ™‚

    -Mary @



    Cheese sticks, BAHAHAHA this post was awesome Julie! (the outfit is rad, btw)



    Girl, you really do need to learn some basic sewing skills. your glue job won’t last long but if you had stiched a casing and threaded an elastic through it your beautiful skirt could last for years.



      Ugh, you are SO RIGHT. I know that’s the one skill-set I desperately need if I want to be a thrift shopper for life. There’s even a place near my house offering classes. A Fall project maybe?



    I hate those days when you come out empty-handed… I sometimes wonder if there is a thrift-god watching over us and doling out pieces of ‘luck’. Nice work on re-inventing an old outfit though! The necklace is fabulous.



    Beautiful photos πŸ™‚ You can make everything works on you!



    You look lovely! Congrats on the last minute inspiration, it is *tough* to shop your own closet sometimes. Speaking of which, you should totally do a ‘this is my closet’ post and show us some of your a-game thrifting treasures!



    Super cute maxi skirt! Tim Gunn would be proud!



    Very clever and crafty! It looks great! I have a pile of thrifted duds that need altering more to my style, slowly working through them one at a time πŸ™‚


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