Saturday, January 10, 2009

On Mr. Cool Threads’ Top 5 of 2008:

A lot is made of how men and women are different, or alike – depending upon which self-help book you spot first while book browsing. Soon after taking care of business item number one (getting a cart) my better half and I shoot off for opposite poles of the thrift store. We favor different thrift outlets, but compatible in one very important way – we both find great stuff for me, regardless of whether she wrinkles her nose at the occasional item I dash towards her with, like a puppy with a newly found bone.

So, of my favorite 2008 scores, I didn’t find them all by my lonesome. And, it is hard limiting the tops to just 5. Some were gifts, but in the end it didn’t matter where they came from, Neiman Marcus or from Goodwill hunting. It matters where they are now.

Note: Click any image to enlarge.

Allow me to come clean. I haven’t been the snappiest dre
sser for all my adult life. Most of my professional environments were full-time business-casual (which in the case of Boulder, CO meant you worked at a business, and you dressed as casually as you liked, with dogs usually allowed in offices). I liked it, but I wasn’t exactly a chick magnet after hours, eyeing the fairer gender with my fellow buddies at the pub with scant recognition. I suppose I liked rejection. It makes acceptance that much sweeter. So, on to the first item surely enough related to - threads.

Item(s) #1:
Fine mens clothing – and I do mean fine. Chicks dig men who are nice dressers – they can very superficial creatures (just like
us men), but I’ll take them anyway. As my first best-find I offer this nice combo of a comfortable 100%-wool Christian Dior jacket, a classy white Alfani cotton fitted shirt, and a fine silk tie – all in like-new condition. The jacket goes with many all-wool slacks I’ve picked up while thrifting. The set shown would run over $300 - easy. It cost $13 for the ensemble, in the same neighborhood as it was to dry-clean. Sweet!

So to all you loser guys and easily impressionable ladies out there, thrifting has made me more likely to turn heads when I walk into a room. The potential to make a better first impression for only $13 is utterly priceless.

Item #2:
An anti
que glass-stoppered cruet, with level marks for vinegar and oil. At first sight, I wanted to invite friends over for a cool dinner just to show it off. I like good food, and I’m partial to red wine vinegar and olive oil – I chide my wife when she drags home store-bought dressing. This vessel reminds me of something from an old apothecary shop (think absinthe), and it dates from the turn of the (er, 19th) century. It’s worth just shy of $100, and was purchased for $3.99. Its value is however, also priceless.

Item #3:

My vintage Flexible Flyer sled. Some Flyers from this era are
overpriced at antique shops, and similarly range between operating and museum quality. This one cried out, longing for a sweet reunion. It’s not just that I was able to Flexi-sled with my daughters (and my wife I might add) on my back, it bears fond memories of scooting down hills and getting chin stitches. The sled was not expensive, and not too perfect to feel guilty using. It set back my wallet by about $6, slightly more than the price of those green army men little boys always melted in the sandbox. If you’re a male reader you’ll get this inside pre-adolescent pyro reference.

Item #4:

A 1961 Encyclopedia Yearbook (and no smart-aleck comment
s about my um, maturity). It’s one of those “what the world is like now” books. I received it as a birthday gift. It was also a “double gift”, as my wife couldn’t wait for me to open it, and for us to read it – together. It gave us laughs and conversation for hours. Within its pages were illuminating facts, like how “the current scourge of beatniks have made it their mission to destroy the very fabric of American society." Confessed total- $2. It is a perfect example how a thrifted item can be a cherished personalized gift, selected out of thought rather than fleeting obligation (see “The Zen of Thrift” article on The Thrifty Chicks).

Item #5:
There are moments in life when on feels a certain rush of pleasure that comes with figuring out a difficult math or logic problem. Some call it the “AHA!” moment. I don’t know quite how to describe this item, as I’d never seen one before. It’s a total bonus of routine thrifting practice, bu
t it’s an “AHA!” find.

It’s called a Snack Toaster, a name that doesn’t do it justice, so the picture will explain much better. On family camping trips, I bust open a pop-n-fresh stack of biscuits, and sandwich a blob of soft, cinnamony dough within. Add a few minutes of quality campfire time, and no bakery can match the experience. The item bears a stamp from the Federal Mfg. and Eng. Corp, Brooklyn 5, NY. This address code (Brooklyn 5) predates the modern zip code, and is somewhat like the “arrondissment” number used to identify one of the 20 boroughs of Paris. By my estimate this item could well be over 60 years old, and while it cost $2.99, I would never sell it.

This last item can be seen for a brief period during the recent TV coverage on The Thrifty Chicks, courtesy of NBC’s Denver affiliate,

To paraphrase former Texas senator Lloyd Bentsen - I know Shopping Golightly and have gone thrifting with her. Shopping Golightly is a friend of mine. You are no Shopping Golightly. But then again no one is, I suppose.

But, you can shop like her and get your own list of Top 5 finds for 2009, maybe better than hers. I have every expectation that my 2009 thrifting year is going to be my best. And per This is Spinal Tap, may your 2009 thrifting go up to 11.

Thriftfully Yours,
Monsieur Threads


The Queen of Fifty Cents said...

Fabbo list! That is one handsome suit and wonderful tie, and the snack thingie is great. Happy New Thrifting Year!

Shopping Golightly said...

My husband, Mr. Golightly, failed to mention a recurring conflict of ours. In my thrifting adventures I often find birthday gifts for him early in the year. I love giving gifts and am terrible about holding out for something silly like the actual birth date. My husband? He likes to receive gifts on his birthday, not five months prior. This results in a chase through the house. I tackle him and force him to open the gift and end my extreme eagerness that borders on torture. The only reason he was able to open the 1961 Book of Knowledge is because I found it that week. I hope this is not scaring him or doesn’t send him to therapy because I can’t stop and refuse therapy myself.

The Shopping Sherpa said...

Oh man, you found a stove-top toasted sandwich maker?! My Mum had a similar (square) version. You brought brings back many many childhood memories...

Michael T. said...

That men's outfit looks exceptional. People think it takes too much effort to find nice clothing, when it just takes a little of those "snake eyes" you mentioned.

Shirts, wool pants, and really sweet jackets are not that hard to find, it's the ties that take a little effort, at least for me. However, I've found 4 in just the last month, each better than my last visit to the department store.