Thrift audit: Rummage sale, April 24

I drove down to a nearby town last month for a rummage sale I had never been to before, and it was kind of a good news/bad news adventure. The good news was, I got all this stuff:

The bad news was, it was NOT a bag sale as I had thought ... and I had dragged a friend along with me, so I felt pretty bad that my promise of 10-cent dresses was, in fact, a TOTAL LIE. (Sorry Jessica!)

There was also this awkward part where we walked all the way around the church and tried to open its 9 million different doors, in the freezing cold/snow (yes, this is upstate New York, it snowed several times in April), with my daughter tagging along saying, "Mama, why can't we go in yet?" only to come back around to the door we had tried the first time to find that it was, in fact, open.

BUT IT WAS SO WORTH IT. Usually at rummage sales, there's a puny little rack of, like, 8 or 10 dresses. This rummage sale (which was in the basement of the church — rummage sales are ALWAYS in the basement) had a rack of blouses, dresses and skirts that ran the full length of the room. And it seemed like every single one I pulled off the rack was vintage, in exquisite condition. No missing buttons or belts here — everything looked like it had just come out of the laundry and been hung carefully up in a well-kept closet and preserved for the past 40 years. Not even kidding. It was a DREAM. The only problem was, like I said, I had thought it was a bag sale so I didn't have a lot of money on me. So there were some hard choices that had to be made.

Total spent: $17
Items purchased: 20
Cost per item: $0.85

Black pussy bow top

Keep or sell: Sell
I kind of love this top. You can't really tell in this photo, but the fabric has a great sheen and interesting texture, and it's in fantastic shape. But it is too small for me, so off to my Etsy shop it goes (eventually).
Good or bad buy: Good buy

Red and yellow home-sewn wrap skirts

Keep or sell: Sell
I can't prove it, but I like to imagine these two cotton skirts were sewn by the same woman, possibly as variations on the same pattern. I love the oversized pockets and the way the belt ties in the front on the yellow one.
Good or bad buy: Good buy — I already sold the red one!

80s colorblock knit dress

Keep or sell: Sell
As I've mentioned before, I love dresses that pretend to be separates, and the teal, pink and purple color scheme just brought me back to 1986 so completely that I had to buy it. Unfortunately, it's not in the best shape — the knit top part is kind of pilly. Fortunately, I was able to get a stubborn stain out of it, so it's at least sellable.
Good or bad buy: Not a great buy, but I'm hopeful.

70s sleeveless top

Keep or sell: Sell
This is totally one of those "so bad it's good" prints for me. I instantly saw this top paired with a kelly green skirt and clogs and a straw handbag and was like, YES. But I forced myself to list it on Etsy rather than keeping it, because I don't love it enough to justify keeping it.
Good or bad buy: Good buy — although I'm secretly hoping it won't sell and I can keep it after all, ha ha

Gray Levi's cords

Keep or sell: Undecided
I have literally bought six or seven different pairs of gray cords with my husband in mind over the years. And I still haven't found one that's quite right. I'm not faulting him here at all — we all know how it can be with pants. They're a bit too long or too short; a bit too tight or too loose in the waist; etc. So we'll see if these are THE ONES. If not, I'll list them in the fall on Etsy.
Good or bad buy: Good buy — they're in fantastic shape, so if they aren't right for him, I'm sure they will be for someone else.

Burgundy polka dot dress w/vest

Keep or sell: Sell
This dress totally charmed me, even though I have to imagine anyone buying it would just throw out the vest and wear the pretty polka-dot dress on its own. (Although for some reason I keep picturing Kristina in it, vest and all ...)
Good or bad buy: Good buy, because polka dots

Dark floral pussy bow top

Keep or sell: Sell
I remember reading several months ago that pussy bow blouses were trending for spring, and then immediately I stopped finding them at the thrift store. Seriously, it was like a switch flipped off. But my luck is finally turning!
Good or bad buy: Good buy — I love the print and colors.

70s floral peasant top

Keep or sell: Sell
I was charmed by the print on this one, with the intricate floral motif at the bottom. Add shorts (or flared jeans) and summer is yours.
Good or bad buy: Good buy, provided boho doesn't fall completely out of fashion in the next few months

60s brown shift dress

Keep or sell: Sell
Something about the details on this one — the bust shaping, the line of buttons down the front, the decorative stitching — made me pick this one out of the lineup. I can't say exactly why, but I am hoping someone else sees its charms, too.
Good or bad buy: Good buy, I think — it doesn't look like much on the hanger, but it modeled well. Listing is still to come.

Tan striped shirt dress

Keep or sell: Sell, probably
I am deeply in love with this dress and trying very hard to convince myself to sell it. It's been hanging up in my bedroom for a month, while all these other poor dresses got packed away in the closet. And I smile every time I look at it, and think about how perfect it is. The fabric is a super lightweight, soft woven, and it just seems like the perfect dress to throw on in summertime.
Good or bad buy: Good buy, if only because of how much I am enjoying having it around

Blue linen shift

Keep or sell: Keep
This was the ugly duckling of the batch, but I saw potential even in its disheveled state. I did a double take on the label, thinking it was vintage, but it's really Coldwater Creek (sssh! Don't tell anyone). And the buttons are little animals, like an elephant and a lion.
Good or bad buy: Good buy — provided it fits me.

Blue-and-white checked 70s dress

Keep or sell: Sell
Anything remotely Western, I buy (as previously discussed). It's a sickness. So I kind of overlooked the fact that this has some damage to the hem of the skirt that I may or may not be able to repair ...
Good or bad buy: We'll see after I attempt to mend it.

Floral Schrader Sport dress

Keep or sell: Sell
This one did not photograph well here, but it's exquisite. This is one of my favorite vintage labels, because they always seem nicely made, and the prints are terrific. Plus, cute pocket square!
Good or bad buy: Good buy — once I get it in some better light, I'm confident I can photograph it to show it off to better advantage

70s abstract print dress

Keep or sell: Sell
Is there a name for 70s dresses like this? I always think of adjectives like "romantic" and "dreamy," but that doesn't really capture the essence of them. I love the sheer sleeves on this one, which seem like a perfect compromise for summer.
Good or bad buy: Good buy — it's pretty and well-kept

Patty Petite 60s dress with matching jacket

Keep or sell: Sell
This right here is why I go to rummage sales. While I can't say that this set is in perfect condition, it is in good enough shape that I feel absolutely lucky to have found it. I adore the print of navy circles on a white background, and the cut of the jacket is just divine. Not to mention, it's a larger size, which I'm hoping will make for a quick sale.
Good or bad buy: Good buy

Blue dress with flared skirt

Keep or sell: Sell
I appreciate the drama of this dress — puffed shoulders, big cuffs, flared skirt and an eye-catching print. (P.S., I hate trying to photograph belts in a lie-flat configuration, it just never works.) I kinda wish I could swish around in it, but I suspect it's too small for me.
Good or bad buy: Good buy

70s dreamy floral dress

Keep or sell: Sell
Another staple of the 70s, which also doesn't look like much here, but I'm hoping will show off better on a mannequin.
Good or bad buy: Good buy

Pussy bow top/skirt set

Keep or sell: Sell
This is the sort of print I make beelines for. The fabric is almost velvety soft, so the whole thing has the most wonderful drape. It looks almost 40s here but it is is decidedly 1970s.
Good or bad buy: Good buy — it's so damned lovely. The trick will be not overpricing it.

Overall grade: A

I was thrilled with this shopping trip. I am used to rummage sales being full of things that are dirty, stained or otherwise flawed in some way (missing buttons, etc.) so this was a genuine treat. At first I was reeling a bit from spending $17 when I had planned to spend $2 or $3. But in retrospect, I still wound up paying less than $1 per item, which is where I try to draw the line, so I can't complain.

Stay tuned for next week's haul, which features a very important tablecloth. And in the meantime, find me on Instagram to enter to win a vintage headscarf. Entries close at midnight Monday, but if you missed this one, check back next weekend — I'm doing a whole series of these giveaways for the next few weeks. 


  1. I want SO MANY OF THESE THINGS. Yes, I would wear that polka dot dress and I'd even try to style the vest, and I love the blue gingham seventies dress, and... well, pretty much all of the dresses. The floral seventies one (white with pinky flowers) is SO up my alley. I have a dress really similar to that one in cut that has mushrooms and butterflies on it, and I love how it wears.
    But that blue gingham seventies one, I want so bad. Hah! I'm so addicted to gingham right now. This was such a good haul!

    1. Ha ha, yes, I kind of want to keep everything too! All the 70s dresses are sooooo great and so wearable. (And, mostly, so small! Sad face.) I seriously want to save the polka dot dress and send it to you after your daughter is born so I can see how you would style it! I'll have to take the measurements and see if it would work ...

    2. I mentally replied to this ages ago. I would SO style it if it would fit me!


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