Lifestyles of the Destitute and Obscure

dazzling and interesting on a shoestring

Tag Archives: thrift store shopping

Eclectic Vintage-Bohemian Style

Our style here in the Land of the Destitute and Obscure is what I like to call eclectic-vintage bohemian.  What does that mean, you may ask.  Good question.  It means that we get innovative, wait patiently, watch ebay, craigslist and garage sale listings with an eagle eye and even get lucky.  As for the rest of our eclectic-vintage bohemian philosophy, even with a tight budget, we follow these loose guidelines to achieve the look:

Buy or Accept it Used:We rely heavily on hand-me-downs for the small people’s clothing options, and since they come from a variety of sources, we don’t worry much about matching.














If the long-sleeved onesie is polka-dot and the pants are flowered, at least they’re both pink, and if a yellow hat is all we’ve got, then that’s what we wear.  When you’re the size of the average retriever puppy and your skin is that soft and rosy, you can get away with just about anything.  IMG_0526











If your mother dresses you to look like a modern American Inuit in a range of yellow tones, just go with it, be thankful that you are warm and keep a lookout for a toddler teepee love-in. DSC_1784












Handmade Goes With Everything…If it was made with love, it goes with everything, whether it’s a purple cardigan from Grandma or a headband sent from overseas, show your gratitude (and patriotism) and wear it with confidence.IMG_0368

Since I am currently limited in my crocheting and knitting abilities to the two-dimensional, I pair my funky knitted scarves with thin, thrift store silky ones and then I’m both warm and colorful.  Then I decorate my couch with blankets made from hand-me-down yarn.


Ms. M’s outfit #1














Outfit #2

Accessorize with Confidence and Freedom:  Whatever you feel your accessory must be, either an Afghan necklace made from silver coins (one of my favorites) or an inflatable butterfly, let your personality shine.  Don’t let the circumstances dictate the level of accessorizing either.  I may only be going to the park, but sometimes I need to wear a velvet top hat.













Outfit #3

Even though you may only be sitting down to breakfast, there may be times when a morning tutu and striped beanie need to accompany syrup and pancakes.


Outfit #4













Or perhaps, you may need to don a string of ducks and do your best bellydancing—pigtails optional.


Outfit #5

Inspire Others:  
Encourage your friends to break out of those fashion constraints—fairies, apparently, sometimes need to wear sunglasses, too.












Wear the Unusual Every Day:  I have jeans with embroidered butterflies, and skirts paneled with old saris.  When I wear them with a simple top, they are a little less overwhelming than some of the combination my eldest puts together, but the outfit remains interesting.  I don’t save a whole lot of my clothing for ‘special occasions.’  I don’t really have those; we don’t go out to fancy parties, and every day is worthy of being special.  All the outfits above (with the exception of the fairy dresses, plastic shoes and ducks) go out—to school, the park, the store.

We splurge every now and then—the big girl gets new rain boots at Target, and I go bonkers on ebay, collecting cute, little used leather crib shoes on my watch list.  I manage to buy a few, too.  The truth is, I don’t need any more clothing, with the possible exception of bras that fit properly.  I can go ‘shopping’ in my own closet and find things I forgot I owned, and pair them with items that desperately need an update.  We manage here to keep our style unique with what we’ve got, because there is no price or monetary limit on creativity.

Just for fun, let’s take a poll. Which one of The Divine Miss M’s outfits was your favorite? Check out the captions for the photo numbers that match.

Thrifty home decorating with a splash of the unusual

After moving in, buying new beds, getting a few hand-me-down furniture items and trying to settle into our new apartment, the ship came in with the household possessions that had been in storage for the last three years.  And so, our new possessions met our old ones and thus blended into what is now known as our home.

The majority of what was in storage was the accumulation of years of hunting down fashion items when I had multiple jobs, no kids and thus, more disposable income—though still not much.  The household items are proof of the love and generosity of our family and friends who spoiled us with a deluge of beautiful, quality items at our wedding.  Take my silverware, for instance—a pattern chosen for it simple durability and sturdy in your hand.  It feels like a legacy when you eat with it. Or the fact that Wusthof knives and Le Creuset pots are only a part of my kitchen because they were gifts.

We combined a whole lotta bargain hunting and thriftiness with bits of minor splurge here and there.  I found a super fancy pink duvet and sheet set at a garage sale for $10, plus the expense to have it dry-cleaned. I splurged on the rug in the bathroom, because I can’t get a real, live cat yet, and because it’s just kind of quirky.  It would, however, be ridiculous and terribly uncreative if I chose (or could afford) to decorate my entire house with the uber-trends of Urban Outfitters.  I’m not too cool for school, just too old.
The couch and chairs were craigslist and estate sale finds, respectively, and miraculously look like a matched set.  We paid less than $150 for all three, thanks to a little wheeling and dealing and cold, hard cash.

The desk was my grandfather’s, and held in storage by my parents for a couple years.  It’s outfitted with a power strip and filing clip that my handy Grandpa put there for his convenience.  To honor that, the black and white photograph he took of my grandma (his wife of nearly 60 years) takes its customary place atop the attached bookshelf.
The enormous painting that graces an otherwise undecoratable wall is from yet another estate sale and cost us the bargain-basement price of $100.  It is an original artwork by a lesser known Mexican artist, Mario Joel, and while we couldn’t come up with anything when we Googled him, the painting adds a bright, unusual and slightly haunting element to the house.

It goes well with the smattering of New Zealand Maori artwork that hangs around the rest of the house.

While it is not common to find large, original artworks for such prices as the Mayan work here, fun and funky framed pictures are easy to come across at thrift stores and add a charming and quirky element to kitchens and bathrooms.

As further study in contrasts, our TV is an ultra-modern, high-tech version atop a bargain of mid-century Swedish design—a console with double sliding doors and just the right shade to blend in with the set of ‘Mad Men’.   My husband used his best craigslist ‘prowl and stalk’ techniques for this one.  He accidentally stumbled across the large blue-painted bookshelf that sits opposite the painting, but he was smart enough to snatch it up when he found it—just one of the reasons I married him.

Very little of our household furnishings are new, save the beds and the gifts, but I like it that way.  Everything has a history—well-known, like my grandparents’ desk and dining room table—or more mysterious like the Aztec/Mayan painting.  It is, however, recycling at its most basic and most necessary.  I may never own a brand-new couch, but it’s hard to argue with the fact that this one matches our chairs and is graced by a handmade afghan and a beaded Hawaiian tropic throw pillow.
Style is what you make it, and what you can afford, but most importantly it is what defines your home as belonging to you—even if you’re a renter.  Know what you like, know where to find it, and know when something finds you.  I love the way my house is decorated, because it cannot be replicated by anyone else, and it looks and feels like me and my family—aka, a home.