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Flea Market Finds: How to be a Master!

I take great pride in the fact that I am a self-taught genius of flea markets. This essentially means that I am capable of finding fabulous treasures among what looks like piles of trash. People are easily overwhelmed by situations like this, but I thrive on it. It is a talent that has been honed over many years, but I want to give you, my fashion audience, some quick tips about how to “find the fab”.

Take this dress to the left. It was on a sad little hanger in the back of a parking lot flea market looking tired and bored. That is until I found her and breathed new life back into her body! I was just strolling past this particular flea market, as it usually goes in NYC, and I decided to do a walk through. Nothing too crazy, I just wanted to take a glimpse. I usually only go toward jewelry and bags in these situations because they are the easiest to search through, but for some reason, I decided to look at a rack of vintage dresses. The word vintage can be deceiving. People think of celebrities wearing vintage gowns on the red carpet, but mostly it just means that things are old! And so was the story with this long, wine colored polyester gown from the 70′s. Right there in the parking lot I tried this baby on over my clothing to see if it even remotely fit. And lo and behold, my eye was right on. It was a little long and a little loose, but for $25, it was sold. Of course the fun part of this story is that I then had to have it tailored for $96. The key to this type of shopping is knowing that often times, tailoring is a part of the price. I still got a floor length gown that I have worn numerous time for $130. Not too bad.

Another one of my great finds is this snake skin bag. Sure she’s a little beat up, but she just keeps on ticking! Whenever I pair this bag with an outfit, I receive a compliment. It is over-sized and relaxed, creating a laid back vintage look every time I rock it. For $12 in Chicago, this snakeskin bag has been put to good use. At any retail store a new bag just like this one would be upwards of $200 to $250.

Just this weekend I found this amazing art deco bracelet at my favorite flea market in Hell’s Kitchen. I am in way too many weddings this summer and I am trying to save money by styling two dresses different ways. This way I feel like I am wearing different outfits, but not buying completely new ensembles. This is totally for my own benefit since I will literally not be seeing the same people at any of the seven weddings I am attending. Yes, I said seven.

This little bauble only cost me $28 and was worth every penny. The detail and quality of it are amazing. To me, it also adds a bit of character to my look knowing that every piece of jewelry I am wearing I searched for and found a fabulous deal on! I will, of course, let everyone at every wedding know this and how much I paid for each piece. I can’t help myself.

So here are a few quick tips to navigating a crazy flea market:

PATIENCE IS KEY: You are never going to find anything if you are rushing through the market. You have to accept the fact that this is an activity and enjoy the search. Sifting might take time, but it will totally be worth it if you find your next favorite piece.

DON’T GO WITH ONE THING IN MIND: You are never going to find exactly what you are looking for. Certain pieces are more plentiful then others, i.e. vintage jewelry, but this place is NOT merchandised for your pleasure. Go with the idea that you might find something fabulous…. Whatever it may be!

GO FOR QUALITY: There is a lot of junk at flea markets. Piles and piles of it. At some flea markets, that is all there is. Be discerning. If it is clothing, look at the stitching and stain possibility. Check for missing buttons. If it is jewelry, look for tarnishing and broken clasps. It may look cute, but if it is inexpensive crap, then you will look like inexpensive crap when you wear it:)

ACCESSORIES ARE A GIRL’S BEST FRIEND: This is going to be the easiest thing to pick up. There is always a ton of bags and jewelry at any flea market. If you are looking for a trinket to get you through your shopping lull, then this is the place for you. Again, patience is key and only buy it if you love it.

CIRCLE AROUND ONCE BEFORE PURCHASING: Look at everything and make a short list of what you love. Go with a certain amount of cash and when you run out, it is time to leave. Most vendors only take cash so this is an easy way to stay on budget! Make wise choices and you will always love what you buy.

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