It is interesting how a person’s taste changes in their search for certain items in local thrift stores. Looking around my living room I find boxes upon boxes of books on a wide spectrum of topics. Some are signed, the majority are not. Before that it was eBay for original maps dating from the 1500s and 1600s. Now, they are arranged by date in an album stored away from light, heat and moisture to be pulled out when company comes to visit. The next Goodwill impulse was to search for computer bags, everything from Dell with pockets for everything you could imagine to the brand new Hummer Courier bag with the paper stuffing still in the pockets. At least I have been able to sell a few of those for twice what I paid each. Then I had to have DVD movies for my newly acquired LG flat screen. They are now in boxes as well and filed away in a spreadsheet for quick access by box number.
The next item was to educate myself on how to dress better and try an experiment to see if people reacted differently. Yep, they sure do. Older people are more at ease to approach me, students think I’m something I’m not and children seem to look right through me. When I can find a top quality jacket or suit for less than a ten or twenty dollar bill, it will quickly find its way into my closet to be brought out for work and church respectively. I’ve learned a few new Italian names but am still looking to see the names of Versace and Prada in that closet. Ever notice how you always want more?
This latest binge of the past week has been a lot of fun but still not quite a practical as I would like to believe. Finding a Gucci tie for $1.99 was the real prize but that is quickly changing now that I have to pay closer to six dollars each for the Armani ties I found Wednesday. The employees that are pricing the items are getting smart and marking them up but even at those prices they are still a fantastic bargain. I found five Armani, two Valentino and a beautiful Ermenegildo Zegna at one store. All of these ties had been on the rack for almost two weeks just sitting there waiting to be found. You have to wonder how many others might have been there since then. Here are the Armani ties I found last Wednesday evening:
Organizing the ties has been a pleasure. They are grouped by color that would be worn according to the color of the shirt and jacket of the day. The metal racks hold up to fourteen ties for open display. The color groups are grey, brown, blue (2), red and then there is a rack for the expensive ties. It’s much easier to find a tie that matches or enhances the outfit when I can put the color group right up to the shirt, pants and jacket. This saves time and for those who are a bit colorblind like myself, it’s easier to compare one against the other to find just that one that matches the outfit best. Care to venture a guess as to where I found the tie racks?
It is getting to the point that I cannot pass a Goodwill without being drawn to it. I do my very best to keep the car out of the parking lot but it fights me in every way. Last evening was no exception and I had to pull into one of the largest stores in the East Valley where I live. Checked over the suit coats and didn’t see anything that sparked my interest (I’m becoming much more discriminating due to dwindling closet space), looked through the wooden hangers to replace all of my plastic and didn’t see anything. At this point I was ready to walk out of the store but there was one place that hadn’t been inspected in a couple of weeks so a quick detour was readily required.
The multicolored wall of ties between the hats and shoes drew me like a humming bird to red flowers. It didn’t take any time before the usual eyes out-of-focus resulted in seeing the small label on the back of a brown tie that had the magic words “Ermenegildo Zegna” on it. The name gives me goose bumps whenever I see it but especially when there is the possibility of taking it out of the store in a bag out to the car. I threw the tie over my shoulder to make sure I didn’t lay it down somewhere amidst all the other brown items that would quickly hide it and continued to look for other nice ties such as the two Ralph Lauren Black Labels that jumped out at me.
Then it happened . . . there was another beautiful Zegna tie and just as suddenly another and after a few minutes a fourth. My first impulse was to make sure my debit card was in the wallet since I don’t carry cash anymore. Yep, it was hiding behind the AAA card and now I had six ties hanging over my right shoulder. Maybe I had better run back through the wall of ties again just in case I missed one or two or three. An older gentleman approached me obviously being attracted by my excitement and asked what I had found. I was all smiles and showed him the treasures that were just previously hanging off the wall and were now in my possession.
Today at lunch, I decided to see what the Zegna website had as a suggested retail price on their selection of ties. I never dreamed the this little multicolored sliver of silk could command such a high price. What is it that makes it worth the same as ten or twenty polyester ties you can buy at Wal-Mart? A better question would be, “why would I buy a tie from Wal-Mart for $12 when I can buy the very best Italian silk for $2 or $3?” That really is a better question. Check for yourself but not before I get a chance to go back to the store and make sure they haven’t put out any more ties that begin with a word I can’t pronounce and is the last word, “Z”, in neckties.
I like to browse through various Goodwill stores in the area and will tread through an area I haven’t been in a while checking labels for quality items. Sometimes it is hard to differentiate between something that is an imitation and another that is the real thing. This is especially true when it comes to men’s ties. There are some print stamped polyester that are very similar to top of the line pure silk appearing to have the texture and sheen of the real thing.
The last thing I need is another tie but the colors and seeing 1.99 on the tag was too much of a temptation to resist. It was certainly worth the effort though. Once again, my eyes went out of focus when I saw the capital letters GUCCI. Yes, it was a beautiful tie but was it the real thing? I’m not a gambling man but for less than two dollars I could have a tie that went with my brown, blue and grey jackets and wouldn’t it look great with my GUCCI jacket.
Here is yesterday’s purchase including some other very expensive ties but more importantly some additional colors that would go great with my outfits. I’ll come up with a total of how much these would cost if purchased new at full retail. I bet it will be several times more than what Michael at Goodwill asked for.
Seen above are a red Christian Dior Monsieur – 1.99, blue Christian Dior – 2.99, white Donald J. Trump Signature Collection – 2.99, multicolored GUCCI – 1.99, blue Oscar de la Renta – 2.99, brown Oscar de la Renta – 1.99 and a blue Yves Saint Laurent – 1.99 purchased for a total of $16.93.
To justify my purchases, I have to make an occasional trip to the local Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus or Barney’s of New York and verify against their price tags that it is worth eating peanut and butter sandwiches a little more often so I can “educate” myself with the finer items found at the local Goodwills.
After work Friday, I decided that since it was payday I would chance a “splurge trip” to the Goodwill in Scottsdale to see what there might be available and at the same time check ahead since Saturday was half off day. I checked the shoe rack and found a number of nice shoes and of course they were all a size or two too small.
I moved on to my favorite section, the suits and suit coats, and there were quite a few on the rack this day. I looked through the familiar items that had been there for the past few weeks and then I saw something out of the ordinary. There was a jacket that had a special gleam to it and look of quality right there next to a Levis grey. That was quite a contrast that made it look even better. Of course, you know I had to reach for it to feel the smoothness of the fabric and then I pulled open the coat to see who the company was that created this beauty. There it was in five capital letters beginning with the letter “G” – GUCCI. I said to myself, “You’ve got to be kidding. I know it’s going to be too small”. It fit just right except that my goose bumps kept me from taking it off. The price tag shocked me a bit seeing that it was $39.99 but I reminded myself that if at all it would be a long time before I would find another top of the line jacket this nice that fit me this perfect. After looking it over carefully through adrenaline shocked eyes there wasn’t a blemish to be found. The same feeling from Wednesday afternoon hit me when I found the Zegna jacket in that I wanted to leave right then and tell the cashier thank you for the opportunity to purchase this great jacket that I would not be able to afford otherwise.
After calming down I put the jacket carefully in a buggy making sure it didn’t snag on the metal wires and continued on down the row of coats a bit faster. I had found the find of the day, or so I thought. Down toward the end of the row was a dark, dark blue suit including pants with a fine dark grey pin stripe. It looked my size so I pulled back the coat to see who it was manufactured by and there was his name; Giorgio Armani ! I had found a second great discovery. Dark grey with a thin dark grey vertical stripe and it fit. Tried on the pants and they were actually an inch too long but that will be easier to remedy than if it were an inch too short. Boy what a day.
The experiment has begun . . . I have been offered a second interview today with the VP of IT and president of the college and I want to “put my best foot forward”. Antonio Centeno has a great article worth looking over if you have an interview coming up and I utilized many of the suggestions. I’ve been following Antonio’s format to improve my appearance for the past couple of months and can see a definite positive result of those with whom I work. They have begun to pay more attention to the way they project themselves and this provides for a more professional appearance to our group. This is very important in my opinion since we work with students, faculty, staff and parents. Many of our students are international and we are some of the first Americans they come in contact with. What a great opportunity to make a good lasting impression.
I made sure to get a good haircut a few days ago, put a spit polish shine on my best black shoes, found a good color coordinated match of my newly found Ermenegildo Zegna jacket, Armani slacks and Christian Dior shirt and looked through my collection of ties to pull it all together. All of these were found at our local Goodwill stores for a total price of less than twenty dollars. The psychology is that I will feel good about myself and be able to take charge of this important period of time when little things are eclipsed by my professional appearance.
Since this is an important meeting, I have a backup outfit just in case. This morning, I wore my Armani jacket, a striped Chaps shirt, a nice pair of dark brown Perry Ellis slacks, a dark charcoal solid colored tie and a light colored brown pocket square to set it off. The meeting is at 2:00p so I will determine which outfit at lunchtime to wear after listening to the appropriate response to what I’m wearing this morning.
Thank you Antonio, for the great information on your websites and Youtube videos that I have learned so much from. Much of this is what I remember from my early childhood growing up in a large church where etiquette and good manners were the rule and not the exception. Our clothes speak volumes about what we think about ourselves and many times will command instant respect and authority. Given that the candidates are equally qualified, let’s hope the college president feels I would properly represent our school in the way he would like and believes a good first impression is important. Wish me luck!
At Goodwill they have a phrase that is repeated across the PA system periodically that goes something like this; “You may not find what you are looking for but we know you will find something.” Well, I did find something. Something I’ve been looking for a long time.
I was running through looking for orange tags for today’s Dollar Day and saw a really nice light grey suit coat saying “look at me”. It was marked as $9.99, the full price, and as I pulled back the coat to view the label inside it showed it was made by Ermenegildo Zegna designed for Neiman Marcus. I through in one arm and then the other and it fit perfectly! Oh yea. Checked the total length to see if it fit within my hand and did the “button-up fist to chest” to see if fit and it did every where it should. As I took it off I noticed that it had the Neiman Marcus sales price tag attached under the collar. Wow! This is one to create a post about for today with time permitting. The sticker price was one thousand seventy-nine dollars. So much for yellow tags. This one walked through the checkout line and out the door with a swipe of my plastic before someone snatched it from me.
Here is a photo where I pulled open the coat to show the label and pulled back the lapel to show the sales tag from Neiman Marcus. I paid the full price of $9.99 for a Swiss made Ermenegildo Zegna at Neiman Marcus coat that was marked to sell for $1,075.00. You may not have noticed that there are two small holes above the price tag at the edge of the felt that the collar covers but it is still damaged none the less. Thank you Goodwill and than you Neiman Marcus. I wouldn’t have been able to have afforded such a nice suit coat otherwise. I plan to wear it Friday for my second job interview with the college president.
Thursday is Dollar Day which means that in this area every item that has the color tag for that week is coming to an end Thursday and will be sold for one dollar no matter what it is. We have at least nine Goodwill stores within a thirty minute drive from each other. This makes pickens especially good since one might be great for books but not so good for clothing. Another might be good to find gold jewelry in but does not have any shoes to pick from.
I spend Thursday lunch hitting the nearest Goodwill to work and if I know what I’m looking for I can get in and out and back to work with a few items before my lunch hour comes to an end. Thursday afternoon and evening are a more leisurely shopping trip since I have until they close before I have to call it quits.
With nine stores to run through on Thursday to see what is available for $1.00, this means cruising most of the local stores the day before after work to scout out what is available with the “orange tag” . This week is orange by the way. Last week was yellow tags and for only $9.98 I picked up four dress coats (one was a really great Italian black pin stripe), three name brand shirts, two black worsted wool dress pants and one fancy ninety-eight cent wood combination coat/pants hanger. Where else can you get all of this for the cost of the single hanger?
Thursdays are such a great deal that I spend all my Wednesdays as “Scout Day” finding the colored tags for the week and write down what I find I cannot live without for the afternoon run Thursday afternoon. Gotta run, it’s time to count my dollar bills.
I decided to hit a few Goodwill stores after church today. With my closets completely filled I am being much more selective these days but the sudden whim to see if anything new had been put on the racks certainly paid off. I found a beautiful grey pin stripped jacket among more than thirty just sitting there with my name on it, or rather Mr Armani’s name on it. I tried it on and it’s a size too small in the chest but the sleeve length is just right. It is quite amazing how much better the cloth and the appearance this simple grey coat looks over the others that were hanging on the rack with it. I am familiar with the labels Giorgio Armani, Emporio Armani and Armani Exchange (A|X) but wasn’t aware of their MANI brand until recently. With the further information provided on the label; “By Girogio Armani Made in Italy” this was with glazed eyes due to an adrenaline pump a definite grab before someone else saw it. I have put a much desired jacket back on the rack to pick it up when I was ready to check out only to find it gone. I now put it in a cart and make up my mind as to whether or not to keep it right before I check out.
Our local Goodwill stores give military, teachers and students a twenty-five percent discount on Sundays so I paid $7.48 for a $9.99 jacket that brings up a price new for several hundred dollars more. Guess what my seventeen year old son will be getting for his next special day? Lucky him!
I wanted to share with you some of the items I have found that I can wear, what I paid and what they retail for. It is quite amazing. Your finds will vary depending upon the donations made in your area. I live in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area and there are some great benefactors to whom I have benefited. I never thought I would be wearing to work name brand clothing like Armani, Versace, Bill Blass, or Ermengildo Zegna much less trying to pronounce some of their names. Following is a table of some of the items I’ve purchased, what their retail value is and a brief description. Every other Saturday is half off day where all the tagged items are marked down half the price. My favorite is Thursday Dollar Day where a certain color tag is one dollar regardless of what it is. I have purchased many a fine Italian jacket for one dollar and had a few tailored to fit me just perfect. Mentioning it here gives me goose bumps just telling you about this offering. You will see a few items I paid a dollar for worth much more than I could pay otherwise. Many of these have links to web pages where you can validate the prices demanded of the new items. For a little less than $100, I have over $5,500 worth of clothing if purchased new directly from the vendor.
Tie – Valentino, black with large ovals made in Italy
– Totals for comparison
It continually amazes me that someone would pay the amount asked for some of these items and how much difference there is on Thursdays when I can pick up some of the items for just a dollar, no tax. Depending on where you live, the Goodwill stores will have different offerings due to the donations in their respective areas. Here, in the Phoenix area, they distribute to all the Goodwill stores a somewhat equal portion of what is donated irregardless of the location whether it is Scottsdale to the north or Chandler to the south. Why, last Wednesday I found two pair of pants with the name Armani on them. They were still there probably because they needed a little care with a needle and piece of thread. Something I’ve learned to work with due to the step-by-step lessons from Antonio Centeno’s website,The Art of Manliness. Look for more on his wealth of information in later posts!