A Beautiful Life

There are some blogs I love to read just because they’re so beautifully put together. Three of my favorites are Terri Windling’s The Drawing Board, Rima Staines’ The Hermitage, and Jen Parrish’s blog for Parrish Relics Jewelry. Somehow, I came across an old blog post of Jen’s, “Treasures Found,” on going to Sister Thrift, one of her favorite thrift stores in Burlington, Massachusetts. And I thought, wait a minute! I live a short drive away from Burlington. So I looked up Sister Thrift on Google Maps, and away I drove through the snowy landscape. I love thrift stores. Partly because I genuinely am thrifty, although I’ll spend a great deal of money on things I believe are important, like going to conventions. And partly because I think shopping is boring unless you turn it into a game.

Here’s the game: be elegant while spending as little money as possible. The game is not to spend as little money as possible. You also have to be elegant. That’s crucial, otherwise it’s no fun. So I’m going to show you some of the things I bought at Sister Thrift, and you can decide for yourself whether they were elegant enough to justify the cost.

First, I bought a small evening purse. I’m going to show you all of these items as they were processed once I brought them home.  Here is the purse being washed in the sink:

And hung to dry:

And here it is all dry:

I think it’s going to look nice with a black evening dress. The second item I bought was a pillow. Here is the pillow being washed:

And here it is all dry and on a bed:

The third item was a dress from April Cornell. You know how expensive April Cornell dresses are. Here it is being washed:

And here it is hung on a door, although a dress like this never really looks like anything hung on a door:

And here is a detail, because I love this embroidered strip and the embroidered buttons:

And here it is on me:

It comes down to about my calves, and I have no idea yet where I would wear it. But it’s incredibly comfortable. And here is the final item I bought. It’s a dress from The Gap. Being washed:

And hung on a door both with and without the sash:

And on me both with and without the sash:

I’m not actually sure I like the sash that much. And these pictures remind me that I need a haircut. Desperately.

But what I wanted to say today, inspired by Terri’s, Rima’s and Jen’s blogs, is that even though my life is completely crazy right now, even though I barely have time for a quick trip to a thrift store or a haircut, I want my life to be beautiful. I want it to contain beautiful things, to be as elegant as I can make it. That doesn’t involve spending a lot of money. If it did, people who were wealthy would have elegant houses. I’ve been in quite a lot of houses belonging to people who were wealthy, and almost none of them have been elegant. (Remember that I was a corporate lawyer in Manhattan and Boston. I went to a lot of cocktail parties.)

I think that’s part of being a writer too, creating a space for yourself where you can be happy, where you can look around and see comfortable, beautiful things. And wear comfortable, beautiful clothes. I think it’s important to surround yourself with things you truly love.

That’s what I mean by a beautiful life.

Oh, and by the way, those four items?  Cost just under $15.

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