Ladies and gentlemen, I am here to sing the praises of Buffalo Exchange Austin. Oh my goodness...oh my damn...what a store it IS!
During the day on Saturday, Matthew and I ran around to all these stores we'd heard about in Austin. With the historic site visiting out of the way with our trip to the Alamo, we stopped at a couple Goodwills on the way back from San Antonio, but I didn't find anything I could live without. Most of all, i was disappointed with how little pre-1990's clothing there was at any of the retail locations. In Nashville, if you look at more than one Goodwill, you are almost guaranteed to find at least a maxi-dress or two, but I was coming up empty! With heavy heart, I remembered that Caroline had mentioned, long before the wedding, how much I would love Buffalo Exchange if I ever made in into Austin. So I let Matthew drop me off on the way to a cute little independent toy store, and walked in with low expectations. Vintage stores are expensive, I thought to myself. And the staff is mean. And the selection is low. What business do I have here?
MUCH BUSINESS, IT TURNS OUT. The staff was incredibly nice. The selection was freakin' INSANE. The first thing I noticed on getting inside the door was the constant sound of hangers being moved around on racks, the swish sound of metal contacting with metal under the hands of dozens of shoppers. There were a to-o-o-on of people there of a Saturday, and it was more than a little overwhelming to see rack after rack after rack of circular garment rack hung with blouses and skirts and dresses and pants and jackets. SO MUCH! I kind of wandered around in a daze for a minute, idly looking at this and that, before it occurred to me-- I'd been in the store for almost fifteen minutes and hadn't seen a single thing I wouldn't personally wear. How is that even possible?! I have never been in so kind-to-the-truly-clothes-enamored a retail setting in my life. After getting over the initial shock, I started to make a pile of things I wanted to try on. Forever 21 style print dresses were rack-to-rack with full length, chiffon formals from the seventies'. Nineties' bedazzled black denim jackets were shoulder to shoulder with Target-from-last-season cardigans. I was dying. I was actually so happy I thought I might die.
The interior may LOOK like Planet Xchange or Plato's Closet, but I'm telling you, it's like 1,000,000 times better in actual inventory:
1) The Joan dress:
I have been looking for a dress with a collar that ties like this forever. While this powder blue, winterweight dress may look a little sack-dress-y on the hanger, don't be fooled! It's actually really slim-cut and princessy when actually placed on human form. While I can't fill it out like Christina Hendricks does to the right, I'm telling you, I am serving Mad Men sixties' office realness when in the dress itself. I so can't wait to wear this to work, maybe with a big gold pin fastened where the collar knots. There's also a matching dress belt, which I'm telling you, is never a bad thing in my book-- even if it ends up looking too matchy matchy with the dress it was made for, you can always use it in an all black or contrasting color outfit to punch up an otherwise blah outfit.
2) The African sensation:
I saw this and I was like, seriously. Seriously, if this does not fit me, I'm buying it anyway. I have always loved African fabrics, and was lucky enough a few years ago to find two complete, head-to-toe, headwrap to shawl ensembles at the Unclaimed Baggage store in Scotsboro, AL. Some jet set, gorgeous African woman is missing two very special skirt-and-blouse combinations, and while I feel bad for her, oh my god how much do I love wearing the insanely beautiful patterned blouse with a black skirt, or the skirt with a black top. It really looks, as Wallace Stevens put it, "like nothing else in Tennessee". This is a dress made in fabric from the Côte d'Ivoire by an American dressmaker (I forgot the name), but my favorite part is how the maker's marks on the bolt of fabric is incorporated into the dress design as piping on the pockets (DRESS POCKETS!) and along the top of the strapless bodice. YAHOO! WE LOVE IT!
3) The One that Got Away (Once!)
This jacket was part of the Luella for Target collection that was out a couple years ago. I have a great black dress with a big bow in the front from this same line, which I bought at Goodwill the year after when it was way too small for me JUST IN CASE I never saw it again (at $7.99, I couldn't pass it up, and it fits now, yay!). This jacket was one of the other items that "got away" because I was an XL sized gal at the time and damn their eyes, Target just loves to make an XL more like an L, an L more like a M, etc, etc (have any of you girls out there noticed this with their sizing? Sometimes it's dead on, and sometimes I'm squeezing into a pair of pants that should be two sizes too big at the Gap or any other retailer), and I couldn't get into the ones they had at the time. Luck brought this red blazer and me back together, however; in a size medium, and a perfect fit. HURRAY!
4) THE BETSEY JOHNSON DRESS I'VE BEEN DREAMING OF:
Confession: I have been wanting a for-real Betsey Johnson dress for about eleven years. Teenage me would go to the Green Hills mall sometimes with friends from the west side of town and just gawk, gape, go green with envy over the items in the tiny boutique with the pink neon sign proclaiming it to be representative of the punk innovator and designer's retail line. Oh, I wanted e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g in that store. But dresses, even on sale, seemed to start in the three digit price range, and I never had more than $20 on me at any time, ever during high school. Le sigh. Flash forward to me flipping through the racks at Buffalo Exchange and finding this blue plaid and black lace dress. It looks saggy on the hanger, but believe me, it is PERFECT on. The dressing room attendant and I had this conversation:
Attendant: I'm sorry to bother you, but you should get that dress. That just looks gorgeous on you.
Lisa: You think so? I'm really kind of in love with it.
Attendant: Is it Betsey?
Lisa: ((nods ecstatically))
Attendant: No, you should get that. It's really flattering.
The top has tiny spaghetti straps and a big, built-in lace bow that covers the front bodice piece, and underneath, there's crinoline, AND lining, AND an extra layered skirt of black lace that peeks from the hem. DOES HECK GO WITH YES, I bought this dress and fretted over having to pack it the whole time. Luckily, it was no worse for wear when I unpacked my suitcase in Tennessee. Speaking of, you should have seen the packing job I did on these dresses, along with the clothes I brought. Each was tightly rolled into a hotel-towel type cylinder and locked in place with the other dresses in a sardine formation. I can't believe I got, really, TWO SUITCASES worth of things into one carry on suitcase. Hidden depths!
Best part about all of this? OH MY GOD, THE PRICES ARE ONLY MARGINALLY MORE EXPENSIVE THAN GOODWILLS BACK HOME:
Yes, the Joan dress was twice as much as a $7.99 dress at home, but I have no problem paying double a price that is still, when doubled, COMPLETELY inexpensive, for not having to look through 80's pantsuits and horrible 90's evening wear to get to it! They could have charged me admission to the store and I STILL would have been over the moon. Not to mention, the same thing in a vintage setting in Nashville (which is why I never go to vintage stores), would have been $35, minimum. And the Betsey dress, at $40, was still about $110 under on-sale retail from when it was in the store, and about $60 less than I'd seen similar dresses for in consignment stores in Nashville. CRAZY. THAT PLACE IS CRAZY AND I LOVE IT.
I almost forgot! Look at these shoes Caroline bought for me a couple weeks before we got to town. Size 11, baybeeeeee.....!
From Caroline's Facebook caption to this photo:
"Cashier: "will you be buying those today? If so, I will need to ring them up too."
Me: "No. I'm just carrying them around. They are too big, sadly. Can you just put them back for me. I can't bear it"
Cashier: "oh I get it. You have to take advantage of what little time you have with them."
And that truly explains how cool the staff was at that store. I'm not usually into zombies, but shoes with teeth? And in my size? SIGN ME UP.
Well, that's all for this overly long last post about Texas. In summation, I am so disappointed Tennessee doesn't have a Buffalo Exchange I could actually cry. Have you been to any crazy amazing stores lately that have surpassed your expectations by a country mile? Had any neat shopping binges that made your heart happy? Which of these dresses do you think I got the best deal on? Let a girl know!
Have a good Thursday, and I'll see you back here tomorrow for Photo Friday! Til then.