Sunday, May 8, 2011

guest post: Vanessa of Queen VII's Reveries

It's a small world after all: Vanessa currently lives in Germany but hails from Sacramento, California. Like some other bloggers, such as Jeanelle of Glocal Girl, I discovered Vanessa randomly, only to find out later that we share the same hometown. Vanessa's blog is called Queen Vii's Reveries, and she and her family have been living in Germany for some years.   She was one of the first people I thought of to ask about second-hand shopping abroad, and the following are her tips on shopping the markets of Germany. 

NOTE:  Vanessa and her family are moving back to the States, so within a couple of weeks, she will officially be a SACRAMENTO BLOGGER, and I can't wait to meet her!

While living in Europe, I've had some amazing shopping opportunities.  From the Meir in Antwerp to the Champs Elysees in Paris, to the Alsatian streets of Strasbourg and the huge malls of Frankfurt, I've been enjoying the thrill of the hunt in a market stall.   One of the things I'm going miss most particularly in  Germany are the Floh markets and second-hand shops.  These markets are VERY  different than the thrift stores and swap meets of California, and my experiences are something that I will never forget.
I apply my same thrifting philosophy/rules when shopping out here:  

  • Have an item or style in mind.  
  • Look for colors.  
  • Feel for textures.  
  • Do not discriminate on size or gender. 

I Think of it as sensory shopping.  It can be overwhelming going into a secondhand shop, so you gotta use your eyes and your hands to feel around for what might interest you!  Also, dress accordingly.  Wear something comfortable that you can slip in and out of, or that you can try stuff on over your clothes (not all shops have good fitting rooms, or any at all!).  Have a purse that keeps your hands free for browsing in tight quarters too. 
Personally, I try to keep my inspirations in mind when shopping secondhand.  I am currently inspired by the color block trend, so I spent a lot of time browsing bright colors and solids (i.e. Jil Sander, Zara).  I was really hoping to find some green or bright pink items.  I usually am not a fan of white, but the white trend is really inspiring me to step out of my comfort zone (like Celine, Calvin Klein).  Gucci-inspired looks with jewel tones, black and brassy gold has also been on my radar.  I was also hoping to find any cool chic blazers which are perfect for spring and really versatile.  I had just been to H&M and saw blazers for 39€ each and that is definitely out of my budget. 

I recently stopped at two of the best secondhand shops in the area.  It’s so fun to look around and see and feel and smell
(unfortunately you want to watch out for the items that smell heavily of smoke, Europeans are HEAVY smokers, sometimes even in the stores).  In the first shop I found some on-trend yellow pants and a pretty green trench… both for under 10€ each!  Italian leather Orange heels, flatform sandals and some very Fendi-esque PVC clear and black flats, all for 12€ or less!  The leather jacket reminded me of the Burburry Prosorum jackets that are all over the pages of the mags right now… leather jacket price: 59€!  I really liked the leather clutch with the gold emblem that was only 3,50€ but it had more of a travel bag feel to it.  I was hoping for more of an envelope clutch.
Onto the next… I love this secondhand shop that has the 1€ rack out front!  I have bought some great things from this shop before and it never fails me.  This shop is more unique and representative of the German styles in that it has a section of gorgeous furs and even some traditional German Trachten (the dirndls and lederhosen and whatnot) for a fraction of the price you could buy new.  Fur out here is definitely not taboo.  Trachten is worn mostly in September for Oktoberfests all throughout the country.  I had pulled some items throughout the store and tried some things on!  I settled on buying the blouse with the triple row of gold buttons, the bright pink skirt and the sort of sheer spotted blouse.  I spent a total of 4,90€!  Success!
I guess the biggest difference in thrifting out here is that everything is individually priced as it would be at a secondhand boutique in California.  I have always been more of a “thrifter” where things are priced by category instead of per item.  I think it just means that the owners take the time to value each item and price it accordingly.  

Floh Markts (flea markets in English) are great for buying antiques and super old vintage pieces.  They are usually every other Saturday set up in a parking lot somewhere.  There is an indoor one in Rammstein village that was really neat to visit.  I find that these antique trove types are more expensive, but you can dig around and sometimes find some great things.  I found a woman that was selling beautiful hats and coats and dresses.  I loved the pink fox fur headband!  It was selling for 25€ which honestly wasn’t bad, but it is getting warmer out.  I had to pass.  There is tons of antique German pottery, art, jewelry and house goods.  The thing about buying antique out here is that it won’t just be 100 years old… it can be up to 400 years old!  I bought a 400 year old Dutch painting for 5€ at a big flea market last year!  We were searching for a bier stein, and there were lots, but we did not find one we loved.  I settled on buying an apothecary  mortar and pestle from 1825 priced for 8€. 

I have learned so much being in Germany… the culture, the fashion, the antiques.  What I admire about them is that they are not wasteful.  They have many secondhand shops and frequent floh markts.  They invest in good pieces and sell what they do not use.  There is fast fashion like H&M and Tally Wiejl and Pimkie and the like, but there are also depository bins near the grocery stores and recycle centers to donate clothes and shoes.  German people are not wasteful and I have come to take that way of living and incorporate it into my own life.  There are even second hand shops devoted to children's fashions.   I'm happy to have the pieces that I picked up, and the memories of where I got them.  Hopefully when I do get back to California and Sacramento I can continue to shop the way I have learned to shop in Germany.

“Queen VII”

You can check out Vanessa's blog here:
Queen Vii's Reveries


Sara Kristiina said...

WOW, she has nice style :) Checking her blog out here right now, I like!

Funny thing is, that I am SO used to that in my town (I'm finnish) second-hand -sellers price every piece of their clothing seperately.., and I find it very cool if I see that some items at some thrift store are not individually priced :D I don't really see it much and it is always a great help for me. :D (boy, that feeling is hard to describe with my not-so-good-english)

gabrielle said...

ooh i love her style!


annimal said...

Cool finds! I totally covet that studded hat! And welcome back to our native Sacramento! I hope we can meet up sometime!

JTWisdom said...

Very informative post. I will check out her blog.

I really love going into second hand shops because you never know what treasure you will find.


My Heart Blogged said...

I really love her style, and found her a few days ago from your tweet. It must be amazing to thrift in a different country. I just can't help but love her name ;)
My Heart Blogged

Ofelia said...

SHe has a cool, modern style. I'll be checking her blog later on the week.
Happy Monday to you!

citizen rosebud said...

All Vanessa by rule are a guaranteed good time, lol!

Jeanelle said...

Being that I live in German's neighboring country (the Netherlands) I can fully agree with this incredible hands-on experience of second hand shopping. The opportunities to find little markets and shops are endless and sometimes overwhelming. However, there is so much rich history behind the jewelry, coats and art that even if you're not a second-hand shopper - Europe will change your mind!

Wonderful guest post, Bella! and thanks for the link :)

Jeanelle @ Glocal Girl

Unknown said...

a friend of mine is going to sacramento. i have to tell her, that she should deliberately visit that second hand!

citizen rosebud said...

Hello Ola! While we have loads of thrift stores and secondhand shops in Sacramento, Vanessa is sharing her favorite Floh Markets which are in Germany.

Vix said...

She's gorgeous and has a look of Amy Winehouse about her. xxx

Franca said...

Loved this post! I definitelky think people in Germany are less wasteful than they are in the Uk, and generally just shop less.

I never knew thirft stores don't price things individually. I've never been anywhere where things were priced per category, though I've been to a place in berlin where things are priced by weight, but that's a totally unusual thing.

Also geeky translation point: the plural of Flohmarkt (all one word) is actually Flohmärkte. Just like the plural of Umlaut is Umlaute.

Lee Oliveira said...

Love her style Bella.
She can definitely pull off any colour blocking.
Off to check her website now
lee x

Audrey Allure said...

She has fantastic style! Great guest post :)

Stephanie Loudmouth said...

I don't really understand the pricing, but I love her colorful style and shopping over there sounds super fun!

mispapelicos said...

Loving and following her.
MIl besos from Berlin.

Anupriya DG said...

Wow....she seems such an effortless stylista......thanx for sharing dear... :)

Debbie Baker Burns said...

It was nice to get a view of what thrifting is like in another country. One of our local thrift stores prices things individually, too. I can't believe the age of some of the antiques there. She has beautiful style and I'll check out the blog.

dressingup-everyday said...

I love the secondhand 's shop and I purchased often there.Very nice your post and very pretty things.:)

Unknown said...

Wow! This feedback is amazing! Yesterday was one of the worst days EVER and I just want to thank you soooo much for letting me guest blog on yours! I love your blog sooo much! and it was an honor and a pleasure and I hope to be so much more involved in the Sacramento Blogging community when I get there (in a few days!!!)

Heather Fonseca said...

Wow! I want to go thrift shopping in Europe! Actually I did buy a lot of second hand things when I was living in France. It was lots of fun, and so much more affordable.