Swingin' in Thrifted Threads

The flyer arrived in my work mail. Neo-swing band, “Big Bad Voodoo Daddy,” was coming to Pittsburgh to play with the Symphony Pops. And because of a business connection, yours truly had been invited to attend the concert, as well as a special reception beforehand to meet members of the band.

Well, this was WAY too much fun to pass up! I have been known to spend my commute caterwauling in the car to my CDs of this very group. Why, fellow commuters have been traumatized by my rendition of these tunes! How could I say no?

Of course, as brave as I am about vocal stylings in the confines of my motor vehicle, I am admittedly no social butterfly when it comes to actual networking. As a writer, I’m afraid my strengths lie more on paper than in person. And social situations often leave me longing to go back and revise the words that tumble, unedited, from my lips.

But still. There was this concert. And how often do opportunities like this come along?

As the concert approached, however, I realized that there was a TEENSY problem-- and not just the fact that I might actually have to think of something half-intelligent to say to the performers:

What was I going to wear?

My work clothes tend to vary between embroidered jeans, t-shirts and matching jackets (when I have no meetings), and business suits (when I do). But this was supposed to be a bit of a dressy affair.

So the answer was clear: get thee to a thrift store!

I decided pretty quickly on black. I mean, what girl doesn’t feel more confident in the right Little Black Dress?

And I uncovered the right little black dress at the Goodwill on Carson Street. At a whopping $4.99, I couldn’t go wrong with this simple crepe number.

Then at the Salvation Army at Carson and Ninth, I encountered a nice lightweight silk jacket with delicate ruffled sleeves—never worn and tags still on, for $9.99.

To accessorize, I determined there would be no better occasion than this to use the 1940s corde handbag with the Lucite embellishments I’d gotten a few months back (ironically, at the same Goodwill the dress came from). The purse had been at steal at $6.99! Plus, there just seemed to be something so right about carrying a purse that actually SAW the swing era-- even if I didn’t catch it myself the first time around.

For shoes? Well, I admit my shoes were a non-thrifted cop-out. I chose some vintage-look dress pumps I’d bought in actual retail last year. (Though on clearance! Points for clearance!)

I added them to a black and white crystal vintage-style necklace I already had from New York & Company, and I was ready to hit the town!

So was the concert the cat’s pajamas? Why, indeed it was, kittens and cats!

And did I think of something insightful to say when I met the band? (Well, I didn’t trot out the 40s slang, at least-- so, hey, that was a blessing…)

What I believe I DID say was, “No, I won’t give you my garbage”…

Or something to that effect.

And yes, there was a reason for it.

Funny story, actually. You see, each of the attendees was given a CD to have signed. Which was lovely, because mine was at home. And we’d JUST received these items, and they’d JUST introduced the band to the folks in the room, when the acoustic bass player came out of NOWHERE to sign, of all people’s, MINE.

You know how hard it is to unwrap a CD under normal circumstances, with all the sensors and things? Well, now try to do so quickly because you know you’re holding up, oh, EVERYONE ELSE IN THE ROOM.

So I used my newly-painted fingernails to slice the darned thing open. And I’d popped the empty cellophane onto my table for later disposal, when the bassist cheerfully insisted I should give the CD wrapper to HIM-- and then also all the offers inside the CD case, because they were “old.”

Aw, I don’t know… there is just something innately WRONG about giving trash to a person who’s had national recording contracts, and is about to go on stage in five minutes. And I certainly doubt these poor guys were obligated to tidy-up as well as meet-n-greet!—But after muttering a shocked protest about the garbage, I had no real choice but to hand it over.

Zoot suits do, I guess, have a lot of pockets.

So that’s my swinging Cinderella Story of how a dame in thrifted threads had a ball on a budget-- and got a hep new autographed CD to boot!

And honestly, how often can you spend the same amount on a cocktail dress and matching jacket as you do on event parking?

Anyway-- next week? Come join me as I prepare the house for Fourth of July company! (And no, you don’t have to do any dusting. )

And this week I was kindly presented the virtual “Rockin’ Girl Blogger” award. If you haven’t gotten to read who I’ve passed this award on to, click here. Wow-- two blog features in one week! It’s crazy!