Thrift Diaries: The Next Generation, Part One

In Depth

Greetings, devoted Thriftees! I’m back with another round of my Nobel Prize winning Thrift Diaries: Hip Hop edition! Just kidding, but I did go on the road with (my male companion) El-P (Jaime), and Killer Mike—aka Rap super-duo Run the Jewels—for one week and throughout five different cities. I hung out, ate a lot of good food, talked a lot of shit and Thrifted. Join me, won’t you?


My first night in Austin, Run The Jewels had been asked to perform four songs at a hip hotel party hosted by the rapper A$AP Rocky and sponsored by Samsung. While guests wearing tailored suits and cocktail dresses mingled around the pool area below, I hung out with the band and crew in the suite upstairs (the balcony of which would serve as the stage for the performance) drinking champagne, vodka, and eating locally made donuts and sweets. Not so bad.

The last time that RTJ performed in Austin, Jaime and Mike were attacked on stage by a man who was never arrested, so for the next two days we were escorted by a hired security detail, which I won’t pretend didn’t feel kind of cool. Also, one of our security guards, Crystal, carried a bedazzled can of police strength pepper spray that she called “Sparkles.” There’s no reason you shouldn’t look feminine and stylish while you’re burning someone’s eyes out of their head, ladies.

Pepper spray aside, the evening was fun and a little weird. Watching artists rap on a balcony while people stand around a pool looking bemused and taking selfies is a somewhat surreal experience.

At one point I thought I would liven things up by riding one of the cartoonishly large inflatable swans, and I did for a total of 30 seconds before hotel security told me to get out of the pool and escorted me away. Why even have inflatable swans if you can’t ride them???

After the set we headed back to the hotel where, despite my tipsiness, I remembered to set my alarm for 8 a.m…

The following morning I woke up and forced myself into the shower. A continental breakfast and one hour later I took a cab to the Texas thrift store. Inside I overheard a conversation between two female employees: “I think he’s going to take me to lunch.” “You know he will! They’ll do anything when you’re not talking to them.” (I hope everyone is taking notes.)

The last time I wrote this blog, a few commenters expressed that they’d like to see more house wares (while others criticized me for my assessment of my own human body) so here are two cool lamps including a pink himalayan salt lamp for $6.99, both of which I would have bought if not for having to take them on a plane later.

Accessory-wise, I found two belts with metal detail, one of which was very cute with little flowers and an overlapping double belt situation, while the other looked like something Maya Rudolph would have worn to do her Donatella Versace impression.

Now for the clothing. Here we have a trio of colorful tops. The first is an Indian-inspired crop top with sequined sleeves that I actually really like, though I am going to India in a month and I’m told that women should cover up while traveling through the country, so I passed. This second top is basically a shapeless yellow bag that looks good on no one. I end up buying this third top/jacket by Sandro. When Killer Mike saw me wearing it a day later, he told me, “Em, I love that you dress like an old black woman.” I consider that high praise.

Next: jackets! On the left we have this neat reversible Asian-style smoking jacket in a black and a wine color that perfectly matches my jumpsuit. Then there was this boxy embroidered jacket, also in a wine hue, by Bill Blass—a label that I only know because Hillary mentioned wearing it once on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.

And here are three of the jean jackets that I tried on. I ended up going with the Tommy Hilfiger one in the middle (Killer Mike later said it made him feel nostalgic—what can I say, the man appreciates fashion), though looking back I think I should have gotten the darker one in the photo where my cleavage looks good.

Lastly, here is this very pretty Indian Kameez, or tunic, in a beautiful dark green (my favorite color) with gold embroidered sleeves. This is a piece that will be appropriate for me to wear in India over a long skirt or loose pants.

All in all I spent about $25 on the tunic, jean jacket, Sandro top and a ‘70s book about skateboarding. Then, because I am so dedicated to this blog, I walked a block to another thrift store.

This one was about the same size as the first one, but cleaner and much less cramped. They also had a nice single-stall bathroom and a water cooler with plastic cups! It was all very luxurious, but what was even more luxurious was this silver flecked cow skin rug that I was not allowed to stand on. “Don’t worry, I go to private pool parties where people wear suits and rappers rap on balconies—I can step on the rug,” is what I should have said.

Despite actually being pretty shopped out at this point, I managed to look around and find some good things to show you, like these two kind of ugly sweaters. I like the yellow grandpa one because it looks comfy. I had to try the black and white one on because it has sequins, duh.

Then there was this button down that would have been cute if it hadn’t been “Little Bo Peep-ified.”

There were some interesting and cute shoes: from the left, we have these Salvatore Ferragamo flats which would have been nicer if the metal wasn’t scratched up, then two pairs of shoes made by the famous motorcycle company Harley Davidson and Guitar Legend Carlos Santana, respectively.

Lastly, I tried on this longish jean skirt (and took a semi risqué photo’s of it—DEAL WITH IT, WORLD) and this Nila Anthony bag that is super cute but was a little too beat up.

I did not get any clothing here, but what I did buy were six small bottles of fabric paint. I wanted to paint designs on my new jean jacket. In theory, it was a brilliant idea: I would start out with this plain jacket and, over the course of the tour, buy buttons and paint designs on it. Though I did add many buttons to the jacket, I only painted on it once before realizing how difficult it is to use and control the paint, and also that I don’t like how it looks.

About five minutes after leaving the thrift store someone pulled up next to me in a black car and I heard, “WHAT are you doing??” I turned to see that it was Charlie, our security guard from the previous night, who just happened to be driving by. It was Charlie’s 43rd birthday that day and as he drove me back to the hotel he chided me for walking in “this neighborhood.” Happy Birthday Charlie, and thank you.

Next Up: New Orleans.

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