The embellishment of life, and where to find it

"Our highest assurance of the goodness of Providence seems to me to rest in the flowers. All other things, our powers, our desires, our food, are all really necessary for our existence in the first instance. But this rose is an extra. Its smell and its colour are an embellishment of life, not a condition of it. It is only goodness which gives extras, and so I say again that we have much to hope from the flowers.” ~ Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

I was a tomboy as a kid, not just a rough and tumble tree climber, although that definitely described me, but also just so scrawny, sunbrowned, and crop-haired that once a random toddler at a park stopped and stared at me and said, "Mowgli!" in an awestruck voice.

This was good and fine when I was, oh, seven, but when I got a little older for some odd reason I started wanting to look a little more like a girl. And since my looks were certainly not helping me out, I turned to accessories. So needless to say, I consider accessories a very important thing. I mean, there are a lot of different ways for the same person to look completely different.

This is extra. It's the flowers in the garden, adorning life with beauty. And it gives me hope.

But I digress. This post is a about where to dig up the perfect accessories for you.

Gifts are of course very often the beginning of it all. Until personal style evidences itself, though, the giftgiving cycle is a bit chicken-and-eggish. "Are people giving me these because I wear them, or do I wear these because people give them to me?"

My first attempts at choosing my own accessories started out very simply with hand-me-downs and thrift stores. When you don't drive and are making $5 an hour three hours a week, your options are limited. Thrifting is an addicting hobby, especially in neighborhoods where you do find endless piles of lace and ribbon and silk.

Garage and estate sales are equally not for the snobs-at-heart. Treasures are tucked away amid the trash, unique vintage creations impossible to find in modern stores and generally a fraction of the cost a replica would be.

With the dominance of the internet, we now have craigslist and ebay as online garage and thrift shopping. While I rarely browse there for things like headbands, it is definitely a go-to for purchases like jewelry and.... a baby carrier.

A step up or a step down, depending on who you ask, is mall shopping. Some people (e.g. husbands) hate to step into such a place of rampant consumerism, but constant lines of traffic around the one we drive by the most prove that the general populace feels otherwise. If I make the mistake of wandering in, I become lost for hours. Discount stores like Ross, Marshalls, TJMaxx, etc, fall into the same category. Hours.
Specialty and novelty stores have their places as well. "All those stories coming true, despite my better efforts." (Jonathan Coulton)

One of my favorite things about internet shopping and small businesses is the ability to contact artists and request personalized items from creative superheroes. Etsy is the Buckingham Palace of all things artsy, but even many businesses that seem larger are run by real humans who are nice people (or very good actors) and quite willing to take suggestions, engage in discussion, and interact with their customers. When I have the money, this is definitely my favorite of all shopping options.

Last but definitely not least, there is DIY accessories construction! Again, thanks to the internet, there are clear instructions easily and instantly available for creating almost everything you can imagine from scratch or from other items. Really, the only excuse for not having your own style is if that in and of itself is your chosen style.

The tools for accessorizing are everywhere. More on that to follow in the days and weeks to come.

In the meantime, why do you like or dislike accessories? Where are your favorite shopping haunts?
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