Want to Recreate the Latest Runway Fashions for Less? Shop Thrift!
by Silk Allen
(Plain Press, September 2019) Nothing excites me more than seeing the latest fashion trends hit the stores in September. The problem is, if you are anything like me and the new season’s fashions spark joy (Marie Kondo be damned lol) fall shopping can become a very expensive sport. So that’s where knowing the ins and outs of thrift shopping come in handy. With lots of patience and a loose plan, you can recreate looks straight from the runway, or build a closet full of fall essentials and classic pieces for less than the price of a week’s worth of Starbucks coffee. Read on as I share my top ten thrift shopping tips with you…
Go with an open mind
This is the one time that I will suggest shopping without a list. It’s a proven fact that when you have your mind set on finding a black blazer, you will find everything except for that blazer. Don’t limit yourself with a list. But, set a budget and stick to it.
Wear something that you can easily slip a shirt, dress, or skirt over, preferably a tank top and leggings or even a tee shirt and skirt. If it’s during the colder months add a duster or light layers that can be quickly removed in case fitting rooms are packed and you have to try something on in the aisles.
Location is everything
Shop in high-end neighborhoods and you won’t be disappointed by the massive amount of designer cast-offs, vintage pieces, and expensive garments donated by people with great taste in fashion and the most stylish clothes.
Go early, and take a snack.
Thrift shopping is a sport and is to be treated as such. Get there early or you will be left with the picked through leftovers and declare it a fashion fail. Most stores open super early in the morning, especially on their sale days, so check the website or call the store to find out. Also, bring a bottle of water and some sort of granola bar, nuts or anything to fit in your bag because shopping can make you hungry.
Throw it in the cart now
Immediately claim whatever catches your eye because by the time you turn around to go back and get it- I guarantee someone will have snatched it up without a second thought. Don’t play yourself by second-guessing when you can always put the item back if it doesn’t work out.
Try on everything and think outside the box
Concern yourself with fit, not size. Sizing was different 5, 10, 15, and 20 years ago and you can’t really go with what is written on the tag. Besides, you may want that cardigan to hang in an over-sized way, or that jacket may become the perfect vest if you cut the sleeves off. If a dress has an elastic waist, with the right tailor, could potentially be a shirt and a skirt set for the price of one. Also, cotton fabrics + RIT dye = all new possibilities!
Experiment with bold prints, patterns, colors, and fabrics
What is missing from your wardrobe? If you have a closet full of solid neutrals, add pops of color with bright hues and prints that you can’t find in stores today. If you wear tons of black, load up with more black, but in rich textures. Scared of too much too soon? You can’t go wrong with a festive print scarf…
Check the garment thoroughly
Watch out for stains, rips, and odors that may have been set for years. Look under the arms, inside the item, check the back and inside and see what you are working with. Some stains can be removed using a mix of solutions or dry cleaning, many odors can be lifted with something as simple as vinegar and sunlight, and if you are handy with a sewing machine, or needle and thread, then a small hole or missing button won’t stop your flow.
Edit down your selection
Narrow your choices down to pieces that you can’t live without, fit you well and need no extra repairs. If it comes down to two blouses that you love, but one has a loose button— and you have not sat down at a sewing machine since they taught Home EC in high school— then go ahead and get the other one. It’s not a great deal, or look, if the items just sit in the back of your closet.
I won’t tell you what to buy, but I will say that you can’t go wrong with blazers, jackets, print dresses, jewelry, and scarves, and don’t forget to check out the shoe selection too. I challenge you to study my tips, scour your favorite September issue fashion magazine (Vogue, Harpaar’s Bazaarand InStyleare the best) website or blog and then take the time to recreate a thrifted fall runway look of your own.
Email me firstname.lastname@example.org with photos of your fabulous thrifted fall outfits and you may be featured in the Plain Press. If you are open to thrifting but if it still overwhelms you, I have a super affordable thrift shopping service that allows you to come in and walk straight to the fitting room where a rack of pre-pulled clothes will be waiting for you. Interested? Email email@example.com for more info.
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