I love thrift shopping and have been doing it for years. It's where I get the majority of my furs, (faux and real) vintage dresses and blouses, and most of all my photo shoot/fashion show wardrobe comes straight from half off Mondays at Unique Thrift store lol. With lots of patience and a plan, I have scored many out of this world pieces for great prices. I can't even tell you how many designer, name brand and incredible vintage finds I have purchased and sold over the years. Where else can you find classic work essentials, unique print dresses and show stopping outerwear for $10 or less other than the thrift store? I decided to use this information for the Style Me Fly lecture I facilitated on October 1st, at the Stop Traffic Teen Summit sponsored by the Renee Jones Empowerment Center.
The two part fashion lecture first focused on using my six beautifully diverse models, Sam, Jasmine, Mahogany, Harmoni, Yolenny and Frankie to help me emphasize the importance and the wearibilty of the easiest most basic fashion uniform: the tee shirt and jeans. There are so many stylish ways to build on this easy fashion formula by adding accessories like scarves, necklaces, chains and bracelets, printed heels, dusters, blazers and jackets- all pieces that can be thrifted! Fall fashion is perfect because we have room to play around with light layers, mixed prints and textures.
The second part of the presentation started as my money saving models tipped across the stage in fabulous inexpensive thrifted finds, posing while I described their outfits and gave away my top ten thrifting tips:
1. 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 everthing except for that blazer lol. Don't limit yourself with a list, but set a budget and stick to it!
2. Dress appropriately.
Wear something that you can easily slip a shirt, dress or skirt over, preferably a tank top and leggings. 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
3. 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.
4. Go early, and take a snack.
Thrifting 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 failed mission. Most stores open 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 something to fit in your bag because shopping can make you hungry (or is that just me lol?)
5. 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.
7. 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 and if a dress has an elastic waist well that is a shirt and a skirt set for the price of one! And cotton fabrics+RIT dye= all new possibilities!
7. 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...
9. 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 a needle and thread, then a small hole or missing button won't stop your flow.
10. 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 lol. It's not a great deal or look if the items just sit in the back of your closet!
Are you in the Cleveland area and want to find awesome treasures but don't have the time, the energy or the know how? Let me help you out- email me at:firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how to supplement your whole wardrobe with thrift finds! Are you already a thrifting pro? What are some of your survival tips?
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