Thrift Store Fashionista: How to Dress Yourself in Hard Times

Article by Brigitte Pittsa

You’ve called yourself the “one and only” fashionista or several variations on that phrase. Every Saturday, your friends didn’t call you because they knew that you would be doing your weekly shopping crawl among your favorite stores and boutiques. Before this flipping recession started, things were pretty darn awesome for you and your closet. Now that both times and your budget have changed, your shopping habits should probably change right along with them.

You may know people who get great items from their thrift store expeditions, but you’ve shied away from your neighborhood establishment in the past. You might have thought they were musty places where tunnel people and those who want to look like them shop. Those times are no more. Here’s how to add to your already stylish wardrobe and not look like the latest unfortunate victim of that flipping recession you’re tired of hearing about all the time.

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Beautiful Bangles

Bright Bangles Some days you don’t find much in the way of jewellery and accessories in thrift stores… But every now and again you hit some real gems! I found two sets of matching beaded bangles for $2.99

I have the uncommon problem of really small wrists, working retail for so long I am always hearing the opposite – “These rings are so tiny!” “Bracelets are always made so small!” Well ladies, bangles are usually a standard size in my experience. There are two sides to the coin so best not whine about it, it wasn’t meant to be.

Long story short, the bangles fit perfectly!

Biker Chic

Biker Chic Biker Chic


I have this fascination with leather-esque jackets, especially this high neck, cropped waistline style. It’s the new age biker look that gives this edge, I almost want to say “badass” contrast to anything you’re wearing. Amanda asked me the other night what would work as a jacket for a black sequined dress – my first thought was something like this. Not so easy to find if you’re on a time crunch and you want it that night, but if you’ve got it in the back of your mind to look for you’re bound to find something sooner or later.

Lately Value Village has been tormenting me… in a good way. I have been trying to arrive at a confident place with my “outerwear” wardrobe which would include coats and jackets. It makes my life easier when I can open the closet and just grab the exact coat I need for the outfit – such as having a jacket in each neutral colour. I have successfully found a black and light pink leather jacket which I find goes with so much. I recently found a brown pleather jacket to go with them and last night I found this super cool cropped biker style jacket.

I basically wear a jacket all day long at work as my office is cold most of the time – so I can’t really have too many! Lately at VV I have seen these jackets in all kinds of colours! From hot pink to black to brown to a bizarre almost Easter-like purple! They don’t always fit, sometimes they are in rough shape and more often than not I just don’t want to spend the cash. But this little number I thought was really unique, not to mention comfortable and for only $7?!

Fun Fashion Finds!

1. Banana Republic – I have been eyeing this for weeks, just love the colour and style. Its ridiculously light weight too, but sadly, not worth $29.99!

2. This black dress has also been catching my eye but its a matter of not knowing where I would wear such a short dress! But I love the unique details a la Lady Gaga. Very cool piece.

bananarepublic1 blackdress1

3. Charlotte Russe – Super sweet little sheer top with ruffle detail. This extremely bright coral colour is my favourite thing right now!

4. H&M – I was browsing quickly through the skirts and noticed this very flowy navy blue skirt (much darker than the picture shows) and instantly thought… “Hey! I can make this into a high waisted skirt!” Then I looked at the tag and realized it wasn’t vintage. Oh well!
charlotterusse1 hm

5. Lululemon – For the Lulu fans out there, a brand new, immaculate even, Lululemon dress in the same bright coral colour. If you’re a lulu-lover this is a steal at $24.99!

6. Kenzie – Such a classic piece! I love this beautiful sleeveless print dress with ruffle detail. Its a dark slate and ivory print.

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7. YA – I was first attracted to the colour and silky feel, but upon pulling it out of the rack I notice its a very unique style top too! Only $5.99… can’t go wrong!

8. Naked Zebra – Aside from the fact that I adore the name of this label, this top is such a beautiful style. The rich purple with sheer layering and minimalist shoulder straps… beauty!

ya1nanettelepore1

The “Wow” Factor

St. Patrick's DayMy not-so-impressive outfit today scored me a prize for St. Patrick’s Day at the office! Who knew! Honestly on my drive to work this morning I seriously debated even posting today’s attire as its so unimpressive. Just going for a lot of green and simple. I picked up this emerald green top at Value Village last night so I’d have something casual to wear (I had contemplated wearing my emerald green dress from H&M but its a bit formal). It’s quite big on me but I have every intention on stitching it up into a more exciting top one of these evenings! Can’t get passed the colour – I just love it!

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Lug Skipper Shoulder Pouch

Lug Skipper Shoulder PouchEvery now and again I find something that stands out, not because it appeals to me but because its either in mint condition, has new price tags still on it or the price is outrageous. This particular find on Value Village’s half price day really threw me for a loop. First it was the colour, bright orange. Second, the original Lug price tag is still hanging on it. Third, we receive a huge collection of this same item (along with the tote bag, wallet, passport organizer, yoga bag, etc) into The Revolving Door one day.

 

This bag is actually found in stores right now as the “Lug Skipper Shoulder Pouch”, retailing for a minimum of $30 Canadian. Their price tag on it was $9.99 at VV. Only $5 on half price day. Talk about a steal of a deal. Walking to the cashier, I notice a wall of other purses and decide to peruse before I check out. I didn’t understand why these were separated from the rest. As it would happen, I learned very quickly these pieces had a very high price tag.

I pawed through a few that looked nice, a few that looked strange even ugly in fact. All above $20 and I couldn’t understand why as I didn’t recognize half of the labels. Maybe that’s partially because labels mean absolutely nothing to me at all but I came across one that I could see being both cute and ugly at the same time. It was not a label I had ever heard of, brown trim and a robin’s egg blue – could have accessorized it nicely. My jaw dropped when I flipped over the price tag, $79.99. Value Village’s price was basically $80 for a second hand bag that I couldn’t decide if it was ugly or not.

Needless to say I have never looked at anything on that wall again.

The White Butterfly Dress

Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail White was never a popular choice for me, in fact, I avoided it like the plague. Like most women, black was the go-to colour almost to the point of having 90% of my closet of this absence of colour. Its funny how your preferences change over time. White is now a staple in my wardrobe especially in the summer months. It just seems to add cheer to my day being in such a fresh, clean, crisp colour. Say this to me a year ago I would have shook my head and walked away in my black dress pants and black blazer.

The dress I’m wearing today is perhaps a little soon, but looking at the 17 degree weather tomorrow (middle of March?!) was the push I needed to wear a lighter fabric and bare the legs. I find this dress really pops when you have a tan so I try to keep the pasty legs a more healthy colour with shimmery tanning lotion. Works wonders!

I picked this up many moons ago in Value Village during my black phase – but there was something truly unique and exciting about the style. Not that I’m particularly a huge fan of butterflies the design is rather interesting as it is not exactly a true butterfly when you look closely. I love the silk screen look but this dress takes it to the next level combining the aesthetic of silk screen with digital vector graphics. Each “wing” as it were, is a combination of circles, dots, patterns and textures. Some of the butterflies aren’t even butterflies, just wings loose in the design. Very cool!

The shoes were actually the first decision of the day, as I haven’t worn these yet – the dress was an after thought! Simple black wedges, Bravo Browns. Again a label I’ve never heard of… Only $3.50 on a half price day. Nothing like generic black shoes to wear with anything and everything!

Repurpose, Redesign, Restyle!

Last night I decided because it was such a nice afternoon (thank you Daylight Savings!) that I would go thrifting before heading home. Normally I avoid Value Village at all costs on Tuesdays as its seniors day… I’m still waiting for a 20 something’s day… hasn’t happened yet. Anywho I went anyway luckily all the seniors were at Humpty’s for dinner and the place was quite vacant.

At first I was just looking for the usual list – but as always I got side tracked thinking about Amanda’s request for thrift styling and decided to paw through the dresses looking for something in her vintage/Audrey Hepburn style. A few pieces looked decent, but never in the right size! I did find one that I think is going to be perfect – not to mention reversible! Hopefully she will delightfully surprised when it arrives!

RRR RRR

I snagged three things for myself on this adventure: A white and gold sequin top by Bebe; wild print dress by Kismet and finally a broken necklace that was packed full of my favourite colour green wood beads. What you’re seeing today is two hours of restringing work thanks to yours truly. But! I now have a set of six elastic bracelets and a super long (outrageously awesome if the truth be told) necklace with many strands. I only dropped entire strands of beads in my lap twice!

The dress I picked out yesterday is tagged as a 13-14, if you read yesterday’s post it’ll save me a good chunk of time explaining my beef with sizing in general. There was no way a size 14 woman is going to fit into this – at the store they would use the old staple: “What’s this for? My arm?” I’ve never enjoyed people insulting clothing because its not their size – would it not be enough to simply say something to the effect of “Shucks, I wish this was my size!” The end. Instead from here it goes on to them looking at me saying “It’d fit you, must be nice to be so tiny you’d look good in anything.”

Green Necklace

As much as I’m sure that’s supposed to be a compliment from your perspective its actually a snarky, not to mention inappropriate remark. What was it Thumper’s mom taught us? Oh yes I remember: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Translated into the new english language: “Don’t say nothin’ at all.” Forgive me I just couldn’t help myself! Bottom line is ladies: it’s an insult – don’t say it!

Back to the outfit and all social stereotypes aside, this size “13/14” dress just needed to have two inches taken off the straps to be a perfect fit. Not tight anywhere, no bulges hanging out in unwanted ways – a very flattering piece in the end! Truth be told I was not about to stitch the straps correctly at 6:30am this morning so I simply made a loop at the front and tied a knot, which conveniently fell quite nicely behind the top of the dress. No sewing required!

Over top I chose my seagreen ¾ sleeve cardigan, paired with my new “restylized” bracelets and necklace, my beloved green flats and a mini belt in a similar green. I’m very matchy-matchy today in a fun kind of way. My coworkers mentioned the green trend today as two other women had green as well but a different shade and style of course!

My Style

Lately I have been trying to put a label on the wardrobes of those around me and deciding what their “style” would be. It occurred to me I don’t have a name for mine or taken the time to even sit down to think about my closet in such a way. I’ve never been one to divide my closet and colour palette based on the season or the weather outside. I love my dresses, I’ll wear them in hot sunshine or in blistering winter winds. The difference is typically the footwear and how many layers an outfit requires.

With spring teasing us with its 15 degree sunny afternoons one day, snow flurries the next and nights of minus ten degrees – I find layering the best choice. Cardigans are a staple, as are dark denim jeans. I have both straight leg, boot cut and skinny styles depending on my mood or how the top fits. I still think yoga jeans with no zipper or button are the most ingenious invention!

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Banana Republic Cardigan

Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail On Wednesday this week Value Village was offering an exclusive member-only 50% off sale on select merchandise which in this case was winter wear. I was not looking for anything in particular, in fact I only stopped in to kill time before a dinner date. I tried on a few coats as they had some really bright coloured leather jackets on the rack today – most notably a hot pink one! I found another that was a dark brown both were cropped, or as I would call it the “biker” style.

Sadly both were very small, no way my arms would fit down those sleeves! Not to mention the insides were badly marked up with marker, pen and shredding in the lining. Really wasn’t impressed with the interior quality, the outer was not too bad, definitely wearable. But the next thing that brought it down was the price tag – I’ve spent $20 on leather jackets before, but they were practically mint. These were shredding and marked up and they were asking $39.99. For this sale that would have brought them down to $20. Still… not worth it.

I did however find a sweet little cardigan to go with my growing collection (for $3 how can you go wrong?!) – I’ll soon have enough useable colours! A light peach Banana Republic with a sheer silky trim. Very cute! I’ve started wearing this sort of palette recently so it would be an excellent fit to the wardrobe.

Today’s Daily Digs features this new cardigan – paired with a grey/dark purple paisley dress (I would never wear it as one!), grey leggings and finished with a thin woven belt. Because of the somewhat shocking -16 degree weather this morning I elected for something a little more layered that I could wear with boots. I am not 100% sold on this dress/top thing of mine – picked it up on a half price day but it really has no wow factor. It has a nice ruffle detail down the front, an elastic waistline and its exceptionally short. Not to mention I very rarely wear such dark colours… suppose I could bring it out more with the purple pumps!

Me and Costa Blanca

Costa Blanca Dress Costa Blanca Dress


As you know, I am not one for labels or being a slave to a specific store. Typically I would be more likely to go a tangent about the overpricing of labels and designers rather than what I’m about to say. I will admit I was very disheartened to hear that Costa Blanca had closed at the mall in Kingston, not that I ever shopped there physically.

There is a trend, or coincidence in my thrifting adventures when it comes to this brand. I find the most unique pieces in a rack and check the tags – how frequent it has been recently for to be attracted to a Costa Blanca top or dress. I love the fabrics, the styles and the prints… what else can I say? I can’t discuss price because I’ve never purchased anything in store – but thrifting? Lots!

Take today’s dress for instance, a real gem of a thrift find in my opinion. I do not recall where I picked it up as it was several years ago now, but I can only assume it was Value Village or The Revolving Door. At any rate this dress is unlike any I’ve seen – and to my surprise, I’ve never seen anyone wear anything remotely similar dispite it being a popular name brand.

In fact, I now own two dresses of different styles that are this same fabric, purchased at opposite ends of the country and many years apart. That’s how much I like it. The one I wear today has beautiful flow, pulled in at the neckline with adjustable thin straps and wrap around tie belt. The other which I have yet to wear as its that recent an addition – is a bubble style dress gathered at the bottom with elastic to create the billough effect, high neckline again with a side tie at the shoulder. With that dress I would likely pair it with a mini belt so that it has more shape. We shall see!

Such a nice dress, lovely lines and so comfortable. Today’s outfit consists of a bright seagreen cardigan (thrift), my beloved nude Nine West peep toe pumps (also thrift!) and my own jewellery set. Today’s cute detail is in the pantyhose – a pair of sheer, fleshtone tights with gemstones up the backs. Very cute addition to a beautiful outfit.

Fleshtone Blouse

Fleshtone Blouse Fleshtone Blouse


I may have forgotten my Daily Digs post this morning so I took two snapshots at work because of this blouse. Its very unique, as per the usual – found at Value Village on one of my first trips here in Medicine Hat. It’s a miserable snowy-slushy day today so I’ve gone more casual with a simple brown cardigan, jeans and tall brown boots. The blouse however is a lovely fleshtone tan with ruffles around the arm holes, gathered at the waist and beautiful sparkled embroidery around the neckline.