Five tips to level-up your second hand looks!
Photos by: Lily Towers
A lot of people shy away from thrift or second hand shopping because they're worried that they may end up looking shabby vs chic. Well, I'm here to dispel that myth and tell you that you don't have to drop tonnes of cash on the latest designer trend to look cool or unique! Yes, you heard right, if you're one of those people who worry about looking drab vs fab in used clothes, I'd like you to reframe your mindset and flip the script a bit. You'll want to be open to the idea, that it's not about the specific piece of clothing - it's HOW you wear it & style it. Isn't it great news, that you can look like a bourgie babe even if you're on a tight budget?!
Before you begin styling your outfit; be sure the pieces possess some basic criteria;
Be sure to inspect the items of any damages! It should go without saying, but pieces that have holes, stains, or rips will not make you look more expensive, but instead kinda
frump-a dunk. In addition, pilling stretched out and faded fabrics are a no-no too.
Your item is in pretty good condition, now it's time to try it on...
How does it fit? A little tight? In this case, you probably want to ditch it. Nothing looks more tired and low budget than a piece of clothing that's being stretched and pulled to the max. Back on the rack, it goes! You want to dress for the body you have today, not for some future date. Or is it a little too loose? That's no problem! If this piece has major potential to be a wardrobe staple, I would suggest you invest in having it tailored. You'll feel and look well put together and wear it for years to come.
Okay, now you're ready to create some magic!
Here are my 5 tips for jazzing up your thrift finds...
Tip #1 - Accessorize Your Life!
This is a big one, which is why it's numero uno! If you only have time or patience, for one thing, this is the number one tip that can make or break your outfit. If you want to look original and unique, this is the most crucial finishing touch. I suggest wearing contemporary accessories to keep your outfit looking fresh, modern and grounded. The possibilities are endless and can give your same outfit a multitude of variations, which gives your clothes much more mileage from season to season and from trend to trend. Accessorize yourself with, necklaces; long, medium to chokers, with earrings; large bold statement down to subtle & streamlined, try different style hats, handbags, different, and textured scarves, belts; thick, medium, thin, sunglasses, shoes and everything in between. Let's say you wore a head to toe black outfit all week (see photo above left) and just layered with different color & texture combinations of accessories, you'd essentially have 7 different looks! Don't discount the power of accessories and try not to fall into the 'Take off one accessory', old school of thought, that you should always remove an accessory before leaving the house. Why do you want to dim your shine? This is really where you can make a statement and express your individualism & unique personality. Just watch the documentary on the American fashion icon, Iris Apfel and you'll have a whole new appreciation for the art of accessorizing!
- While we're on this tip, another way you can level up your outfit is to switch out the freebie belts pls! (you know the cheapie stretchy or fake leather ones that come with certain tops or dresses) This can give your outfit a shlumpy vibe, and that's not the vibe you're going for is it? I didn't think so. Instead, go for a nice quality leather belt to add some edge and poshness.
- Sport a structured bag vs a slouchy bag. Adding a chic structured bag to your outfit, day or night, will immediately make your look a little more polished. The magic of a structured bag is its ability to instantly elevate anything you're wearing without much effort. You can't go wrong with structure: cross-body, shoulder bags, the tiniest mini, or largest hold everything.
- And lastly replace cheap plastic buttons (on a coat, jacket, sweater or something else) for classy alternatives such as; antique metallic, tortoiseshell or mother of pearl. You can pick up new buttons at any craft store for just a dollar or two.
And Voila, You’ve got yourself a more bourgie aka expensive looking outfit right off the bat.
Tip #2 - Set Your Outfit A-Blaze!
It's amazing what a simple blazer can do for you! No matter what your outfit looks like underneath when you top it with a well fitting blazer, it instantly brings your look from average to purposeful and poppin'. It adds instant polish to your outfit and is one of the most versatile pieces you can own and is THE ultimate completer piece. You can wear it with a dress, pencil skirt, a white shirt or even a t-shirt and jeans! When you have no idea what to wear, just throw on a blazer! Although black is always classic and universal, don't limit yourself. There are lots of great options out there, that can add that extra oomph you need, for instance, try different textures, cuts, patterns, and colors; pink, blue, brown, houndstooth, plaid, stripes, even floral or leopard prints. Have some fun and go for some variety. You can find a myriad of varieties of blazers at thrift shops, especially ones from the era 1980's and '90s. If you're not crazy about the oversized shoulder pads, they can always be easily removed with some careful snipping in the seam by the underarm. Just pull out the padding and you're good to go. The big trend these days is bulky, oversized tops, but I would caution you on this, depending on if you want to balance out your shape. Remember the most flattering silhouettes are proportionate.
Tip #3 -Modernize & Mix It Up!
If you're still figuring out how to assimilate your wardrobe with vintage pieces, mix-n-matching them with newer separates is probably the easiest way to work them into your attire, as well as a simple way of taking a very unique, fancier vintage piece and making it more wearable for your daytime looks. Do some research on what's in vogue and then choose garments that look like current trends. Vintage is cool when you can barely see it there, you don’t need to transform yourself into an antique character. You'll end up looking a little too whimsy and costumy for everyday life. You can also try mixing eras, giving you surprisingly, the same effect as blending new and vintage pieces. Unexpected pops of vibrant color, surprising combinations of textiles and silhouettes and layers of contrasting patterns always serve to make an outfit appear both uniquely modern and totally timeless. In fact, mixing eras may just be the most fun and exciting way to wear vintage!
Tip #4 - Be Bold, Colourize!
When shopping a la thrift, stay away from faded washed away hues that were vibrant in their former life. Instead, if you want to look luxe, focus on garments that still have their color intensity intact. Look for rich and vivid colors such as; intense reds, cobalt blues, lively yellows, and lavish purples. You think you can only wear one bold color at a time? Think again, babe! Color blocking is still going strong, a bold and saturated hue can look even better when juxtaposed with another bold saturated hue (see above). Found a mint condition emerald green silky blouse? Be bold and pair it with some bright colored heels like fuchsia and carry a vivid royal blue leather clutch... This look will scream modern sophistication.
Tip #5 - Prints À Go-go
Mixing prints are a bit of an advanced level of styling. Most people wouldn't dare try it at the risk of looking too busy and cluttered. Au contraire! Mixed prints can look super cool 'n fresh and can elevate your look from ordinary and meh to 'street-style', edgy. These days anything goes, as the style pros know! Treat smaller prints as your neutral and pair them with bolder prints for extra jazz and funk. Go ahead and experiment with pairing stripes with florals, even tribal with polka dots. You can stay in the same color family to keep it simple and add a pop of color with your shoes, handbag, and accessories. There are so many varieties of prints you can find at a thrift shop, because of the mix of styles and eras all under one roof. Like a kid in a candy store, you can really find so many fun options to play with and go wild to your heart's content.
Hope you liked my tips and found them helpful! I'll leave you with this quote that's apropos...
"Adding second-hand pieces to your wardrobe is like adding more paint colors to your life's palette, and as cheesy as that may sound, those who wear vintage know exactly what I mean" Rebecca Emily Darling, writer, artist and vintage seller.
With love & bisous