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Michael Kors patent leather plateau sandals, Gucci silver and blue enamel bamboo buckle suede leather belt, moonstone and citrine necklace, Bellorita satchel, handmade Hawaiian print dress (all own) and mirrored sunglasses c/o Winkwood

It is easy to put together a wow worthy outfit when you do not have to have an eye of the price tag, and just can buy whatever you like. However, the majority of people have to work hard for their money and to make ends meet. Nevertheless, we want to look stylish and have to look professional. Sales, Nordstrom Rack, redeem codes, and the famous designer making a cheap line for Target, H&M, you name it, are possibilities many of us use to get the style we strive for. This post demonstrates that you can look effortlessly stylish in outfits with second hand items. Read how to look great in second hand clothing.

  1. What’s the Difference between a Thrift Store and a Consignment Store?
  2. Consignment Can Help to Get High Quality Expensive Items for Less
  3. Alaska Is Big on Outdoor Clothes
  4. Buy Only Items in the Style You Strive For
  5. Browse for Clothes on Your Shopping List When on Travel
  6. How to Style Modern Looks with Second Hand Clothes
    • Print Summer Dress
    • Hounds Tooth Sheath Outfit Ideas
    • Jersey Fit-n-flare Print Attire
    • What to Do with a Fur Collar?
  7. Learn to Love Second Hand
  8. Re-used Clothes Work from Head to Toe
  9. Conclusions on How to Look Great in Second Hand Clothing


What’s the Difference between a Thrift Store and a Consignment Store?

Consignment stores work for profit and pay for their merchandise. They may sell items on behalf of the owner or pay second hand pieces and resell them. On average, they sell higher quality items than thrift stores. Some may only medium and high end priced brands. Remember that the last time I browsed a consignment store, I had scored a pair of high end shoes:

A brand new pair of Etienne Aigner wedge sandals, which brand recalled childhood memories.

Typically the merchandise in thrift stores stems from donations. Most of the money of the purchases supports a non-profit organization. The finds can be there for a reason like not fitting well or shrunken in the washer or drier. However, they also can be brand new as they pieces may be unwelcome gifts to the donator.

Both have in common that they slow fashion down and save valuable resources and money.

Slow down fashion, search for classic high quality pieces in thrift stores. #thrifting #slowfashion Click To Tweet

When you also want to slow fashion down, but don’t know which designer brands to look for at thrift shops, check the guide at the link. It’s full of tips you want to know.


Consignment Can Help to Get High Quality Expensive Items for Less

We are all about being friendly to our environment, and using our resources consciously. Thus, we also want environment-friendly fashion. Having grown up in the 1970s or 1980s, recycling has become our second nature. When we had siblings, and were the younger or not as tall as the other sibling, we wore hand-me downs. Of course, we often hated these hand-me downs for various reasons. For those, who were fortunate (?) not to have siblings: The friends of our siblings knew that we wore a hand-me down of our sibling. Often they were also our friends. So our friends also knew it. Furthermore, the items may have even already not It anymore. Thus, they made us out among the It crowd of our classmates or whatever group was important to us.

If that weren’t all bad enough, our sibling’s and our style were different. Just we felt like Judy in disguise. At least, this was the case with the hand-me downs from my younger, but taller sis. The worst part, Mom insisted on wearing them until the stuff fell apart or wouldn’t fit any longer, what seemed like an eternity to my “teenager me”.

From my brother I got that great pair of black motorcycle leather pants that I wore all through college with thrifted pumps and a cheap T-shirt bought in the boys’ department.


fashion blogger over 50 in thrifted shirt dress with thrifted bag
Side view teal shirt dress


style over 40 back view of mature woman in shirt dress
Back view



influencer showing how to look great in second hand clothing in a teal dress
Express shirt dress with Salvatore Ferragamo pumps, Dooney and Brooke bag, Hermes collier de chien bangle, oblong graphic print scarf, beaded necklace designed by my husband (all own), and and wood watch c/o Jord. The dress was $12. The pumps and bag are also second hand, but I don’t recall what I paid for them.



Alaska Is Big on Outdoor Clothes

After college, I stopped thrifting. At that time, it was more a students thing or for children clothes in Germany. However, after moving to Alaska, shopping for nice stylish clothes became a real challenge. All good brands, you can buy in town, are famous outdoor outfitters. I am not an outdoor gal at all. Thus, why would I dress so? When you find something in a store in town and you like it Alaskans buy it in all colors. As a result, you can run into style clones everywhere.

Therefore, I started browsing consignment and thrift stores again. My workplace has different informal “dress codes” depending on the department/unit you are associated with. This means work clothes-wise nearly everything works, but head-to-toe in one expensive designer. This means I can dress in my personal eclectic style.


Buy Only Items in the Style You Strive For

Because the style I strive for was not available in the stores in Fairbanks, I started to browse the consignment stores in town. Doing so sounds like a contradiction in itself. However, due to the military and air force bases there is a fast turnover in the population of Fairbanks. Clothes that are still too cold for the new ones in town, however, are just right for those with a sourdough status of 10+ years who are already adapted to the cold. Furthermore, many Alaskans buy their clothes in the Lower 48 when on travel, vacation or family visits.


Browse for Clothes on Your Shopping List When on Travel

Do not restrict your browsing to the thrift stores in town. I also like to browse thrift stores when out of state. I found a great pair of Michael Kors plateau sandals in a vintage store in Georgetown on one of my visits to DC. In addition to thrift stores, eBay has become a valuable resource to get the look I want.


How to Style Modern Looks with Second Hand Clothes

Print Summer Dress

This summer print dress has a classic cut with fitted top and large knife-pleats with an abstract Hawaiian print. Its grounding color is blue, i.e. a neutral. The print is navy with orange and red. Orange can be a fashion color and might have been when the dress was new. However, since orange is the complementary color of blue, red is an analogous color to orange, and navy is a neutral, the color scheme is timeless.

Typically, I look for designer or bridge brands at thrift shops or consignment stores. This garment is a homemade one, probably one of a kind. It has a high quality lightweight fabric. The person who made it knew what they were doing. The craftsmanship is excellent. The dress has even pockets and all edges are having a zigzag stitch to avoid creation of fringe! It fit like it had been made for me. Since it was unbranded, it was less than $7!

The belt is an eBay find and the plateau sandals are a second hand find. Both picked up colors of the print. The gemstones of the necklace and the bag match the orange in the print. Learn how to shop on eBay.


zoom on necklace, print, belt and sunglasses
zoom on necklace, print, belt and sunglasses


blogger in thrifted blue and orange print summer dress
Michael Kors patent leather plateau sandals, Gucci silver and blue enamel bamboo buckle suede leather belt, moonstone and citrine necklace, Bellorita designer bag, handmade Hawaiian print dress, and mirrored sunglasses c/o Winkwood



Jersey Fit-N-Flare Print Attire

The next photos feature a find from Value Village for $10. It even had the original tags attached. You have seen this beauty already winterized as a skirt. Check the link in case, you missed it. What attracted me were the deep colors (my color palette) and the fin-like pattern. This means it goes with many of my cardigans, sweaters and jackets. The cut is sleek and perfect for social dances.

Here I styled the robe with a lace halftee underneath, a topaz necklace and bracelet that pick up the bluish of the lace and some of the “fins.” The classic ankle strap shoes are gray – a neutral, which works for summer better than black. The orange soles are not original, but nail polish. Full disclosure: The original black sole looked to conservative for my taste. The look would also work with red or gold colored footwear.


blogger Nicole in thrifted robe with lace top, ankle strap heels
Front view jersey knit dress


over 50 years old Nicole in Lularoe dress with camisole, heels, shoulder bag
Side view printed thrifted jersey knit dress

fashion book author in colorful robe with lace, shoulder bag, heels


Hounds Tooth Sheath Outfit Ideas

The dress is from a consignment store in town. I bought the belt on eBay.


Mature woman in houndstooths sheath for the office
GNW turtleneck sweater under Loft hounds tooth sheath (consigned), GNW tights, Salamander shearling booties, Hermes collier de chien belt (all own)


thrifting blogger demonstrating how to look great in second hand clothing
Mock turtleneck sweater, black and white sheath dress with blush pink quilted Halogen leather jacket for a classic with a twist office look


What to Do with a Fur Collar?

The attached collar is consignment store find. In the 1950s and 1960s, they were pinned to coats. To wear the piece in a modern way, just style it like a necklace. The bag and booties are eBay finds.

winter look with flare skirt and second hand bag and booties


worn as skirt with thrifted collar
Karina Dresses dress worn as skirt with GNW Luxe dyed sweater, GNW tight, consigned collar, second time around Manolo Blahnik booties, Kieselstein Cord belt and buckle as well as Celine tote (all bought on eBay)


Learn to Love Second Hand

Today second hand can bring you things that you couldn’t afford otherwise. Being a state employee, I can’t afford to spend a thousand dollar on a pair of shoes, two thousand or more on a handbag, or $500 on a pair of jeans. However, I like a Chanel bag, or Valentino rock studs, or this seasons It shoe from Gucci like the next gal. So what? I go for second hand fashion items on eBay (see this guide how to score high on eBay), or in online stores that specialize in consignment of high fashion and browse the local thrift and consignment stores. Learn what designer brands to look for.


Re-used Clothes Work from Head to Toe

Second time around is such a great concept! It is amazing what you can find second hand. Sometimes the item has been worn only once. I got a pair of silver Ralph Lauren pointy toe pumps for less than $70. The previous owner had only worn them for a photo! The sole didn’t even have a scratch! In principle, they were brand new! The photos below show shoes bought used.

influencer in consigned silver pumps and bag
London Jean boyfriend jeans, the Limited striped T-shirt, Oliveo linen blazer, structured bag bought on eBay, Hermes H-belt, DIY necklace, Hermes collier de chien cuff, and second time around Ralph Lauren silver pumps


Conclusions on How to Look Great in Second Hand Clothing

As demonstrated in this post, you can style second hand clothes the same way you do with your purchased items. Actually, to make second hand clothing work for you starts not in your closet, but at the store. Just buy what is a timeless piece of great quality in colors of your palette. Resist to fall for a brand or the low price tag. Only buy garments that do not give away the time they were designed. This “stamp” can be hidden in color combinations, prints, cuts, details. Thus, steer away from anything that can look “dated.”

Is your fashion and style on a budget? Do you thrift? If so, what are your biggest scores in thrifting? Let me know, I am curious.


Photos: G. Kramm

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