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.
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.
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. Thus, you can run into style clones everywhere.
Thus, 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 you 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 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.
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.
Houndstooth sheath outfit ideas
The dress is from a consignment store in town. I bought the belt on eBay.
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.
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. You can learn how to save time shopping consignment stores.
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.
Valentino Rock Studs found on eBay
eShakti lace pencil skirt with BCBG belt, Moda International top, thrifted BCBG studded pumps (all own) and wooden sports watch c/o Jord
Maybe our Interior summers are actually much colder for them than they feel to us who are used to the climate. When I arrive in Seattle in winter, I feel like I am thawing, upon arrival in Denver, I feel like I am melting. 😉 The photos below show further outfits with consigned items.
Jones New York striped cardigan, Ralph Lauren polka dot pleated skirt, Brooks Brothers cashmere sweater (all thrift finds), Kieselstein Cord belt and buckle, Prada bag, L.K. Bennett pumps (all own)
Ballroom dance dress (second hand), Very Fine Dance Shoes sandals (all own), fishnet tights c/o No nonsense
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.
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Photos: G. Kramm
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