With winter upon us, the thrift store is the perfect place to stock up on stand-out cold-weather staples! Thrift stores are the perfect place to find unique one-of-a-kind items that will dress up all of your basics. It’s also a great way to get your mid-season shopping fix without breaking the bank. One of my favorite collections from Fall ’11 was by 3.1 Phillip Lim. I love how his plays on texture and shape create versatile and engaging looks that any girl could wear. Here are my thrifting tips — from over ten years of experience — on how to make secondhand your right-hand-man when it comes to getting the look.
THE SWEATER DRESS
One of my favorite looks from Phillip Lim for Fall ‘11 was the slouchy sweater dress. The detailed texture and slouchy fit lend an unexpected interest to an otherwise classic piece. Here is how to thrift the perfect sweater dress:
1. Browse the men’s section of the thrift store. Look for an oversized sweater with a great pattern. Make sure that it is long enough to serve as a dress, but don’t worry too much about the fit anywhere else.
2. When you get home, roll up the sleeves, pinning or finishing with a tailor’s tack if necessary (that’s just a simple single stitch from the inside — you could put two on each sleeve and it would be secure). Try rolling them a touch high, just above the wristbone, to show off gloves or bracelets.
3. For a more figure-conscious shape, try pairing it with a worn-in leather belt, or simply gathering excess fabric in the back at your natural waist and securing from the inside with a safety pin. If you’re sew-savvy, sew a single straight running stitch from the armpit down to the hem on both sides. Since chunky knits unravel fast, don’t cut off the excess fabric. You’ll find that it won’t get in your way once your new sweater dress is on, and it will make sure that everything stays firmly together.
4. Pair your sweater dress with tights and boots to finish the look. For outdoor weather, add on a peacoat and beanie for a classic east-coast look that hunts at a grungier side.
Leather is the perfect addition to any fall wardrobe. Every girl has their favorite leather jacket that seems to go with everything. However, pairing a chunky knit or a blazer with a leather bottom can turn a classic look on its head, making it a bit more playful. Leather is tricky to find at a thrift store, but well worth the hunt.
1. Look in the women’s section of the thrift store for leather bottoms. Sometimes, the thrift store might have a “better” section, which is also a good place to search. Leather pencil skirts are usually an easy find and will serve nicely as is with a cozy knit. Pants are a bit trickier, but do turn up fairly regularly. You may have to hit up a few different stores or keep your eyes peeled for a couple of weeks. Remember: thrifting is a process, you can’t just go once!
2. Don’t worry too much if you find leather pants that aren’t quite the right fit. Oversized pants can be worn low on the hips with a belt, then cuffed or cut to the right length at the ankle. You can get away with a clean cut and no-sew because leather won’t fray.
3. If you find a pair of leather pants, but don’t love the fit of the legs, turn them into cute leather shorts — no sewing required — to wear with thick wool tights for the same effect. If they are high-waisted and pleated (as most tend to be), cut them off with a bit of extra length so that you can cuff the bottoms. Cuffed pleated high-waisted shorts are an unexpected “wow” factor to fall basics, and look amazing with everything from a collared shirt and cardigan to a vintage tee and denim jacket.
THE OVERSIZED CARDIGAN
The oversized cardigan is the coziest of winter must-haves. It’s like wearing a blanket everywhere you go, but remarkably less cumbersome. Phillip Lim uses it as a creative layering piece, and it is the perfect thing to pick up at the thrift store in a variety of colors. I personally have three, and I’ve nicknamed them “Big Blue”, “Big Green”, and “Big Brown”. Here’s where to go:
1. Shop the men’s section of the store first. You’ll find several options in a variety of shapes and textures.
2. Try them on at the store. Most thrift stores don’t have dressing rooms, but cardigans are easy to throw on over your clothes to determine fit. Ask a friend to be your mirror, or feel out the size on your own. Don’t be shy about marching through the store to look for a mirror either — you can usually find them in the home section.
3. Cardigans are easy because you don’t have to do much once you find them — the rest is in how you style it. From maxi skirts to jeans, you really can’t go wrong. Just be sure to balance out the oversized sweater with something a little more fitted underneath. The contrast will exaggerate the shape and create a more dynamic silhouette. For a look that would make Kurt Cobain proud, slide the lower-most button on the cardigan through the highest button hole and let the extra fabric fold over. It’s a messy detail that can go a long way towards giving a basic outfit some personality. You can even tie an extra-long skinny belt on over that at your natural waist.
by Madeline Hansen
Images via Style.com