Fashion Forward: Finding secondhand treasures

By Kristian Buckner | Jun 11, 2014

Let’s just be completely honest here — you don’t need the latest and greatest from over-priced-insert-name-here store in the mall.

And I’ll tell you a secret, those denim shorts that you’re about to buy for $50 are only worth about $5. In fact, you could make even better ones for a fraction of the price without ever leaving the comfort of your own home.

OK, I’ll give it to the stores, they’ve got a good gig. They tell you what’s in style, they jack the prices up so that customers get excited when there’s a “sale,” and then they relentlessly send you email after email to remind you what you’re missing.

In reality? You’re not missing anything. You don’t have to buy from those mall brands to be in style, in fact most of things that are in today you could probably find in your mother’s or grandmother’s closet. Fashion is cyclical, and style is something that you create.

What was “in” and “new” 10 years ago already had it’s day, and eventually will go out of style, and then re-emerge with a different name. For example, a style I love right now is high-waisted, cut-off denim shorts. The style that is now uber-chic was once considered old “mom jeans,” and before the 80s, high-waisted things showed up on ladies everywhere in the 50s.

Because of this, what’s in can be found in thrift stores everywhere. After all, the crop tops, harem pants, and overalls that you love now didn’t just disappear with the 90s. So take this in consideration when you go shopping. You don’t have to spend your whole paycheck on one thing, go thrift shopping instead.

For those of you who don’t thrift shop or have never done it before, you’re missing out. Some pretty amazing treasures can be found in thrift shops — ask Macklemore. Not only will recycling clothes help your wallet, but it can also give your style a boost. I personally love shopping at thrift stores, from Goodwill to it’s more upscale cousin, Plato’s closet.

Finding old clothes and changing them to fit my wardrobe allows me to be creative. I’ve found countless sweaters, dresses and jeans that all were once hanging on display at the mall and had been tossed to the curb by someone who fell out of love. I particularly like shopping at Goodwill, while not everything you find there is a winner, there are a lot of things that are.

For example, instead of giving in to Urban Outfitter’s ploy to make me spend a wallet’s worth on high-waisted shorts, I got some old Levi’s and cut them into shorts. For roughly $4 and a little patience, I got shorts that I knew were completely me, and not something I would see on anybody else. Thrift shopping has also led me to cool sunnies from the 50s, gently used handbags, and some pretty beautiful vintage hats.

If you aren’t one who wants to rummage through a few ugly ducklings to find your diamond in the rough, consignment shops such as Plato’s Closet might be a good alternative for you. There you can get some cash for your old Hollister and American Eagle clothes, while they’re going through your old duds, you can be sifting through name-brand, “gently loved” clothing.

At Plato’s and other consignment shops, you’ll be sure to find those mall brands for a pretty affordable price, and they don’t take any clothes that are damaged in any way so you won’t have to worry about about searching for holes and missing buttons.

Style is something that is completely unique to you, and trends are just right now- and possibly in 10 years. If you must shop at the mall, don’t forget that all the merchandise eventually gets marked down and many stores have frequent sales.

Either way you go, you don’t have to spend a lot to look chic. But if you’re willing to be patient, get a little creative, and you don’t have but maybe $20 in your pocket, thrift shopping may be the best way to go.