Friday, February 18, 2011

Practical Style Guide: Thrifting

Full disclosure: I am generally not a fan of tights with shorts. I've only done it once before, and it was fine, but if I'm going to put on an outfit that requires tights I tend to believe that a simple, basic skirt is a better choice. I'm not sure what made me give it a whirl today, but I felt really cute and comfortable. So, I'm eating a bit of crow here. Don't expect this look to be a staple for me, but I won't completely write it off anymore either.

Now, down to business. Anyone who does a lot of thrifting knows that the whole process is pretty much an art. From which stores to visit, which sections of each store, how to find diamonds in the rough, right down to what to wear. I have perfected the ultimate outfit template for a thrifting trip, so I thought I would share my insights with you all.
1. Begin at the beginning, with a good foundation. Tights are ideal for a number of reasons. They provide a barrier between you and the clothes, cutting down on the ick factor of trying on unwashed used clothing. You can easily try on pants, skirts, dresses and shorts over them. Some people might lean toward leggings, but I maintain that tights are superior because if you must take your shoes off, either in the fitting room or when trying on shoes, you've got a barrier between your feet and the floor. You could do leggings with socks, but you will look ridiculous when you have to wear them while you're trying on skirts or dresses.

2. A basic shirt. Though I'm wearing a t-shirt here, a plain cami or tank top is slightly better because you can keep it on when trying on dresses or shirts. Go with a plain, neutral color that will match anything. That way it won't clash with anything you're trying on.

3. A comfy skirt or shorts. Once again, keep it plain and neutral. Don't do a pattern unless it's subtle. I'm all for pattern mixing, but chances are a plaid skirt won't go with every shirt you want to try on, and you won't get a good feeling for what it will look like because you're so distracted by your weirdly clashing attire. Ideally, you should be able to slip your skirt or shorts on and off easily without a lot of buttoning or zipping, cause that gets old real fast. A dress could work, but make sure it's easy to slip on and off, and you wear a cami underneath or else whenever you try on pants or a skirt you will be topless.

4. A cardigan or jacket. Broken record here...keep it neutral. You want something you can throw on with any dress or blouse you're trying on to get an idea of how that piece might work with separates.

5. Flats. Boots could work, but they might look wonky with certain hemlines, and they're bulkier. Flats can be slipped off in the aisle to try on other shoes. And usually you don't have to take them off when trying on pants (unless they're super tight skinnies), a bonus if you'r lazy like me and hate taking your shoes on and off all the time. I guess I could just leave them off, but it helps me to be able to wear shoes with my items so I get a fuller sense of how they look on me.

6. KISS- Keep it simple stupid. Hair down so it's doesn't get messed up (though you might want to bring a rubber band just in case). Minimal jewelry. Long necklaces will just get in the way, earrings will catch, belts must be buckled and unbuckled. Two layers on top (shirt + cardi or jacket) is good, any more is just extra stuff to take off and put on. 

7. Bring your camera. There's sure to be something ridiculous and you'll wish you had it.

Do you guys have any special tips for what to wear on a thrifting outing? Do you agree/disagree with my tips? Anything I missed? I'd love to hear about it!

Guess cardigan from Labels consignment, Gap t-shirt from Value Village, Ross shorts, JC Penny tights, Target flats


  1. you got it under control and seem to have your head on just right...

    you go girl

    ps; you do a good thing for seattle!!!

  2. #1) thank you for showing me how to wear patterned tights, I have been coveting a pair for awhile but am afraid to take the plunge.
    #2) Thanks for the thrifting tips, brilliant! Making a barrier between your feet and the floor=highly important!