Tips for Mastering Second Hand Shops

Walking into any thrift shop, the racks packed with clothing and the shelves brimming with stock, can be a daunting task for even the most seasoned secondhand shopper.  But if you go with right mindset, armed with a few tips and tricks, you will find scores of one woman’s junk ready to become your treasures.  Here are my top ten tips!!

1. Call the stores you are interested in to find out when they are planning to put out new stock. That way you can time your visit to make sure you get the best selection possible.

2. Come with a list of things you are looking for, but do not live and die by it. Sometimes something truly wonderful that you never knew you wanted or needed will just appear, and you want to make sure you are open to that.

3. Do a loop around the entire store and grab everything that catches your eye, even if you are not sure about it. Do not overthink. Just do it. There is no extra stock in the back. What is on the floor is what they have. So if you see a great piece, just grab it, even if you feel like it might not fit, or you do not know where or how you will wear it. Now is not the time for scrutinizing your every decision. If you do not grab it when you have the chance, someone else could spot the same piece and snatch it out from under you. You can edit through your selection later.

4. Wear a neutral outfit that is easy-on and easy-off to make things in the dressing room as pain-free as possible. That means no button-down shirts or lace-up shoes, which will only make it that much harder to change quickly. Also, stick to wearing separates instead of a dress. That way, you can try on pieces with clothes you already own and know fit you, instead of having to go find some skirt you don’t actually like just so you can try on the top you are interested in.

5. Do not be fooled by fake designer labels. Buy something because you like it. Not because it has a fancy label in it. The whole fake labels thing is not really an issue when you are shopping at overstock stores like TJ Maxx or Marshalls or at most thrift stores, but you need to be on your guard when shopping at vintage and consignment shops. The fact is, it is easy for someone to take an old dress, sew a fake designer label in it, and then charge 10 times what it’s actually worth. It is up to you to examine the details and finishings, and figure out if you are getting the real deal or a fake. If you have doubts about a garment’s authenticity, trust your gut. Just be cautious.

6. Stick to pieces with clean lines and classic shapes if you do not want to look dated. Even when you are shopping for vintage clothes, you probably do not want to look like you just stepped out of another era. The more streamlined the piece is, the more modern it will look and the easier it will be for you to integrate it into your existing wardrobe.

7. Never buy anything with a stain on it. You will never get it out, no matter how hard you try. Never ever.

8. If you plan to haggle or ask for any kind of a discount, make sure you are super nice to the staff from the moment you enter the store, flea market, or wherever else you are shopping. If there are multiple salespeople, pick one and try to get a dialogue going — smile, say hello, ask how they are doing. Then, before you head to the counter, make a point of hanging up the pieces you are not buying so she or he does not have to do it later her or himself.

9. Do not be afraid to take something to the tailor to get it just right. Just make sure you know the difference between what can be fixed and what cannot. And be honest with yourself about how much work you are actually willing to put into it. Hey, sometimes secondhand clothes and accessories need a little extra TLC to look their best, but if you are already getting a deal, that extra work can be totally worth it.

10. Whatever you buy, make sure you clean it immediately. Drop it off at the dry cleaner on your way home or pop it into the laundry machine the second you walk through the door. Do not wait. You do not know where it has been.

5 Must Have Shoes for the Holiday Season

Is there anything better than a gorgeous new pair of heels for a party!? When the holidays hit it is time to update your wardrobe with the right shoes, so you are not standing in your closet wondering what to wear when you should be at the party sipping a cocktail. Well, here I am to help. These five pairs will have you party ready in no time.

New Take On The Classic Black Pump
Add Some Sparkle to Your Step
Animal Instinct
Cutie Pa-Shootie
Knee High Glamour
Inspiration from Pinterest

When to Get Rid of Clothes

You probably have some clothes and shoes taking up space in your closet that you could let go of, right? It might be time to recycle or donate if your clothing falls into one of the following categories.

1. If the piece has stains or a musty smell it needs to go. I know this may seem obvious, but for some extreme clothes hoarders, getting rid of clothes is very emotional. However, in the case of clothes moths or mold, dye, or ink stains, you need to accept that your clothing is beyond recovering.

2. If you no longer LOVE it, then it is time to get rid of clothes and shoes. Closets are typically small spaces in our homes, so maximizing space is key. If you do not LOVE something, there is really no reason to give up space to it in your closet.

3. If it is out of fashion… and not coming back. If you bought something trendy that you cannot incorporate into outfits going forward, it is time to toss or donate. There is no value is storing something you will never wear again.

4. If it no longer projects the image you want to project, it is time to let it go. For example let’s say you used to be a corporate type, but now you have decided to pursue a career as a yoga instructor. At this point, you do not need to have a closet full of oxford shirts and tailored slacks.

5. If it itches, scratches or pinches you need to toss it. I am all for “suffering” for fashion, but there is a limit! If something is truly uncomfortable, you need to let it go. This includes scratchy fabrics that are irritating your skin, itchy fabrics and high heels that pinch your toes.

Update Your Fall Wardrobe ~ FOR FREE

Transitioning from one season to another can be overwhelming and expensive if you are not prepared. However, you do not have buy a whole new wardrobe just because the weather has cooled down. Check out my three top tips for using your current summer clothes to your advantage. By adding the right accessories, which you probably already own, you can turn your summer clothes into all weather wear.

1. Reuse Your Sundresses. Just because a dress is lightweight or a bright color does not mean it has to be banished to the back of your closet from October to May. Layer a denim jacket or chunky sweater over it and / or pair it with knee high boots to counteract cold weather and create an entirely new look.
2. Layer, Layer, Layer. Tank tops and lightweight shirts do not need to be retired as soon as the air turns cool. The trick is pairing these summery items with your favorite corduroys, wool skirts, cardigans and other fall staples.
3. Choose Accessories Wisely. You can make anything summer feel like fall with the careful addition of tights, jewel toned scarves, suede boots and booties, and large leather handbags.
Inspiration from Pinterest.

Seven Habits of the Stylish

Anyone with a credit card can be fashionable, but few have genuine style. Sure, you can drape yourself in the coolest labels season after season. That might give you a boost of instant gratification, but in six months those pieces will be obsolete, and you will feel compelled to keep up with the cycle of buying the next round of coveted pieces. How exhausting! Yet, I see many women falling victim to this cycle. Years ago, most young women working outside fashion would not have necessarily been aware of what the “it” items were within the industry, unless they truly loved and followed fashion. Today, all they need to do is take a quick peek at Pinterest or any one of the gazillion personal style blogs that exist. Of course, you only need to visit mine. But that in turn, can result in scores of young women looking exactly like everyone else and going broke in the process. So, I compiled seven habits of stylish women to get you started.

1. They do not surf street style blogs and copy exactly what they see, label for label. In this day and age, street style photos are a bona fide source of fashion inspiration. Do not forget, big street fashion players, get sent designer stuff for free to entice folks like us to go out and buy it. Others are, well, richer than us and it is their day job to flit around the world in the latest designer clothes, which is fun to admire but not necessarily healthy to emulate. That is why truly stylish women will see a look they are drawn to and seek out lesser priced pieces that have the same vibe. Plenty of affordable stores like TJMaxx and Marshalls offer items that feature similar aspects to designer pieces.
2. They are not afraid of any store and can find something almost anywhere. Legitimately stylish women will troll any store with zero snob factor, yet they stay true to their aesthetic. For example, do not be afraid to pop into a cheesy seeming teen store at the mall. That does not mean you will leave with the same things your 12-year-old cousin would. But you might find some killer black leggings, a shrunken blazer, the perfect pair of skinny jeans, or some great costume jewelry. Same goes for fast fashion haunts like Forever 21, thrift stores, and off price havens like TJMaxx or Marshalls, which are consistently packed with great stuff for less.
3. They know how to style themselves according to their own taste. Why is it always the case that the most stylish girls will say “This blouse? It’s from Goodwill like 100 years ago” and actually mean it? Yeah, the blouse itself is probably pretty cool, but it is really the way she styled it. She maybe tucked into great dark wash jean, unbuttoned one extra button, rolled up the sleeves, or added a cool statement necklaces that made everyone comment on it. The trick is to go with what your style is.
4. They always look a little less “done” than everyone else. Highly stylish people are often in the habit of always appearing a teeny tiny bit too cool for every scenario they are in. This might mean wearing a pair of slip on sneakers when every other girl is teetering on heels, wearing a chic skinny pantsuit when every other woman is rocking glittery party dresses, or chopping her hair into a messy bob when everyone else has long beachy waves. Small things that always make them look a little less “done”.
5. They understand labels do not make them cooler. It sounds cliché, but the most stylish women have confidence, and they do not need the $700 sweatshirt or $2,000 handbag to make themselves appear cool. These ladies can step out in a faded gray tee and jeans and still look like the coolest person in the room all because they have confidence.
6. They are not especially trendy. Some of the most stylish people are the ones who rarely shift from a basic overarching aesthetic, whether that aesthetic is made up of minimalist staples, or colorful flashy pieces. As time goes on, they will replace items with newer, more modern looking ones, but they will never fall victim to fly by night trends.
7. They do not dress to be considered stylish. Before blogs, before street style, and before Fashion Week became a competition for who has the most attention grabbing clothing, young women dressed for themselves, their lifestyle, and what looked good on them. Believe me, it does not matter if those heels are Jimmy Choo, if you cannot walk in them, you will not be considered stylish. Throw on a pair of comfortable ankle boots or cute ballet flats with that mini dress, you will look much cooler.

Get Inspired ~ Create New Outfits

Do you ever feel like coming up with a new outfit is nearly impossible? Even I experience ruts when it comes to getting dressed some days. I wonder if I have come to the end and cannot possibly think of a new combination. I am guessing from time to time, everyone feels the same way too. So here are a few tips for getting inspired and creating new outfits!

1. Clean Your Closet. Kicking it off with cleaning is not very fun, but having a Feng Shui closet is completely necessary for creativity. When things are cluttered, dirty, or bursting at the seams, it is not a good environment for brainstorming. Your closet should be a happy place.
2. Take Inventory of What you Already Own. While you are cleaning your closet, I recommend taking inventory of what you already own as a way to get inspired. It is time to raid the dark corners of your closet and the spare clothes under the bed. Even if items are out of season, it can help to pull them out and browse.
3. Regularly Read Inspirational Publications. Check out this blog and others along with magazines like InStyle or Harper’s Bazaar. You might see an outfit, and then suddenly your creative juices get flowing. You can also keep creativity going by attending art events, watching musicals or even TV.
4. Organize and Review Inspiration Photos. Besides finding new images that inspire you, re-visiting images that you loved in the past can also help jump start creativity. Pinterest is one popular way to organize what gets your creative motors running. I save images in a folder on my computer and tear pages out of magazines. If you are feeling stuck, pull these images out as general inspiration, or use them to recreate outfits in a more literal way.
5. Go Shopping. The good news is that shopping does not have to cost you any money at all. Browsing retail websites and window shopping at the mall can inspire new ways for wearing what you already own. You can also opt to shop a friend’s closet for something to borrow, head to the thrift store for a bargain, or allot a small budget at the mall. Even just one new piece – like an inexpensive statement necklace – can jolt your closet back to life and inspire a week’s worth of new outfits.
6. Repeat an Favorite Uniform. Throughout different seasons in my life I have heavily favored different uniforms. For the office it was a pencil skirt and cardigan. For casual occasions, it is a summery dress with a statement necklace. When I am in a rut it can be helpful to revisit these uniforms and use that blueprint to come up with a familiar outfit using a new combination of colors and patterns.
7. Choose one Practical or Inspirational Item. When I am standing in my closet scratching my head about what to wear, I will often pick one piece to concentrate on. If my day requires a lot of walking, then I will narrow it down to two pairs of shoes that are most practical, and create an outfit from there. If practicality is less important, then I will pick an inspirational item. Choose one or two things you love and feel really excited to wear that day, and build your outfit from there.
8. Plan Ahead. Plan your outfits ahead of time! Spend an hour on a Sunday afternoon brainstorming for your upcoming week at work, or consider big events or important meetings in the weeks leading up to it. Being fashionable does not have to be your top priority in life. In fact, spending a little more time up front can save you a lot of time in the long run. It will eliminate those twenty wasted minutes in the morning when you are not feeling all that creative. If a little planning keeps you from feeling miserable later, that is time well spent in my opinion!

Buying Multiples

I would like to share one of my favorite tricks for making getting dressed easier and getting more out of my wardrobe. It is buying multiples!! However it is not the same item in a different color, it is a different item, same color. For example, if you found a aqua pencil skirt for work you love, why not also add an aqua pair of jeans to your wardrobe? This way any outfit you create with the skirt, will also work with the jeans. Consider doing this with shoes as well. I have five versions of black shoes – the boot, the pump, the wedge, the flat and the sandal. Sound excessive? Well, it actually makes things really easy. I always have a matching shoe, because most outfits match all five pairs of shoes. You only have to determine which heel height you want to go with, based on the practicality of your day.
Inspiration from Pinterest.