Saturday, August 27, 2016

Motherly Advice...How to tell if someone is wearing thrifted clothing...

Lanvin $1500+
Vintage Stella McCartney $180

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
OR
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Vintage Gianni Versace on Etsy $500

My jacket $25
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
OR 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Are you an Op-Shopper? A Goodwill fan? A Vinnies Vogue Bogan?
 
Shopping for clothing at second hand stores can be thrilling and save you a lot of money, if you go about it the right way. Done slap dash, with beligerence and a bad attitude, it's depressing. But approached with an air of adventure, a good imagination, and a vision of what you want, you can do very well indeed.
 
I'd like to share some secrets I have learned about dressing Pre` Mode Aime` or in pre-loved fashion. I think I'm something of an expert in this area, to the extent that nowadays, no matter what I need, I check my favourite local Op Shop first. The only exceptions are underwear, swimwear and shoes, all of which I think are better purchased 'new'. My daughter adores vintage shoes though, so we all have our line in the sand, I guess!
 
It's funny actually. I have one circle of friends who are avid supporters of local thrift stores, or Op Shops as we call them. The term 'Op Shop' stems from the fact that these stores are an Opportunity to score a bargain. And when you look at it that way, Op Shop is kind of a cool name for them!
 
I have another circle of friends who wouldn't be caught dead in an Op Shop. It's Designer label all the way for them. And when one asked me recently if my fabulous bag was Hermes, I just smiled and said 'what do you think?'. I'm actually not sure whether her decision was yay or nay, but she smiled and nodded knowingly, so what the heck...lol! I know for a fact, she would have shrivelled up and died, if I'd told her where I'd actually bought it from! Her hand would have recoiled, her nose would have wrinkled, and she would have pulled a face like she'd just stood in something nasty. It does make me laugh!
 
So the camp, at least where I live, is pretty equally divided. And it has nothing to do with who has cash to splash, and who doesn't. I have friends who are struggling, who still have the latest in everything from Pandora rings to Louis Vuitton bags (perhaps that's why they're struggling??), and friends who have plenty of money, who still love the thrill of a genuine bargain. Go figure.
 
So here we go....
 
The first hint is...
 
NOBODY WILL KNOW IF YOU DON'T TELL THEM!
 
Truth.
 
Because the fact is, that you cannot tell if someone is wearing thrifted clothing. And anyone who says they can, is fibbing.
 
You can tell if someone else's taste is not your own, that's for sure. But I have met many a lovely lady dressed in a $2000 outfit, that I wouldn't been seen dead in, and many an even lovelier lady, kitted out for under $50 head-to-toe, who's ensemble I would have killed for.
 
You can also tell if someone doesn't care how they look. And I guess that's their own business, so we should mind ours. Everyone has different priorities.
 
But overall, there is no way of knowing that somebody is shopping d'occasion (French for 'second hand', and doesn't the French version of that phrase sound so much nicer!). So don't even go there.
 
You see, it's about research, knowing what suits you, and maybe even what is perennially stylish. It's a little bit about being 'on trend', to coin an oft used phrase, and a lot of being soignee`, and bien dans sa peau...or 'elegant and well groomed' and 'comfortable in our own skin', for we uninitiated folk.
 
So here's my second tip..
 
SHOP THE LOOK
 
Don't just buy a dress or a shirt. Really think about how you will wear each piece and try to assemble an entire outfit. Accessories really can make all the difference, from the right little jacket or cardi over a Fit and Flare dress, to a long necklace or pendant to lenthen your silhouette. Shoes are important to get The Look too. I find that taking a pair of nude heels or wedges with me when I shop, gives me a whole different perspective on an outfit or dress. It's a useful tool.
 
Colours and accessories, as well as bag shapes, jeans colours and styles, jacket shapes, boot heel heights, and fabric prints, are all cyclic.
 
Animal prints come into and go out of fashion with ridiculous regularity. So much so, that leopard print, for example, is just about considered a perennial neutral these days, and may as well be treated the same as black, white and camel in stylish wardrobes. I have it on good authority from a French friend, that animal prints are best served in moderation though. So think a belt in a leopard print, or a scarf, or a purse. Not head to toe Leopard!
 
This years slouchy tote bag trend, is next years boxy clutch purse, is the following years Japanese Hobo bag. I find it useful to have one black, one tan, one cream, one nude and one metallic bag. These seem to cover all occasions. Again, what is more important is to have a bag that enhances your outfit, and your body shape.
 
Following style trends early in the season by window shopping either at your local shopping mall or online, means you can get first dibs at any similar looks at the thrift store or vintage fashion retailers. My favourite to get ideas on what the fashionistas are up to this year, is Net-A-Porter. I've taken screen shots of many a favourite there, and snaffled a look-a-like bargain within days, at my local oppy. Check out my cream satin jacket at the top of my post, and the corresponding designer ones from which I drew inspiration. I wasn't looking for the exact same jacket. I was shopping the look.
 
So....
 
1. If orange is the rage, and orange suits you, then let the thrift store be your first port of call to supplement your wardrobe for the new season. If orange (or insert current colour du jour) makes you look ill, then perhaps you inject citrus into your wardrobe in other ways. An amber necklace, real or faux, bright orange sandals and bag, or some fun retro beads over your basic black.
 
2. If a certain shape of jacket, blouse, jeans or pants is being revived, then check the thrift store for that too. Who would have thought that Bomber jackets would come back into vogue, but there they are all over Net-a-Porter, with many a designer name attached, for all to see.
 
3. Think creatively when you're looking. Dresses can become blouses, maxis can be shortened to knee length, mens shirts can become dresses, a shirt a little too small to be a shirt for you can become a jacket over a cami. Jeans can become shorts or capri pants or be embellished in new fun ways (distressed, bejewelled, embroidered, bleach dyed), cardigans can be dyed and trimmed with lavish ribbons or lace and French knots or Bullion roses, Fishermans and Argyle sweaters can become vests, bags, iPad covers, cushions and footstool covers.
 
4. Most fabrics can be dyed to a colour you prefer, and some garments are worth buying simply for the luxurious fabric, buttons, embroidery or other embellishments. I bought a 60s wedding gown a few years ago. Not because I was particularly enamoured with the style, but because it had several metres of vintage Venetian lace and Silk Shantung in it's construction. I paid $60 for it. The lace alone is easily worth ten times that much in todays prices. I still can't bring myself to pull it apart, but I do ultimately have plans to turn it into a pair of slender evening pants, and a fabulous jacket.
 
 Similarly I purchased another vintage wedding gown last year, because it had a Bustier top covered in daisy themed Guipure lace, and a frothy Cinderella style skirt made from miles and miles of organza and tulle. Again, the fabric alone in this dress would have hovered around the $600-$700 mark. I made my daughter a knee length tulle skirt from the underskirt of that one. We dyed it baby blue, and she wears it to the theatre or ballet when we go, with a thrifted 60s baby blue cardigan a la Kiera Knightly as seen below. The whole ensemble probably cost us $30 and she turns heads, for all the right reasons, every time she wears it.
 
 
 
When shopping for something similar to a style you've admired online or elsewhere, ask yourself what it is that appeals to you. Is it the colour? The shape? The combination of accessories? The fabric? Try to pin down exactly what it is you like, so that you know where to start your hunt.
 
And remember that simple separates, made from luxury fabrics, will always be in style.
 
Which brings me to my third tip....
 
INVEST IN QUALITY
  
Seriously. If you're paying 10c in the dollar, on the original retail price of your thrifted goodies, go for the decent stuff. Pass up the chain store items, that others have realised weren't worth the $10 sale price, and learn to recognise good fabric, quality workmanship and natural fibres.
 
Head to your local haberdashery, and really look at the silks, the linens, the brocades and silk jacquards, and the cool and comfortable rayons. Feel them. Notice the difference between a pure linen and a linen blend. The fine weave and drape of a silk, over a polyester. The weight of a double georgette or silk chiffon, over a less expensive one. Look at the wools and wool blends and see how much classier they look, than polar fleece and flannelette, however comfy those fabrics may be. Check out the Ponti knits and the Microfibre suiting and feel how much thicker, more durable and luxurious they are over lycra and cotton knit fabrics. Take note too, of the colour trends and patterns. Overall, things like gingham and polka dots are fairly perennial if they're the right colour, and floral prints of the right type, can hide a multitude of body faults. Just remember always...dress for your shape. If you don't know your body shape, check out this Body Shape Calculator. Once you realise how dressing for your shape flatters you, you'll never look back! These little nuances are what makes the difference between looking carefully kitted out, and just thrown together.
 
The only exception I make to this rule, bizarrely, is with handbags and wallets. I know, I know. Everybody says to buy genuine leather. But honestly, my daughter and I are so rough on our handbags and wallets, tossing them on the floor of the car, squishing them under dance bags and grocery bags, and generally disrespecting them, that it would be criminal to bother. Not only that, but we both agree that the cutest bags and wallets, are not necessarily leather. We have leather look-a-like, wicker, fabric and beaded bags that we adore. That said, I do have a few leather bags, and I love them. But not for day to day use. I'm pretty fussy with bags, full stop. They must be neat, structured, and tidy looking. No hobo bags for me! Know thyself. Just because it's a bargain basement, op-shop price, doesn't mean it suits you!
 
If you're going to talk 'quality', you have to mention Vintage, and well, who says what is vintage these days? Vintage seems to have taken on a life of it's own. Genuine vintage items are happily mixed with modern Boho and Johnny-come-lately designer label Wiggle dresses, and nobody knows, or cares, which is which any more. For sure though, if your vintage dress looks good on you, and it's stood the test of time over 20, 30, 40 years, then I guess it falls under the umbrella of 'quality' in it's own right.
 
Once you know your linen from your cotton blend, and your rayon from your nylon, you'll start to appreciate that garments made from natural fibres, or quality modern fibre mixes, look better, wear better, and can look more lush and expensive, than their lesser counterparts.
 
And finally....
 
BECOME A CONNOISSEUR
 
Connoisseur: to be an expert judge in matters of taste....for you.
 
I am at an age, where I know what suits me and what doesn't. I also know what I can carry off in the course of my usual day, and week, and no longer bother too much what everyone else thinks.
 
For example, I love dresses, and I've come to realise that dresses can be my thing (after years of living in jeans and flowy shirts), IF the dress is right for my Apple shape. So if I see a dress I really love, I have to first ask myself if it will be flattering in shape, silhouette and colour, for my height and build. Just because it looks good on the hanger or on someone else, doesn't mean it's a good look for you.
 
Thrifting is great, but it's also worth remembering that basic seamstress skills never go astray to add that bit of pizazz to your ensemble. I'm in the process of making myself a Summer jacket, similar to one by Dolce & Gabbana (a favourite of mine). Here it is...
 
I spotted the fabric below, the very morning after admiring this gorgeous little number above, on my Net-a-Porter email, and falling in love with it, but not with the price tag of $3,150.
 
 
I think it's close enough, and a simpler little jacket to make, cannot be imagined. I'll line it to give it some body and structure. I know that D&G used tulips too, and this is poppies, but hey...the colourway is so similar, who cares? This fabric is actually a quilters panel, so again, use your imagination, and keep your eyes peeled and your mind open!
 
What are your preferred wardrobe colours? Do you like prints? If so, do you prefer florals, geometrics, vintage style prints? Do you lean towards the tiny print, or the oversized graphic style like my poppies? Have you worked out what Body Shape you are? That's the sort of silly nuts and bolts stuff you need to know about yourself, whether you're op-shopping or not. That's what prevents you from making mistake purchases that look good on the hanger, but perhaps not on YOU.
 
I am a connoisseur of what suits ME. Do you know what looks best on you?
 
Remember, with a bit of research, thought, planning and knowledge, you too, can beat the retailers at their own game, look fabulous and save money.
 
Have you made any fabulous Op Shop finds lately?
 
Remember that Five Star Frou-Frou is now a never ending linkup, with a feature each and every time I post.
 
Todays feature is from Lynn at Quaker Hill Farm. Lynn's mouthwatering post had me longing for blackberry season here. We call them mulberries and for the first time in 40 years, I have not one, but two mulberry trees bearing little hard green fruits, waiting to ripen into plump luscious berries!
 
http://quakerhomecottage.blogspot.com.au/2016/07/beautiful-blackberries-sweet-neighbors.html
 
 
 
....Love ya, Mimi....
 
 
 


29 comments:

  1. Thank you Mimi, I really enjoyed this post. I am an avid op shopper myself. I too have a mix of friends some that love the thrill of the hunt and others that wouldn't be caught near one. I have furnished much of my home with designer products and furniture all bought second hand from thrift shops, ebay, garage sales. Some were beautiful as they were, others I have repainted or upholstered and we have received many many complements. The same with clothing, a recent find a Liz Jordan Bolero Jacket bought for $4, love the style and colour and the price tag. Have kept my teens in the all important surf and designer brands for pennies, and we all receive complements on our clothing. My son (14) is happy to wear the clothes but wont go near an op shop oer se, my daughter(16) however is a total convert and have had many happy shopping sprees together. She recently got a whole outfit at our local lifeline shop end of winter sale, leather jacket still with RRP price tag of $170, leather belt and boots for $5 each. She was thrilled

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    1. You are a woman after my own heart! Boys are funny with op shopping, aren't they. My own sons were never enamoured either. But my daughter...yes! I hear you on the Lifeline sales. We outfitted my daughter for a whole weeks worth of work experience with a high profile professional theatre here, for under $100 at a Lifeline sale. The staff there commented that she was the best dressed work experience student they'd ever had. We Mums are clever, aren't we? Mimi xxx

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  2. Mimi, I also don't wear dresses and haven't bought one for many years. I don't wear anything frilly as my stern grandmother drilled it into me when I was a young teenager that that style definitely didn't suit me :-) She was right as it turned out. Just plain and simple clothing feels comfortable to me but I do like my necklaces...many of which I have made myself.

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    1. Chel, I'm with you. Plain and simple with great accessories works every time. Funny how your grandmother was right all along. We grandmothers do know some things don't we;-) Mimi xxx

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  3. very informative Mami.... I shop in thrift stores all the time... don't care about fashion, but I will have to like it and it have to look good on me... happy happy.

    Cielo

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    1. Dear Cielo, I love your style, and always enjoy seeing what little treasures you've found. Your personal style is something to which we can all aspire. Love, Mimi xxx

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  4. I absolutely LOVE thrift stores! I have also found some amazing pieces that no one ever knows where they came from. It is just amazing to me what people "throw away!" Thank you Mimi for featuring the blackberry crumble! You are so kind! I love following what you do it is very inspiring to me! Have a beautiful week, Lynn

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    1. I know Lynn...I am always amazed at what turns up at my favourite thrift store, often still with original tags attached! Ah well...someone elses mistake is my bargain...lol! Have a lovely week, Sweetness..Mimi xxx

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  5. I love this post. Great job. I love coming over from your emails. I linked at your party. I'm hosting a Fall Party. I hope you can come over and join my party!

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    1. Thanks Lynn! I'll pop over and link up today! Love, Mimi xxx

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  6. Any sites to check for ideas for a slim elderly (in her 70's) woman to dress , be comfortable and look her age but stylish? Thanks. Nancy

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    1. Dear Nancy. I have friends in their 60s and 70s, all of who are wonderfully stylish in their own way. I wouldn't let age be a barrier. If you're slim, you really can get away with anything! One friend loves her print dresses and high heels (she's better than I am...I can't wear heels any more) and always looks like a breath of fresh air in turquoise and pink, and another likes her basic black and ballet flats and is rarely seen in anything else. So it's really about finding what is comfortable for you and what suits your personality, lifestyle, and budget. I often google for ideas, and I'll actually be adding a post today on how I use Google for inspiration for outfits. I'm hoping that might help you, Nancy. Love, Mimi xxx

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  7. Well written Mimi. You are wonderfully talented too :)
    Over the years I've bought from Op shops including one burnt orange woollen jacket that I like to pull out on those very cold days. It's cheerful, beautifully warm and comfortable and only cost $6.
    Alexa-asimplelife visiting from Sydney

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    1. Hi Alexa, and how lovely to see you! Yes things like a burnt orange pure wool jacket for $6, are the kind of perennial items that you can add to your wardrobe and literally wear for years! Great buy! Love, Mimi xxx

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  8. Well as you know I love op shops. And most things in new stores LOOK to me like they are in the op shop. I cant justify the price when ai can get soemthing ten times better for a tenth the price in the op shop...
    Like you I know people in both camps. Similarly the ones buying the new and expensive have no money. I know a few millionaires who would never pay that! So its all smoke and mirrors!
    I have a week of op shopping ocming up! I cant wait. I dont need much but you never know what you will find. Plus I watch out for my diaghters who give me a list! xxx

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    1. Dear Annabel, yes we are similar there! I know what you mean about the retailers. I've seen and tried on, many a $200 item in Myer or David Jones and wondered what the heck all the fuss was about. I've then popped into the local oppy, and found exactly what I wanted for one tenth the price, so go figure! I hope you discover some treasures in your adventures this week. I can't wait to hear. Love, Mimi xxx

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  9. I love this article (I thought there may just be a way you could tell)! You are so right -no one knows just how much you spend on the clothes if you shop right. Your great deals make me want to go find bargains!

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    1. Vickie, I wondered if anyone would actually think that one COULD tell who is wearing 'd'occasion', and who isn't, but there it is....it was a cheeky post title I know! That said, I've honestly seen people wearing very expensive things that didn't do their natural assets justice, as I mentioned, and I think that's part of it too...knowing what suits you, no matter your budget. Many of the best dressed women I know, shop almost exclusively at thrift stores, but their first rule is NOT 'What's cheap'. It's 'Know Thyself', and 'Buy Quality'! I do believe, that the key is that you must be well groomed too(whatever that means to you), and study the kind of 'looks' that appeal to you. That's not necessarily anything to do with 'fashion' as such. It's just getting a feel for how to pull an outfit together with a certain style of shoe (I'm a stickler for the right shoe), or the perfect earrings or necklace. Since I started paying more attention, I've changed the look of some of my favourite outfits significantly, going from 'a bit Mumsy' to 'eye-catching for all the right reasons'...lol! And not because I'm a stunner. I'm short, cuddly, and over 50, so let's be reasonable. It's purely because I look like bothered, you know? Just a simple thing like lots of silver chains and bracelets, and a pair of dangly earrings with a Boho swirly top over jeans tucked into boots, or a jewel coloured bead statement necklace worn with a simple t-shirt, jeans and ballet flats to match the necklace, makes all the difference. Actually as much as I favour my neutrals, I love injecting colour with shoes, necklaces, scarves and bangles. It's just that act of putting a little more thought into your outfit, instead of just 'getting dressed'. I've been known to shower, dress, and put my mineral makeup on in under ten minutes, then spent another ten, fussing over which earrings, bangles, necklaces, rings and shoes I'm wearing today. I know. It's an illness, isn't it ;-) Good luck with finding bargains over your way! Love, Mimi xxx

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  10. I love every bit of this! I started "thrifting" out of necessity when my children and my budget were small but still enjoy the adventure and the thrill of a great find. My daughter loves thrift stores (op shops) because she has an easier time finding the modest, vintage outfits she prefers. Would you please consider sharing photos of some of your favorite op shop outfits with us?
    Blessings, Leigh

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    1. Leigh, I hear you on that. I remember when I was a single Mum, that thrifting was often what kept my sons and I looking good, and what a blessing the things that others discarded were to us back then. Likewise now too, although for different reasons! I have shared some photos on the next post in this series 'Use Google and Thrifting to make sense of your wardrobe'. I hope you enjoy that post too. I'll be sharing more in the coming days. Lots of love, Mimi xxx

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  11. What a neat post! :) Definitely something to remember the next time I go shopping!

    Thanks for joining Cooking and Crafting with J & J!

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    1. A pleasure Jess. Glad you found it useful. Mimi xxx

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  12. Hi Mimi, thanks for sharing these wonderful tips on thrift shopping at our Cooking and Crafting with J & J!
    Enjoy the week.
    Julie

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    1. Thanks for hosting each week, Julie. Mimi xxx

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  13. Have just finished catching up with your blog and love this little mini series on fashion. I fancy myself something of a fashionista, albeit a country mouse in country finery but it's so true to know what suits oneself. I love to look current and though I am definitely in that 'woman of a certain age' category my youngest daughter flatters me often telling me not to dress my age but to dress the age I appear to be, which she estimates is some 15 years younger than my actual age, lol. I love the flattery! Anyway, Mimi, this is a lovely littler series that I enjoyed a great deal. Thank you for taking time to do it.

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    1. Hi Terri. I have no trouble believing that you look 15 years younger than your chronological age. And frankly, I have a special place in my heart for the classic look of 'country finery' as I too, am probably a country mouse at heart. I'm so pleased you're enjoying this series. That makes me happy. Love, Mimi xxx

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  14. I enjoyed reading this Mimi! Although I am one of those who crosses the line with shoes :) Even hubby has a hard time with that one... But that is how I got my first pair of almost new Birkenstocks for $3. I prefer the vintage, prairie boho style and seem to have no problem finding these items at second hand stores. Shopping retail has lost its luster, there is much for fun in the challenge! :)

    Thank you for linking with us on the Art of Home-Making Mondays at Strangers & Pilgrims on Earth! :)

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    1. Jes, I have softened my stance on buying shoes at my op shop. I recently snaffled 5 pairs for just $7 each, and four still had the tags on and had never been worn. Who could pass up that bargain? Well done on the $3 Birkenstocks. I looooove my Birkis. And I couldn't agree more, that retail therapy loses it's lustre once you've discovered the joys of op shopping! Love, Mimi xxx

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I love hearing from you! I always respond to comments, so don't be shy! Mimi xxx