Recently, my husband and I went out for a nice dinner with a couple of other couples. It wasn’t a big event, but I’m currently accepting all opportunities to experience things in my wardrobe that aren’t necessarily suited for my day-to-day toddler wrangling. I wanted to get a little #beautifulonpurpose.
I settled on a few recent finds & a some long time favorites: a Missoni mini skirt with a simple wool sweater, pretty earrings made by a dear friend, and a pair of brown suede boots that have been in my wardrobe for over a decade!
Last year, the same group of six of us attended the premiere of Jon Stewart’s Rosewater in much fancier attire, but still everything I wore was pre-loved (except the tights of course!).
Back when I made the move to a more sustainable style, these fancy events felt a little intimidating. I would often resort back to department stores looking for something new. I was longing to push the envelop and do this second hand thing all the way, but I wasn’t prepared to sacrifice style to do so.
A lot has changed in five years! I’ve found that wearing pre-loved and still looking great is actually pretty easy.
To stay party ready, I use this two pronged approach:
1. Don’t wait until you need something
Let’s be real. The chances of finding the perfect #LBD in a thrift store within days of a cocktail party you’re attending is pretty slim.
When I walk into a thrift store I’m looking for possibility, not specifics. If love strikes I’ll take what I find, even if there’s not an immediate need. Don’t get me wrong – this isn’t about accumulating mountains of clothes. It’s about building a wardrobe of pieces you #LOVE in the most sustainable manner.
This approach is important because thrifting is hit or miss. For example, lately I’ve had a drought of really special finds. Then in one day I came across:
- Super trendy BCGC dress
- Valentino RED little black dress
- Vintage style wiggle dress
- Peacock/floral print tailored dress
- J.Crew lace pencil skirt
- (the date night’s) Missoni mini skirt
- Collection of cashmere & wool sweats I’m crazy for
- Several pairs of awesome jeans
It was love over and over, so I brought them all home. #crazytown? Maybe, so I also immediately took the opportunity to clear closet clutter by removing about 20 items that were likes but not LOVES.
Now, when I find out about an upcoming engagement that will require something other than my daily uniform of jeans & sweaters, my first stop is my closet. Because of my long game approach, there’s almost always something I’m excited to wear.
2. If your closet leaves you empty handed, head for retail thrift
Does your town have one of those Buy/Sell/Trade places? These are what I call retail thrift. Their collections are trendy, and they usually do a good job of editing out pieces with imperfections. You definitely pay a premium for their curation (over thrift prices), but you’re looking for something special in a hurry. There’s real value to not having to paw through dozens of 90’s mum dresses to find your gem.
The next step up is an actual consignment shop. The prices will likely be much higher here, but the labels will be higher quality too. With that usually comes improvement in material, cut, and fit. Because most consignment stores are very picky about what they take in, chances are good you can find a nice piece in a single stop.
The back-up plan
If your long game has fallen short, and your retail thrift stops don’t deliver, head back to your closet. Put together a simple and elegant outfit, but get adventurous with your accessories. Add red lipstick and your favorite ‘do and you might just be the best dressed person in the room!