We’re days away from spring, whether the weather believes so or not! To celebrate its arrival and perhaps encourage some nice warm days to start sticking around, let’s review some affordable ways to update your wardrobe with the best of this season’s fashion trends.
To start, here’s what Elle, Vogue, Women’s Wear Daily, and the Who What Wear crew all agree are the trends for this spring:
Vibrant hues (especially red/pink)
Pastels (especially lavender)
Bright and mixed florals, and rainbow
Dark denim sets
Jeans dressed up with other formal wear or fabric layering
Satin and tulle
Asymmetrical necklines and interesting shoulders
Embellishments – fringe, crystals
Some more niche styles include Americana (in the form of stars and stripes, preferably in faded/dull hues), Japonica, white suits (but only before Labor Day, dahling, naturally), and ruching.
With this in mind, I struck out to the Jonnycake Center, the Blue Mitten, Exceptions, Deja Vu, and Again and Again last weekend to see which of these fashionable items they had to offer, and I’m thrilled to report that I was able to find reams of plaid and polka dot, scads of sheer tops, and beautiful dark wash denim for days! Other highlights included finding a plethora of leather coats and designer handbags in beautiful shape, fur shawls, and the piece resistance – a plum Christian Dior wool coat, available at Exceptions.
Although hunting for pieces currently in style at a thrift store may seem contradictory or even impossible, believe me, it’s not. Everything old is new again, so stores like these always have so much to offer – you might just need to have a little extra patience and focus to find your diamond in the rough. Also, since any newly fashionable item will be in regular retail stores in surplus, it’s only a matter of time before those same pieces start being donated or consigned and showing up for a bargain price.
Personally, I do almost all of my clothes shopping at thrift stores, and we’re lucky to have so many to choose from in Westerly. Even as an avid fan, I’ll admit that shopping at thrift stores can feel daunting at times – the racks are sometimes overstuffed, the aisles can be small, and if you find something you love but it’s not in your size, you might be out of luck.
However, there’s a lot to be said for the rush of finding a beautiful new cashmere sweater and other hidden gems (sometimes literally) for the price of a cup of coffee! It’s a lot easier to experiment as you cultivate your personal style and justify taking a fashion risk, when it will only cost you $4 instead of $40 or $400! Thrifting is also great for the environment because it reduces waste and it’s great for the community as a whole – for example, by shopping at the Jonnycake Center, you’re helping them provide food, job training, and medical equipment to those in need.
As a lifelong thrift store shopper, these are my best tips:
- Pick no more than three specific items to look for when you first arrive – like some striped shirts, a beachy little black dress, and a trench coat – and make a beeline for those sections. If you go in expecting to update your entire wardrobe in one day, you’ll feel overwhelmed and might leave disappointed.
- Once you’ve made your way through those areas, make a quick pass of the whole store and see which other items catch your eye
- Thrifting should be a visual and tactile experience – I like to go by colors and fabric feel
- Don’t be afraid to grab something that’s a little too big for you – if you love it, find a tailor and have it taken in. We have several to choose from right in town and others nearby.
- Don’t follow trends just for the sake of it – what works on the mannequin or the runway model may be ridiculously impractical and uncomfortable for you, but if you really love something, find a way to incorporate it into your style. If those head-to-toe florals mentioned earlier are too loud a statement for you to make, go with a floral scarf instead. Make trends work for you.
- Wear what you’re comfortable in, but don’t be afraid to make a splash – I love to mix classic staples (like trench coats) with novelty accessories like funky purses and boldly colored, oversized sunglasses
- If you see something in a magazine that you think you’ll love forever, don’t worry if you don’t find it right away. It will find its way to you eventually – that’s virtually a guarantee!
- Shop early, shop often – many stores restock on a certain day of the week, so ask store owners what day that is and get first crack at the new arrivals. If you strike out this week, come back next week – there’s always something new about to pop up.
Fashion trends come and go, but having a sense of style is forever.
Happy spring, and happy shopping!