By Evangeline Cafe
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Spring may be upon us, but the clouds of recession still linger, and keeping up with the latest trends may not be a top priority for those struggling to pay bills. The good news is that there are easy ways for even the tightest penny pincher to be à la mode this season.
“I see it as an opportunity,” said Rebecca Luke, president of the Les Egoistes image consulting firm and co-founder of Sustainable Style. “There are a lot of fun ways to do it.”
Tip 1: Clean out your closet
Before heading to the store to buy new clothes, Luke suggests weeding out your closet to determine what needs to be let go.
“Now is the time to go into your closet and get your spring and summer stuff out,” said Luke.
You can make some easy bucks by taking your clothing to a nearby consignment shop. Buy-sell-trade stores offer cash for your tops, bottoms, jackets, purses, and accessories. Keep in mind that the items must be in good condition and in style. Many stores are seeing a surge in sellers because of the economy. This means that they are going to be very selective.
My top picks for consignment shops include Buffalo Exchange, Red Light, Crossroads, Axis, Pepper, Pretty Parlor, Take 2, and Labels. Any items you are unable to sell may be donated to Goodwill, Value Village, or Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, which also make great secondhand destinations.
Tip 2: Get thrifty
After bidding your apparel adieu, take time to sift through the endless racks inside a thrift store.
“You’d be surprised at what [things] are in thrift stores,” said Anna Lange, owner of Pretty Parlor.
“Everything that is bought at those malls and designer stores ends up there. One man’s junk is another man’s treasure,” she said.
Luke has come across mounds of treasures during her thrift store expeditions.
“Some people, like myself, love good finds. Like, ‘Oh my gosh, I got this great deal on this Louis Vuitton bag!’ It’s a thrill,” she said.
According to fashion design student Jennilee Bennett, being stylish doesn’t depend on where you buy an outfit; it’s all in how you wear it.
“You don’t have to spend a million bucks to look like it,” she said. “You have to really mix and match the things that you buy. You can wear a really nice pair of jeans and spend $150 bucks on it, and then liven it up with a bold, funky vintage shirt that you can find at Value Village, or Orange in Tacoma.”
Experts say the most important rule to follow when shopping for secondhand clothes is to make sure they are cut and fitted properly.
In addition to scoring bargains, thrifters can also gain satisfaction from being environmentally friendly.
“It’s a sustainability concept,” said Luke. “Instead of getting something new, you are actually recycling and reusing.”
Tip 3: Get crafty
Another eco-friendly way to stay chic is to work with what you’ve already got. A fashionista doesn’t need to step into a store to revamp her wardrobe. Your key pieces may already be in your closet.
“If it’s your favorite jacket, why not repair it or go to your tailor? There are so many amazing tailors in this town. They can help you reinvent that jacket,” said Luke.
For $5–20, a cobbler can also refurbish your favorite pair of shoes by installing new soles, mending tears, or dyeing them a new color. Some shoe repair shops refurbish purses as well.
“The first thing to looking chic is taking something you already love and making it cool and hip,” said Luke.
Lange agrees. “Fashion is creativity,” she said. “You have to be creative with your money.”
Tip 4: Carry the ultimate accessory: a smile
When it comes to spring fashion for women, dresses, high-heeled pumps, and chunky necklaces are all the rage. For men, it is all about the three-piece suit, a neck or bow tie, and desert boots. However, experts agree that the most important stylistic piece is not found on a store hanger; it is found within.
“It’s all about your confidence,” said Luke. “Having style is being fully self-expressed. So your style can translate into many different levels. … It’s your own label [and ]your own look. That’s what’s so cool about it.” ♦
Evangeline Cafe may be reached at email@example.com.