(Like my dress? It was twelve dollars at Buffalo Exchange. Photo by Radiant Inc, Las Vegas)
Forget Ashley Madison. You wanna feel a thrill? Shop second-hand, and start building a totally unique closet.
I love, love, love shopping vintage, second-hand and thrift stores. I love the hunt. Even when I was a poor starving artist, I still got compliments every day on my outfits. Not because of wearing Balenciaga…. but because of making distinct choices.
My best friend Anna and I raid the Salvation Army boutique store in Santa Monica whenever I’m out in Los Angeles. All the local ladies toss the stuff they’re sick of looking at there, sometimes mere days after they buy it. We get brand-new, tags-still-attached dresses, jackets, and shoes for a few dollars apiece.
We even share a few pieces, going halfsies on a second-hand Vera Wang gown, or a delicate art deco watch, borrowing them from each other as needed.
But it’s not just the clothes that are so much fun. Anna has this way of artfully combining things that just looks cool. Whether it’s a denim shirt around her waist over a skirt, or adding a beat up hat cocked at just the right angle...she is living proof that an enviable wardrobe is about style, not money.
So I decided to create a new street-style video series to encourage people to try second-hand styles in fun combinations. Twice a week, you can watch me get dressed with real pieces I own, many of which came from second-hand sources. (You can find my videos on my Facebook entertainer page @EllyBrownFashionHost).
Now, I’m not a stylist. As a writer and a host, my biggest goal is finding the experts—the stylists, designers and innovators who are contributing to our local fashion scene—and putting them in front of an audience with articles and interviews.
But I see undeniable dissonance in the fashion world, and I want to address it in this project. One example is the hefty focus on luxury versus the actual number of people who can afford to indulge in luxury items.
Another example of this dissonance is our hunger for fast trends and the effect it’s having on the environment. With the amount of people chasing trends with “fast fashion” brands—like Forever 21 and H&M—Mother Earth is buckling under the pounds of textile waste we are collectively creating. Why not buy and sell back to places like Buffalo Exchange and Crossroads Trading, who carry those same kinds of items for less than half the price?
Look, I love new things as much as the next gal, but “brand new” is not a prerequisite to looking good! So many of my acquisitions are gently loved, high quality items worth recycling.
It IS possible to be thoughtfully dressed without the whirlwind of micro-seasons and the ‘real time’ pressure of moment-to-moment trends. (By the way, I’m not against stores like Forever 21 and H&M. I just want to limit how much I rely on them for my base wardrobe.).
All of the items in the videos are an attainable mix, meaning that you’ll never see me carrying the latest Gucci bag—but you will see interesting lines and distinct choices, all built from the clothes I wear in real life.
A few of the items were scored on really good hunt days, like a second-hand designer jacket from the 90’s. Some were just “found” items, like a slouchy hobo bag that my neighbor left in a pile of giveaway stuff on her moving day!
Trends come and go, but building overall personal style can be done with very little money. “Fashion Recipe” is about making fun choices, not trends or brand worship.
I hope you’ll come along with me and chime in as often as you can. This whole experiment is about YOU: what would YOU do differently with what you already own? How would you style it? The videos are only a diving board, so please jump in and take a swim.
Hopefully, this series will encourage conversation and open discussion about fashion and style…and maybe even spark inspiration among a new generation of thrift shoppers who truly live for the chase.
Vive La Chasse! Happy hunting <3