Shop in (Goodwill) Style

This past weekend I had the fun opportunity to style my friend Jessica, a new mom and working woman. by trolling the racks at Goodwill looking for affordable work/casual wear that would help her beckon in her new status and life change.  We met up Saturday afternoon and I quickly got down to business: What was the look she was trying to convey?  Were we shopping strictly for work, for casual or a combination?  She answered quickly and concisely: a more mature/grown up look for her casual and work pieces as well as pieces that could transition easily between work and casual.  We were off!

If you have ever entered  any thrift store, whether small or large, then you know that it can often be a daunting task.  Clothes jam the racks, most not sorted or tagged in any particular manner (some do sort by size, Goodwill chooses color), and brands play no roll in the thrift store’s idea of organization.  To top it off, there are often alluring displays of jewelry, stands filled with shoes, not to mention the scarves, belts and bags.  The first rule to successful thrifting is to always go in with a plan: look for one thing in particular, and stick with that thing only.  In this instance, we were looking for shirts.  This allowed us to focus on the 6 racks of shirts and not get sidetracked or overwhelmed by the other 40 plus racks of pants, skirts, sweaters, etc.  The second rule to successful thrifting is to know what you are looking for within those racks.  My second set of questions to her:  What styles do you like?  What colors do you go for?  Do you like ruffles, v-necks?  Her answers: simple, no ruffles, longer tops, bright colors.  This easily allowed me to by pass the cottons, faded fabrics, or too skinny straps.  We quickly accumulated 30+ items for her to try on and it was dressing room time.

It was pretty easy to X some items right away.  The H&M adorable on the rack dress that took two of us to take off was quickly a NO despite how cute it was when (finally) on.  The J. Crew zebra-esque tunic top was an immediate YES since it could easily go causal with leggings or work with cropped pants and a chunky necklace.  And this colorful easy v-neck was a surprise hit.  It may not be everyone’s style, but it was something Jessica chose herself (and that I will readily admit that I cringed at on first sight) but that looked great on her.  It was everything that she was looking for: a more mature look, great for work, perfect for casual.  In short, she looked like the woman she was – working woman and new mother.  The third rule in thrifting is to always try it on!  You can never go wrong by trying on something you think you may not like only to discover you actually do, or by saving yourself some money by trying on something you think you love to find that the fit is wrong or the colors don’t work.

Here is the final collection of what we chose (minus the in front black and white blouse sadly – my favorite pick but ultimately one Jessica did not feel comfortable in.  No matter how great I thought she looked in it, if she wasn’t comfortable, then it would just sit in her closet unworn, a waste of a perfectly good $4).  We narrowed down our 30+ items to 6 great items.  All were perfect and could easily transition from casual mom running errands to dressing up the pieces for work.  And surprisingly, the array of items were not in any color, size, or shape she would have normally chosen and yet they all looked great on her!  This is a great example of a shift in tastes.  While none of the pieces were something she may have originally picked out, her willingness to experiment opened up a whole new fashion door – and a fabulous one at that!

For those of you that love a great deal, here is the budget breakdown: we scored 6 tops, 1 pair of pants, a belt and shoes all for $36!  $36 will get you one hot dress at H&M, 5 drinks at Starbucks, or, when thrited wisely, a practically brand new wardrobe.  She also brought the new love of her life, Korben, and he was a complete doll (I even got a chance a motherhood: feeding, burping, and holding the babe all while dolling out fashion advice!)

Photography: Sydney

Location: Goodwill

Pssst.  I do personal styling and shopping for clients.  I include a consultation, style advice, shop in tandem or personally shop for you!  Email me at if interested! 


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