Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Style Tip: New Season, New (Secondhand!) Wardrobe

So! My lovely friend Ruth (who lived in London but has now moved back to NYC, boo hoo) reads this blog and is always asking me to write a style post. I think she's just humoring me, but nevertheless, I'm flattered, though I'd probably lose 75% of the 25 followers I have if I ever started featuring photos of myself in a random assortment of outfits.

But Ruth's request is also timely, as I was recently contacted by French clothing company, La Redoute, to take part in their "Secrets To French Style" campaign by sharing my (cringe) "style tip". Intrigued? Well then, on y va!

So my "style tip" is ... (drumroll, please) ... how to get a completely new season wardrobe on a budget. Like, a real budget. A budget that students and people who work in publishing (ahem, me) can adhere to. Not the type of budget that appears in glossy magazines that says, "Look! Our best finds under £250!" No. Just, no. My best find is more like, under £25.

Case in point, pictured above (from front to back):

* 3/4-length sleeve white dress with ribbon sash and embroidered bow by Sandro - £25 from Bang! Bang! Clothing Exchange on Drury Lane

* Black and white striped illusion shift dress by Zara - £11.20 (including postage) from eBay

* Mint green and light grey tank dress by COS - £17.99 (including postage) from eBay

* Graphic print shift dress by COS - £18.99 (including postage) from eBay

Like many some women my age, I get an itch to completely overhaul my wardrobe as soon as the first hint of spring is in the air or when the first autumn leaf begins to change color. I'm fickle; I get bored easily, and I constantly like to change what I'm wearing. But the truth is, I don't get paid enough to support my habit, so I've adjusted the way I buy my clothes instead. For me, scouring secondhand consignment shops and eBay for brands I wouldn't normally be able to afford has become a past-time (or as John might see it, an addiction - oops). I'd say that approximately 20% of my wardrobe is sourced from eBay or another secondhand shop.

When I saw this sweet Sandro dress on the rails of Bang! Bang! on Drury Lane, I couldn't resist trying it on. We'd just received an invitation for a summer garden party in June, and I could imagine myself wearing this dress with raffia-heeled wedges and bright accessories. I love the sweet applique bow on the front and the ruffled detail on the shoulders, which is girly, but also subtle enough to be relatively grown-up. 

As for the striped illusion Zara dress, I'd admired it on the Zara website for months last summer, then resisted buying it in store because I didn't need another monochrome dress in my wardrobe. But when it came up on eBay (past season clothes always make their way on to eBay - you just have to be patient!), it was a snip at £7.50 or whatever my final bid was and one that I absolutely loved when I tried it on at home. Its black illusion panels are super flattering and I like that you can wear it with flats for a casual look or heels for going out.

I've recently become a huge fan of COS, though it's slightly trickier to buy online because the sizing and fit is inconsistent. I needed to add a splash of color to my mostly black, white, and grey palette, so I opted for the dresses above on eBay, which I can wear to work and when I'm chilling out.

I'm super discerning when it comes to buying secondhand clothing on eBay - as in, I have rules For brands like ASOS, Zara, Topshop, or Warehouse, I never bid above £10 (unless it's a new item with tags). For brands like COS, for example, I'll allow myself a budget of £20 (before postage). I'm reluctant to purchase from sellers who have a low rating. Anything that's below 100% makes me nervous, and I check out previous buyers' feedback to see what's been said. I stay away from items that have stains (they may never come out) or bobbling (I don't want it to look worn before I've had a chance to wear it!).

Similar rules apply to consignment store shopping. Consignment shops are also great for revamping a wardrobe, especially if they carry high-end designer labels, such as DvF, Marni, Marc Jacobs, Acne, or Rag & Bone. Plus, their stock always changes, so it's a bit like finding hidden treasure when you find something amazing!

Et voila - my style tip for spring. Happy trawling!


  1. First, I am NOT just flattering you! I love this post. It's so true. And helpful...though I also want you to be my stylist. I love all of the dresses, especially the white one.

    1. Haha, you're amazing, Ruth! So glad we can still swap style tips from opposite sides of the pond. xo


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