“Don’t be into trends. Don’t make fashion own you, but you decide what you are, what you want to express by the way you dress and the way to live.” —Gianni Versace
Written by Sara Beck | Photographed by Arthur Green
The thing people seem to find most troublesome about fashion is feeling pressure from it—pressure to buy expensive clothing, pressure to shop all the time, and most of all, pressure to wear what everyone else is wearing. Sure some trends are fun, and it can be nice to invest in a quality article of clothing you know will last for years, but when it comes down to it, you can be fashionable wearing just about anything, as long as you sport it with confidence. Wearing clothes in unconventional ways, or buying standout pieces, are great ways to challenge yourself and create interesting, eye-catching looks. Fashion is a form of art and self-expression, and getting dressed in the morning should be fun for everyone; everyone who wears clothes, that is.
This is where thrift shopping can be really helpful; if you go out in that new glittery blazer and realize it’s not for you, just donate it and you’ll be guilt free. It’s not like you spent more than five bucks on it. On top of that, and more importantly, buying secondhand clothing is an environmentally friendly way to shop. Instead of supporting fast fashion companies who utilize sweatshop labor and harm the environment, you’ll be helping to reduce pollution and waste. Plus, the money you spend thrifting will likely be given to a charity to make a better life for someone else. Saving money and supporting the environment, and buying yourself nice things all the while? If this doesn’t intrigue you, you’re lying.
In order to show the public some looks using secondhand items, Arthur and I hit the local thrift stores hoping we’d find something worthy of this article. We weren’t let down. My favorite things to find at thrift stores are turtlenecks. I feel like those are really coming back into style now, though I wear them regardless. I styled a thrifted striped turtleneck with some kick flare jeans to create a casual look. Paired with some (also thrifted) black heels, which happen to be by Jessica Simpson, the outfit becomes a bit more sophisticated.
Another key item for your winter wardrobe: a sweater. Arthur is pictured in a Ralph Lauren sweater that we, surprise, thrifted! A great example of a statement piece is the floral jacket Arthur found, which we picked up for five dollars. Statement pieces are important in any wardrobe, as they develop a style that is specific to you. They can be paired with more basic pieces (like a plain t-shirt or a simple pair of jeans) to immediately create a more interesting outfit. Statement items open your eyes to your personal style, so it’s important to incorporate a few into your wardrobe.
Recently, more and more vintage stores have been popping up in Wilmington. A lot of these shops hand-pick items that you’d really need an eye to find. It’s kind of like thrifting, except they’ve already picked out all the good stuff for you. The price point of these stores can be higher than thrift stores, but they make it much easier to find unique, high quality articles of clothing with half the effort. The pink cashmere sweater I styled (paired with a thrifted slip dress) is from a downtown Wilmington store called The Wonder Shop. I frequent that shop and can truthfully say they rarely let me down.
The one thing to remember about thrifting or buying secondhand is that it’s hit or miss. One day you might come back with ten items you absolutely love, while another day you could leave empty-handed. That’s why sometimes, heading to the mall for something you need can be a better option. There’s nothing wrong with buying things new (although I will say some companies are ethically superior to others). It’s important to keep a balance. Realistically, you won’t want to thrift everything, but if you haven’t yet fallen in love with thrifting, try it sometime. If you’re a regular at Goodwill, keep up the good work. Have fun with fashion, and maybe even learn a thing or two about the person beneath the clothes. Fashion engenders self discovery because yes, the way you dress reflects who you are and what is happening in your life.
About the student writer: Sara Beck is a senior at New Hanover High School. She enjoys writing, because for her, it’s always been a form of self-expression. She also enjoys playing music, and has a natural eye for fashion.
About the student photographer: Arthur Green is a senior at New Hanover High School. He has been practicing photography for a year and a half now, and plans to pursue further education in photography after he graduates. What he enjoys most about photography is creating memories and becoming inspired by others.