Whether you’re experiencing a childhood-turned-history crisis or a change in career, body, or relationship status, spring is a great time to rejuvenate your wardrobe. Ready to dive in but concerned about the effects of fast fashion on our planet and sustainable fashion (questionable, at best) on your wallet? Whether you’re budget- or planet-conscious, enjoy more vintage styles, or want to elevate your wardrobe with what you already own, I consulted local fashion-forward Mavens to bring essential tips for all stages of life.
1. Build a solid foundation.
No matter your style, start with the basics. Stephanie Grabow, founder and CEO of Stephanie Grabow Style, recommends quality undergarments. While a good bra will make an inexpensive top look great, a bad one can ruin your look, Grabow shares.
Tori Sandler, the Maven behind Notorious Vintage, avoids fast fashion in favor of quality fabrics that last longer. “Look at the fabrics; you want to choose natural fibers like silk, cotton, wool, [and] linen since they are sustainable and biodegradable. Plus those are more quality therefore more durable and will last longer in your wardrobe,” Sandler adds.
2. Know what you’re dressing for
Living in your season and knowing what you are dressing for brings focus to your style goals. There’s nothing wrong with a pair of leggings and a t-shirt. But if you want to dress them up, Fly’s Nest owner Erica Scott says you can uplevel this combo with accessories, blazers, or cool button-ups. Check your closet for pieces you already own to remix your outfits.
Scott suggests a capsule wardrobe of ten pieces to help up-style an existing closet for women who want a fresh look without new investments. Start a capsule wardrobe of ten rotating pieces to avoid asking, “What do I wear?” every day. You can always look polished, even if fashion isn’t a top priority at the moment.
3. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Shopping thrift and vintage certainly helps two of the three Rs. But buying is one part of the equation. Grabow shares that supporting a circular economy gives you the opportunity to contribute through consignment. You can give a new life to the pieces you’re ready to part with.
What about the well-worn items with no life left? She recommends recycling, adding that some companies even offer credits. Bombas recycles clothes with a convenient bag sent to your door for $10 (up to eight pounds of clothes plus convenience of never leaving home? Sign me up!). They then put a $10 credit toward purchases to help you stock up on those foundational basics. Madewell gives a $20 credit toward their jeans when you recycle yours with them. Your jeans become housing insulation and you’re on your way to a refreshed look.
4. Shop bravely
If fashion, style, and shopping for your wardrobe feels overwhelming, our Mavens say throw out your preconceived notions about style.
“My philosophy on style is to wear what makes you happy! It’s as simple as that,” Sandler states.
Scott adds, “When I see a piece that catches my eye that I immediately want to wear, that’s all the inspo I need.” Let your eye guide you toward colors, patterns, and statement pieces that speak to you. “If an item truly speaks to you at first sight, you will make it work in your wardrobe,” she shares. Scott recommends accessories and bold color statement pieces to dress up your existing looks.
Grabow notes shopping thrift and vintage gives you the opportunity to try new looks without breaking the bank.
5. Mind over matter
“I wish I could wear that.”
“Will that really work for me?”
“But that pattern!”
If rejuvenating your wardrobe and exploring new styles this spring feels overwhelming, Grabow and Sandler have the pep-talk you’ve been waiting for. It all comes down to how you feel and how you carry your look–no matter what it is.
Grabow points out that that style is 90 percent mindset and 10 percent how you dress. Sandler adds, “The KEY to any great look is CONFIDENCE. Doesn’t matter what you have on–confidence is your best accessory.”
6. Vintage is for every body
Louder for the ladies in the back. Vintage is for every BODY. Sandler shares, “There is a common misconception that vintage only comes in smaller sizes since ‘people were just smaller back then,’ and that is absolutely NOT true. We proudly carry a variety of sizes ranging from 00-28+.”
With many thrift and vintage shops (like Notorious Vintage and Fly’s Nest) offering virtual storefronts, vintage and thrift shopping is more accessible–whether you’re a new mom or newly diagnosed with a disability.
7. Make your clothes work for you
Part of Sandler’s and Scott’s advice for vintage and thrift includes making adjustments to make pieces work for you. Scott advises that having a few mix and match pieces, or borrowing your partner’s button down are stylish options.
“Clothing has no gender-wear what makes you feel confident and happy,” Sandler shares. “Know what kinds of fits flatter your body best. Sometimes the difference in an outfit working and not working is where it is hugging your body. Typically wearing things at your natural waist is going to be most flattering,” she adds.
8. Style vs. comfort
Just in case “pain is beauty” isn’t your motto, our Mavens recommend prioritizing comfort when refreshing your wardrobe. Afterall, if you dread your clothes because they pinch, squeeze, and limit mobility in ways you can’t escape, your closet full of clothes quickly turns into a daily parade of Bo’s as you select outfits.
“…[B]e comfortable. Don’t sacrifice style for comfort,” advises Sandler. “Dresses are so comfortable! Add some tights and you are basically wearing an oversized t-shirt and leggings!”
9. Double check before checking out
Shopping vintage and thrift brings a thrill. Scott knows this first hand. “My brand revolves around “Won” of a Kind Finds and how to achieve Luxe for Less,” she shares.
When you’re ready to explore Indy’s thrift and vintage offerings, Sandler suggests checking for stains, tears, missing buttons, and working zippers. She also looks at the soles of shoes–uneven wear can cause back problems. Check for worn-out elastic and moisture or cigarette smells, which Sandler says can be difficult to get out of fabric.
10. Kickstart your inspiration
Whether fashion is your thing or not, we all need inspiration from time to time. Our Mavens suggest checking out Pinterest as an easy starting point. Explore different looks and styles to see what sparks for you.
For those of us who like to be up close and personal with our inspiration, check out the local vintage and thrift shops like Notorious Vintage, Fly’s Nest, and The Toggery.
Upgrading your closet with vintage, thrift, and already-owned pieces is easier than you think. You can refresh your look, try new styles, and bring more joy and color into your wardrobe without breaking the bank or shopping fast fashion.
Una Hartzell-Baird (she/her) was voted most likely to be the person who chats you up in the grocery line. She’s an avid reader and a fierce lover of vulgar words. You can find her on LinkedIn and on her own little corner of the internet at Split-Second Consulting.
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