Reader Request: Thrifted Staples

Lisa requested a post on my most-worn thrifted items and examples of how they’ve been remixed. How could I say no to THAT one? I scoured the archives looking for my most-worn, bought-used garments, and here are the winners:

MVP: Olive military blazer!

This little jacket has been through several years with me and gets year-round wear. It has a tendency to look a bit rumpled and sometimes I have to fight to keep those pocket flaps down, but the nipped-in waist and versatile vibe have made it a longtime favorite. I believe I paid about $5 for this jacket.

Runner up: Striped boat neck!

This sucker has gotten far more than these six wears since its purchase, believe me. I’m fascinated to see, though, that for blog purposes I have paired it with full skirts three times and maxis twice. Huh. This shirt cost me about $4.

Honorable mention: Chambray shirt!

This shirt has certainly been worn and styled in a wide variety of ways. Something about its Western roots make me want to pair it with boots, it seems. I paid about $2 for this shirt.

Honorable mention: Cropped denim jacket!

Hmmm, come to think of it, this was an eBay purchase. It was used when I bought it and only set me back $9.99, but I suppose it wasn’t technically “thrifted.” Is that cheating? Do you consider bought-used eBay items to be “thrifted”?

The dark horse: Pink tulle skirt!

OK, this skirt isn’t a staple. No way, no how. Every other garment featured here gets fairly regular wear both on and off the blog. But I was dumbfounded to discover that this skirt had been photographed five times in the past year and a half since its purchase. I can honestly say that I expected it to get trotted out less than once per year. I paid $18 for it. Pricey for thrift, but well worth it.

A few other items that deserve a tip of the hat include the black boat neck tee that I wore until it had several holes in it that could no longer be mended (it’s since been replaced by two bought-new black boat necks), the maroon scoopneck sweater that I thrifted this fall and must’ve worn far more times than I photographed, and the pleated khaki skirt that I bought on a whim and still adore three years later. Aside from the pink skirt, all of these thrifted wardrobe staples are pretty basic: Lots of denim,  simple shapes, classic cuts, versatile colors. Makes sense as most frequently worn garments become favorites due to versatility.

Originally posted 2012-05-08 06:12:07.

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30 Responses to “Reader Request: Thrifted Staples”

  1. Cheryl

    What’s in my closet all came from thrift stores, except the (ancient) clothing that I bought before I started thrifting, socks, undies and a some items that I made myself. My staples keep shifting–one year I wear the corduroy jacket that I bought at a thrift in Finland, the next year it’s a washable leather one bought at the thrift down the block. I love the seeing all the various ways you’ve styled the pink tulle, by the way.

  2. Patti @ NotDeadYet Style

    This is fun, Sal, and inspires me to examine my closet. I know for certain that my Sofft booties, thrifted for about $10, are down to approx. 17 cents per wear : >

  3. Joni

    You did a great job with this collection of photos. My most worn thrifted item is an Eddie Bauer burgundy denim/corduroy jacket purchased on Ebay for only 10.00. My most LOVED thrifted item is a leopard print velvet swing coat with a big black velvet collar. I hardly ever get a chance to wear it!

  4. ruth

    I do have some ‘thrifted’ staples – or as I would put it in the UK ‘charity shop’ staples, including a denim jacket and a rather good black and white tweed skirt. But I think the most exciting things are in the pink tulle skirt category. For instance at the start of last summer I bought an orange linen jacket for not very much money. I would never have bought it full price. Orange? just not practical. When would I wear it? The answer was, lots last summer. After all, if a lot of my other clothes are pretty neutral, orange goes with them all. Not to mention with a red t-shirt or with orange or red shoes or pink sandals… I plan to wear it a lot again this summer – if we ever have another summer in London. Currently wearing a long-sleeved tee shirt and cashmere cardigan – and wondering if I need another layer.

  5. D

    My thrifted wardrobe staples tend to be skirts, for whatever reason. I have a thrifted polka dot pencil skirt that gets tons of wear. But in my whole wardrobe, my true workhorse items don’t tend to be thrifted. I love thrifting, but I am more of a clearance rack shopper.

  6. Anne

    I don’t really shop at thrift stores much. The best ones are about 30-45 minutes away, and It often feels like work not fun wading through everything. I do buy loads of things from consignment stores. There are 4 of them about 10 minutes away and since they are so close to one another, their prices are pretty competitive. I like the fact that the selection is smaller and that someone else has looked them over for flaws or stains. I’ve scored a brand new pair of Lucky jeans for $20.00 that I wore about 3 days a week for about 3 years. I have a khaki a-line skirt that I wear at least once a week all spring and summer. I think it set me back about $7.50. Back in March I found 2 brand new three dots tank tops for $3.00 each. Until the temperature crept up into the 80’s, I wore one almost every day. Although i do find some great basic occasionally at resale stores, my strategy is to look for dresses, blazers, and cashmere; things I can not justify shopping for at full price.

  7. Mary

    I luv this post! The military blazer always looks great on you. I thrift a lot of dresses, shoes & nighties but what really gets worn for me are the men’s vintage tees.

  8. Mia

    Oh man, I could tick off a bunch of items since so much of my wardrobe came from two local thrift stores–especially the $8 Born flats, which I actually thrifted in Chicago and brought back home with me! And the Tulle car coat, which came from the Quality Loft of a Salvation Army in Santa Cruz–I think it was $12, but I wear it constantly when it’s not cold enough to bust out the wool. And my lovely teal-y blue-y button-front shirt, which I think I wear more than all my other button-fronts combined.

    I could go on, but for your sake, I won’t. THRIFTING 4 LYFE

    • Sal

      Mia, if you make THRIFTING 4 LYFE bumper stickers I will totally buy one. 😉

  9. Ann V

    I was totally inspired by that green military jacket. Last month I decided I need to have one of my own. I tend to prefer new clothes when I’m not sewing them myself, but I couldn’t find a jacket like that anywhere. So I hunted around eBay and found one in my size! It’s so versatile that I have to make a real effort not to wear it every single day.

  10. Laurie Olson Williams

    Most of my pants right now are thrifted, and at least a few of my nice shirts. One really good sweater. A *number* of plain AND print knit shirts. Probably about half my working wardrobe (as opposed to the stuff that just doesn’t get much wear) has been purchased at either a thrift store or a consignment shop. I’m working on making a bunch, too, but seriously — the seamstress rarely has time to sew for herself. 😉

    I would totally consider an E-bay purchase to be “thrifted” if it was a previously owned piece of clothing, but I would have to include the shipping costs in what I paid for it. 😉 But I’m just cheap that way!

  11. Anonymous

    This is a great idea for a post! Whether thrifted or not … seeing what’s most versatile is a great way to start if you need to pack for travel – something I struggle with a TON.

  12. anotherjen

    The pants I am wearing right now are a pair of old army pants that I thrifted more than 12 years ago! They are so soft and comfortable that I would wear them every day if I could. They are even flattering in a butchy sort of way. Several of my coats are thrifted and are in my weekly rotation in the winter. I live in a place where winter lasts a long time so having a variety of coats is essential to stave off boredom, but coats can be expensive new so thrifting is the best option for me to build a coat wardrobe.

  13. Trystan (the CorpGoth)

    I definitely consider used items on eBay “thrifted”! Second-hand is the same as thrifted to me. Stuff I got in a swap or traded with friends also counts — I do a lot of that.

    However, I don’t tend to thrift wardrobe staples or basics. I usually get wacky or unusual pieces second-hand. Vintage garments, wild colors or prints, crazy shoes & accessories, ethnic clothes. It’s easier to take a fashion risk & spice up my wardrobe when the item is only a few bucks. If it doesn’t work, no great loss, & the thing goes into the “to be sold/donated” pile.

    My best thrift scores are cocktail dresses & outfits to wear to weddings. Who wants to pay retail for those?

  14. Mrs.M in MI

    My favorite color to wear is navy… and let’s face it, it’s not a “cool” color so there is not a lot of it in stores. So the most-used piece in my closet, my navy pencil skirt(s), are thrifted.

    I actually have a lot of luck thrifting sturdy and and simple pencil skirts, so I’ve got all the neutrals and a few colors and prints, and they all get heavy use.

    • Sal

      Yes! Pencil skirts and sheath dresses. I see loads of them whenever I thrift.

  15. Elizabeth Newlin

    I adore the striped boat-neck and the pink tulle skirt! I actually think the best ‘staples’ that will live long term are things that never really were ‘in fashion’ to begin with. Just something that looked really good, but wasn’t ever part of a fad. I have this great yellow 3/4 sleeve cropped sweater with clear sequins that has a wrap front that I’ve been wearing a few times a year for literally 10 years. It’s weird, but it’s great and timeless. great blog!

  16. two birds

    i am on the hunt for a tulle skirt! i love yours. as for ebay…i guess i just always say i bought it on ebay. but technically, i’d say it’s thrifted!

  17. April

    Well…most of my wardrobe IS thrifted, but I totally agree with that army jacket. I picked on up from Loft last spring and have been wearing it to pieces since!

  18. jo

    Used on eBay is definitely thrifted! Just ask the barely-worn Tsubo Acrea pumps I picked up there for — drumroll, please — $12.00 last summer! (and no, I didn’t forget a zero. That’s TWELVE dollars!)

  19. Megan Mae

    Considering most of my closet is thrifted at this point – I’d definitely say a lot of my staples are thrifted! My favorite staple is probably my pleather jacket. It’s been worn tirelessly over the past year’s weird inconsistent weather.

  20. becky f.

    great post! in looking at your thrifted superstars and reading the comments, I realized that *all* of my work pants — long and cropped — are thrifted, as are 2 of my three wool coats (both of those are thrifting serendipity stories).

    last summer I moved away from my thrifting haunts, though, so my amount of time spent perusing has been drastically reduced. one of the things I miss about where I was before.

  21. Terri

    Well, since almost all my wardrobe is thrifted, I guess you could say my staples are thrifted. It was interesting to consider what of all the pieces I’ve purchased I’ve worn the most–probably black slacks and black pencil skirt. I think thrifts are great places to find unusual pieces like the tulle skirt–I love your styling of it with the pale grey.

  22. Emily

    That military jacket is AWESOME! Wish I could find something like it. Just found your blog and I love it! I really adore how you put your looks together and mix and match. LOVE!

  23. Shaye

    Oh man, so many thrifted staples! I thrifted the navy jersey skirt I’m wearing right now – and have worn it two other times in the last week and a half!

    Other thrifted items I wear again and again:

    Beige cashmere hoodie
    Olive cashmere empire waist cardigan
    The vintage black wool swing coat that was my main coat this winter
    Several pairs of jeans
    Vintage rust-colored pencil skirt
    Several cotton skirts that see almost weekly wear in the summer

    And, of course, my extensive collection of belts and silk scarves, almost entirely thrifted! I have several of each that would be part of my desert island wardrobe if I ever had to concoct such a thing.

    I never thrifted until I started reading style blogs, and yours is one that helped convince me it wasn’t always the futile effort I’d found it to be – so thanks for helping to inspire such great finds!

  24. kenny1

    I really appreciate your dressing sense … i’ll say you are stylish and at the same time very elegant 🙂