Thriftable Spring Trends

It’s that time again! Time for me to remind you (and myself) that nothing in the world of style is new, and that the season’s hottest trends are EMINENTLY thrift-able. Eminently, people. These trends are basically begging to be thrifted.

Maxi dresses and skirts

Surprise! Maxi skirts and dresses are going to be HUGE this season! I can see that you’re all reeling in surprise. Seriously, though, since these longer lengths have been hot for years, the thrift shops are lousy with ’em. And, of course, maxis are generational so if you scour the racks you might find a funky vintage version or two.

Bold colors

The colors in question are mainly saturated brights like turquoise, tomato red, cobalt, citron yellow, and emerald green. The trendmasters are showing them color-blocked most frequently, but I’m gonna feel free to play around with more organic mixes. As for the thrifting component? As always, color trends are the easiest to thrift. Most thrift shops organize by color, so you can grab your tomato blouse from the reds, cobalt dress from the blues, and citron tee from the yellows. Easy, cheap, awesome.


Now, ya’ll know I adore platforms … but um … these are yet to catch my fancy. Still they are the hot shoe shape for the season, I’m told. And, turns out, they’ve been made for DECADES. The 90s saw a huge wave of chunky, flat platform shoes. And this style might have been popular in the 70s. Maybe. Just maybe. Before you plunk down for a new pair, check the racks at your local thrift wonderland. (If you fear wearing secondhand footwear, this forum has many suggestions for how to clean and disinfect them.)

Minimalist white

With warm weather comes bright whites. Once again, color trends = thrift cake. Whites can get a bit dingy with age, as we all know, but bleach, vinegar, Oxyclean, and other easy treatments can work wonders on a greying or yellowing item. I can totally see buying white tanks and tees new, but if you’re keen to try something a little more adventurous like white pants or a funky white dress, see what you can thrift.

70s influence

No two thrift stores are alike, and while some seem stuck in the 70s, others rarely sell anything made after 1997. Nevertheless, it seems odd to seek out reproduction 70s pieces when REAL LIVE 70s pieces are available at loads of secondhand shops. If your areas shops tend to carry more current items, try vintage specialty shops. (The caveat, of course, is sizing. Vintage sizing is generally smaller and can be unpredictable … so if the search for 70s-era pieces puts you into a Size Rage, forget it. Buy new.)

Wide leg and flare jeans

I never actually got RID of my flares, just stashed them in the basement. But if you donated all your pairs, there’s a good chance some of them are waiting to be bought back. Thrift stores generally have giant racks dedicated to denim, and you’ll find everything from skinnies to low-rise, trouser to cropped, and the suddenly sought-after wide legs and flares. Thrift on, friends. Thrift on.

Will you be partaking of these springy trends? Anyone else plan to thrift up a storm to make ’em possible?

Top image via Head2Heels, Other runway shots Harper’s Bazaar, flatforms Glamour, jeans image from

Originally posted 2011-04-22 06:24:16.

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44 Responses to “Thriftable Spring Trends”

  1. Kathryn from Schoolmarm Style

    I saw all of the spring trends and got my thrift on immediately. So far, I’ve found my wide legged jeans, white peasant top (which I gave a Rit brightening treatment to) midi skirts, and lots of 70s inspired items. I will, however, be leaving any and all flatforms behind for some other thrifty lady.

  2. coffeeaddict

    Yep, how very true. Every year right about this time designers are trying to persuade us that the outfits on the runway are NEW, never before seen trends. Hmm, I’ve had the same couple of maxi dresses, flared white linen pants and a bright coloured (coral) 70s style tunic hanging in my closet for the past 6 years.
    Hmm indeed! And some form of platforms or another too: espadrilles, cord or wood wedges and some pretty strappy flat sandals.

  3. Velma

    I am totally with you! I’ve been seriously at work on the longer dresses and skirts at the thrift store for the past six months or so.

    Ahem. Editor here. You mean “eminently,” not “imminently.” ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Cynthia

    I’m definitely going to wear wide-legged jeans. Not so sure about the rest. I’m trying not to buy anything right now, but I did just thrift a yellow blouse (silk, with the tags still on, $10) to push a color boundary of mine.

  5. Lisa

    Some of those trends are exciting, and I think I can pull something together… but ewwwww… I agree I dont think I like those shoes!

  6. Relatable Style

    All of you thrifty people make me wish I’d thrift myself, which I don’t. I can’t bring myself to see the items as loved pieces with a rich history, but I rather ask myself what pile of dirt this one was dragged through before it landed with me. But maybe it comes down to the thrift shops: US ones seem to look a lot nicer than German ones. Or maybe it’s me fault as I haven’t been in one in 15 years (am I that old? Gasp!)

  7. threegoodrats

    I always love bold colors, and I just bought a pair of Calvin Klein wide-leg jeans at a thrift shop – and recently scored some wide leg dressy pants there as well – so I will be sporting those in the foreseeable future. I’m not big on trends though – I just happen to like these things!

  8. K-Line

    I could not love the wide leg denim more. That’s American sportswear at its ultimate, IMO.

  9. Grace

    I’ve been thrifting, or attempting to thrift, shorter skirts, since all the current non-maxi styles seem to be running really short.

    • Rita

      I loooove my Dansko sandals (the ones linked to above)! They have an adorable vintage look, but they feel amazing on my feet!

  10. Courtney

    Sheesh, my kids have school today and I have Good Friday off. Except for that 20 page conference paper I need to write, it would be a perfect day to thirft… dang, now I have a sartorial/intellectual dilemma!

    Perhaps I can do both.

  11. Anne

    I love the maxi trend. I think I look silly when I go for anything “short and cute”–I think it’s much easier to look good with long hemlines!

    Also, minimalist white? *Sigh*–I love it!!

  12. Patti

    Great post. I am loving the maxi skirts again, and buying a few new and old ones. That white dress looks fantastic, but the shoes hurt my eyes : > I’m planning a NYC trip next month, in which I will revisit the BEST thrifts I’ve ever seen – can’t wait! Your post will come with me.

  13. Leah

    I love the flatform trend. Extra height for my heel-intolerant fussy feet! But that being said, I would never thrift them cause it’s the modern details that make the current flatforms interesting for me. I wore enough platform sneakers in the Spice Girl era thankyouverymuch.

  14. Anat

    These are all super-relatble trends, which I can easily see myself incorporating into my style. That’s a change from the last few years which saw wsme styles whithatch were just completely out of the question for me (skinny jeans and ballerina flats definitely leading the list!)

    And boy, do I feel cool for thrifting a great floral maxi skirt just yesterday!

  15. Marie

    I love thrifting and searching for treasures, but the selection is very dependent on the local community and what people are discarding from their closets. That can frustrate me since I live in a small, rural town with one thrift store. Regularly thrifting in big cities must be amazing!

  16. Salazar

    Oh no. Even though I’ve told myself I need to cut back on the shopping (read: thrifting), this post has convinced me otherwise… especially since I have half day off on Good Friday! Let’s see what’s on the list: bright colors, flare jeans, and maybe platforms too if I’m lucky! (I could never find shoes in my size at thrift stores, perhaps because I have the most generic shoe size ever – 7.5)

    14 Shades Of Grey

  17. Emory

    Actually, Marie, I was about to complain about how thrifting in my big city (NYC) is so annoying! I actually live in NJ, and there are no good thrift stores near me there. There are few stores, and the items in them are pretty meh – I have never found a hidden gem or really much of anything I’d wear (although I have found items for Halloween costumes). In NYC, any place with good merchandise is expensive, and any place with hidden gems (like Salvo) is so picked over (people know the stocking schedules and clear out the good new items within hours) you can’t find anything worthwhile. I hear better things about places in Brooklyn but they’re too far for me. I guess a less crowded city than NYC has more potential in its thrift stores!

    • Sal

      Emory, I’ve heard that from folks in L.A., too. Thrifting isn’t nearly as much fun in the huge, populous cities as it is in smaller ones, from what I can gather! Harder, more expensive, and more time-consuming, too.

      • Beth

        I am in a medium-sized city – ok, well, I guess it’s small. Anyway, thrifting here is impossible, because they either have a whole lot of picked over nothing (dingy t-shirts, etc.) or they know what they’ve got and it’s marked up to the gills. I once saw a blog where a girl said she thrifted a designer dress for $10. A really, really expensive designer. I go into a local consignment shop and they’ve got an ’09 viscose BR dress for $30! I’ve gotten NEW dresses from BR for $30! Is there a difference with consignment vs thrift? These are my choices: Goodwill/SA, small consignment shops, or small vintage stores. The first two never seem to yield any hidden treasures, and the last usually contain carefully curated pieces from past decades that are priced as such. It’s endlessly frustrating.

        • Sal

          Consignment means the person bringing in the clothing gets a percentage of the sale price, so those shops will be more carefully curated and more expensive.

          And with thrift and consignment, it’s all about perceived value. If a buyer/pricer doesn’t recognize a brand, it’ll get marked way down. But brands like Gap, BR, Ann Taylor, and similar are almost always expensive because everyone knows them and they’re the baseline for mid-market quality.

          I’m so sorry your thrifting trips have been so frustrating! Some towns are DEFINITELY better than others for thrift.

      • Rita

        I think that thrifting is best in mid-sized cities. I’ve spent some time in the San Francisco charity shops and they are amazing! Yes, it’s more expensive than small towns, but the payoff is huge!

        That said, thrifting is always time-consuming, in my opinion. You have to be really committed to putting in the time in order to get that big score.

        • Sal

          Yes, the act of thrifting is always time-consuming because you have to comb through the racks. But if you’ve got your thrift circuit of reliably awesome stores nailed down, that makes the process more efficient. New Yorkers and Los Angelinos spend time trying to FIND decent places to thrift, too, from what I hear, since many stores are either picked-over or grossly overpriced!

          Mid-sized cities do yield good finds – I should know, since I live on one – but if you want proof that small towns can have amazing thrift stores, check out Jentine’s blog:

          • Trystan (the CorpGoth)

            If you live in a big city, it’s worth it to hit the ‘burbs outside of town. For example, I live in San Jose, an hour outside of San Francisco. My thrift stores are much less expensive than SF’s (& I think they’re less picked-over too ;-)). Makes it something of a weekend project to do a circuit of shops, but like any worthwhile project, it’s all about the planning.

    • JennyDC

      I feel the same way about the DC area, not that I’ve put a lot of time into it (too easily frustrated). Maybe part of the issue is that, except for some pockets, this area just isn’t that fashionable – we all look okay, but it’s definitely more conservative, not trend-setting or funky. Thus, there’s not a lot to get excited about at thrift stores.

  18. L of Avid Accents Style Guide

    oh how i love the 70s! i have thrifted all of these….even wide leg jeans which are a rare find in plus size.

    I have one more to add. CHUNKY jeweled Statements necklaces. huge on the runways and usually cheap in thrift stores.

  19. Faceeon

    I’m happy the flare came back even for this little bit, I have a pair of COH and I was ready to donate thank goodness I didn’t!!!

    Love Spring Styles ๐Ÿ™‚


  20. rb

    I am so not a thrifter, but some lucky thrifter will soon be buying my jeans that look just like that bottom photo, because they look dreadful on me!

  21. Emma at Daily Clothes Fix

    Thanks for this post. As I am on a one-year challenge to see if I can only buy pre-owned stuff, this is perfectly timed. Ebay is fulfilling my seasonal needs at the moment (and has the advantage that it is searchable – a lazy girl’s solution).

  22. Mortira

    The last time I went thrifting, I overheard some teenaged girls “discovering” flared jeans. It was a riot! I love that trends always come back around, so you can work your favorites back into your wardrobe again. And reusing fashions is the best part!

  23. Ashley

    The 70’s Inspired picture looks like Harry Solomon from 3rd Rock from the sun!

  24. Gracey at Fashion for Giants

    I’ve been thifting bright colors like crazy this spring. A hot pink skirt, a hot pink shirt, tomato red skirt, all thrifted. Pants and maxi dresses are a little trickier for me given my height, but I have gotten one maxi dress.

  25. Lisa Walter

    Hi Sally….as a young teen in the 70’s…I remember chumky platform shoes but definately NOT flatforms. There was definate arch and a higher heel…of course I haven’t seen them all…but as a shoe obsessed woman I probably would have noticed a flatform! Happy to see the 70’s wide leg and flares back but I’m not so thrilled about flatforms ๐Ÿ™

    • Sal

      I suppose that’s true! I was mostly thinking of Kork-Ease, but the majority of 70s platforms were heeled or wedges …

  26. Sheila

    An awesome and timely reminder that thrifting the trends is downright trendy! I’ve found so many of the current “in” items (just wait till I rock my new-to-me 70s disco dress, oh yeah) in thrift stores lately. Great article, Sal!

  27. Cel

    I really want to find a white dress. I HAD bought one, but then I lost a lot of weight and the extra fabric gives me a poochy belly where is none! Sigh.