How to build a Second Hand Outfit – Beginner Level

When I started thrifting, I had a hard time putting together an outfit because I did not have a plan when I went shopping. Since I was so excited with my new lifestyle, I was buying only things that I found incredible without thinking if that would fit in my wardrobe at all. As a result, I ended up with a bunch of pieces that I was not wearing but I loved anyway and I wanted to find a solution for that and start to include them in my looks.

Usually, people that just started thrifting goes through the same phase of bad purchase decisions made out of pure excitement. The good news is that you can reverse this situation by making those pieces work for you.

In this post, I will use one of my recent looks to describe my process of how I work a full second hand outfit. But be aware that if you are a beginner in the second hand Universe, it will take a little time until you thrift all the pieces needed for a full look, but you still can mix and match with what you already have. So let’s go!

In general, when I want to set up an outfit, I choose one piece and try to build around it. In this look, for example, I chose the French Connection dress that I purchased for 8$ at Knimble a while ago. I chose it because I always wear it on Summer and forget about it for the rest of the year, so I thought that would be fun to try and make it look more like a winter dress by combining with other pieces of my wardrobe other than just wearing it with sandals.

Deciding what pieces I wanted to wear with the dress was the hardest part because the colors in it are super bright and creating contrast around to make it look more like a winter appropriate piece was hard. Is it my favorite outfit of all times? No, but worked really well as an exercise and made me want to play more with the considered Summer clothes in my closet.

Since the dress is short, I thought that a knee high pair of boots (Sale on SCHUTZ) would work well covering a longer part of my legs and keep them warmer in combination with the black tighs. To me, the biggest secret to an interesting outfit is the mix or lengths in between shoes, inner pieces and jackets. A game that can be well played on Winter, but definitely takes a lot of practice until we find what works best.

Another priority I have when I think about a full thrifted outfit is the quality of the pieces I combine. It has to be good. It makes a huge difference not only in the look itself but in comfort. Bad fabrics, a not well built pair of shoes… all of it ruins the experience of a beautiful outfit and sometimes it is not worth it to buy a shirt just because it is 2 dollars. If its bad quality drop it right away. This rule will also help you to avoid over spending your money. Not everything that looks cool or is super cheap is worth it buying. Keep that in mind!

But back to the subject of the post, for this look I chose a J.Crew red wool jacket that I bought for 34$ at Black and Brown (San Jose, CA) in my first real thrift shopping experience. I love it for many reasons: first because when I bought this jacket, it was brand new and I needed a winter outwear so bad! I couldn’t believe that I was able to afford a wool jacket that would keep me warm in my first real winter in America. Second because I love red, it matches nicely with my olive undertones and I never need to wear a lot of makeup when I wear this color. It really helps my skin to look more alive and healthy. I thought that wearing it in this outfit, it would keep the fun theme of the dress up and make it more winter-ish.

To finish the look, I chose one of my favorite bags from Prada that I purchased second hand on eBay for 185 dollars. It came with the ID and dust bag and it is so light and stylish. I always get a lot of compliments when I wear it. Perfect bag for a daily routine.

Let’s see how much this look would cost if it was purchased all brand new? I will use AP as initials for Average Price since it hard to find the exact item in the websites, I also excluded the boots because it wasn’t purchased in a thrift store.

  • French Connection dress AP: 148$
  • J.Crew wool coat AP: 365$
  • Prada bag AP: 750$
  • Total: 1263$

All of the items I bought in this look were brand new, and I spent the total of 227$ in high end quality brands, making me save more than a thousand dollars. So yes, it is possible to build a closet with second hand pieces that will make you happy and won’t break the bank.

I hope this post helps you to understand a little more about my process and stimulate you to create yours! Please share with me your opinions about the post and the look, as well as suggestions for what you want to see next!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top