In my survey at the end of last year several of you asked me to tackle capsule or casual wardrobe ideas for older women, aka “senior thrift style.” (FYI That last phrase is from one of y’all, not me. People have ALL kinds of feelings about terminology for “women of a certain age,” including hating that very phrase and/or the word “seniors.” I will do my best to avoid the minefield by sticking to “older women.” Be sure to let me know if you hate that too…😁)
I’ll end this series by pointing you to blogs created by and for stylish older women. As someone in my early 30s I am far from an expert in this area, but I do know thrifting, and I think a lot of what I see in thrift stores (as well as a lot of style advice) translates well to a variety of ages. So I’ll tackle this topic as a three-part conversation that I hope you all will join in on.
Part one: let’s talk pregame. If you want to thrift successfully, you have to do a little prep work.
- Assess your lifestyle – and your style-style. I read several style blogs written by older women, many of whom have gone through some kind of life transition that affects their style. Think rising up the ranks at work, shifting to part time or more casual work, retirement, caring for grandkids or an aging partner, or traveling more. Or maybe as you’ve aged you’ve just decided to quit wearing uncomfortable shoes and clothes for the sake of someone else’s definition of fashion.
As with any life transition, it sometimes takes a while for reality to catch up with our style image of ourselves. Take a minute and think about what kind of clothes you wear the most during any given week. See if your closet reflects that breakdown. Then, out of the kinds of clothes you are actually wearing, which pieces are you most drawn to, and why? Here are some more prompts for figuring out your style.
If you already have a good handle on your style, skip straight to the next step:
- Figure out where the holes are. My biggest tip for thrifting, whether your’e a newbie or a pro, is to go in armed with a list of what you’re looking for so you don’t get overwhelmed (newbie) or distracted (pro). If you know what you’re missing – say, you have one great blazer but could use one in a different color; you want a more comfortable pair of shoes – your process will be more focused and you’ll have a better chance of success.
A lot more thrifting pregame strategy here.
- Invest in a great bra and some underwear you love. Although I’ve bought new underwear at a thrift store, secondhand is generally not the place to buy lingerie. You need underthings in great condition to make the most of your closet – there’s nothing sadder than a fabulous top that looks funky because your bra is bunching the skin on your back or letting things sag. You don’t even have to splurge; just find a fit guide online or go to a lingerie or department store for a fitting and use that information to get something good in your price range. As we grow older our breasts change, so it’s worth it to do this periodically to keep your gals looking great and your clothes looking great on top of them. (If you don’t wear a bra, then just skip all that advice.)
Buy some no-show undies if you have bottoms that show panty lines and make all your other undies things you love to wear. Again, no need to break the bank unless you want to. I dig cotton so I just get Hanes or Fruit of the Loom in colors/patterns I love. Your mileage may vary. (And if you can afford to buy ethically made underthings, all the better!)
Next week we’ll talk about strategies once you get in the store. In the meantime, scroll down to share any particular questions or issues you want me to tackle during this conversation.