How to dress like a million bucks when you're broke.

Are you broke? Cool, me too. If you’re even more like me—which, hopefully you are not—you’re constantly reminded of this because you spend a lot of time scrolling through Instagram, lusting over the feeds of “lifestyle” bloggers. 

You know who I’m talking about: the gals who are always everywhere but home, dressed lavishly, eating fabulous meals captured in perfect light, while surrounded by flowers, décor, and furniture that makes you feel sorry for your own butt that currently sits on a threadbare sofa, as you sad-scroll through a stranger’s beautiful existence. Suffice it to say, I picked up quickly that “lifestyle” is synonymous with “lots of money,” of which I have none.

That revelation bummed me out for a while; really bummed me out. Until I remembered that, while I may not have freshly picked Amazonian wildflowers delivered to my house daily, I can use my creative frugality to look like a million bucks. Or at the very least, a quarter of a million. Fine: one-sixteenth of a million, at the very, very least.

And the way I achieve that is by repurposing thrift store items! And now that you know my secret, you can too! Amazing! Eco-friendly, often charity-friendly, and always budget-friendly, thrift store shopping is one of my all-time favorite hobbies. Thrift finds have life. They’ve been out in the world, they’ve had experiences, and once they reach a store, they’re ready for reincarnation. There’s just one snafu: reincarnation doesn’t always come in your size or fit. Never fear. There are simple ways to make any piece work. For this lesson, I’m going to use examples from three items I recently purchased at Junk in Williamsburg.

Belt It

Put a belt on it! And if it’s a bird belt, you get extra points. 

Outfit details: Urban Outfitters belts, Forever 21 necklaces, H&M shift dress and collar, Zara earrings, Prada heels (purchased for $50 at Housing Works).

Tie It

WHADDUP, 90s? 

Outfit details: COS shorts, Zara jewelry, Alberta Ferretti heels (purchased for $25 at Housing Works).

Pin It

Nothing like a strategically placed safety pin. 

Outfit details: Zara heels and earrings, vintage collar (purchased for $25 at Retropolis in Houston).

So there you have it: three examples of how to make thrift store items work for you. Now it’s your turn! Remember, the key is to think outside the box. Everything can be anything, and other vague platitudes. Also, keep in mind that clothes can be professionally altered. This option provides the best of both worlds, in that you save money on your wardrobe, and also have the potential of creating a design that is truly unique to you. Alterations are my recommended course of action whenever sewing or cutting fabric becomes involved, because I personally do not trust my hands. They are wily, wily things.

One issue I failed to discuss is the challenge of falling in love with something slightly unorthodox. All I have to say about that is, it’s New York: no one cares. I once saw a man roller skate down St. Mark’s Place in nothing but a pink-sequined bikini, and not a single person batted an eye. I did because it was a hot day and mine were very dry, but no one else. If happiness is found in a gorilla suit that lets you run around the city like a real life King Kong, go ape wild (haha). If you get heart eyes for an 80s prom dress that leaves a trail of glitter in its wake, and has shoulder pads so high you can’t turn your head without difficulty, get your Pretty in Pink on. Put a belt on it. Life is short. Have fun.