Each month, I anxiously await the arrival of the new Vogue. Around the 18th, I begin to obsessively check my mailbox for the beautiful glossy magazine, and when it finally comes, I set aside a good hour to flip through its perfume-soaked pages.
Over the past few years, Vogue has, in a grudging sign of the times, included a section in each issue devoted to fashion on the cheap. Pieces from stores like Target, Gap and J.Crew share space with the finest couture. But as recession fears have eased a bit, the price tags on Vogue's "cheap" list have begun to creep back up.
Consider a recent article taglined: "The French manage to make low-priced clothing without sacrificing one bit of chic." It featured a pair of chino pants for $335 and a suede jacket for $1,800.
Riiiight. They may be très chic, but affordable? Not on this planet.
Which is why I took matters into my own hands and headed for thrift stores (four, actually) to find fashion that fits my very un- Vogue budget. My friends and I have been scouring thrift-store aisles for years, but these tough times have made this kind of bargain-hunting a weekend pastime. No longer is it just the proverbial dirty hipster shopping for worn T-shirts with a wolf howling at the moon. Fashionistas are stalking the racks, too.
So with spring fast approaching, I set out on a mission: Find four looks from four stores for less than $100. And I also wanted to focus my search on a huge trend for spring: sparkly items. With a twinkle in my eye and metallics and sequins on my mind, I embarked on a thrift-store fashion adventure.
First stop: Double Exposure
This store is a gold mine and by far the best in town.
Double Exposure is a resale shop on Eighth Avenue benefitting the Junior League of Fort Worth.
My first find was a shimmery navy Vena Cava shift dress, complete with an intricate band of beading along the hem. This seamless dress could be worn in the summer with a great pair of gladiator sandals or during the fall with some black tights, platforms and a trench coat. And it easily transitions from day to night. Perhaps the biggest selling point for me was the label. Vena Cava was started in 2003 by two girls living in Brooklyn. The world quickly took notice of their talents, and they were runners-up in the prestigious Council of Fashion Designers of America awards. This is a piece to hang on to.
Another Double Exposure discovery was a sequined Oleg Cassini top for $15. This piece can pump up any look and also lets you forgo accessory overload. No supporting actors needed here, just one sparkly star.
To keep it youthful, pair it with a plain miniskirt or a pair of black skinny jeans. Add a pop of color with a bright cuff bracelet.
Next up: Berry Good Buys
This is where I learned that, for only $30, I could look like Brigitte Bardot.
Berry Good Buys on West Berry Street in Fort Worth is a terrific thrift store that donates a portion of its profits to SafeHaven of Tarrant County. This is where I uncovered a beautiful 1960s pink floral brocade dress for $30. It's a piece that screams statement.
Add a pair of fun earrings, maybe some gold chandeliers, and glamour is only a limo ride away.
Rounding home: McCart Thrift
Although the store on McCart Avenue in southwest Fort Worth is massive and somewhat disorganized, great pieces can be found if you're really willing to dig.
By this point, I was a fashion machine and it didn't take long to find two casual basics here: a pair of Abercrombie & Fitch denim shorts, a staple for the spring and summer, and a lavender A&F tank. These items were a steal at $6.99 and $2.99, respectively.
Now the search continued for a glitzy jacket to jazz up the ensemble.
The finale: Thrift Town
Crossing over to the north side of Fort Worth and Jacksboro Highway, I headed for Thrift Town, another massive shop, with a clear direction in mind. I was ecstatic to find a black sequined bolero jacket with a silver chain mail-like trim. Although this piece was a no-name brand, it was almost identical to the sequined jackets by Matthew Williamson and Diane von Furstenberg that I had been coveting since they debuted on the runways last September. It was THE jacket I had been searching for to pair with the denim shorts. And at $18, even Diane von Furstenberg would have to be impressed.
I also found a gray knit body-con skirt that would be the perfect low-key wingman to my flamboyant Oleg Cassini top.
Heading home, I totaled up my receipts and could not believe that I had come in under budget!
By a dollar. (Hello, iTunes!)
I found four really great looks for less than Vogue editors probably tip their cabbies. Each of these outfits could be worn for an evening on the town.
And I only hit four of the many area thrift shops. If you're willing to hunt, finding great fashion on the fringes is not so hard.
1. Vena Cava dress, Double Exposure$20
2. Oleg Cassini sequin top, Double Exposure$15
3. Gray knit skirt, Thrift Town$6
4. Sequin bolero jacket, Thrift Town$18
5. Abercrombie & Fitch denim shorts, McCart Thrift$6.99
6. A&F lavender tank top, McCart Thrift$2.99
7. Floral brocade dress, Berry Good Buys$30
Jewelry and tote bag, model's own.