Low prices are not the only thing that makes thrift stores so great. In fact, the treasures you can find there make the trip really worth while. Join us in conversation with lifestyle blogger Mel Kobayashi, who knows everything about thrift shopping. Enjoy the show!

 

Margaret Manning:

My guest today is Mel Kobayashi, a lifestyle blogger with a tendency to move towards art and humor in the blogs that she writes for Bag and a Beret and in her style consultancy. Welcome, Mel.

Mel Kobayashi:

Thank you so much, Margaret. I’m really happy to be back.

Margaret:

You’re welcome. Thank you so much for being here. We did a series of videos with you a while ago, and people loved you and your authenticity. So, today we’ll discuss some questions that people have asked me to present to you. And I also know that you’ve got some great shopping stories to share.

Mel:

I absolutely do.

Margaret:

The first question has to do with shopping on a budget. Many of our women have to spend their money wisely, and many are discovering their bohemian selves.

They’re starting to dress the way they want and are pretty interested in consignment shopping and thrift shopping. When I told them about you, and how you find wonderful things in thrift shops, they were very excited. So, as the queen of thrift shopping, tell us what we need to know about it.

Mel:

Thrift shopping feeds my soul. It makes me feel alive and that I can afford to be whoever I want. I can be a Hollywood star. I can be a rock star. I can be a teacher, librarian, a businessman, and I can do it all on a budget.

A lot of my finds are only five dollars each in my local thrift shop called My Sister’s Closet. They benefit battered women and shelter services run locally, so it’s helping a cause. But it’s also kind of selfish because I find many wonderful things in there.

Margaret:

What’s the right way to approach thrift shopping? Many women just don’t quite know what to look for. Do you look for brands? Do you look for colors? When you go in that door, do you browse aisle by aisle? What’s your technique?

Mel:

Usually, I head for a specific area. My favorites are the dresses and the jumpsuits, followed by the pants and the men’s wear.

Here’s an important tip: If you go to a thrift shop with something particular in mind, don’t overlook the areas you don’t usually go to because they often hide things that will be appropriate for you.

Also, I don’t pay too much attention to sizes. I’ll go to my main size first, but then I’ll wander off into other sizes as well because sizing is so arbitrary, and sometimes people just don’t really check.

I often go by the feeling of the fabric. Sometimes you’ll feel this exceptional, exquisite material that just grabs you. Or it could be a pattern that really stands out. If it’s got sequins on it, I’m like a magpie. I would just hone right in on it. Quality always stands out, though.

Margaret:

I’m glad you mentioned that, Mel. When I go into thrift stores, I look for color and texture. If I feel in a turquoise mood, I’ll just look for items in that color. Or peach, or salmon. Then, as I walk down the aisle, if I feel a material that catches my attention, whatever the item is, I would buy it.

Mel:

I’m wearing black today, but if I’m thrift shopping, I tend to avoid the black because it’s easy to buy black, and I have a lot of black pieces. I thrift shop for color and pattern, though sometimes I’ll go through the blacks anyway, and if I feel something gorgeous – got to have it.

Margaret:

I liked your idea about sizes. If you buy something that’s a bit bigger, you could take it in. But even if it’s a bit too small, you can still mix and match.

Mel:

What’s so cool about our modern fashion is that a lot of pieces you’ll find in retail and in designer stores have the bra hem that looks like someone has gone through with scissors and hacked it off. So, if you find something that’s too large, you just get those scissors out and hack it, and you’ll be so on trend.

Also, a lot of designers would just slice the piece right up the front and then overlap it and sew it back together, and “Ta-da!” It’s worth a million dollars. I do that, and I’d like a million dollars for it.

Margaret:

I know you’re not kidding. I’ve seen your website and Instagram, and I know you do crazy things with clothes. You’re rock star glam one minute, and cookie the next minute. So, show us some of your thrift store finds.

Mel:

The first outfit matches one I saw at Gucci the other day. Theirs cost more than five thousand US dollars, while mine is just $30.

Margaret:

That’s a great idea that I also practice. I look at fashion magazines and designer stores for inspiration. It’s a great technique. So how did this $30 outfit turn out?

Mel:

It turned out great. The pants are purple lace and they’re see-through, but I wear them with tights or leggings.

And, just a side note here, I do walk a little bit on the wild side sometimes, but that doesn’t mean anyone else should. What I’m encouraging people is to go just a little bit out of their comfort zone. I’m telling you, you’ll have a blast.

To match the pants, I have a neon-yellow lace blouse which I wear with a vest I bought a couple of years ago. It’s got sequins too.

Margaret:

And it shimmers a bit. It’s such a pretty combination. Do you put a sash around the waist?

Mel:

No, because the top covers my crotch area. It gives me a little more security, right?

Margaret:

I ask because that’s very similar to what a lot of women wear in Bali. They wear a lace top, and they combine it with a thing called a Mona Lisa which is like a pointy bustier. It’s very strange, but they have a sash that goes around the waist to pull it together.

Mel:

That would be beautiful. So, this is my Gucci look alike for $30.

Margaret:

I really like those colors. Awesome.

Mel:

The Gucci had an orange top and yellow pants. It was a different color combo, but basically the same thing.

Margaret:

Obviously, they didn’t have the right color theme. The green and purple are on opposite sides of the color spectrum, aren’t they? They really go well together.

Mel:

I think what pulls the three together is that they’re all lace. I know that’s a bit annoying, too, because you have to wear something underneath for modesty.

Margaret:

So, it seems like your advice for thrift shopping is, don’t think about what’s appropriate and acceptable by society. Just go with what you’re drawn to.

Mel:

It’s only five dollars. What the heck!

Margaret:

What else have you got?

Mel:

I have a sequin jacket that I really love.

Margaret:

It’s really pretty. It’s actually glowing in the camera.

Mel:

When I step into the elevator, it’s an instant discotheque.

Margaret:

How short is it?

Mel:

It’s a short. It’s a bummer. It gives off glitter reflections down the whole street. You could see the stop signs reflected everywhere.

Margaret:

That’s really, really cool. Do you do your movie star walk with this jacket? You know, you promised to show us a video of your movie star walk.

Mel:

I know. It’s called Walking Like a Rock Star. And I’m really rocking it. I’ve noticed that when men walk, they move their whole torso back and forth.

 

Margaret:

I was actually in Zara the other day, and they had a jacket just like that but long. And the sequin pieces were smaller, but the effect was the same. So, as always, you’re on trend.

Mel:

I am, totally. But they can have the same jacket, I don’t care.

Margaret:

Here’s something you said about yourself: “Mel wears sequins, gowns, sparkly jewelry, false eyelashes, and heavy-handed coloring. All makes her feel ultra-glam. Faux furs, bell-bottoms and sunglasses make you feel rock-star glam.”

Mel:

That’s exactly right. Every day is a new day. Who am I going to be today? Who am I going to embody? It’s just me, but it’s bringing out parts of me that makes every day beyond the mundane.

Margaret:

Finding funky treasures is really a fun way to spend some time. We all have clothes in our closet, so what can you do to bring out those other aspects of your personality? Thrift shopping is a pretty low risk. It doesn’t cost much money, so even if the item doesn’t work out, you can recycle it again.

Mel:

A lot of people have anxieties, and I find that thrift shopping, in general, makes us feel happy. It’s a form of self-care and community care, because when you feel good, you spread the feeling to people wherever you go.

Then they feel good and spread the feeling, and it creates a lovely ripple effect. And we all need a little more positivity in the world.

Margaret:

You’re doing your part, Mel.

Mel:

Thank you, Margaret. I’m having a blast.

Margaret:

I bet you are. Thank you so much for all these little tips, and I’m sure our women are going to get inspired by you. You’re such a joy to be around, it’s contagious.

Mel:

Thanks so much for having me, Margaret.

Margaret:

My pleasure. Talk again soon. Bye.

What do you think about thrift stores? Have you ever set foot in one? What did it feel like? Are you a regular? Please share some of your finds!

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