Look like a million bucks without spending it


Many of us love a good bargain, but we shouldn’t let price overshadow style. Hakeemah Cummings has some tips on wardrobe styling on a budget.

What not to thrift_Aquila Style

My all-time favourite fashion TV show is TLC’s What Not to Wear, which features celebrity stylists Stacy London and Clinton Kelly. The show surprises a lucky person in need of a style makeover with a new $5000 wardrobe and a full makeover.  They also donate all the clothing in that person’s old wardrobe to charity, which means that what Stacy and Clinton throw out of an unstylish wardrobe could end up in your local thrift store.

I love thrifting and I’ve found some of my favourite wardrobe pieces at the secondhand store. But I also see so many people buying unstylish items just because of the bargain price. Do you really want to end up buying what Stacy and Clinton trashed?

Not everyone has $5000 to spend on a new wardrobe or celebrity stylists to help them sift through the endless racks. If you love to shop on a budget and want to know how to stay stylish while wearing someone else’s old clothes, here are three tips on what not to buy (and more tasteful alternatives).

1. Don’t buy anything that looks cheap

Vintage items can end up looking gaudy or shoddy. Sometimes it’s the print, cut, or a faded and pilled fabric. Just because it’s from the thrift store, it doesn’t mean it has to look cheap.

Choose prints that can be translated well to the modern day. Pick a size that fits you, and colours that are still well saturated. Ethnic prints are timeless, and are constantly coming back in style.  For my recent stylist showcase at DC Fashion Week’s Haute and Modesty show, I paired this thrifted print dress and matching turban wrap with a long batwing cardigan from Dubai designer Citra Style, along with designer face jewellery from The Sultaness. I paid just $8 for the dress – looks expensive right?

What not to thrift_Aquila Style
With the right print, a dress can look way more exclusive

2. Don’t overlook bags and purses

Sometimes, thrift stores will lock all the most expensive brands of bags and purses in a case behind the cashier. Prices on these items will be high because they are popular name brands. But sometimes some great bags and purses are overlooked by the staff and may be priced at regular thrift prices in the regular section.

What not to thrift_Aquila Style
Lucky finds: a vintage faux alligator skin briefcase and authentic Diane von Furstenberg duffle bag

3. Don’t get stuck in a time warp

Daring to wear decade-specific trends doesn’t mean you have to look like you’re living in the past. You don’t want to look like you’re dressing up for Decade Day. Wear fringe without looking like a 70s hippie, and do strong shoulders without the huge shoulder pads of the 80s.

Pair your vintage pieces with modern twists to update the look. In the 50s, polka dot print was huge, especially on dresses. I thrifted this vintage polka dot skirt for about $3, and was able to bring a vintage print to the modern day with the right styling.

What not to thrift_Aquila Style
Update a vintage print by pairing it with a basic blouse and purse

So ladies, choose wisely when you’re thrift shopping. Don’t let the cheap price tags fool you – there are treasures awaiting, and the hunt is only half the fun!

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