Ah yes, the leaves are turning golden in Canada, the air carries a certain chill, and the warm flavour of pumpkin spice lattes has all crept back into our lives – fall is here. With the change in seasons comes an exciting opportunity to give our wardrobes a facelift, ensuring our style remains as fresh as the cool autumn air. And stylist Mana Mansour has us covered – literally and figuratively.
However, according to Mansour, updating your wardrobe each season needn’t be synonymous with breaking the bank – have you looked at inflation numbers recently?! In fact, most treasured finds, oozing with character and charm, can be found not on online but at the thrift store.
Thrifting, once an economic necessity for some Canadians, has evolved into a haven for all fashion enthusiasts on the hunt for unique, sustainable and budget-friendly style statements. I spoke with Mansour, CTV producer of The Good Stuff and on-air fashion expert about her top tips and tricks for how to thrift.
FLEETSTREET: Why do you think thrifting is so popular right now and an important aspect of sustainable fashion?
Mana Mansour: Thrifting is having a major boom right now, thanks in part to its popularity on social media like TikTok. It’s representing a larger societal shift in how we view buying second-hand clothes. There are a number of factors contributing to this trend.
Firstly, fashion is cyclical. What was in style 20 years ago has made its return. For example, right now that’s the style of the Y2K era. To buy new pieces inspired by that time can be costly. I also think Canadian shoppers are more mindful than ever of sustainability and having pieces that last. And, buying second-hand prevents clothing from going to the landfill, expanding its lifecycle. Thrifting is a way in which the average person can be involved in changing how fashion pollutes the environment. Plus, high-quality items tend to last longer than those that are cheaply made, but sadly. Those items can come at a high price making them inaccessible for many people. Thrifting those high-quality items allows for accessibility paired with longevity, which further benefits the planet.
FS: How does thrifting allow individuals to build a unique and personalized style without breaking the bank?
MM: Thrifting helps you to find unique pieces that are usually one-offs. There’s only one of those items when you find it at the thrift store. So, the chances of multiple people having that same piece are rare. If you love fashion, then you probably crave uniqueness in your wardrobe. You don’t want every girl and her mom to have the same outfit as you. Thrifting prevents that, for sure.
Thrifting also allows you to incorporate brands or silhouettes that are no longer widely made. I can’t tell you how many times I have found brands that are no longer around at the thrift store. I once found Pegabo real leather boots. Plus, these pieces often are made of great quality. And when bought from the thrift store, they come at a fraction of the original cost. These treasures can definitely make your wardrobe super unique, while still showcasing your own individual style.
Vintage goes seamlessly with new and local brands. Outfit credits: Amazon silver teardrop earrings, Value Village distressed leather moto jacket, Aritzia wool turtleneck sweater, Value Village belt, Value Village men’s grey trousers, Value Village studded handbag, Biko circle rings, and flea market silver ring.
FS: What tips do you have for someone looking to curate a high-quality wardrobe through thrifting?
MM: Look for those luxe fabrics and designer labels. The thrift store is the best place to get these for less. Not only do these pieces elevate your outfit making it look much more expensive than it is, but they also have longevity. They’ll last forever if kept in good condition. Designer labels or not, always consider the materials before purchasing. Natural fibers like cashmere, wool, and leather will last far longer than synthetic materials.
My next tip: If it doesn’t fit but you absolutely love it, buy it and take it to the tailor. This is something I think a lot of shoppers are wary of. They see something they love but if it’s not in their size, they disregard it. A good tailor can custom fit a piece to fit your body perfectly, or update it for current trends, like shortening a hem length or taking out ’80s shoulder pads.
FS: What is your advice to someone who wants to get into thrifting but doesn’t know where to start?
MM: Give yourself plenty of time to find something. Thrifting takes patience and usually multiple visits, especially if you want something specific. You’ll need a good chunk of time to properly go through the racks and display cases.
For novice thrifters, the “hunt” part is what can be the most overwhelming. But changing your mindset from “having to find something in a set period of time,” to “giving yourself plenty of time to find something unexpected,” can totally transform the experience. That said, always try to avoid visiting a store that’s been picked over. How? Shop during the daytime, and during the week if possible.
My second piece of advice for a novice thrifter is to start with shoes and accessories. Shoes and accessories are the easiest to try on and can be a great tip-toe in if going through the clothing racks seems intimidating. They are also the easiest way to amp up an outfit, even one that is not thrifted.
Again, vintage doesn’t have to be an all-out commitment. Keep the new-ish clothes in your closet and pair them with pre-owned pieces. Outfit credits: H&M, newsboy cap, Value Village purple houndstooth wool suit set, Winners tank top, Dean Davidson layered gold necklaces and gold ring, Value Village belt, Value Village satin mini handbag, and Zara patent Mary Janes.
FS: Do you have any favourite places to thrift? Where do you shop?
MM: My go-to thrift stores are Value Village and Savers, as they have a number of locations in both the U.S. and Canada. I also love to visit markets that give you access to various booths of thrift and vintage from independent sellers. For example, in Toronto, I frequent The Good Friends Market or Hippie Market. These are great options for those who want a curated shopping experience but still want to look and try on the pieces in person.
If you don’t live in Toronto, a lot of the vendors at these two markets also have online e-commerce stores where you can shop directly from Instagram, with shipping to anywhere. Some that come to mind are 217 Vintage, Spacey Maizie Vintage, Las Primas and The New Store Vintage.
More styling with vintage. Outfit credits: Jenny Bird silver-plated earrings, Toronto Vintage Clothing Show silver-plated necklace, Value Village ruffled blouse, Value Village satin vest, Value Village box clutch with handle, Aritzia brown faux leather trousers, and Mango pumps.
FS: What’s your favourite thrifted piece?
MM: Oh my. I have so many. But if I were to choose only one, I would have to say my Roger Vivier flats I found at a Value Village in Vancouver about eight years ago. I gasped when I saw them, especially as they were in mint condition and in my exact size. I immediately started to worry they were a knock-off, but after about 30 minutes of Googling while they were still in my cart, I was able to confirm they had all the distinct markers that proved them to be authentic. These flats are classic and will never go out of style. I know I will cherish them forever.