Thrift Shopping Tips From A Celebrity Stylist


Left: Shirt, $10, and shorts, $10, Value Village. Right: Jacket and pants, $25 for a set, top,
$6, shoes, $30, and earrings, $4, Value Village. Photography by Nick Merzetti

Celebrity stylist and sustainability consultant Sarah Jay shares her tips and tricks for making the most out of a trip to Value Village.

In 2024, the world isn’t in agreement on much: trends (are you team Quiet Luxury or Mob Wife?), entertainment (did Barbie deserve to be nominated for an Oscar?), politics (don’t get us started). But one thing most fashionistas are united on? A love of thrift shopping tips.

Everyone is thrifting: the It girls, the content creators, celebrities, even your mom! In fact, according to a recent survey conducted by Value Village, nearly 90 per cent of consumers across North America have shopped or donated at a thrift store in the past year, and almost 40 per cent of consumers say secondhand clothing makes up more than a quarter of their wardrobe.

While the environmental benefits of thrifting are well documented — it’s inherently circular, keeps textiles out of landfills and extends the life of clothing — not enough has been said about what a joyful and almost therapeutic experience it can be.

thrift shopping tips
Jacket, $40, top, $8, skirt, $7, earrings, $5, belt (top), $5, belt (bottom), $6, and rings, $4 each, Value Village. Photography by Nick Merzetti.

Enter Value Village, whose mission is to “champion reuse and inspire a future where secondhand is second nature.”

“In a world of online shopping, the joy of Value Village is found in the physical shopping experience,” shares celebrity stylist and sustainability consultant Sarah Jay. “It’s about the thrill of the find; perusing the aisles and filling my big red cart!”

With more than 150 stores across Canada (and more than 315 globally), the thrift chain helps communities maximize the life of reusable goods and has rescued more than 3.2 billion pounds of clothing and housewares in the last five years.

In honour of the April 2024 “Sustainability” issue and next month’s Earth Day, FASHION took over Arcadia Earth — a multi-sensory journey through the planet — to capture quiet luxury style using garments entirely thrifted from Value Village.

Below, we spoke to Sarah Jay, the stylist behind it all, about her thrift shopping tips and recreating these ’fits at home.

thrift shopping tips
Jacket, $20, top, $10, skirt, $8, shoes, $15, earrings, $6, and ring, $4, Value Village. Photography by Nick Merzetti.

Search for staples

“Value Village is a really reliable place to shop for staples,” shares Jay, referencing the looks she created for FASHION’s April 2024 issue as an example. She advises looking for pieces that are “forever relevant” like oversized blazers, wide leg trousers, trench coats and classic button-down shirts.

thrift shopping tips
Left: Jacket, $50, top, $9, pants, $20, shoes, $15, and socks, $7 for a pack of three, Value Village. Right: Dress, $15, shoes, $40, bag, $3, and ring, $5, Value Village. Photography by Nick Merzetti.

Consider the entire store

Don’t shop by gender and limit yourself to the “mens” or “womens” department. “Clothes are for people!” Jay also suggests a stroll around the non-apparel areas. “See what inspires you in, say, the bedding section.” Jay once made a red carpet dress from a pink polyester comforter with the help of her tailor, Tailoress.

thrift shopping tips
Jacket, $25, pants, $20, shoes, $15, sunglasses, $4, and necklace, $4, Value Village. Photography by Nick Merzetti.

Alterations can make all the difference

Question: How do you solve a problem like inconsistent sizing? Answer: “Having a great tailor is your secret weapon,” Jay shares as one of her go-to thrift shopping tips. It’s possible to find hidden gems that are outside of your size range to make the most out of Value Village’s assortment. Even if an item’s too small, magic can often happen in the form of seam allowance or added panels.

thrift shopping tips
Top, $15, skirt, $20, shoes, $40, bag, $10, and earring and rings, $4 for a set, Value Village. Photography by Nick Merzetti.

When it doubt, go monochrome

“I’m really big on monochromizing (is that a word?!) to elevate an overall look,” shares Jay. As seen in this image above, “using a singular colour palette can help unify garments from different brands, textures, and eras into an intentional look. And gold accessories really pop against a backdrop of solid colour.”

Shirt, $15, shorts, $10, glasses, $5, tie, $5, and bag, $50, Value Village. Photography by Nick Merzetti.

Don’t be afraid to be creative

“Value Village sells lots of inspiring ‘starting points’ for upcycling jewelry, accessories, and even garments,” states Jay, referencing the wall of $3.99 grab bags which are her personal faves. “Some grab bags, a glue gun, and basic sewing kit make for a great ‘crafternoon’, and great, one-of-a-kind, statement accessories.” Jay’s upcycled DIY’s appear throughout the story and include these clothespin earrings.

 

Watch below for a behind-the-scenes peek at FASHION’s photo shoot with Value Village. 

Photography by Nick Merzetti. Video by Shayne Gray. Creative direction by George Antonopoulos. Styling by Sarah Jay. Hair by Kirsten Klontz for P1M. ca/Oribe and Hot Tools. Makeup by Angela Lee for Judy Inc/Dior. Seamstress by Tailoress. Photo assistant: Alejandro Silva Cortes. Fashion assistant: Meg McClean. Makeup assistant: Amanda Russell. Models: Ben Shaw for Want Management and Jiayan Yao for Sutherland Models. Shot on location at Arcadia Earth. 

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