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Video: Bobbie’s tips, tricks for secondhand style

  1. Transcript of: Bobbie’s tips, tricks for secondhand style

    NATALIE MORALES reporting: This morning on BOBBIE'S STYLE BUZZ , secondhand style. You might be intimidated by the sheer volume of merchandise at lots of retail stores , but TODAY's style editor Bobbie Thomas of bobbie.com has some tips to help you dig through some unique pieces that won't break the bank. Bobbie , good morning.

    Ms. BOBBIE THOMAS (Today Style Editor): Good morning.

    MORALES: I love this segment because I love doing this, I love going to consignment stores , thrift stores . And there are great values and great finds out there, right?

    Ms. THOMAS: And don't you love it when somebody walks up to you and says, 'Where did you get that?' and you get to share the story that you found it in some small shop and it was the perfect size. It's magical, it was just waiting right there for you.

    MORALES: It's like a treasure hunt. But in some ways it can be a little overwhelming, I know a lot of people walk in those places and they're like, 'I can't dig through the racks, I can't do that.' But you've come up with your little list, your four B's, as you call it, for the best buys and bargains. Explain the four B's of thrifting.

    Ms. THOMAS: Well, I visit a vintage store, I try to, in every single city I visit.

    MORALES: Mm-hmm.

    Ms. THOMAS: I go there before the mall. And I really -- sometimes I 'm overwhelmed as well, so I really suggest that you look for accessories and outwear. And the four B's are belts, bags, boots and blazers.

    MORALES: Mm-hmm.

    Ms. THOMAS: And I 'll explain why. You want to think about these because it doesn't take any time to look at a handbag, you don't have to try it on, and what's great is handbags are easily repaired, you can maybe fix a strap. And sometimes the more worn-in bags like this, this will look really nice even...

    MORALES: Will wear well, that looks cool.

    Ms. THOMAS: ...with -- you pay a premium sometimes today for a vintage worn-in-looking leather bag.

    MORALES: It's great.

    Ms. THOMAS: I love these frame bags because they're back in style, the whole " Mad Men " era.

    MORALES: The ladylike -- uh-huh .

    Ms. THOMAS: A lot of designers are using vintage pieces like this to inspire them for new collections. So you can actually find something of your own that's unique. Belts are amazing because belts have these, you know, so many unique buckles...

    MORALES: Mm-hmm.

    Ms. THOMAS: ...and hardwares. Belts are such a great thing to look for. And again, this is if you're short on time, you can go through, check out the boot section. And blazers...

    MORALES: Mm-hmm.

    Ms. THOMAS: ...blazers I love because there are so many of them. They're easy to slip on if you have something on right there and then, and they're in the men's section, the women's section. And you could think about coats, too, but outerwear in general is not too size-specific.

    MORALES: Now -- and as we said, a lot of people don't like to navigate through a thrift store ...

    Ms. THOMAS: Mm-hmm.

    MORALES: ...but there are some places that you can go online where they kind of do the shopping for you and they help you edit down those pieces , right?

    Ms. THOMAS: Absolutely. One of my favorite places is Etsy . Now it's not just a handmade marketplace, they have over 150 sellers worldwide, almost a million vintage pieces listed, so you can go to somebody who's already pitched through the racks...

    MORALES: Right.

    Ms. THOMAS: ...or the piles and they've put together their own little home page that they're going to sell what they've found. And these are examples of that. Vintage Shaun is one of my favorites.

    MORALES: That's cool. That's beautiful.

    Ms. THOMAS: Salvage Life , who has these key necklaces. Taylor Swift 's a big fan.

    MORALES: Mm-hmm.

    Ms. THOMAS: I'm actually wearing an old Liz Claiborne dress...

    MORALES: Looks great. Looks beautiful.

    Ms. THOMAS: ...that came from Vonlenska Vintage . These are all about $40. And what's great is you're not going to see five people on the street wearing them and you'll be able to find something special. And they're on body forms when you go to Etsy so they're not just on a hanger...

    MORALES: Right.

    Ms. THOMAS: ...and you get a chance to see the shape better. And you can e-mail somebody to find out a little more about how it fits.

    MORALES: Yeah, sizing is something you definitely want to make sure you consult with and ask about, and know the return policy too before you...

    Ms. THOMAS: Exactly.

    MORALES: ...you commit.

    MORALES: OK. And over here, let's talk about -- a lot of people don't have to get on a plane because as -- you had the luxury of traveling all over to...

    Ms. THOMAS: Yes.

    MORALES: ...to see these thrift stores . But now you can do a lot of that online.

    Ms. THOMAS: And truthfully, this kind of inspired the segment. I really loved that some of my favorite haunts -- C.Madeleine's in Florida ...

    MORALES: Mm-hmm.

    Ms. THOMAS: ...they have a 10,000-square-foot showroom that stylists and celebrities go and pull from, but today they're online.

    MORALES: Look at these gorgeous pieces .

    Ms. THOMAS: And you can find designer scarves, Missoni , YSL . These earrings, I mean, even " Sex and the City " used some pieces from her. I have these old YSL earrings on.

    MORALES: Beautiful.

    Ms. THOMAS: And now I pulled everything close to 100 or under, so I, you know, show you really great statement pieces that you can, you know, make a wow factor -- have a wow factor with -- I can't speak.

    Ms. THOMAS: Also, from Florida to Phoenix , My Sister 's Closet ...

    MORALES: Mm-hmm.

    Ms. THOMAS: ...is another favorite stop of mine. All of these little bags -- I just bought this for $25.

    MORALES: Wow.

    Ms. THOMAS: What a great little cocktail bag.

    MORALES: That......great.

    Ms. THOMAS: And the necklace -- and again, designer jewelry...

    MORALES: Gorgeous.

    Ms. THOMAS: ...this is Alexis Bittar and this is $40, $40 for the earrings. And old vintage sunglasses.

    MORALES: Well, you've inspired us all. Well, very nice, Bobbie Thomas .

    Ms. THOMAS: Yes.

    MORALES: Some great places for us to look online. Thank you.

    Ms. THOMAS: And all of the links for everything I have here are -- is in the article I put on todayshow.com. So if you're wondering how to find these pieces , you can find them there.

    MORALES: Perfect. Thank you so much , Bobbie .

    Ms. THOMAS:

    MORALES: You always have such great style, she wears it well. For more on any of these items, be sure to check out Bobbie 's article, as she said, on todayshow.com. Coming up next, how to lose weight family style . But first, this is TODAY on NBC .

By TODAY Style Editor
TODAY
updated 11/4/2010 6:09:22 PM ET 2010-11-04T22:09:22

Resale stores are often viewed as intimidating mazes of merchandise that lack the luster of big, bright department stores. But these places can be home to many of your future favorite finds.

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Call me kooky, but there is a magical feeling that comes over me every time I experience “fashion fate” — when that one perfect piece happens to be in the right size, at the right place, the moment I walk in.

With a few tips and tricks you can navigate these underutilized shops like a pro, ending up with truly unique pieces — often for just pennies!

The four B’s of thrifting: Bags, belts, boots and blazers
For those who describe the idea of shopping at vintage or resale shops as “overwhelming,” try starting small with accessories and outerwear.

Purses are particularly great for those who are testing the waters in the secondhand world, as they are easy to clean up and can seamlessly blend into a modern wardrobe.

Belts are another ideal item. They are one of the most inexpensive ways to maximize your wardrobe. Leather belts tends to look better with age, while retro styles offer unique buckles, shapes and colors.

Boots are another favorite find at secondhand stores. From classic cowboy kicks to refined riding boots, you can snag the creme de la creme of different decades, all beautifully broken-in and weathered, without paying a premium.

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And at bargain prices, don't dismiss the idea of DIY. A small rip or stain can be a creative opportunity rather than reason for discouragement. An old brooch and a little TLC can quickly elevate an accessory from a frumpy castaway to a new favorite statement-maker.

Lastly, don’t overlook outerwear when thrifting. You’ll often find the most personality and punch in items like blazers. The best part? You don’t have to examine everything in the store to find what you want. Instead, walk the aisles and scan the racks to look for prints, embellishments and stitching that jump out at you.

Remember, vintage typically runs small, so don't be afraid to try on anything and everything that catches your attention.

Editing pros
If you still aren’t ready to dive headfirst into the sea of resale, look to the Web for some help when it comes to purchasing pre-owned pieces.

An added bonus to browsing boutiques online is that the clothes are often shown styled and on body forms rather than simply draped on hangers.

Etsy is the go-to marketplace for all things handmade — you’ll also find more than 900,000 vintage items currently for sale. Creative Etsy users like “Vintage Shaun,” “Salvage Life” and “Gypsy Warrior Vintage” have already sifted through stacks of garments. Put them to the test and pluck out their best items.

Explore stores everywhere
Last but not least, explore resale shops everywhere you visit, if time allows.

Use sites like The Thrift Shopper and Resale Shopping to find a thrift store near you.

Search for winter-weather items in warm climates and vice versa, since lack of demand usually means better deals.

And thanks to the digital world we live in, you can explore local styles from the comfort of your own couch.

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My Sister’s Closet is an Arizona favorite with more than 10 retail locations. It’s the largest designer consignment store in the country, with items usually priced between 60 to 95 percent below retail.

And C. Madeleine’s, based in Miami, is a celebrity stylist favorite that also allows you to browse photos of items available in their 10,000-square-foot showroom without having to travel thousands of miles. (Although the beaches make it worth the trip!)

From NYC’s What Goes Around Comes Around to L.A.’s Decades and everything in between, you can find many more consignment stores and curators online.

No matter how you decide to hunt, always keep in mind that the art of thrifting, like anything else, takes a bit of patience and practice. But once you know how and where to look, you’ll have a one-of-a-kind wardrobe in no time.

More from Bobbie Thomas:
Bobbie finds real style on the streets
Portable steamers and more smart travel items
Bobbie's Buzz: Fall nail news

© 2013 MSNBC Interactive.  Reprints

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