Thrifting & Styling // DIY-Photographer
Thursday, October 18, 2012 • 10 Comments
While I hate shopping for myself, I absolutely LOVE going thrifting and shopping for clothing to use to style the models I work with. My obsession began when I discovered boxes upon boxes of clothes that my mom kept from the 60s, 70s, 80s, and yes, 90s. So. Much. Awesomeness. I’ve always loved going to thrift, vintage, & consignment stores, but I would always get so overwhelmed when shopping for myself. When I started going with the intent of finding stuff to use just for shoots and NOT for myself, it actually became FUN, and I started finding really amazing and inexpensive things, for both my shoots AND for myself. Being able to work with an actual wardrobe stylist for photoshoots is awesome, but sometimes that just isn’t possible. Making a small investment in some basic (and/or cool) pieces can not only give you the opportunity to have more control over your vision for the shoot, but you may find clothing to inspire you, as well!
My favorite local thrift store is the Salvation Army that’s just a mile and a half from my house. It’s been there for years and I’d driven by it hundreds and hundreds of times before realizing it even existed. I live in the suburbs, so it’s never picked over (I’ll be honest, there’s not a whole lot of trendiness here). Prices are low. It’s very organized. The people are friendly. There are great discounts. I also donate my own stuff there, to sort of thank them for how many amazing things I’ve purchased for so cheap from them ;)
There’s a huge new Goodwill down the street from my house, but I find the prices to be high – and they seem to be quite selective with what they carry (meaning not much crazy vintage stuff). The redeeming quality of my local Goodwill, however, is that they carry a ton of out-of-season Target merchandise. I’ve bought countless pairs of shoes, tops, shorts, and pieces of jewelry for half of Target’s final clearance price. Check your local thrift stores to see if they carry out-of-season Target merchandise – it’s a great way to get brand new pieces for yourself (or for shoots)!
Actual vintage stores will carry probably some of the most amazing things you will ever find – but prices are high because items are hand-picked by the store’s buyers from other thrift stores, estate sales, etc. I only buy from vintage stores if I plan on wearing it myself after shooting it (which is rarely the case…but sometimes).
- - Thrift stores in smaller towns/cities tend to be less picked over and less expensive (the best thrift store I’ve been to thus far was about an hour & a half north of Minneapolis).
- - Grab a TON of stuff on your initial walk-through/search of the store. Don’t second-guess yourself, just go for it. Once you’ve filled your arms or your shopping cart, find a place to start to go through it all and decide what you want. As for the things you don’t want…please be polite and put them back at least in the general area you got them from, or leave them near the fitting rooms. :)
- - Look through ALL sizes! Some things marked as a small may fit like a large, and vice versa. A women’s size 16 button-up top could be tucked into a high-waisted skirt and look amazing even on a really small girl. You can also pin things for shoots, or get your favorite pieces tailored.
- - When I go to my local thrift stores, I usually give myself 15-20 minutes to search, I never get a cart (so I don’t buy too much), and I usually give myself a budget – anywhere from $10-20. I may let myself splurge from time to time if I find something awesome for myself (such as a bag or shoes). Bring a bottle of water and hand sanitizer for in-between stores.
- - Save your receipts – clothing purchased specifically for shoots can be tax-deductible!
- - Think outside of the box. Jeans can be cut into shorts. Long skirts can be shortened. Tshirts can be cut into tanks. Don’t forget to look at the fabric, curtains, etc – they can make great backdrops, “blankets” for laying on, etc.
- - Many thrift stores have daily sales (a percentage off certain color tags, certain types of clothing, etc.) as well as holiday sales. Often times there will be calendars posted at the entrances is or at the checkout counters listing their specials, sales, etc. Keep an eye on them to get the best deals!
- - Don’t forget about garage/yard/estate sales! Every year on Mother’s Day weekend, a nearby neighborhood here has hundreds of garage sales. It’s completely overwhelming, but AMAZING. This year I made it to probably about 50 in 3 hours, and while I found absolutely nothing at a majority of them, I hit the jackpot at one – scoring two brand new 80s party dresses for a total of $4 (see below), as well as some other awesome vintage stuff that I have yet to shoot. Ask your mom, aunts, grandmas, and any other older women that you know if they still have any of their clothes from when they were younger that you could borrow (or have, if they love you). They might say, “Yes…but I’m sure you wouldn’t like any of it, it’s all old and out of style!!” – but chances are, you’ll look through it feel like you’ve gone to Heaven. They don’t realize that basically anything more than 20 years old is back in style right now.
- - Make sure to wash everything before wearing, and sanitize jewelry.
- - Purchasing from a thrift store for a shoot and then re-selling it on Etsy is a great way to not only get your investment back, but to possibly even make a profit – you are now in a similar position to the vintage-store-buyer. You’ve found something specific that is amazing, now someone else doesn’t have to spend hours in thrift stores looking for it. Keep in mind, clothing sold on Etsy must be at least 20 years old.
- - Non-thrifting related, but when at the mall shopping for yourself, check the clearance sections – you never know what you might find in other sizes that you can use for shoots. I’ve gotten a lot of skirts and shorts from Urban Outfitters for $5-10 and $7-10 jeans from H&M.
One of my favorite parts of my job as a photographer is the styling aspect. I jokingly tell people this, but in reality it’s true – I get to play dress-up with girls who are even prettier than Barbie!! How awesome of a job is that?! The night before a shoot, I go through my clothing and pack usually one suitcase and maybe a duffel bag to bring along. I also have a separate bag that I will bring accessories (belts, bags, scarves, jewelry) in. I create “mood boards” for most of my shoots (if they aren’t last-minute), giving the model an idea of what we’ll be going for, and so they can bring along anything of their own that might work. On shoot day, I go through both the model’s and my pieces and put together what I hope will be some awesome looks. My style is usually fairly simple and basic, so I try not to over-style or over-accessorize, as well (I usually just use one piece of jewelry per look, if any at all).
Here are some outfits that I’ve put together using thrifted/Mom’s clothing ;)
Ian Keaggy // August, 2012
Monday, September 17, 2012 • 2 Comments
Dylan Stevens // August, 2012
Monday, August 20, 2012 • 8 Comments
Steve Weigel // July, 2012
Thursday, July 26, 2012 • 6 Comments