Old School: Consignment and Vintage Style

Photography by Kirsten Beeksma Morse

Dressing in head to toe designer label clothing has never been appealing to me. It just isn’t that interesting of a way to dress; it seems more like a billboard than a statement. However, investing in really well great pieces is always a good idea, because beautifully made things never go out of style. That doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun with fashion, especially when you add vintage or consignment pieces to the mix.

My teenage daughter Gracie loves to go to a consignment store called Buffalo Exchange, where she is quite good at discovering the good stuff.  It is not quite my style of place, but I did manage on our last visit to find two AllSaints sweaters for Gracie and she found me a vintage 1994 letterman’s jacket that was so cool I had to buy it.  I took all of our newfound treasures to the dry cleaners and we congratulated ourselves on a major score.

Varsity and bomber jackets have been quite the thing for the last two years, so having a vintage one was a real find. You can pair a varsity jacket over a sweater or with your favorite pair of jeans but why not wear them with a leather skirt or over your shoulders with a dress? No one is going to care if you didn’t actually letter in swimming in the 90s and you get to have a unique piece that makes a real statement.

Consignment shopping has totally changed my closet as well. It is the little secret-not-so-secret of every stylishly dressed woman I know. Some people I know do not get this, and I am not sure why. I think they look down their nose a little at consignment, as "used clothing". It is too bad, because they are missing out on the greatest thing to ever hit a fabulous closet. Vintage and consignment shopping are great ways to find covetable designer goods, some still with the tags, and the latest looks straight from the likes of the Barneys NY windows. Who doesn't love luxury goods at a fraction of the cost? Check out a couple of my favorites: MB’s Finds, Sell Your Sole, and Show Pony, which carry everything from Chanel to Gucci, to Elizabeth and James and Vince. Over time I have found many lovely consignment pieces that I added to my closet, including Chloe Suzanna boots, a Stella McCartney Falabella bag, an Alexander Wang Rocco Bag, and a Balanciaga fur collar coat. It is stylish recycling--beautiful things finding new life in a new closet.

The boots I turn to again and again are my Stuart Weitzman 50/50 Suede Over The Knee Boots. The first pair I ever bought was a blue and black suede pair, pictured here, and purchased from consignment from MB’s Finds. They are so cool and comfortable that I decided to invest in a gray pair this fall that I bought at Saks Fifth Avenue. They look amazing with dresses and skirts, tights and skinny jeans. I paired them for this photo shoot with my Bailey 44 stretch leather skirt, a Jimmy Fallon Show gray t-shirt I stole from my husband and cut the collar out of, and the letterman’s jacket. The blue Deadly Ponies handbag calls back to the blue suede in the boots, bringing the outfit together without being “matchy”. Gracie is wearing a pair of Frame denim from MB’s Finds, the line I mentioned in last week’s post that is a favorite brand of mine. She is carrying a Marc by Marc Jacobs Luna cross body bag and wearing the shoe of the moment, Adidas sneakers. Her leather jacket is from Zara. Which brings me to my next point….

Recently I wrote an article for Vanguard Seattle, an online arts and culture magazine that I am the style and fashion writer for, about the effects of fast fashion. I had been invited to view Andrew Morgan’s film, “The True Cost” which shows the tragic human factor in the world of cheap clothing and it’s impact on the environment, talented businesses and designers, and most of all, its immense impact on the garment workers. It was a very moving experience for me and has made me think very deeply about the idea of fast fashion and about choices that impact the world we live in. While I can't say for certain that I will never shop at Zara again, I know that there has to be a better way to high/low dressing than buying something that causes harm to the very person that made it.

Last week my daughter Gracie and I did the photo story together for this post and it was very fun to have her with Photographer Krissi and I on the shoot. Although nothing reminds you that your are clearly NOT in high school than looking into the young, wrinkle free face of a 15 year old. Luckily, it was the face of my beautiful daughter, so I felt only love.

The blog posts I write and the photo stories that my friend Krissi creates tell a new story each week that I hope will inspire you. It has been harder than I expected to put myself out there in pictures. In the photos I can see the flaws, the curves, the way I really look, not just the way I wish I did. I want to accept myself with all my imperfections, and no matter my age, or size, to know that being beautiful and stylish has nothing to do with numbers. And that is the point of this blog: to celebrate style and the beauty and art of fashion, no matter how many candles are on one's birthday cake.


  1. Yeah!!! Love it love it love it. Thank you for being brave. It's inspiring!

  2. You look beautiful! Your blog is now among my favorites, and I really look forward to new posts. We need more voices like yours - writing about what I call "grown up style". xo Joanna


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