We first met affordable style expert Patrice J. Williams in 2009 and have worked with this budget and DIY powerhouse steadily since. In 2011, she covered our then monthly Buy the Bag event (now a standalone shop) in a Looking Fly on a Dime, for the best in budget style tips. Next month, we’ll partner with Patrice again on a one-of-a-kind thrifting party at Buy the Bag. We recently sat down with Patrice to learn more about her style story.
Housing Works: You’re a writer, a TV personality, and a well-respected budget style expert, how did you become THE guru of thrift?
Patrice J. Williams: I’ve always been a thrifty person, partly out of necessity but also because of my love of individuality. Buy the Bag was the first thrift store I went to when I moved to NYC. I was working at a fashion magazine and making less than $30,000 a year, so I desperately needed fashionable, but affordable pieces. Thrift shopping and being an overall savvy shopper has always been second nature to me, so I knew I wanted to share my tips and tricks with the public. People were always amazed at the pieces I would find, so I became the go-to girl for anyone wanting to look fly on a dime!
HW: What is Thrifty Threads 365?
PJW: Thrifty Threads 365 is a shopping challenge where I only shop for secondhand clothes for a full year. I can buy underwear (of course!) and accept gifts, but other than that, no new clothes for a year. This is the third time I’m doing the challenge and I love it because I get to show my readers firsthand that thrift stores can supply all of their style needs, whether you want classic garments or trendy gear. My readers are also getting in on the challenge and tagging their pics with #ThriftyThreads365 so it’s also fostering a sense of community. Thrift shopping is trendy for some people, but for others like myself, it’s a lifestyle.
HW: What’s your favorite thrift shopping tip?
PJW: I believe in having a thrift uniform while shopping. That means keeping it comfortable and casual. A sky high heel, oversized purse or restrictive clothes can really hamper your shopping experience. Instead, I opt for a small crossbody bag so both of my hands are free to grab things off the racks or in bins. Flats are comfortable and make trying shoes on easy. I also love a fitted shirt and leggings or skinny jeans so I can try clothes on easily and quickly at Buy the Bag. This gives me an accurate idea of how well something will fit.
HW: Why do you think folks are so drawn to thrift shopping?
PJW: Besides the affordability, I think people are really seeking one of a kind pieces that fast fashion retailers can’t really provide. Style is all about individuality and thrift stores are the perfect way for people to find unique threads but also be a bit more adventurous with their style choices. Since everything is so affordable, you’re more inclined to try something new as step out of your comfort zone. Also, the thrill of the hunt is another draw. There’s a serious high you get when you find a major thrift store score.
HW: This month, we’re hosting a contest on Instagram where @housingworks followers share their best thrifted finds with us for a chance to win one of 5 $100 gift cards What’s your fave find?
PJW: I’ve had a few stellar thrifted finds from Housing Works, but my most recent one is a pair of Balenciaga booties. They’re a lace up heeled oxford that have a classic menswear feel but also hits on so many trends. I immediately grabbed the shoes when I saw them in the bin at Buy the Bag and realizing they were Balenciaga was icing on the cake.
HW: On April 26, you’re partnering with our Buy the Bag shop on a special event. Tell us about that:
PJW: I can’t wait for next month’s Ready, Set, Thrift! event with Housing Works. We’ll have drinks, light bites, music and of course some thrifting. In between shopping we’ll also have fun games (including a scavenger hunt!) and auctions of amazing pieces. I’m always down to combine fashion, fun and philanthropy.
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