Thrift Your Summer Persona
New season, old clothes.
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Every summer, I have an identity crisis. The spiral starts when I tuck away my sweaters and unearth my sundresses from under the bed. I start to try on the outfits that got me through the sweatiest, most social parts of the year and suddenly I’m sitting in front of my closet, realizing that I want an entirely new aesthetic.
Blame fast fashion putting trend cycles on hyperspeed or maybe my annual escape out of seasonal depression, but I’ve always felt like summer has the biggest potential for aesthetic rebirth. Last summer, my outfits fell into two main camps: Milanese lawyer on vacay in Lake Como (starched button ups, loose pinstripe pants, loafers with no socks) and 2009-era American Apparel model (tennis skirts, white Hanes tanks from the little boys section).
Honestly, I’m still feeling both of those aesthetics. But some of my high school-era sundresses and cut offs are due for a refresh. It’s tempting to head to [INSERT YOUR FAVORITE CHEAP E-COM SITE HERE] but for the sake of the planet and avoiding looking like everyone else at the bar, I’m heading to the thrift store.
This time on Amateur Hours, I spoke with vintage buyer Emma Zack, the founder and CEO of the size-inclusive vintage site Berriez. Read on for her tips on getting a good fit, personalizing trends, and the vintage retailers to shop online ASAP.
1. What trends are you seeing and buying for summer?
I try not to follow the ~trends~ per se and just buy what I like. I'm seeing a lot of crochet (my favorites are from The Series NY), longer cut denim shorts (love mine from House of Tame), mesh, flowy skirts (I just bought a reworked vintage one from Cassie's Shop). I try to only buy from small businesses and/or secondhand, so I see the trends I like and try to figure out which small biz has something similar!
2. How can I buy vintage online while making sure it'll fit me?
You mustmustmust know your measurements! There are so many great YouTube videos that'll teach you how to measure yourself, or you can check out this one we made for Berriez. For example, I know my hips measure about 52", so I look for pieces that are at least 26" across laying flat.
I also look at the fabric contents, and the shape of each item. I know that if an item is made out of 100% silk, for example, it'll be less forgiving than an item with a hint of spandex in it. I also know, for example, that a pencil cut/shift dress won't fit over my hips as well as something that's bias cut.
3. Is there anything you won't buy second hand?
Socks and underwear. Otherwise, I'm game for anything the thrift store throws at me.
4. How do you navigate shopping on massive sites like eBay?
I search via brands I like, or by size/fabric content (i.e., silk shirt size xxl). Be patient with eBay— you may have to search for hours, but you WILL find the gems.
5. What’s the best way to make vintage work for you?
I have my tailor on speed dial. Tailoring is necessary for vintage to fit best, especially when you like to buy men's pants and have a large hip-to-waist ratio.
I also think that it's totally fine to ease your way into buying vintage and learn about what vintage size fits you best / what fabrics you like best / what shapes fit you best, etc. It took me years for my wardrobe to be mostly vintage, and I'm still very particular about what vintage pieces I keep vs. what I sell. Although I'm a bit biased, I am very pro small online vintage shops, as they do all the curating for you (instead of going through racks and racks at the thrift or a bigger vintage shop).
EMMA ZACK’S RECS:
My Favorite Online Secondhand Shops
Selfishly, I seriously debated including my favorites. But in the interest of fairness, competition, and supporting small business, here’s a hit list of thrift/vintage/upcycling favorites: Maj Kiosk, Official Rebrand, Thriftwares, I Am That Shop , Persephone Vintage, Farmer Jawns.
A few miscellaneous endorsements:
The only thing getting me out of bed: Coconut cold brew.
Smooth brain listening: My no thoughts, only dancing playlist.
Stay Cool This Summer With Vibrant, Floral, Easy-to-Make Granita (Bon Appetit). I developed a recipe for hibiscus granita, the low-effort high-impact dessert your summer deserves.
The Real Lives of Instagram Cakes (Bon Appetit). I wrote about how unconventional cakes aren’t just an Instagram trend—they’re being made and consumed offline.
Finally, the second print run of Sexy Cake is out now. There’s a limited supply and we aren’t planning on printing more copies after this one, so get it now! And sign up for Cake Zine’s newsletter to receive the call for pitches and more information about Issue 2.