8 Ideas for Transforming Nearly Unwearable Thrift Store Finds Into Stylish Pieces

8 Ideas for Transforming Nearly Unwearable Thrift Store Finds Into Stylish Pieces

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Marlen Komar
Feb 25, 2017
(Image credit: Marlen Komar)

Thrift stores carry a lot of, eh, "interesting" pieces on their racks. Bedazzled evening dresses from the '80s rub shoulders with floral sundresses from the grunge era; sweater vests mingle with mom jeans, and Peter Pan collars throw you back into a time where Twiggy ruled the magazine stands. While most of these items sound like things you would skip right over, I'm here to change your mind and help you see that they might actually have some stellar styling potential, if only you kept an open mind. Ahead are 10 tips on how to easily transform kitsch (or just sort of awful) thrift store finds into stylish, wearable pieces. Sometimes a small tweak can make a world of difference.

(Image credit: Marlen Komar)

Snip off those sleeves

Just because a shirt or dress is rockin' a dated sleeve doesn't mean it has to stick around. Look past those Dynasty-era shoulder pads and you can easily make a frumpy piece a lot more modern. Take this denim dress for example— it originally came with wrist-skimming sleeves that gave me a Oregon Trail feel. Off they went and I had a denim dress that could just as easily be found in Madewell as it could in Goodwill.

(Image credit: Marlen Komar)

The long and short of it

Do you hate the bottom of a dress, but find that the top can work perfectly with your style? Or do you feel like a certain print or color is too busy when it's a frock, but could work if it were just a blouse? Don't be afraid to transform things by flipping a full dress into a shirt. It's as easy as layering a skirt over the piece or taking a needle and thread to it for a drastic hem job.

(Image credit: Marlen Komar)

Skirt the issue

No matter how much you love vintage, sometimes certain details are just deal breakers. Say you pick out a dress and it has sequins across its collar you can do without. Or it has a dated neckline or Courtney Cox circa-'90s spaghetti straps. If you see something off with a dress but love the bottom, all is not lost. You can easily turn it into a skirt by either popping a sweater, crop top, or shirt over it, or getting handy with a sewing machine and easily adding a waistline.

(P.S. To get a "tucked in" look, I cinched a belt over my dress and then tucked a corner of my sweater into it.)