Styling Session with the Thrifty Yinzer

I first became aware of Christen a.k.a the "Thrifty Yinzer" when her wedding was profiled on Burgh Brides.  Her wedding dress was vintage, she planned the whole thing in two months...oh and let's just say she didn't go into debt in order to have a beautiful and memorable wedding day.  When I met up with her last week, she told me how she walked into a floral shop a week before her wedding and told them she needed flowers.  When they asked when the wedding was, she replied "next weekend" and you could basically hear a pin drop.  Everything worked out though and Christen had a gorgeous bouquet on her wedding day!  

I met Christen in person for the first time at our last Style Social event.  Her personality matched perfectly with what I imagined from her Burgh Brides profile.  She's extremely warm, out-going, and really knowledgeable when it comes to fashion and quality brands.  When I found out that she does styling sessions for clients at local Good Wills and Thrift Stores, I was beyond intrigued and absolutely had to tag along!  I e-mailed Christen and she and her client graciously let me come along to one of the styling sessions and snap a few photos.  Read on to learn about the styling process and how you can set up your own one-on-one session!

For our styling session, I met Christen at the Goodwill on Banksville Road where she was already diving into the racks pulling items for her client, Alyssa.  When you first walk into a Goodwill, it can be a bit overwhelming.  However, I quickly noted that merchandise is laid out by item and then broken down by size - pretty easy.  

So here's the really cool part of what Christen does.  Before she meets with a client, she sends them a pre-shop questionnaire.  The questionnaire gathers basic information such as pant and top size, but also dives deeper by asking what type of items the client is looking for (work, play, etc.) and there's even a great little graphic with various body types to select from!  Doing that bit of homework definitely pays off because Christen pulled a ton of items that were exactly what Alyssa had in mind!

A great tip that Christen filled me in on - each day will be a different "color day" at a Goodwill.  So the day we were there, it was red.  So anything with a red tag, was 50% off!

Once Christen pulls all the items, she arranges them on a rolling rack by category - bottoms, dresses, tops, outerwear, etc.  

Once Alyssa arrived, it was time to start trying on clothes!!  And there was a lot to try on.  Along the way, Christen gave continual feedback and styling tips.  She discussed everything from color (we loved Alyssa in jewel tones) to silhouette (Christen added a belt to the dress below to cinch the waist).  Christen doesn't want you to just leave with a bunch of random clothes.  She works with you to ensure the clothes are right for your body type and your lifestyle and that the items can easily be paired with others to make complete outfits.

A few of my favorite finds from the day were these adorable embellished sweaters and these two awesome jackets!  The jacket in the front below was from the Limited and was priced at $12.99!!  Plus, I think that red tag meant it was 1/2 off that night!

Alyssa was so wonderful for allowing me to tag along and snap pictures of her all night!  We all know how awful trying clothes on can be, but Alyssa was a great sport about it!  I am not kidding when I say that everything this girl tried on looked good on her.  I think we maybe had three things in the "no" pile and all the rest were strong "yeses."

Alyssa was looking for some work options - we loved the above blouse on her and the black and white polka dot top is perfect for casual office attire.  She also wanted to add more color into her wardrobe.  We loved her in jewel tones and these pink pants were fun, but still totally office appropriate!  The navy dress will be great for a summer happy hour and perfect for work paired with a blazer and heels!

After our fun try-on session, Alyssa narrowed her selections and was ready to check out.  Ready for her grand total?!

Alyssa walked away with pants, shorts, dresses, skirts, casual tops, blouses, and sweaters.  For 32 items...drumroll please...Alyssa's grand total was $125!  Yes folks, that averages about $3.90 an item - less than your morning latte.

Overall, this was an awesome and eye opening experience!  I am not kidding that this past weekend, I hit up both Wear Woof in the North Hills and the Goodwill on McKnight just to see if I could score the same deals Christen was able to find.  I honestly had such a blast and thank you again to Christen and Alyssa for allowing me to tag along!  If you are interested in Christen's styling service, check out the Thrifty Yinzer and click the "Thrifty Concierge" link to get started!  I promise you won't be disappointed!

1.       What made you begin doing personal styling sessions at thrift shops?  Hmm, I’d say I got the idea from people constantly asking “Can I go shopping with you?” and “where do you find these deals?”.  Plus, I know it works in other markets with thrift stores having their own personal shoppers!

2.      What do you think is the biggest misconception about thrift store shopping?  That there are no designer brands, and it is just people’s junk. Also, I think a lot of people feel that the stores themselves are dirty. This is nothing a load of laundry can’t fix!!

3.      What are your favorite spots around the city to score great deals?  WearWoof on McKnight, they are a resale shop that hand picks designer labels, and their proceeds from the store goes to local animal rescues! In fact, when you donate clothes there, you actually can choose where the proceeds from your clothing goes! I donate AND shop at this one.  My second favorite would be various Goodwills in the region: Banksville Road, Carnegie, Perry Highway in Wexford, McKnight Road.  Also, Community Thrift in Crafton/Greentree on Noblestown road is a really amazing one!  I love being able to shop not-for-profit stores where I know the proceeds are helping the community.

4.      What’s been the biggest deal you’ve snagged?  Hmmm… this is tough! In terms of amazing deals on items that I get continuous use out of: it’s a tie between my long plum-colored stadium wool Jcrew coat that I found at Plato’s Closet for $18, and the Gucci barrel mini-tote that I scored at a local consignment shop while on vacation for $45. Both are staples in my wardrobe!

5.      Is there a secret to successful thrifting or is it all about luck?  The secret, that isn’t even a secret, is that it just takes time. Walking into a goodwill is not at all like walking into the mall. You’re not going to be able to look at 4 things on a rack and find the exact size and item you are looking for. It’s about scouring every single rack and looking at every item. I pay attention to labels and materials. If a purse feels like leather on initial inspection, I’ll probably pull it down to take a closer look. If it feels fake, I move on. No high-end designer would use pleather, and I wouldn’t personally waste my time on something not name brand, at least at the thrift store. I go through racks inspecting every garment. It gets easy after a while… I am familiar with what certain high end labels look like, and I like to think I know the difference between cashmere and polyester by now!

6.      How can prospective clients reach you if they are interested in their own personal styling session?  They can email me at, or visit my blog and fill out my mini questionnaire on the tab “the thrifty concierge.” I will contact them with my available times an dates.