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How to turn your fast fashion purchases in to a luxury wardrobe?

When I set out to write the first-ever guidebook solely dedicated to second-hand shopping in Paris and help women build their wardrobes and style with second-hand fashion - I found myself at an expat-entrepreneur meet-up with women looking for leads and inspiration.

After a few introductions - it was my turn to give my spiel. I started with, "...everything I'm wearing today is second-hand, the Diane Von Furstenberg (DVF) dress, Prada boots, and Sandro coat. I'm a stylist, and I take women second-hand shopping." From the intrigued looks - I could feel the energy that women wanted to know more.

Then, one woman spoke up and asked, "How do I go from my Uniqlo and Zara clothes to what you're wearing?" From the chuckling in the room - I knew a lot of women felt this way. I knew she didn't want my exact outfit, but I knew what she was trying to say because - I once was in her shoes.

So how do you transition your closet from fast fashion, €59,99 dresses and labels that have no value to better-made clothes without the cash?

Do you need to start over? Do you need a lot of money? As much as I'd like to have the best-kept secret to a fabulous closet - there's no magic pill. The bottom line - sweet darling - is discipline. Yep, that's it—good old fashioned discipline. And a new way of thinking about clothes purchases.

So, let's tackle discipline first. Like anything you want to accomplish in life; losing 5 kilos or saving for a big purchase - you were able to achieve these things by discipline. You can get what you want by either white-knuckling your way through your transition, ad-hocking along the way, or make a real-life plan.

Most women don't have a plan for their wardrobe, style, or clothes purchases. We were never taught the value in this little but significant practice that can make one of the biggest impacts on us emotionally and financially.

Instead, we were taught to consume and keep up with appearances, seasons, and big fashion companies' latest trends. We were taught that €59,99 for a dress that looks like a designer runway creation is a smart purchase, and if we bought two and got the third one free, then jackpot. It was like winning the fashion lottery. Over time, women either get off this hamster wheel fashion companies created; some stop putting thought into their style altogether, and others continue the cycle their entire lives. A few of us increase the quality of their clothes and decrease the number of purchases.

Discipline is when you make a promise to yourself and keep it. It's when you make a plan, set a goal, and accomplish it. It's training, gaining knowledge, and setting intentions. Yes, we're still talking about your clothes and closet.

Ladies - What is your goal for your style and closet? What is it you truly value in your wardrobe? How do you envision yourself every day? What handbag do you desire? The answers will set you on a path to elevate from fast fashion to luxury so you can get dressed with joy every-single-day. Forget price points and labels. If it's expensive, then it may take you a little longer. If it's your desire and you will value it, it will remind you every day when it hangs from your shoulder that you worked for it!

The second part of this equation to transition from fast fashion to luxury is a new way of thinking. A CEO once told me - "Leticia, as soon as you drive that new car off the lot - it loses value." Well, the same is true for your clothes. As soon as you rip off the tag (even without wearing), the item's value is worth 50-80% less than retail. And if you're buying fast fashion or brands that are not recognized - the net worth drops dramatically. You can't give this stuff away, and selling your second-hand €60 Zara dress may net you about €7 on an online platform like Vinted after commissions and your time.

So why should you start buying second-hand, and why emphasize luxury? Second-hand shopping is no longer what you may have experienced in the past; long-forgotten clothes, crammed on racks with a particular smell that reminds you of your great-aunt (fill in the name). The labels carried are those you find at places like Galleries Lafayette and Le Bon Marché. I purchased a second-hand Maje dress last week for a client, paying €65 that would retail for €250 at the boutique. When she gets tired of wearing this dress (let's face it - we're women, we like new things and variety), she can re-sell the garment back to the shop and recoup at least ½ of her investment. Therefore, the actual cost of wearing a better-designed dress is only €32. At the same time - if she purchased a €60 new Zara dress - no consignment store in Paris will accept it, and if she sold it on her own, she would net about €7. Comparing the two purchases, you now have €32 of cash in hand to invest in another article for your wardrobe versus €7 if you were lucky enough to unload the item. Usually, it's not the case, and you're stuck with fast fashion brands you no longer wear. You shove the garment in the back of the closet (or land-fill via charity), reminding you of all the clothes you don't love.

When I promote second-hand luxury, I'm hesitant to use the word luxury because our brains automatically think of über-expensive brands like Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Celine, and Hermès. Yes, these brands are expensive, even at second-hand prices. I eventually get my clients into these designs after a year or two of discipline in her closet. Luxury is not about labels. It's a good fit, extra details, design creation, and fabric content. Do you know the feeling of wearing good quality cashmere on a cold day or a silk dress in the height of summer? How about a pair of pants that fit incredibly well - you're not pulling them up and out of your crotch like a 10-year-old boy after all-day meetings? Let's learn how we can transform our closets from meaningless cast-offs to a luxurious vault with only the clothes we love and have value. It's a new way of thinking, conscious of the type of clothes you buy and where you buy them from.

Leticia's Starter Tips:

  • Envision your style. Use Pinterest to create your style vision or follow a style-icon you admire. For me, it's Lauren Santo Domingo. When I shop, I ask myself - Would Lauren wear this?

  • Make a plan for your closet and style.

  • Set goals and track your progress.

  • Explore second-hand shops in Paris.

  • Subscribe to one second-hand platform and start curating your favorite pieces.

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