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The Art of Thrifting with Lisa Ann Schraffa Santin

by Joey Phoenix

For those in the know, thrifting is one of the BEST ways to achieve a wardrobe that’s unique to your style and personality. The ability to change out pieces for the season or on a whim without making too big of a dent in your wallet is one of the many boons secondhand shopping has to offer.

Stylist Lisa Ann Schraffa Santin is here to offer more insider tips on the art of thrifting, giving some secrets to those who are brand new to the fun or are seasoned thrifters.

Hot Tip: Scroll to the bottom to see the list of the best North Shore secondhand, thrift, and consignment shops that we’ve found so far.

Thrifting 101 with Lisa Ann Schraffa Santin

Lisa Ann Schraffa Santin is a stylist, mentor, educator, speaker, and wardrobe wizard based on Boston’s North Shore. She works with her clients individually to empower them to find their personal, signature style, because what you wear has an impact on not just how you feel, but how you move through the world. 

She’s also the host of the podcast – the Wardrobe Muse – where she interviews other great North Shore entrepreneurs who share Lisa Ann’s passion and have worked with her on a number of local projects. You can learn more about about Lisa’s work or hire her for your next wardrobe makeover at www.lasswardrobe.com.

She joins Joey Phoenix to talk about the art of thrifting!

Joey: So, Lisa Ann, why should we be thrifting?

Lisa Ann: I love thrifting. Because that secondary market allows us to keep things circular. So there’s not always creating more and more and more.

Joey: So, let’s say someone has only bought new for their entire life? How would you recommend they break into the fine art of thrifting?

Lisa Ann: I take my clients through this process of using Pinterest just because it’s free, and it’s easy to create 10-15 pins of what inspires them. So once you have sort of a visual, it’s easier to go out into the world and find it secondhand. You can have it on your phone as a reference when you’re in a thrift shop and instead of getting overwhelmed, you pull that up and you’ve got 10 or 15 images of something you’re trying to curate. I think we all need that sort of visual prompt for ourselves.

Joey: Do you feel like modern fashion trends reduce agency of style? Do you feel that choosing vintage, choosing consignment, choosing secondhand clothing opens up an avenue for people to create their own style apart from modern trends?

Lisa Ann: Absolutely. So it’s funny, I’m sort of the anti-fashion fashion person. [She Laughs] As a fashion and image consultant, part of what I’m trying to ask is: What is your unique style?

So, for example, Joey Phoenix has style that no one else has. I also have my own style. And so yes, I think when you use wearable art, and vintage, the combination of those things will allow you to really create your own look, but it takes time and effort. I work a lot with my clients on mindset because for many of them it’s so much easier to just roll through a mall and buy something off the rack. But that’s why so many people in America look exactly the same.

I was in Florence, Italy recently – which was an amazing privilege – and no two women in the street looked alike. They weren’t wearing high end designer clothing, they just know themselves. And they created personal style.

Joey: An absolute dream!

Lisa Ann: Vintage done right can do that.

Joey: I would love for you to talk a bit about the impact of choosing secondhand over fast fashion if you’d like to rant for a moment.

Lisa Ann: I’m often on my soapbox about this. [She laughs]. I watched a documentary a while ago called The True Cost. It is huge bummer to watch this movie because it is dealing with the building that collapsed in India that killed thousands of people. But I think we need that harsh reality as Americans. Fast Fashion is just a chase. I think we need to be jarred into that reality, especially now that the pandemic should be shifting us toward more sustainable practices in every aspect of our life.

Joey: I feel like some people might feel overwhelmed making this switch. And, obviously, doing what you do you’re here to help guide them through that process of being told what to wear to deciding for themselves what to wear. But for those who want to dip their toes into the waters of thrifting a little bit when they go to a new store, where should they begin?

Lisa Ann: Sometimes accessories is the best place to begin, it’s a little less size dependent. So a scarf or a piece of jewelry or even a shoe a bag. That way, they’re not feeling overwhelmed by trying on a lot of things. So dip your toe into the accessory pool first.

Joey: That makes a lot of sense. One of the questions that I hear people asking a lot is, is there a time of the week? Is there a season for thrifting that like you’ll have better chance to finding like real, magical pieces? Or is it just the more you do it, the better you’re going to get?

Lisa Ann: The more you do it, the better. Everyone is looking for the unicorn, but it’s really a labor of love. You have to pick a few pieces you really like. And you know, I wouldn’t say go in every week, but make it part of your rounds and your normal errand running because they do turn through a lot. You go to the post office in downtown Beverly and then right across the street is Beverly Bootstraps. When you’ve already parked, paid your meter, why not pop in and just do a quick look around?

Joey: What happens if you find a piece in a thrift store that is somehow imperfect, like the button missing or a clasp missing, or something doesn’t quite fit perfectly. Should you still buy that and put the effort to have it mended? Or is that just something that for a lot of people is just too difficult to access?

Lisa Ann: I think that’s about mindset too. Again, it can either feel really, really hard, or it can be realizing there’s many mending tutorials on YouTube.

So one way to dip into this whole thing, Joey, is get a bunch of friends together and do a clothing swap. Start with that energy, and then get a bunch of people together and do a mending night. So that you can teach each other how to do these things. You can also hire a local tailor or a dry cleaner to help with mending. If you don’t feel like you really want to learn how to do a really great edge or hem, hire somebody, they’re not that expensive.

But unless you’ve got fabric art chops maybe avoid things that are moth eaten. [She laughs]

Joey: That’s a good point!

As a final question, do you feel that thrifting is more low stakes, especially for those people who enjoy shifting their wardrobe a lot? A big thing I’ve heard you say in your work with me and others is that whatever doesn’t fit you or doesn’t serve you, get rid of it. And if someone spent hundreds of dollars on a piece, it’s harder to let go.

Lisa Ann: When I work with clients in their home one on one, 80% of their closet is not being utilized. And when I ask the Marie Kondo questions: Why are you keeping this? Is this sparking joy? And maybe there are five special pieces that we can put in an air tight bag for storage to look at sometimes.

But as you said, people hang out to things because they spent a lot of money on it when they first bought it. So I think it’s again, shifting the mind to release the things that don’t serve you well. And even though they’re great, put them into charity or put them into consignment, get it circulating, and open up your own energy to replace those items with new, maybe thrifted items that really serve you.

Joey: Fantastic! Any final thoughts on the fine art of thrifting?

Lisa Ann: Make it fun, go with friends as a group, make a day of it.

Joey: Where are your go-to thrift shops o nthe North Shore?

Lisa Ann: There’s a really fun one in Marblehead that all of the proceeds go back into the school system. It’s called Magic Hat. So I love when a thrift shop has that duality of purpose. Uncommon Threads in Lawrence is another one, you’re buying something, but all of the proceeds are feeding back into their program. That’s a great one. And then I really like Beverly Bootstraps and Lifebridge Thrift Shop, both really serve our community.

Joey: Thank you, Lisa!

Best Thrift and Consignment Shops North of Boston

There’s always staples like Saver’s, Goodwill, Poshmark, and DIY Clothing Swaps, but here are some of our favorite local small businesses which we highly recommend you check out for your next shopping spree.

Got a favorite secondhand or thrift shop not listed here? Send our editor an email at joeyphoenix@creativecollectivema.com


Creative North Shore is Operated and Curated by Creative Collective

Creative Collective is a group of economic development strategists, small business supporters, activation specialists, and believers in the importance of the creative workforce. We foster growth, sustainability, and scalability for small businesses, creative thinkers, organizations, entrepreneurs, and innovators.

Learn more and join Creative Collective at www.creativecollectivema.com/join

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