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Today, the 35-year-old founder and producer of Vancouver's Eco Fashion Week believes that her passion for second-hand fashion is a way of life that more and more people should adopt. Whether you're just feeling out the vintage lifestyle or you're an avid bargain buyer, Laroche shares some great tips for all.
1. Take baby steps: If the size of stores like Value Village and Salvation Army scare you, Laroche suggests starting small. ''Go to places where someone else has done the pickup for you,'' she suggests, such as local designers who have vintage sections in their shops. It's also a good way for you to train your eye for when you're ready to move on to something bigger, she explains.
2. Accessorize: Searching through clothing racks may be overwhelming, so start with bags and jewelry at first. ''This is also a good trick for people who are unsure about wearing someone else's clothes,'' says Laroche.
3. Dress smart: It's important to be comfortable when shopping for second-hand clothing. Laroche usually wears leggings, a tight tank top and shoes that are easy to remove: ''I call it my vintage outfit,'' she says.
4. Be open-minded: You can't go into Value Village looking for something specific or you'll just get discouraged. It's rare that someone has donated the exact item that you want, says Laroche. ''Go in with an open mind and let the clothes find you instead,'' she suggests.
5. To the cart: Laroche always makes sure to grab a big shopping cart to hold all of her finds. ''When I'm attracted to a piece, but I don't know if I like it, I put it in the cart anyway,'' she says. Sometimes she ends up at the fitting room with a cart full of clothes, but only leaves with five pieces. So during your first round of the store pick up anything that catches your eye.6. Map it out: It's important to go through the entire store when shopping second hand, so Laroche suggests mapping out a route: ''I start mostly with accessories, like shoes and scarves, and then move on to dresses and sweaters,'' she says.And she never misses the men's section. ''You need to remember these stores mix clothes up since it's about products, not fashion, for them,'' she explains. A men's small cashmere sweater might be the perfect look on a woman!
7. Stay awhile: Make sure you've scheduled enough time to spend looking around a Value Village or Salvation Army. ''Sometimes I stay two to three hours when I really want to see what's there,'' says Laroche. Once you've gotten into a routine and feel comfortable with all of the tips, popping in for 30 minutes just to look at shoes becomes a lot easier, advises Laroche.
Still not convinced? Then check out her recent favourite find:
Laroche was jumping up and down when she came across a vintage Christian Dior purse at her local Value Village.
''For someone who doesn't know fashion, the purse looks very old and a bit damaged,'' she explains. But Laroche knew to look inside, where the Christian Dior brand was printed in the 1970s, and saw that it was made in France. And how much did this couture artifact set her back? A mere $6!
Whether you're hoping to stumble upon Grandma's lost Chanel or you're just looking for a less expensive solution to updating your wardrobe, second-hand shopping is as simple as Laroche's seven tips to vintage shopping. Just put on your ''vintage outfit,'' clear a few hours from your day and step into that store with an open mind and an empty cart!