Dear Style Icon Robin Wallace, can you get any cooler? This fashion-writing Goodwill fan is not just inspirational in her approach to style challenges (short shorts? 80s powder blue? those jeans you wore in high school?), but in her approach to life. Her blog Thrifty Vintage Chic reveals life to be an adventure, with her son as one adorable partner in crime. A successful style blogger, journalist, single mother, and good-looking lady on the go, Robin is clearly a GoodwillNyNj Style Icon.
We got the chance to chat with Robin about her style, her thrifting, and her blog Thrifty Vintage Chic over the weekend. We hope you enjoy her creative insight and sense of adventure as much as we did!
How did you first get interested in thrifting? Were you raised to reimagine fashion as a youngin’ or did this passion come later in life?
Reimagining fashion — what a great concept. But I am not certain I was thrilled with that notion as a 10-year-old girl who wasn’t wearing the latest trends seeing that hand-me-downs aren’t often trendy. For our family of four girls, to go “shopping” was a special treat because it meant that the hand-me-down pile was depleted in some way and now we got to go to a thrift store to find the rest of our “back-to-school” clothes.
The challenge for me then was to take what I had in hand-me-downs, which was not so “cool,” and find something at the thrift store to make my wardrobe options “cool.” Those early years of fashion and styling, as tough as it was back then to fit-in and deal with, certainly gave me the amazing gift of now being able to make something out of nothing — and to see the possibility in every garment I come across.
How would you describe your own personal style?
Classically vintage and modernly chic with a hint of eccentric whimsy.
You mention your son in your post – have you brought him into the thrifting treasure hunt mindset?
Absolutely, but much of everything we do involves an “adventure-seeking” mindset, so naturally that entails finding hidden treasures in thrift stores. We shopped for his “back-to-school” missing elements in September, and it was such a beautiful thing to see him get excited and actively involved, asking: “Mama, I like these pants, can I try them on?”
What role does your budget play in shaping your own personal style?
Budget is huge – well, the budget itself is miniscule, which means the impact is the huge part! I am a single mother, and a journalist, so things are tight, extremely tight. Ultimately, it means that I make do with what I have.
Sure, I am aware of the latest trends, but it doesn’t mean anything to me in the sense that I don’t have the resources to immediately adapt to the whim of the fashion industry. Rather, I take what I have and find ways to make it relevant, or create my own unique look, which is something that never goes out of style – even in New York.
What does “style” mean to you?
People often get style and fashion confused. Fashion is bought off the mannequins or runways. Style is created by being an individual not needing a cue from fashion row. Style is about wearing what you want, being happy in what you are wearing and not needing a societal or seasonal trend to be comfortable in doing so.
Where do you find your fashion inspiration today?
My inspiration for fashion today is simply life – living it, breathing it, just being inspired by its textures, sounds and heartbeat is what really gets me fired up for throwing together new looks.
We know you’re based in New York, and so are we! What do you think defines New York style?
NY style – well, I believe most people (who visit or live here) know that not much surprises New Yorkers, because we have seen it all. So, if you see someone walking down the street in a Robin’s egg blue dress and purple tights, it’s not a big deal in comparison to doing so in another region. In short, NY style, to me, means being bold – not afraid of being fully expressed in what makes you happy in defining who you are in attire.
Do you think a New York or Northern New Jersey Goodwill would be any different than another city or state’s Goodwill? If so, how? If not, why not?
The thing I love about Goodwill is that no matter where I go in this country, when I walk into a store, I know what to expect. The signs, the layout, the prices, it is all very similar store-to-store. But stores’ merchandise does often reflect the lifestyle of the general geographic area of which it is located. So, in the greater NY and Northern NJ area, I do find a greater percentage of clothing or shoes to be on the cutting edge of fashion-forward.
We’re all for moving fashion forward as long as Robin’s boundless style inspiration leads the way. Don’t forget to check in next week for Part Two of our interview with the fantastic Ms. Wallace. In the meantime, let us know if you, too, shop at Goodwill. Come tell us on Twitter and Facebook – we love hearing from you!