I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve got “champagne taste on a beer budget”, i.e. my heart just yearns for things it can’t pay for. I wrote a post about secondhand shopping recently, in which I mentioned how scouring thrift shops and online marketplaces for preloved designer items has been a recent obsession of mine. SO this, my friends, is my way of obtaining beautiful pieces from designers I love but couldn’t otherwise afford!
Here are a few of my best buys:
1. Cooper dress
Trelise Cooper is one of the most prominent (and one of my fave) designers in New Zealand. I had never cared very much for New Zealand designers before, but when I moved up to Auckland last March I suddenly found that I identified very much with the aesthetics of brands like Trelise Cooper + its sister labels Cooper and Coop, Karen Walker, Stolen Girlfriends Club, and World. Shortly after this realisation, I had re-discovered the NZ online auction site TradeMe. I had fond memories of this website; for example, an intense bid-war over a large wooden dining set to go in the totally unfurnished house we were renting when my family and I first moved to Wellington is 2008.
Fast-forward to nearly a decade later and I’m back on this website to get a taste of Kiwi high fashion on a beer budget, just because I was so curious about these brands and wanted to be somehow more involved with the NZ fashion industry. I was so addicted at first, checking out hundreds of listings before I came across this gem of a dress. I was surprised to find the original dress STILL ON the Trelise Cooper website on sale for $200 (originally $400) at the same time this auction for the exact same dress was starting at $40. By the end of the auction, I ended up paying $80 but that was still a really good price.
I wore it the day after it arrived in the mail, and I got so so many compliments! The best one was when I was crossing Queen St. while another girl was crossing from the opposite side, and as we intersected she looked at me and said, “Awesome outfit.” Nothing like compliments from strangers on the street to make you feel like you’ve successfully achieved a “champagne taste” look without the “champagne taste” price tag!
I styled it with fishnet tights, a distressed denim vest (not pictured), patent leather ankle boots, and a chunky Karen Walker necklace that says “Runaway” which I also got off TradeMe after another super intense but satisfyingly triumphant bid war.
2. Stolen Girlfriends Club dress
I saw this STG dress listed on TradeMe for $2.50 and I didn’t particularly like it but I thought, that is an insanely good price for a STG item so I might as well give it a shot. The next day I saw the exact same dress at high-end department store Smith+Caughey’s selling for $100 on sale from $200. The dress still seemed so-so to me, but I loved how nice the cotton felt. Then came the day the auction was closing, I was on the bus to uni and used my cell data to constantly refresh the page until I had the last bid of $11. I know I said I didn’t like it at first, but as soon as I got it in the mail I wore it for the next two days in a row hahaha.
In the photos above, I just took inspo from the STG lookbook images and styled it with over-the-knee boots and a touch of fishnet as well. I added in a distressed denim Zara jacket, a vintage cross necklace, and my school bag that I just now realised looks kinda hideous in photos lol. pls excuse that and my “I had 5 hours of sleep and attended a 9am lecture” hair and face.
3. Etre Cecile t-shirt
This purchase was also very cool because I had just been vehemently browsing sites like Shopbop and The Outnet upon discovery of Yasmin Sewell’s Parisian-inspired designer tshirt brand, Etre Cecile. I really wanted to own something from this brand but the design I really wanted was only on a site that didn’t ship here, and the designs on the other more accessible sites weren’t calling to me enough to justify the price point. Later on in the week, as I was making my usual rounds at Tatty’s High St. I was checking the rack at the very front of the store (which is where they keep all the cheapest stuff) and came across an Etre Cecile shirt in great condition selling for a discounted price of $11?????!! I had guessed that this was only because Etre Cecile isn’t a mainstream brand so the people at Tatty’s had never heard of it and didn’t realise how much it was actually worth haha.
I love the feeling when I wear this shirt simply because its so nice knowing that it’s something of true quality, especially after all the years of wearing Forever 21 graphic tees (which i tbh still love but this was a nice step-up). It also just makes wearing a casual tshirt feel more fashionable. I styled it with the same distressed denim Zara jacket, a black midi dress underneath, and black and white woven leather Zara ankle boots. Excuse the dingy uni bathroom 😂 although I must say I love the colour of those tiles.
Moreover the satisfaction of getting a high-end item at a fraction of the price and looking just as good, searching/finding/bidding on/buying preloved designer is honestly so fun for me. I highly recommend everyone who has “champagne taste on a beer budget” like I do to give it a shot!