Recently we’ve stepped into local closets to get a fresh view of just how personal style is developed. This time around, featuring the lovely Ms. Robyn, we learn not only how to style, but how to thrift like a pro.

Photography by Richard Om

My mom, my fashion hero, instilled the joys of thrifting in me at a very young age. Somehow, with very little, my mom has always been the most stylish person I know. Most of her clothing is thrifted but you’d never guess. It’s much more likely that you’d ask yourself where this beautiful woman gets her fabulous wardrobe. She carries herself with a certain elegance, poise, and confidence; qualities that money just can’t buy.

I was raised in a little country town called Sunset Beach on North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii. If Hawaii isn’t the most expensive place to live, it is certainly at the top of the list. Long story short, my interracial parents simply wanted my sister and me to grow up in a place where our race wouldn’t be an issue or as means for others to treat us badly or as if we were different. We moved from a town in Arizona where our ethnicity was an issue for others. My parents didn’t want us to be forced to experience that kind of hate in our formative years. They made the sacrifices that were necessary to raise us in paradise on a car salesman’s salary. “We have little money, but we’re rich in love,” they’d say. They were right.

Buying second-hand clothing was a necessity, but it never felt that way. Mom would take us on awesome treasure hunts. I’d leave thrift stores feeling beautiful. “It’s not about what’s on the outside. It’s the inside that matters,” she’d say. Mom had a set of fashion rules. In turn, I did too.

Fashion Rules

1. YOU DO YOU. There are no rules in fashion. There’s only one you. You are special. You are beautiful. Treat yourself accordingly.

regardless of what everyone else is wearing.

3. BUY THINGS MADE WITH QUALITY AND CARE. Whether you’re buying clothes second hand or new, choose quality always.

4. STAY AWAY FROM FAST FASHION, i.e., clothing stores that sell clothes so cheaply, it’s hard to believe that a human actually made it. A human did make it. People should be paid fairly for their work whether here in the US or overseas.

I live by these rules, and I always shop with them in mind. Most of my clothes were made decades ago but are still completely wearable. The reality is that most things were made with more quality and more care back in the day. There are a few exceptions, but the cost is reflected in the quality.

Thanks to my parents and my mom in particular, I was raised to embrace my individuality, and thrifting simply supports my cause. It’s pretty unlikely that someone walking down the street will be wearing exactly what I’m wearing. Plus, every time you shop at a thrift store, you’re doing something good for the community (because a bulk of the proceeds go to charity) and good for the planet. You’re doing your part to keep perfectly good things out of landfills.

     In time, I’ve come up with my own expanded list of thrifting rules that I follow religiously.