This week, I got to sit down with the first fashion spotlight of the fall semester, senior, Mary Zakheim who some may know as a thrift-ordinaire. We got the chance to talk about classy grandmas, the parallel in over-thrifting and overfishing, and her passion behind her shopping style. Watch out though…she may take your grandpa’s style (and his hand-me-downs). Actually though.
Sarah Oliva: Can you describe your usual everyday style/look?
Mary Zakheim: I used to call my style reformed grandma…because grandmas—any old women—are allowed to do whatever the f@*$ they want! They have the confidence and life experience to just be like: I’ve gotten to this age, I’ve gotten to this point in my life where I will dress however I please!
SO: …and how would your friends describe your style?
MZ: My friends would describe my style as “WTF?!”. They always like to question what I put on. But I take pride in it. I think it’s like a…compliment (laughs).
SO: Walk me through the outfit you are wearing now.
MZ: Actually my whole outfit is thrifted:
Shoes: Vintage Nine West platforms that I got from Salvation Army
Sweater & Collared shirt: Are from an Estate Sale. I literally took these out this lady’s closet…apparently she was Spokane’s first woman physician!
SO: What key piece could you not live without?
MZ: For my go-to, I throw on a pair of skinny jeans and a dress over them ‘cause it can look good just running out the door; not much thought goes into it. It’s hard ‘cause [my key piece] changes every season. Last year, I was really into this tunic dress…my friend described it as a burlap sack (laughs) but I really liked wearing it ‘cause I felt like it went with everything! Right now, these platforms. It’s so weird that it makes every outfit seem cooler than it would be without them.
SO: Where is your favorite place to shop?
MZ: For new stuff, I like Nordstrom Rack ‘cause it’s always like, you can’t beat clearance off of clearance. [But usually] I just like thriftin’ around. You have to switch off the thrift stores because once you over-thrift, it’s like overfishing. I hope this doesn’t come off as super dumb.
SO: …not at all! Now I’ll keep that in mind whenever I’m out thrifting, “save the fish”! Do you ever DIY after thrifting?
MZ: I’ll try to make crop tops and really easy stuff, but I can’t do any of the sewing. It’s on the bucket list of things to teach myself. Scissors are my only tool and I’m not even that good at using them.
SO: What is your favorite thrift shop in Spokane?
MZ: Good Will if you’re looking for recognizable name brands… I feel like they have the best ‘cause that’s the go to in people’s minds when they give away clothes. The new thrift store, The Arc of Spokane—they have good stuff too but it’s a little over priced. But it has good stuff ‘cause it’s new. This weekend is 50% off store-wide! I’m on their e-mail list. V.I.T. (Very Important Thrifter).
SO: Since it seems like you are an experienced thrifter (or what you could call thrifty + extraordinaire…thrift-ordinaire), do you have any tips for us rookies?
MZ: My friends will be like, “you’re a good thrifter!”, so I’ll take them along, and I feel like the number one thing you need to learn [is] you have to have a lot of patience. You have to look at every piece of clothing and you have to be willing to sift through all the crap to find that one diamond in the rough (ironically).
SO: …so it teaches you the virtue of patience.
MZ: It really does…you have to be willing to sit back and check out what’s in front of you, one piece at a time.
Oh, this is another thrifting tip: grab everything you’re attracted to and try it all on. The things you really like [on hanger] you might not like on yourself but the things that you’re like “oh ill just pick this up just because”…or the things you weren’t sure about end up being your favorite pieces sometimes. And sometimes you hate everything! And that’s MY walk of shame.
SO: How did you get into thrifting?
MZ: I started thrifting when I was in high school because my friend’s mom had always thrifted with her so we just started thrifting all the time. I didn’t really think about it as a higher cause connected with it. But when I took my fashion marketing and merchandising class (in London last semester) and found out that [some] clothes are marked up 10-times than what the actual cost is (at stores like Nordstrom, H&M, Forever 21, Zara, etc.), I kind of thought about thrifting—or even getting the sale at Nordstrom Rack—it’s kind of like a stick it to the man. For example, if something costs $5 then they’re going to sell it to us for $50. Usually, that clearance-on-clearance is 1 cent above so you’re not really giving them a profit.
One of my friends in London is a fashion major and she’s really concerned with it so we talked about it here about how we can solve this problem of overconsumption. She also was studying thrift stores and how we give too much to thrift stores, [and in turn] how they give there [extra donations] to various countries in Africa. Their economies are being de-stabilized from really cheap clothing that Good Will and Salvation Army are giving to them; it sounds like a good thing but it makes them [various African countries] co-dependent and it doesn’t help them start their own local business when they have so much talent and a really good fashion sense of their own.
SO: What or who is your fashion inspiration/idol?
MZ: I like to take the simplicity and classiness of Audrey Hepburn kind of characters and kind of mix it up with a modern/edgy/grungy spin on in.
SO: …Hence the “WTF!?”! If you could choose any trend to make a comeback on campus this fall, what would it be?
MZ: Right now I’m really into high-waisted skirts that go mid-calf. For me it’s the perfect fit for my body type. I think it looks good on everyone and it’s classy! But if you pair it with a really cool top you get the classy-edgy-AWESOME!
SO: NY Fashion week or Portland Fashion week?!
MZ: New York. I’ve been watching a lot of Sex In The City lately, so I’ve been influenced by east coast 90’s style.
Thanks for sitting down and talking with GU Style Spotlight, Mary! If you are a fashionista on campus…trend-setter… trend-follower…anyone who takes a liking to what they put on when they wake up in the morning…or know of anyone who would be interested in talking fashion with us, we invite you to reach out to the GUBB staff and we would love to sit down with you!