By Stacey Gualandi
You know the expression “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure”? Well, no one knows that better than Shauna Thomas. She calls herself “The Flea Market Fashionista” and for good reason. This Hollywood TV producer-turned-vintage vixen has a knack for picking out the gems from the junk at your local flea market.
“I call it finding style in a pile. I’m not looking for second-hand clothing that never had value to begin with. I’m looking for true vintage clothing, and you can spot the true vintage booths from a mile away.”
Shauna has always had an eye for style. Whether she’s wearing a simple piece of antique jewelry, or an entire ensemble of funky fashion finds, she gets compliments on a daily basis. She says she “likes to be offbeat and unique and not look like everyone else. I always wear some kind of vintage piece. That’s when I feel most comfortable.”
And she doesn’t have to spend a lot to look like a million bucks. She calls it “guilt-free shopping. At flea markets, you feel like you get a bargain. At vintage stores you pay for mark-up. Plus it’s more fun this way.”
She credits her grandparents with her passion for fashion. At six-years-old, they would take her to antique stores, flea markets, and estate sales where they would buy items and resell them. Her 84-year-old grandmother to this day still teaches her Pendleton from Prada. “She was a fashionista before the word ever existed,” says Shauna.
Shauna now helps women and men navigate the flea market maze. Her friend Chandra got a Trina Turk 2-piece suit for $25. In the stores now? Over $400. She found another outfit equally inexpensive. A vintage top from India, vintage belt and buckle set her back only $55.
Shauna’s mission is to aid all vintage virgins with her own personal “shop-overs”. So I decided to take my casual, no-style self to Melrose Trading Post in Los Angeles to unlock my inner fashionista.
After one look at my tired shirt, uggs, and jean purse, we both knew I was in desperate need of a shop-over.
Her first comment: “…pockets belong on your butt, not your bag!” For me, staring at rows and rows of booths, I felt very intimidated.
Where to begin? Shauna says that’s normal, but you just have to know what to look for. That’s where she comes in. And she also gave me some tricks of the trade:
– Always check out the label and fabric first. “Even if I don’t like something, I always buy for the fabric.”
– Always wear a fanny pack. Its easier to shop and you can carry more bags!
– Always dress down. If you look like you have money, its harder to haggle on prices.
– And always look over the entire booth. You might save by buying more than one item.
Shauna says pieces don’t have to go together. “You can incorporate them into your wardrobe and mix and match and just be casually cool.”
And lastly, she says “revamp to vamp. You can always buy different pieces and create something new with them.”
So how did I do?
Owl Necklace: $20, saved $10
Boots: $40, saved $20
Fur Vest: $55, saved $25
My experience: Priceless! Shauna says I paid $225 and saved $55.
The Flea Market Fashionista is now taking sewing lessons, is fielding offers for a television show, and writes monthly columns for two vintage websites: todaysvintage.com and collectorsweekly.com. Shauna says she loves spreading the joy of vintage shopping without spending thousands of dollars.
“It’s all about starting to build a wardrobe with items that you will keep and items that will last another 20 years.” Now that’s what I call vintage advice!
For the location of flea markets across the country, Shauna recommends checking out keysfleamarket.com.