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Styling Your Party with Thrifty Finds with Sarah Pavia, Second Look Styling

When planning a party, most of us consider the following: guest count, location, and of course – the theme.  Sarah Pavia of Second Look Styling loves a good theme, and her trademark is planning events and décor mostly from her finds at thrift stores. Weddings, baby showers, birthday parties – you name it, Sarah has used her thrifty skillsets to style décor that is within her customer’s budget and still has a luxurious effect.  Her tagline is “living thrifty doesn’t mean living less” – and she certainly showed that at this themed birthday brunch she styled!

Sarah is the thrifty face behind @sarahsecondlook – a platform that showcases how to live a life through thrifted and secondhand items, all while looking upscale and chic.  Sarah often shares her thrift store finds on her channel and helps her followers see how they too can build secondhand into their everyday lives.  She leans on her many years of styling knowledge of wardrobe and home to put together fashionable events at any cost.

To showcase a thrifted event, Sarah styled this birthday brunch with a vintage tea party theme at The Daily Refresher in downtown Rochester.  The Daily Refresher is the perfect backdrop for your unique event needs, and especially for a vintage aesthetic. If you haven’t checked them out before – you should!  The furniture is largely from antique stores and estate sales, again going along with the theme of the shoot.  For the table spread, all the glassware, dining and display stands were from the local thrift store.  The color palette was cream and rose gold, with touches of floral and color splashed in.  Sarah found each of the items on different trips to Goodwill and brought them together for a themed display.  The girls wore secondhand pieces that could ebb between a 1940’s vintage tea party to an everyday brunch with the girls - it was a throwback tea party with a modern brunch feel!

To style your own event, here are some of Sarah’s tips for putting events together with a thrifty eye:

1. Have a Color Scheme, Design, and Theme in Mind Before You Shop

When throwing any event, a base understanding of how the event will look is important while shopping secondhand.  You may not find multiple items in likeness, but if you know how you’d like the event to look you can start picking up pieces as you visit and build a collection from there. Is your palette gold? Great – start looking for gold dining pieces, drinkware, and statement art.  You can also get creative and use fabric as tablecloths – as seen here, a piece of cloth found at the thrift was repurposed into the drapery down the center of the table.  I also used glass stemware as floral vases to give a height variance on the table. Don’t be afraid to repurpose items to fit your event needs!


2. Creativity and Patience – It’s a Thrifty Virtue!

To find each of the pieces you need, you must visit a thrift store with the idea you don’t know what will fill the shelves. After all, that’s what makes it the thrill of the hunt!  Sure, you could easily purchase modern items – but having unique pieces you can’t find anywhere else elevates your scene even more.  I also think it adds a special touch to have hand-picked items that you took the time to seek out.  No matter the event, knowing the pieces were selected with care makes the day more special (and you’re giving items with prior stories a new life – sustainability for the win!).


3. Shop Local!

The nice thing about thrifting and secondhand shops is they’re based locally, and you can get clothing, homeware, and more right within your community.  Bring your girlfriends along and make a day of it – they can flex their creative muscle as well in helping you select the best designs for your event!  Our area has national thrift store chains such as Goodwill, Savers, and Salvation Army – but there are also many local vintage shops, antique stores and more that are fun to explore.  You can also search local garage and estate sale websites in your zip code to see whose selling what and when.  The possibilities are endless to bring a thrifty edge to your event!


4. The Little Details Save You Money

Be creative with what you find – all the details count!  At this birthday brunch, I used small clothespins I found in the craft aisle at Goodwill and attached flowers to them on the side of the thrifted stemware. It elevated the theme and cost me $2 to do so!  When you’re buying your event supplies at a thrift store, you’re spending less, increasing your carbon footprint, and can add more unique touches because you can expand your budget.  Sustainability and savings?  Win Win.

Anyone can organize an event.  But to plan an event with secondhand items makes the planning that much more exciting.  The birthday brunch turned out beautifully, and the birthday girl loved the vintage pieces that gave her day a special touch.  Follow Sarah at @sarahsecondlook for more thrifty style and visit her website to book her for styling your own events!


Venue: The Daily Refresher 

Photographer: Mary of Fever Dream Photo

Models: Deanna Kenyon (birthday girl), Aubre Fox, Madhvi Bansal

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