Thrifting with The Dress Fiend: Phoebe Verkouw

By Kelli Breton

There may be a few of you ladies left in Sacramento that are unaware that we have a budding star in our midst, right here on the Grid. Her name is Phoebe Verkouw aka The Dress Fiend. And let me tell you she lives up to her name with her collection of 122 dresses!!!! She has traveled high and low and she is equally as proud of every dress she has found – whether it came from a flea market or a vintage boutique in Paris. For Phoebe, shopping, fashion and thrifting are true treasures and an art that she delights in.


As a midtown girl, Phoebe has the scoop on all of the top thrift spots to find your next hot look at a ridiculously low price. I am talking dirt cheap. Every time I see Phoebe she looks like a million bucks, yet when I ask where she got everything and the price, her entire outfit usually adds up to about $20!!!! That’s talent, ladies. And I am sure we can all learn a little something from her.


So after a few unsuccessful thrifting attempts of my own, I did what any other girl would do – I begged her to teach me her ways. And she agreed!! So read on for some expert advice and learn how to dress to impress for a whole lot less.

My Thrifting Adventure with the Dress Fiend:

Phoebe and I met at Goodwill (1621 L Street). She really likes this Goodwill store because it is actually a boutique, different from some of the other standard Goodwill stores. The items at this location are a little pricier, but it is also more organized so you don’t have to weed through to find the good stuff and it also offers more recognizable brand names.

With only one hour until the store closed, Phoebe got started and flew through all of the racks. She picked out some really amazing pieces, and a few that left me a bit perplexed. When I asked her about them she immediately told me her vision for that particular piece – accessories that would work with it, the ideal shoes and clutch to liven it up and even the hairstyle to top off the look. All I saw was an older Grandma-style robe dress but she saw a classy, vintage ensemble.

Here comes the fun part (for me at least!) – Phoebe pulled some items to try on! Scoooore! They were all dresses – she is the Dress Fiend after all! I have to admit, I would not have picked out either of the dresses that she selected from the rack; I would have walked right by them and probably left the store empty-handed and discouraged.

So, check out these fab finds – aren’t they fun? This black dress was only $8.99. Phoebe paired it with $18 Nine West **glitter** pumps! The bracelets were $2.99 and the purse was $8.00. Perfect for a night out!



This next dress is out of my comfort zone, which was definitely a good thing. Phoebe adored this pink frock which made me love it even more since I trust her fashion sense wayyyy more than my own. This dress was priced at $12.99. This will definitely bring some color and fun to my work clothes collection! (pictured above)

Phoebe is THE ultimate shopping buddy and one hour with her was NOT ENOUGH. Unfortunately, we all can’t go shopping with Phoebe BUT she was kind enough to give me some tips and tricks to share and help us all out!

Dress for Success Tips from the Dress Fiend: 

What is a good, safe and reliable dress for the majority of women with varying body types?

Empire waist styles fit best for the majority of women but a wrap dress is the most versatile and is very flattering. The material of the dress is just as important as the style. Diane von Furstenberg’s wrap dresses are my favorite because they are made out of a thick, silk material so it doesn’t cling to you and it fits really well overall. The wrap dress is great also because you can tie it to fit your body just right.

What is your plan when you walk into the store or are spending a day thrifting? 

I don’t come in to the store with an agenda or a check list of what I need. I will have some small ideas in mind and then I let the store show me what it has to offer.

What is so special about buying “vintage” clothing? 

I love vintage clothes because to me it is wearable art. The way that clothing was made in the 50’s and 60’s is so different than how it is made now. Back then it was such better quality and was handmade with careful attention to detail. The pieces are really one of a kind. It seems that now clothes only last one season of washing and wearing, but vintage clothes were made to last.

What is your key to a fabulous outfit?

Accessories! Getting creative with accessories is the key to making a statement. They can take your outfit from boring to amazing. Play around with them, mix and match colors and patterns and just have fun with your accessories!

What is your key to a fabulous outfit?

Accessories! Getting creative with accessories is the key to making a statement. They can take your outfit from boring to amazing. Play around with them, mix and match colors and patterns and just have fun with your accessories!

What are the Top 5 places to thrift in Sac?

1.)    Freestyle Clothing Exchange on 21st and L Street (great vintage and high end labels for cheap)
2.)    Thrift Town on El Camino (great for accessories and shoes)
3.)    Crossroads Trading Company in Roseville (great high end pieces)
4.)    The Sacramento Antique Faire (amazing vintage!)
5.)    Deseret Industries (amazing hidden gems for very low prices)

What are your Top 3 tips/tricks when it comes to thrifting?

1.)    Fall is coming up and it’s probably time for you to get rid of some things in your closet. Buy, sell, trade stores like Crossroads or Freestyle are looking for fall items right now to buy and will give you 50% trade or 35% cash of what they will resell your items for!
2.)    When looking for authentic vintage always look in the inside of the garment first. The quickest way to tell that it’s old is by its construction. You’ll find a zig zag hem in the interior that was produced by pinking shears. Speaking of vintage, when you are at Antique Faires hunting down your next best vintage piece, don’t forget to bargain with the dealers!
3.)    When shoe or purse shopping at thrift stores look for items manufactured in Italy. The Italians are the leather masters and known for making the finest Italian leather goods in the world.

Follow Phoebe on all of the traditional and equally-addictive social media outlets – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and on her blog. She also has opened up some of her private collection for sale on Ebay!

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