Written by Erin Cunningham, March 24, 2016
If discovering the ultimate in vintage apparel and accessories were a superpower, Sami Miro would be Wonder Woman. The L.A.-based stylist, model, and curator (oh, and significant other of little-known actor Zac Efron), happens to be an expert on all things thrifted: She's amassed a collection of enviable ready-to-wear, shoes, jewelry, and so much more that has us rethinking why we've ever even bought anything new. Her eye is truly one-of-a-kind (like many of the pieces in her closet) — so much, in fact, that we needed to know just how one becomes that good at treasure-hunting (because, let's be real, anyone who's stepped foot in a vintage shop knows it requires lots of digging).
This isn't something that happens overnight. Rather, it's a talent that takes years to cultivate. Miro has been collecting since she was 14 (she says she first discovered the world of secondhand everything as a means to gain confidence) and has since "been on the hunt for finding unique pieces." The result isn't just a ridiculously amazing set of material possessions, but a knowledge of how to find, style, and feel incredible in said goods. Her style may be totally individual, but her words of thrifting wisdom are something anyone (from newbies to vintage vets) will find refreshing, useful, and sartorially empowering. Click through to get the inside scoop.
Special thanks to Diamond Supply Co.
Have A Secret Layering Weapon
Everyone has that one item they can wear anytime, regardless of season or situation. For Miro, her "go-to these days is definitely a sheer bodysuit, typically with a turtleneck," which she says she wears frequently.
"It's a piece that goes with everything — they add a sexy element, but are still covered in a way — it's like an understated sexiness — you can find them in so many different colors, and they're just a fun, versatile piece that can add some femininity to basically anything."
Since a bodysuit can be a very neutral piece, it's a perfect foundation for an array of loud pieces, patterns, and styles. "Two things I love right now are: 1. animal print (which is where the boots come in), and 2. plaid skirts. I was recently in Japan and every girl there was dressing like a schoolgirl, so I came back with a whole bunch of vintage skirts."
Vintage trench, bodysuit, and jewelry; O-Mighty skirt; Amanda Gregory boots.
Sure, piling on so many shades and prints may seem like something reserved for fashion risk-takers. Miro insists that anyone can go all out with their look: "With anything in life, and in your outfits, try to push yourself and push the limits — but always feel comfortable in what you’re wearing," she says. "Never wear something because it’s on-trend or because you saw your favorite celebrity wearing a certain piece. Only wear it if you actually feel comfortable in it. Because if you’re looking uncomfortable, it definitely shows. Clothes aren’t that important [Laughs]. Even though they are important to me, at the end of the day, you should feel comfortable and confident in everything you wear."
Always Begin With A Standout Piece
"With every outfit, I usually start off with one single piece that I want to use, and then, I style around that," Miro says, emphasizing how much easier getting dressed can be when you zero in on a bold item (or two). "I like statement pieces a lot, especially one-of-a-kind ones. I definitely gravitate towards items that you most likely have never seen before, and will most likely never see again."
For this look, the vintage denim and leather pants were where Miro began: "They're custom reconstructed vintage, and look like somebody bought a pair of jeans back in the day and then added their own leather paneling to them. I wanted to make them feel a little bit sexier, since they are strange and ugly, in a way — but in a good way."
Vintage pants, blazer, choker, and jewelry; Gemy Maalouf bustier; Alejandra G. heels.
Wear Your Clothes In An Unexpected Way
When things don't work out in the conventional sense, Miro is a major proponent of playing around with them until they do work.
"I don’t like to style very simply," she says. "I’m actually wearing this bustier backwards. It's really beautiful [the detailing is sheer and nude with black sequins on it], but when I put it on the proper way, it ended up going down almost to my hips. Since I wanted to show the waistline of the pants, I turned it around."
This isn't the first time she's done this, either; Miro says she actually finds herself wearing shirts backwards regularly.
Take Monochomatic To New (Colorful) Heights
One look at this all-red outfit and color-phobes (you know who you are!) will likely be running towards their all-black wardrobes for dear life. Though Miro admits that she, too, used to gravitate towards neutrals, she said that she finally found one shade she could embrace ("I have a thing for all-red outfits and I have for a very long time," she says.) — and you should, too.
Vintage skirt, top, necklace, choker, and jewelry; IRO jacket; Amanda Gregory boots; Diamond Supply Co. skateboard.
"Monochromatic looks are very in right now, especially with nudes, grays, and neutrals," she says. "But, there are two different ways to go about it: If you’re going to do a monochromatic look with any color, you can go the route where everything is the exact same tone and the exact same texture, and there’s not much variation.
"That ends up looking very clean. Or, you can go in the opposite direction: If you’re wearing one color, you can incorporate different shades and materials. The latter is what I did in this look (here, there are two different kinds of leather — the fringed skirt, which has a shiny finish; and the jacket, which is pretty matte and has a little more of a pinky hue to it)."
If you can't imagine wearing just one color completely, accessories are the perfect way to break things up. For jewelry, in particular, Miro suggests going vintage (the necklace she's wearing was purchased at a thrift store in Savannah, GA) or D.I.Y.
"I actually made the choker I'm wearing," she explains, citing that she crafts almost almost all of her chokers herself. "It’s red velvet, and the emblem on it belonged to my great-grandmother." That's one way to make something old feel new again.
"Vintage" & "Vintage-Inspired" Aren'tThe Same Thing
As someone who truly appreciates the world of thrifting, Miro says she's "actually very against the idea of doing a 'vintage-inspired' piece. For me, it’s either vintage or it’s not, and there’s no in-between. So, when people try to do 'vintage-inspired,' I find it a big turn-off."
One exception, however, is the Product of Privilege hoodie she wears here. "Usually, when people try and distress things, it comes across as very man-made and uniform, as if it was just done by a machine and all of the holes are in the exact same place every time," she explains." Made in L.A., [Product of Privilege's] designer takes a nice sweatshirt, makes holes in it, and wears it down a little bit. She does it in the most natural way I’ve ever seen." This is definitely one of those rare exceptions, though — Miro recommends (for the most part) sticking to the real, vintage thing.
Vintage vest; Product of Privilege hoodie. O-Mighty Silk Zebra Skirt, $25.21, available at O-Mighty.
Though the zebra skirt may have seemed like statement-maker of this look, Miro admits that she "actually started off with the boots, because they’re so awesome. They’re basically the type of boots you wear when you go snowboarding. But they’re the chicest snowboarding boots you could ever find. There’s some crazy pony hair detailing on the strips in different colors, too. They’re pretty wild, but also fun."
The ultimate key to making vintage work for you, Miro says, is altering the fit so that it, well, fits. "I alter almost everything I have in some way," she says, "whether it’s cutting it with scissors or getting it professionally done. That’s the thing with vintage: because the clothing is so old and used and abused, it often doesn’t fit. A lot of people don’t realize that you have to see the beauty in the uniqueness of the fabric or the color — the most important parts — and that you can always change the fit. You just have to be able to see the future in what that piece can be."
Vintage pants, top, jacket, choker, jewelry, and beret; Amanda Gregory shoes.
Miro has, of course, found beauty in so many different pieces, like these floral bell-bottoms (which she describes as "very Coachella"), her top (which she purchased on Etsy, a place she describes as one of her "favorites in the world"), pearl choker purchased in Japan, and a vintage beret (which she says is "definitely a signature of mine").
Wondering how you can discover these one-of-a-kind gems, too? For vintage newbies, Miro offers up her words of wisdom: "It’s always intimidating to people who aren’t used to vintage to walk into a big store that's all dusty and gross and smelly, and they don’t know where to begin," she says. "But I always tell people: Start with one specific item — so, if you’re looking for denim shorts, a T-shirt, or a leather jacket, start in that section. And if you feel like you can venture out a little bit when you're done, go from there. Or, you can easily just stick to that one area, and move to another one next time." Taking things one step at a time is key — how else would you be able to take note of those hidden treasures?
Creative Direction & Styling: Sami Miró
Photographer: Derek Wood
Makeup: Cherish Brooke Hill
Hair: Collen Duffy