Photos by Molly DeCoudreaux
I’ve made it pretty well-known that I need help. So I finally made it official and put the word out that I’m searching for an intern. I’m thrilled and super lucky to have found Ashley Castanos, who is not only working towards her master’s degree in fashion journalism at Academy of Art, but shares my deep love of a hippie wedding dress and the California modern bohemian aesthetic in general. And the bonus is she has worked as a professional model and is a champion thrifter. So I though I’d take advantage of all of the above and have the extremely freaking talented Molly DeCoudreaux shoot Ashley wearing some of her all-time best thrifted and vintage finds (mixed with some new pieces, of course!). Ashley braved high winds on a precarious rooftop and managed to look gorge despite it all. Read on for more about Ashley and the secrets of her thrifting success!
1. How did you first become interested in fashion?
I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t, but I guess it all started from watching my mom. She has always had such fabulous style. My sisters and I used to love to play dress-up in her closet and put on fashion shows for the whole fam.
2. How would you describe your style?
I’m a boho girl at heart. I love trying new trends, but my staples are vintage white flowy blouses, my black leather jacket, gold bangels, and tall brown boots. I love mixing thrift with designer, and the best is when someone asks you, “Who makes your jacket?” and you respond, “Oh this? Got it for $3 at the thrift.”
3. Where are you from and what brought you to San Francisco?
I’m a Fresno, California native although I tend to stretch the truth by calling myself a local. I’ve lived in San Francisco for almost six years! I had always wanted to move to the city, and was completely transfixed by the culture as well as fashion opportunities. I originally moved here to model and attend fashion school. I completed my undergrad at San Francisco State University in fashion merchandising and am currently working on my MFA in fashion journalism at Academy of Art University.
4. I hear you’re a pro thrift shopper, what are some of your favorite spots?
Yes I am quite the thrift store junkie, picked it up from my two older sisters back in high school. We would mainly shop at all the thrift shops in downtown Fresno, (and still do!) but some of my SF faves are Painted Bird, Mission Thrift and Wasteland.
5. What are your top three thrift shopping tips?
- 1. Patience! The difference between thrift stores and vintage boutiques is that with thrifting you actually have to hunt. Take plenty of time to go through all the racks, that’s how you find the most interesting items! Most people prefer vintage shopping because although your paying $30-$100 more per item, you get what you pay for: air-conditioning, helpful salespeople and hand-picked already sorted items that are easily viewable.
2. The granny nightgown section should not be missed, it’s my go to! You would be amazed by how many great summer dresses and cute linen blouses they throw in there!
3. Shop with an open mind. More than half of the items I buy at thrift shops I have an alternate vision for and end up altering them with my sewing machine at home. Whether it’s taking the shoulder pads out, hemming the length of a dress or dying a pair of pants.
6. What’s your best-ever thrift find?
Oh that’s hard. But it would have to be my vintage black Diane Von Furstenberg chiffon blouse. I purchased it for only $2 and it’s a daily complement getter. There’s a thrift shop in Northwest Fresno that is my best-kept secret. It’s located near a fancy neighborhood, so most of the donations are from wealthy donors, and the people working the shop wouldn’t know the difference between Louis Vuitton and the Gap. I have found a variety of designer items there for dirt-cheap!
7. Are you a lipstick or eye make-up girl, or both?
Definitely an eye makeup girl, my life depends on mascara! Being a Swedish girl with blond eyelashes and blond eyebrows, I look like a ghost without my Cover Girl Lash Blast Mascara, it makes my eyelashes standout and doesn’t smear. My go to eye shadows are anything Urban Decay, especially golden tones like Chopper and Smog.
8. What will you be up to this summer when you’re not toiling for Stylenik?
Summer school will keep me pretty busy and I also work part-time for my sister’s company, Daughters of Simone, styling photo-shoots and conducting bridal fittings in my apartment. I’ll be sure to sneak in a few rooftop parties, Dolores days, and plenty of road trips with the BF.