EVERETT — Fashion coach Tim Lambright wants his clients to dress their best.
That’s why he takes them to thrift shops. It’s where he stocks his closet.
What’s up with that?
The mission of Spiffy Thrifty Fashion is to bring flair to the stodgy PNW on the cheap.
“I call it the ‘spiffy 50,’” he said. “If they put $50 in their pocket and $50 in my pocket, we go to thrift stores and I spend four hours with them to update and build their look.”
He has his work cut out for him.
“Men in the Pacific Northwest don’t dress very well. We look like we’re either going for a hike or just rolled out of bed,” he said.
In the aisles of Value Village, he’s the odd man out.
I met him on a Tuesday, senior day for 30% off for thriftier thrifting. He pushed the cart with poise, scanning the racks with a discerning eye, not unabashedly raking through the castoffs like the rest of us do.
He wore a tailored suit jacket, jeweled lapel pin, bright tie and handmade English alligator-ostrich shoes that sell new for more than the average car payment. His mustache curled above a coiffed gray beard, his hair slicked back.
He said it took him 45 minutes to get ready, from the time he got out of the shower.
It took me five minutes to throw on my black T.J. Maxx grandma jeans, purple shirt of 10 years and call it done.
My jeans got the nod.
“There’s a lot of women’s pants that can be worn by either sex,” he said. “I’m wearing a pair right now.”
“They are more stylish,” he said.
He didn’t look like he was wearing women’s pants.
Spiffy Thrifty Fashion is a sideline for Lambright, 57. Another is Spiffy Bartender for private parties.
He’s also a spiffy substitute teacher. The married father of five is in school to be a teacher, a second career after many years as a pediatric X-ray technician.
He does about 20 Spiffy Thrifty Fashion gigs a year. He recently offered a session as a prize in a trivia contest in a class he was substitute teaching at his children’s Christian school, where students wear uniforms.
Von Sandeno, 15, won and went with Lambright on a spree to five thrift stores.
“He showed Von what kind of scarf would look good on him and how to tie it,” said the teen’s mom, Lisa, who went along. “He went to the vest section and talked about waistcoats and how to use that. The colors that work together were really educational for us. This was an opportunity to explore lots of different styles and try new things.”
Von’s haul included 11 shirts, a vest, jacket and scarf, two pairs of men’s pants and super nice Italian leather boots, all for under $200. His mom plans to hire Lambright to take her shopping next.
Lambright and fashion go way back.
“Since I was 5 years old, when I got my first pair of 3-inch platform shoes,” he said. “I always liked to not wear the typical things that most boys were wearing. I was drawn to patterns and color. The first day in seventh grade I wore light blue corduroy blue bottoms. I can still hear the swish of the corduroy.”
That was in South Carolina. His 20 years in Washington haven’t turned him stodgy.
“I enjoy changing out my wardrobe on a regular basis,” he said. “I do a lot of mixing with outfits. I love black and red. I really got into the ’70s Elvis look after seeing the Elvis movie. My closet isn’t as big as people think.”
He has more clothes than his wife. She asks him for advice.
Lambright’s approach to coaching women is different than men.
“Finding what looks good on you that you’re not trying to dress too young or being Moira Rose from Schitt’s Creek. Find that happy medium,” he said. “Mostly I want women to look and feel beautiful in what they’re wearing.”
Most clients are guys. He gives them sartorial books to choose a style and does a color analysis of their hair and skin tone.
He has done his homework where to shop.
“I’ve hit every thrift store between here and Seattle. They all have something different to offer,” he said. “A lot of times I go in to just sort of scout it out. I want to stay married, so I don’t go every day.”
His Everett circuit: Value Village. Goodwill. Assistance League of Everett. New & Again Thrift Shoppe.
Marysville’s Value Village is terrific for shoes, he said, and he scored a $6,000 mink coat there for $28.
Thrift shopping can be overwhelming. The stores are a massive melting pot of garments originating from hundreds of closets shoved together on racks.
Lambright strategizes his hunt-and-finds.
In the long rows of men’s dress shirts, he looks at the bottom for French cuffs, which hang lower than regular cuffs and require cuff links.
Jewelry is important. His earrings match his ornamental ring. A lapel pin is a must.
(Spiffy Bartender tip: Put clip-on earrings on the edge of a cocktail glass to dress up a drink.)
He scours designer labels, but he isn’t a snob about it.
“It doesn’t have to be great quality to look great if it looks great on you,” he said.
Contact Mr. Spiffy at firstname.lastname@example.org or Instagram @spiffythriftyman.
Is there a person, place or thing making you wonder “What’s Up With That?” Contact reporter Andrea Brown: 425-339-3443; email@example.com; Twitter: @reporterbrown.
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