Dresses are the Secret to a Unique Wardrobe

Hey gang, Nicole from the Wardrobe Code here.

Lately, the word “geek” has become something to signify that you have a slight obsession with a certain subject matter.

There are, of course, the traditional type of geeks most of us think about – geeks who love Star Wars. Tech geeks who pitch a tent in line outside of an Apple store in anticipation of a new product release. Comic and pop culture geeks who dress in costume to visit the annual ComicCon Convention in San Diego.

But, like I mentioned, anyone can be a “geek” about a certain subject simply by having an intense interest in it. I, Nicole Longstreath, have become a secondhand dress geek, and my favorite place to scope out dresses is Goodwill of Orange County.

Of course, I love shopping for separates at Goodwill – but, on the other hand, shopping for dresses is like an anthropological dig.

Dresses from all decades and personal styles mingle together on the racks. You could find both a 90s babydoll dress and a 60s Mad Men-style day dress on the same rack. Although I may not wear every style of dress I pluck from the rack and inspect with intense, geekish interest, I do find that my fashion horizons are expanded after every “dig.” And I usually go home with something unexpected for my dress collection.

Here are a few of my favorites I found recently at a Goodwill of Orange County location.

pucci style

The first dress I found was a combo of two of my favorite things: Pucci-esque prints and wrap dresses. The combo of aqua, dark blue, white and gold made it a keeper – and no one knows it’s not genuine Pucci if you don’t tell them!

90s mod

There was a time in the 90s when fashion went a little mod. Dresses got shorter, silhouettes got straighter and necklines were higher. When shopping vintage fashion, it’s important to know how trends have changed throughout the years. Finding a dress from the 60s is tough – but finding a reinterpreted style from another decade is easier.

lady caftan

So much more chic than a muumuu, a caftan combines comfort with a dash of classy-lady panache. Lie by the pool in a muumuu, and someone will ask, “why is she dressed up like her grandmother?” Lie by the pool in a silk (or, in this case, polyester) caftan and you’re instantly Lily Pulitzer.


Yes, it’s true: every woman should have some kind of L.B.D. (little black dress) in her wardrobe. But no one ever said that dress had to be only black. I was lucky this 80s throwback fit like a glove because they don’t often make dresses that fit this well anymore for under $500. Serious craftsmanship is hard to find these days.

90s vintage

Let’s just say that I may (or may not) also have a slight obsession with the 1989 movie Troop Beverly Hills starring Shelley Long. Find me a green cape and a khaki side cap and I may just round up my own troop of girls for some glamping at a fancy hotel.

short sweet

This blue floral dress was in perfect condition and right on trend. Although I’m well past my 20s, it definitely made me feel like I was in my 20s – and in a surprisingly appropriate way. Add a light cardigan, some pearls and you’re ready for Sunday brunch.

wild card

There’s always a rebel, right? The jumpsuit is a controversial piece and it refuses to be classified as one garment type or another. At Goodwill, they sort jumpsuits in with dresses (which I’m sure the jumpsuit finds highly irritating), but I was beyond excited when I found this black knit jumpsuit with an illusion yoke. So comfy, so chic.


Sadly – tragically – not everything I found on my last trip fit me. If this size 4 cocktail dress would have been just a touch larger, it would have been mine! Beaded, shoulder pads at just the right size, the perfect shades of cream and gold and with an open back. Many people might sniff that this beaded cocktail dress is way too dated to be salvaged, but I beg to differ. As my friend, Amanda from Socialite Auctions suggested, it could be easily converted into a fierce mini dress.

Don’t think you have an occasion to wear it to? Doesn’t matter. At $8.99, it’s worth snapping up.

With dresses, you just have to try on what you like. If you find that you like a dress, but it’s not exactly something you might find in the mall, or your friends aren’t wearing it – go for it anyway. That’s what developing your own personal style is about.

If you’re serious about building a great wardrobe, you’ve got to check out Goodwill of Orange County’s newest location opening May 17th. It’s a special location called the OC Goodwill Boutique and will feature a larger mix of upscale merchandise in a boutique setting. The address is 502 East First Street Tustin, CA.


  1. Hi Nicole,

    Interior Designer fan here…I’d buy that last dress for $8.99 and make a seriously glammy pillow out of it!!


  2. Those are all win!!! I can’t believe they were all thrifted!

  3. Nicole, love that jumpsuit on you! All the outfits are great, but that one is my favorite.

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