Q&A: Vintage maven Morgan Potter on fall style and thrifting

Arc’s Value Village stylist Morgan Potter wants you to rock color this fall.

Morgan Peterson, a University of Minnesota graduate and Thrift Stylist at Arc's Value Village, poses for a photo at Mid City Modified Vintage Market on Saturday Sept. 29, 2018. Peterson performed alterations and tailoring for the pieces that people purchased at the market.

Will Tooke

Morgan Peterson, a University of Minnesota graduate and Thrift Stylist at Arc’s Value Village, poses for a photo at Mid City Modified Vintage Market on Saturday Sept. 29, 2018. Peterson performed alterations and tailoring for the pieces that people purchased at the market.

Maddy Folstein

When we met University of Minnesota alumna Morgan Potter last week, she wore a cream blazer, tartan pants, leopard heels and a vampy lipstick. A vintage fur piece draped over her shoulders.

“This is like if there was a vampire on ‘Dynasty,’” Potter said.

Potter’s dramatic flair began in fifth grade, when she first saw the 1931 film “Dracula” and fell in love with horror and the glamour of Hollywood. Today, she works as a personal stylist at Arc’s Value Village and does freelance costume design, styling and editorial work. 

A&E sat down with Potter to chat bright colors, well-fitting pieces and the Halloween sections of thrift shops.

How did you become interested in fashion and thrifting? 

I grew up in a very, very small town, so there weren’t a lot of places to shop. I either had to dig through my [mom or grandma’s closets] or go to the local thrift store if I wanted to find actually unique things that I wanted to work with. 

How would you describe your sense of style today? Who are your style icons?

I would say eclectic, colorful and classic. And maybe a little bit of quirkiness in there. I love old Hollywood glamour, but I was a little punk in high school. I feel like that still gets injected into a lot of my personal style. My style is very colorful, and I don’t wear navys or grays. It’s really bold things.

For any glamour gal, Dita von Teese is everyone’s favorite cup of tea. Also Tilda Swinton.

Blake Lively is turning it up lately. Cardi B, too. 

What can somebody expect if they come in for a styling appointment at Arc’s Value Village?

I take their sizing and maybe what they’re looking for, and I pull from the store and curate a capsule collection. I give it an injection of a more fashion forward-approach, or maybe a more colorful approach. It’s easy to get pulled down into always being in these dark drab tones. I think you can wear bright, cool colors all year round, and it also really helps me feel better in the morning. If I can help someone feel a little bit better about themselves based on what they put on their body, that makes me feel good.

Do you have any advice for people who want to lean in to color this fall? 

Start with harsh contrast — a simple pair of black pants and a bold pop of color in a sweater, jacket or even a shoe. I love all black ensembles with a really aggressive pop of color. Inject a blood red, a really bold orange, a Kelly green or turquoise, too.

What are some classic pieces that you love to see in the fall?

A black turtleneck for sure. A plaid wool pant is fun. I love faux fur — it’s a great way to add that glamour element. Nowadays, everything is athleisure. It’s so casual, which is fine … but it’s not what gets me out of bed in the morning. 

What are you most looking forward to wearing this fall?

My wool blazers and coats. I have so many coats. That’s one thing I really love [about] thrifting, and that will never let me down. 

Talk me through the importance of good tailoring and alterations. 

This goes back to what I was saying about people feeling confident about what they put on their body. People — news flash — come in all shapes and sizes. I want to show people that if you can find something really unique but it’s just not quite there in terms of fit there are people out there who will fit it exactly to your form. Fit is a huge thing, it’s something that makes me feel better.

October is here. What advice do you have for students who are looking to get the coolest Halloween costume on a budget? 

Dive in to your thrift store, or even go over to your parents’ house and see what they have hidden in the back of their closets. That’s where I started. I would find the weirdest stuff in the back of my grandma’s closet, who’s a very fashionable lady. 

Arc’s has their great boutique, and Savers and Goodwill also have really affordable things. That’s where I’ve found some of my favorite thrifted pieces.

Just please don’t take a beautiful [vintage] gown and put blood on it and be a zombie.

What are some of your favorite pieces you’ve found while thrifting?

I have this beautiful, bright Prince-Vikings purple coat that I thrifted some time last year. It’s such a well-tailored piece — it looks super chic. Last year, I found three really gorgeous 1950s ball gowns.

There’s one pair of white, wide-legged pants that I wear all the time. If they get spilled on, I will be devastated. 

Are there any pieces that you’re still on the hunt for?

A really well-tailored winter white suit. Like a ghostly-white, double-breasted suit. 

Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.