Thrifting Tips for Sustainable Style & Saying No to Fast Fashion
Thumbing through the Target racks, for a third time in a month, I’m passing through the same repetitive floral and ruffled crop tops with slightly different styles. T-shirts with Blondie on them and the words “coffee addict” in bold letters. One after the other. Huffing a little, I leave. Frustrated, disappointed, and feeling a little dejected.
Sitting in my car, I’m dissecting my emotions and I come to the realization that no matter how hard I’ll try, I hate consumerism. Or I should say – unnecessary consumerism and fast-fashion brands. Materialism. The cultural trait that sweeps our US nation. When I was younger, I began talking out about environmental issues, about materialism, quoting Fight Club at every turn, getting my clothes secondhand. I believed in intentional living then and I believe in it now.
For a while, I got swept into the Target craze. Part of the mainstream mother identity (like wine-drinking) and I’ve finally shedded it. I don’t want to buy their woven wall decor or their $5 embroidery hoops. I want to support ethical + local crafters. I don’t want $20 crop tops that I’ll realize I hate in a couple months. I want thoughtful, I want intentional, I want to sift through pieces people no longer wanted.
I thought I wanted to be an influencer like some of the top IGers but it always felt unnatural for me. I want to be an encourager. I want to market natural + intentional living. Both as a mother and as an individual. It’s part of the reason I’m drawn to psychology. Advocating for self-sufficiency, financial freedom, self-growth, mental + physical wellness, sustainability, intentional + ethical living, poetry – that’s who I am. That’s what I work on with myself everyday and that’s what I want to share with others.
2019 is the year I step into my skin fully, poetically, with resilience. Which brings me to a lovely little guide for thrifting and to help you feel more confident in second-hand shopping.
Reasons to Thrift
beneficial for the environment
The average American throws out 81 pounds of clothing each year. Out of 95% of textiles that can be recycled, 85% won’t be. Landfills received 10.5 million tons in the US and EU alone generates 2 million tons. 42 countries in Africa, Asia, and South America has had to restrict or ban the import of second-hand clothing. We need to continue pressuring fast fashion corporations to be more thoughtful in their production but choosing second-hand gives these clothes a new life while making a small little dent into your own carbon footprint. Watch the documentary True Cost.
Thrift stores have a wide variety of clothing styles so you aren’t stuck in one box. You get to find tons of different pieces and style them in fresh, new ways.
show-off fabulous finds
I found those Free People bell-bottom denims at Goodwill for $15 when they’re usually 100-something. I was raving about them for weeks and I get such great compliments on them. It’s a great ego-booster on days I may be feeling down.
Understand your style. I personally want a capsule wardrobe that will be versatile and timeless with some vintage pieces thrown in. Along with a specific color palette (blacks, whites, creams, mustard yellows, browns, etc).
Create a Wardrobe Vision Board
Think of pieces that can be versatile and will mix well with other pieces you have in your closet. Keep track of what you need and what you’re looking for. If you don’t have something in mind, chances are you’ll be overwhelmed or just buy pieces you don’t completely love.
If you are big into hiking, do some research on brands and fabrics that will withstand various weather. If you like vintage pieces, look up vintage brands and styles that you may like. If you want recycled fabric, look up brands that have used recycled fabrics. Whatever it is, have an idea of what you want in your clothes.
Keep a budget
Budgets help keep us in line. It keeps us mindful. Stick to the budget you set and you’ll ensure you only buy what you truly love.
Take a Friend
Shopping is always fun when you’re with someone. Bringing someone with you can help generate second opinions and solidify your buying decisions.
Go on the Weekday
Stores are filled on the weekends with people perusing racks. To feel less overwhelmed, utilize any weekday time you can so you won’t feel rushed.
Never feel an obligation to go to the same thrift store over and over again if it’s not working for you. Don’t waste your time, find one you love. I do recommend trying a couple times at least. Thrifting is a lot of hit and miss, even in your favorite stores. So sometimes we have to give it a couple chances before we completely say no to a place.
There’s nothing worse than buying an article of clothing, bringing it home, and finding a stain on it or a rip in the armpit. Inspect it carefully while you’re there. If it’s an easy fix, buy it but if you don’t have the time and know you won’t be able to mend it, leave it at the store for someone who will.
Look for local thrift stores. Salvation Army & Goodwill are some choices but you can also find consignment shops.
Look outside your area too and don’t mind a little travel to the next couple towns over. Going to a different area can provide different styles that are donated.
In warmer weather, look for garage sales and estate sales. I don’t have a lot of luck with these but it may be different for what you’re in search of.
Join your local Buy Nothing group or check out freecycle. There can be some great, unsuspecting finds when you’re least expecting it.
There are some online secondhand shopping options.
Poshmark (use my code: wolfmyths to save $5)
Slowre (purely natural + ethical second-hand!)
Instagram has also become a great option for secondhand clothes, especially vintage pieces.