Sunday, August 17, 2014

Thrift Shopping as Eco-Fashion - Yes, it Counts!

We were coming through a rural SC town where I used to work, on the way to our Isle of Palms adventure, when I first mentioned the little shop to my son. "When I found out I was going to have you, I worked in this town and there was a little thrift shop where kids' and babies clothes were so many, they sold them 10 for $1! I'd go there almost every day during lunch to shop for you!"

What makes this story so endearing to me is that only last year did I finally pass on some of the last items purchased at that little church-run thrift shop. My son wanted to see the place, and I promised I'd try to find it on our way back through. It wasn't an easy feat, as it has been ten years and it was in an out-of-the-way location to begin with, but finally we found the building, where I spent so many lunch hours perusing second-hand baby and kids' clothes and chatting with the elderly ladies who ran the shop.

 It's long gone now and so are they; the building remains but is now a community center. Still, it was nice to take the stroll down memory lane with my son, remembering the days when I was expecting him. I worked as a medical assistant, had just finished graduate school and bought my home and money was tight. The little shop was a bright spot on many a day when I felt anxious about the future and how I would manage. I'm sure I bought a huge portion of my son's infant wardrobe from those friendly ladies, as well as many items for the years to come.

Fast forward to the present, and guess where I still buy many of the clothes for myself and my son? At local thrift stores and resale shops. Is it because money is still tight? No. I do it because it's good for the environment, it's good for the charities the thrift shops support, and it's good for my budget!

I mean, really, look at this price tag. This is for a tank top, made in an Asian factory out of no particularly fascinating fiber or fabric...and $19.50? You've got to be kidding!

Lucky me, I got it brand new, with tags still on, for only $1. How? Every Thursday is $1 day at our local Goodwill store. Goodwill stores do so much to help people in our communities that I'm happy to support them by shopping there when I need something new! Like this dress...

...which I also got for $1 at Goodwill. I love, love, love the Finnish designer label Marimekko's bold patterns and styles. However, I do not love the prices...I'm raising a child alone on one income and it would be very impractical (and a bit self-centered) to shell out hundreds of dollars on a new smock for myself. So I was delighted to find this Marimekko-esque dress, which will be perfect for Autumn nights out and entertaining!

These shoes were a thrill to find, too! I think they were $2.50, but I won't even tell you what the original price tag, still on the bottom, said!

As much as I love eco-fashion companies like Spiritex and Globe Hope, it would be impractical for me to strive to purchase all of our clothing from these eco-conscious brands. What works for us is to buy a few well-made staple pieces from brands whose mission we know and believe in, and shop resale and thrift stores as often as we can because, like Spiritex and Globe Hope, second-hand shopping not only helps our wallets, it also helps the environment as clothes are recycled back into use. As most thrift stores operate for charity, I can feel good about my purchases helping to improve the lives of others as well!

And while I will on occasion use coupons for local retail stores, after reading a recent article about the 'true cost of cheap clothing' I became more aware of just what the article states - the real cost of excessive consumerism when it comes to fashion. 

Ten years after I racked up a vast boys wardrobe at a small thrift store for near pennies, I am still happily thrift store shopping and can't imagine that will ever change. It just makes good sense. It's also a fun adventure because you never know what you'll find on those racks. And even if you stray from the $1 racks you can still find good bargains and quality clothes with plenty of life left in them for a fraction of what you'd pay retail.

And you are helping people, and helping your environment, and helping your own wallet. I feel good about my choices to shop second hand, but it isn't the only way to save money and still look fashionable! 

Clothing swaps with friends and other moms (for children's items) can be a lot of fun. I host clothing swaps a few times a year and always find some yummy new things, like this tank top I wore all summer and simply love...

I also get to purge my own closets for clothing swaps, which I really think is a necessary step to avoid over-buying of clothes. When my closet is stuffed, I can't see what I have or make sense of my wardrobe. Keeping it simple by routine purging helps me tremendously make use of what I already have! 

Also, simply BUY LESS. That's the best tactic. When you know what you have, you can have fun with items in your own closet and jewelry as well, like these two necklaces I no longer wore...

I wanted a long statement necklace for fall, and rather than hop in the car and head to the store, I looked through my own jewelry to see what I already had and could re-purpose. A little bit later...

Voila! I had my statement necklace for fall!

And it didn't cost a thing!

I will be dedicating more space on the blog this fall to tips for affordable eco-fashion; recycling and re-purposing fashion clothing and jewelry into new items (as I did in with the necklace); and stifling the urge for needless spending on 'more' clothing and jewelry items when we already have plenty -  all in support of my motto, live simply while living as though money is no object! 

And can rock second hand styles, too!! 

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