I started thrifting for clothes long before it was cool… scouring the Union Gospel Mission thrift shop Mackelmore-style with my bestie after middle-school, back when the ‘Grunge Look’ of the early 90’s was all the rage. (Though we modeled our look more after the likes of Janis Joplin & Stevie Nicks than Drew Barrymore & Courtney Love.)
These days, I aim to purchase 100% of my wardrobe second hand– save for shoes and unmentionables, for [hopefully] obvious reasons.
My motivation for thrifting my wardrobe, in a nutsell:
1) Keep it out of the freaking landfill. By donating used clothing (or anything, really) instead of discarding it, less junk winds up rotting away forever in mass garbage dumps.
2) Supports the local economy. Many thrift shops are locally owned, and outfitting yourself via those vendors invests back into your own community. Even if you prefer larger corporations like Goodwill or Salvation Army, they still employ a local workforce, creating jobs that wouldn’t otherwise exist.
3) Uniqueness/Variety. Pieces purchased from thrift store shelves are often one-of-a-kind items that you simply can’t find at Target– and on every one of your friends.
4) No slave labor. It can be difficult to find affordable, appealing, truly fair-trade clothing. By purchasing clothing second-hand you effectively rule out the chance that your garment was crafted on the backs of slaves. (Sure, ORIGINIALLY it could have been, but you aren’t contributing to that industry.) No need to ponder the origins of your sassy new handbag when you buy someone else’s discards versus off-the-rack.
5) The thrill of the treasure hunt. Call me crazy, but I’ve always enjoyed sifting through musty stacks of poly-blends in search of even one article of garment gold. Sometimes I turn up empty handed and sometimes I score big. We all have THAT FRIEND who is the champion thrifter. Join her on her next thrifting excursion* and learn the tricks of the trade. (*You might have to coerce her with an Americano to get her to divulge her secrets.)
6) More money for shoes/travel/Starbucks/organic groceries/whatever. Consistent savings from second-hand shopping makes the occasional splurge more palatable. For instance, I like nice shoes: Birkenstocks, Uggs, Hunter Boots, Toms, Crocs, Tiek ballet flats (they’re on my list)… I don’t do knock-offs. Before you shake your condescending finger at me, consider all that I’ve saved by thrifting! Stringent frugality with the majority of my apparel provides margin to splurge, guilt free, in other areas.
I certainly don’t dress to impress whilst teaching homeschool each day. My standard uniform consists of a colorful, cotton skirt paired with a tank and a flannel or cardi, weather-dependent. No need to break the bank for such simple staples. Frankly I’d rather save the money set aside for clothing on things that matter more to me.
Besides, it’s not like we have a Nordstrom in Montana, anyway. 😉
What’s important to you? If fancy clothing ISN’T high on your list, consider thrifting your wardrobe and redirecting the savings towards things that ARE.