Guest Blogger: Cristina Fowler
Confession time: I bought my prom dress at the Salvation Army. Shocking, I know. It was yellow and dreamy and kind of a combo of these gems from Etsy.
The fact is, my friends and I actually visited thrift stores pretty regularly in high school. We didn’t have a lot of money; on the flip side, we had nothing but time. So, we spent many a lazy afternoon browsing the racks at Goodwill or Miami Twice, when we were feeling fancy.
In college, I didn’t have a car (or a license for that matter, but that’s another story) and I kept plenty busy between classes. Plus, I was the typical broke college student. Any kind of clothes shopping was pretty rare unless I was home and my parents were footing the bill. By my senior year, when I had a job and a little extra money, I wanted to be cute and trendy, which meant the mall and/or downtown boutiques.
And now? Well, pandemic aside, I’m married with two children, work outside the home, and have a blog of my own. All that to say, I have very little free time. Plus, I consider myself a minimalist, so I limit the number of items I keep in my closet. (Let’s be honest; we all come back to our favorite items. Why keep anything else?)
In addition to minimalism, though, in recent years my eyes have been opened to the consequences of fast fashion. And that has changed my relationship with shopping. Do I still buy things from Old Navy and other similar stores? Sometimes, absolutely. But I’m much more thoughtful about my purchases.
Part of that thoughtfulness has included seeking out more secondhand items. Etsy is great, but it can also be overwhelming. “Nicer” thrift shops can be as or more expensive than buying new. On the flip side, the thought of spending extended periods of time sifting through racks (or worse, bins!) of clothing -- most of which are not my style OR my size -- does not sound like fun.
So where does that leave us? Here are a few things that have helped me on my journey:
While I do still shop the traditional route (especially if I’m looking for something very specific), I have begun checking sites like Good on You to make smarter shopping choices. They rate most retail brands in three categories: the environment, labor practices, and animal welfare. You can decide what’s most important to you and shop accordingly.
As I’ve mentioned, the idea of browsing in a brick and mortar secondhand store isn’t appealing to me these days. Online shopping, on the other hand, is one of my favorite things to do. Several great secondhand options have popped up in recent years. There are Asos Marketplace, The RealReal (for luxury brands), Depop, and even eBay. My favorite is ThredUP for their robust search options.
For more curated options, there’s nothing better than supporting a small business (bonus points if that business is woman- or minority-led!).
The Moorage Thrift House (previously The Thrifty Duckling) was/is my go-to place for theme park gear. Think about it. When someone buys a shirt for a trip to Walt Disney World, so often it’s worn for that visit and never again. How great to get more use out of generally expensive items! And now that the newly minted Moorage Thrift House is venturing into other areas, it has become somewhere to look for work and weekend pieces as well!
And there are so many others out there!
Changing your shopping habits for the good of the world (its people AND the environment) doesn’t have to be hard. There are plenty of simple things you can do...even if you don’t like searching racks and bins for your size.
Oh, and that prom dress? My mom said it smelled funny and didn’t let me wear it. I tried!