There’s something about the start of fall that always makes me want to buy new clothes. A goal I have for this year is to focus on more sustainable fashion habits and eliminate fast fashion from my future wardrobe. So I’m challenging myself to create a couple of cute outfits from our local thrift stores. I hope this lookbook will inspire you to find alternative shopping methods. I promise that shopping secondhand doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style.
When I go thrifting, I get a babysitter for Theo (my little guy), grab a coffee, and spend time diving into the racks at local shops. It’s pretty therapeutic. During COVID, I wear a mask and gloves while I shop and put my finds into a sealed bag. The items go directly into the washer when I get home. Then I have a mini fashion show in my bedroom to see how the pieces mesh with my current wardrobe. Thrift stores just not your thing? Well, you can still shop for used, sustainable fashion! There are many re-sale fashion apps that have name brand styles. This is especially helpful when you are looking for specific items. About half of my previously-owned clothing is purchased from re-sale apps. It’s also a great way to sell clothing you don’t want anymore.
The first outfit I put together is a comfortable layered look. The grey-striped sweater is from a local Goodwill, and I think it looks amazing with light-wash denim. The Dr. Martens vegan boots are one of my most prized thrift finds–they were only $14! I’m positively overwhelmed by the amount of great denim at our local Savers. I landed on this pair of Lucky brand boyfriend-style jeans. The look is complete with a comfy black top. What I love about this ensemble is that it’s so simple, but also really unique. I will definitely be wearing this again soon!
The second outfit is more focused on accessories. The dress is H&M brand, found in pristine condition at Goodwill. I just fell in love with the print, and it also falls in line with the new “cottage core” style that seems to be buzzing around the internet.
The beaded bag is too darling. I can’t wait until I actually have plans again and can take it with me everywhere. I got the turquoise-style ring at a vintage shop in Ruidoso.
I think one of the best things to find while thrifting is jeans. I’m a Levi’s fanatic and have found so many beloved pairs of jeans while thrifting around Albuquerque. Even when paired with a simple sweater, I don’t think this look ever goes out of style.
The Sustainable and Ethical Dilemma
Oxford Dictionary defines fast fashion as “inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends.” For example, I’m a sucker for walking around the store and falling in love with a cute dress I see on display. It’s easy for me to grab that item and call it a day. What I often forget to take into consideration is the condition of how that item was made and what effects my purchase may have on the planet.
The fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world. Plus, the waste from our fashion habits in the United States alone sends around 11 million tons of textile waste into landfills. In order for the clothes we buy to maintain a cheap price tag, the people who make them are paid less. The choices we make here have a direct effect on environmental degradation and human rights. Good On You is a great resource to find ethically made clothing and The True Cost is a fantastic documentary about the fashion industry. ABQMom also has a blog post about thrifting for your kiddos and even a Guide to Thrift Stores!
For those of us who can’t always afford to buy high-priced clothing items, thrifting is a great alternative to fast fashion. It’s worth mentioning that thrifting isn’t a long-term sustainability solution, but it’s a great choice in a time when fast fashion still soars. It’s easy to forget how our life is sourced, so it’s important to remember the realities of our society and be part of positive change in the world. Let’s support fair trade and sustainable fashion brands. Let’s change the negative stigma around thrifted and pre-loved clothing.
Our clothes are not meant to be disposable, and neither are the lives of those who produce them for us.
Originally published August 2020.
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The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ABQ Mom, its executive team, other contributors to the site, its sponsors or partners, or any organizations the aforementioned might be affiliated with.