Friday, February 21, 2014

On the virtues of thrift shopping

Note: this post was started on Tuesday and topical but it turns out that leisurely pumping time isn't so leisurely.

Monday was a holiday and around here goofy bank holidays mean half off of everything at Value Village! I went to find some new work pants (a size down!).

Let me count the reasons why:
1. Recycling.
When I was a kid one of my aunts was a thrifting maniac. She would tear those places up. And despite benefiting from it many times (hello barely used Barbie dream house) I hated it. It was so annoying waiting in the car for her to comb through the aisles, I always felt weird eating off of her dishes that had belonged to other people, I hated the stale smell of the clothes I tried on. I had all sorts of issues with it. Until she explained to my third grade mind that it is the best form of recycling. Since at the time recycling was my passion in life (we had recycled and saved all year in our class to buy earth day shirts for our Recycle Rapper concert) I was sold. It wasn't until grad school that I started thrifting for myself but I had a much better attitude about the stale pile of clothes from then on.

2. Lots of variety
One of the things I find frustrating about shopping for clothes in stores like Loft or Banana Republic is that they tend to have a few cuts of pants per season and not a very large selection (I know this varies). In a large enough thrift store there is always a large selection of brands, colors, cuts. Often none of them appeal and you can't ask the sales person to go fetch your size but at least there are choices.

3. Allows you to shop for current weight.
I am conflicted when I'm working on losing weight, I think a person should dress to feel confident but it feels like a silly waste if you'll only be in a certain size for a short time.

4. I am a short tight wad
I already die a little inside when I do spend full price on things but add the additional insult that I need to get pants and dresses hemmed and it is full out seizure time. But I can invest in tailoring if I didn't spend an arm and a leg in the first place (then you definitely need tailoring, ha!).

5. The hunt.
This is certainly a biggie, it is a lot of fun to find an awesome deal or a new favorite piece of clothing. It is a low pressure shopping experience for me.

There are downsides too. I will often make silly purchases there and wind up never wearing the clothes. I will never be bothered to return clothes to a thrift store where I certainly would at a department store. And there is always the question of it still being a waste of resources, even if it is second hand.

I do however think that thrifting is the way to go for a lot of reasons. There are tons of tons of used clothes that thrift stores wind up selling by the pound into an outrageous stream of excess fabric , the fate of which I am still not savvy enough to understand. The rise of global e-commerce and the ability to get your own personal shit ton of new clothes isn't helping. Don't get me wrong, I still buy cheap clothes, from places that I probably shouldn't more often than I should. But this is one easy and fun way to minimize.

I might, for my own amusement mostly, write how I approached baby STUFF regarding waste and cost. That has been an interesting mix for me.

Me in a very eclectic mix of thrifter pants, Toms and a shirt I got at Ross which was probably made by a nine year old.
Baby boy in some consigned jammies. All standing in front of some craigslist stuff and our new from the big box store activity mat.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

1 comment:

Kathy said...

I have also been thinking a lot about my clothing choices. I buy the majority of my clothes from cheap, big box stores (Target, Old Navy, etc.) where I know the working conditions in the factories SUCK. Part of the reason why I decided to try Project 333 (33 items of clothing to wear for 3 months) was to force myself to be really intentional about what I keep in my closet. I still bought two dresses from Target, but I also splurged on a "Made in the USA" dress that cost more than anything I have purchased in the past (even with my 20% discount on the sale price!). I still feel really good about knowing that the dress was made by people who were paid a fair wage and worked in safe conditions. I used to love thrift stores in the past--it was easier to find cool things when I was smaller! Your post has inspired me to start at thrift stores the next time I need something instead of heading to Target. :)