When I started buying second-hand, it was because I had just graduated from college and I needed to look like a Certified Adult ASAP if I wanted to get a job. Luckily for me, the consignment shops of Washington, DC are like mid-range business casual Mecca. Ann Taylor suits. J. Crew cashmere sweaters. Banana Republic blouses. If I saw it in a window display at Loft, I could find it in a DC thrift shop. The castoffs of rich congressional interns headed back to more stylish lives in New York or California became the core of my work wardrobe, and that suited me just fine as a person with very little money and even less aesthetic ability.
To some extent, this is still the way I shop. Fewer pieces from Banana Republic, maybe, and some cool vintage and high-end finds here and there, but at the end of the day I’m still just a person on a tight budget wanting to wear the same kinds of clothes as women with more money than me. (We can get into my personal issues with obsessively trying to use clothing to cover up my working-class upbringing some other time – for now I just want to tell you about all the FUN STUFF.)
At the beginning of 2018 I made a commitment to stop buying clothing from fast-fashion retailers and to only purchase garments that were either produced ethically or sold second-hand. I’m still on a budget, so while I have invested in a few new ethical pieces this year, I mostly buy my clothes in consignment shops or on Poshmark.
If you’re unfamiliar, Poshmark is an app where you can buy and sell used clothes and accessories. Sort of like eBay, but much more convenient. If I need or want something, I usually open up my Poshmark app, search for the type of item I’m looking for, and then filter by brand, size, and color. More often than not, I am able to find the exact item I’m looking for (like a particular Madewell sweater tank top or Everlane shirt dress), in my size and at a decent price. I don’t feel badly about buying fast-fashion on Posh because it’s an opportunity to give a used garment another life instead of letting it end up in a landfill, and while my dream is to have a closet filled with a small and perfect selection of beautiful, timeless garments that I’ll wear for the rest of my life, I am also a real person who is not immune to trends and sometimes I just want a Madewell sweater tank.
(A small disclaimer: I’m not getting any money from Poshmark to write this. It’s just honestly how I buy most of my clothes these days and I want to tell you about it. )
My current warm-weather capsule wardrobe contains a total of 40 items. That’s tops, bottoms, dresses, shoes, and jackets (but not lounge/active wear, pajamas, or undergarments).
Today, I did a little analysis and I learned that 20% of my capsule is second-hand (it’s also 12% black dresses WHOOPS).
Here’s a full breakdown of my spring/summer capsule wardrobe, with second hand items listed in green:
Of the 8 thrifted items listed above, 5 were purchased on Poshmark and 3 were purchased IRL at consignment shops in DC (this one is my favorite, if you find yourself thrifting in our nation’s capital). I think I’ve got a few more pieces tucked away with my cold weather clothes, but these are what I’m currently wearing. I especially like buying silk and linen items second hand because you can usually find really high-quality pieces at dirt cheap prices – that stuff retails for $$$!
I’m not planning to add anything else to my warm weather wardrobe this year, but I’ve got a few things on my list to thrift for cold weather this fall. I’d like more cashmere and wool, a pair of perfect black slacks (I have a pair but they are meh at best), some black Chelsea boots, and a camel colored blanket scarf. After my readers totally schooled me on my last post where I threw shade at jersey, I’m also interested in finding some 100% wool jersey pieces to try out.
New clothes are fun, and the ethical fashion world is just exploding right now with beautiful designs, but used clothing is so worth the work if you’re willing to spend a few hours identifying what you actually want and waiting a little while to find it.
I was inspired to write this post by two of my favorite Instagrammers, @elishamarie.g and @kristateeri, who started a really fun hashtag project this weekend called #idthriftthat. If you want to participate, just snap a pic of yourself every Saturday in your favorite thrifted outfits and use the #idthriftthat tag to find some awesome new friends.
Til next time!